In terms of reggae music, the Midwest, let alone the northern state of Wisconsin, is not the first thing that comes to mind. For Andy, Jake, Ben and Joe, also known as T.U.G.G., these guys are out to change that. On their own Summer Soundz Tour, these guys are touring the West Coast and Midwest once again, and at times are joining forces with The Movement, Pacific Dub, Tribal Seeds and Seedless. T.U.G.G. once again returned to Denver, Colorado to play the legendary Bluebird Theater. In a dark alley, after these guys skanked and played their hearts out on stage, The Pier interviewed these fun loving Midwest boys and drank PBR. This is what they had to say. Enjoy!…
The Pier: Welcome back to Denver guys! Great show and judging by the sweat covering you and the crowd, this place went off!
T.U.G.G.: Thanks Chad! We love playing in Colorado
The Pier: You guys are signed to indie label “Last Call Records”. How did this relationship develop and how has it bettered your band?
T.U.G.G.: The label is essentially us and a friend of ours, Scott Peterson. We wanted another way, other than using our band, to get our music out there. Our friend has always believed in us and supports us in any way he can by helping us with up front studio costs and merch stuff. Not to mention he is the first guy we would call if we were to get arrested. You can say he is our sugar mama.
The Pier: That’s love! Earlier in the year, you guys were on the ballot competing with many other bands to be selected to play the 311 Pow Wow Festival in Florida. How did things turn out?
TUGG: We did not get selected but the good news was that we made some good connections. Hopefully next year!
The Pier: You guys are relentlessly touring the Midwest and West Coast. Are there any plans of touring the East Coast in the near future?
T.U.G.G.: Most definitely! We have not been out there yet. It’s just a matter of talking to the right friends and making it happen. Florida is definitely gonna happen sooner than later.
The Pier: Here is a fun question. Tonight you guys are on the bill with The Movement and both, you guys and The Movement, have a song titled “Mexico”. Whose version is better?
T.U.G.G.: Hmmm, I don’t know, can we say our own? (Laughs) “Mexico” has done really well for us actually. We have gotten a lot of radio play for that song. Plus, those guys already have “Set Sail” which is killer! So we don’t feel bad by saying ours is better. Bam! Sorry guys, we love ya!
The Pier: Congratulations on being asked by the Dirty Heads to support their tour through the Midwest earlier in the spring. How was that experience for you guys? Better than you expected?
T.U.G.G.: Definitely! The all around treatment from the venue staff and everything was better than anything else that we have been involved in. Those guys had been on tour for a while already up to that point and we stepped in for a week and had so much fun. The guys from “New Politics” and the “Dirty Heads” were very welcoming and supportive. It was great to be exposed to their fan base, which in turn, helped our fan base grow. Our Facebook numbers climbed pretty rapidly during that week. St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago at The House of Blues was off the charts! We played to a venue that sold out to some 1,300 people. That was one of those shows that we will never forget.
The Pier: When this tour ends on August 31st do you guys plan on returning to the studio to record a follow-up L.P. to your successful album “Come Sunrise”?
T.U.G.G.: “Come Sunrise” we found out debut at #40 on the iTunes reggae charts through our friend Josh Heinrichs. That was pretty cool to find out. We definitely are planning a return trip to the studio. We are always writing new material and we are pretty hard on ourselves because we know that we can come up with new material every day. Our material does not automatically make it in cause we are constantly changing things around and trying things differently. The songs have to find their place within a set. We recorded our last album with Brad from “The Ziggens” and at the least we plan on returning to the studio with him pretty soon and see what we can come up with.
The Pier: A question that I feel needs to be answered is, “What does the acronym of your band’s name stand for?” Keep it clean…
T.U.G.G.: Whatever you want it to mean. Na, seriously though it means Tone United for the Greater Good.
The Pier: I thought Throwing Up Ganja Goods was a good one. (Laughs) So how did you guys come up with that?
T.U.G.G.: The coolest part and the best way to cover our asses when answering this question is that T.U.G.G. is different now than it was when Jake and myself (Andy) were in it. It was The Underground Groovement when Jake and I were in it. It’s a joke though; Three Ugly Garbage Guys is another good one. This could go on forever and is a great conversation starter!
The Pier: It’s so good to see you guys again! We have a great time every time at a T.U.G.G. show. Good luck on the rest of your tour.
T.U.G.G.: We really appreciate The Pier for your support.
Interview by: Chad Hillje
Endorsement Photos by: Mark Franzen
Edited by: Kyle Hillje