Interview: Toby Jeg of Red Scare Industries

[We’ll get into interview with Tobias “Toby” Jeg from Red Scare Industries (sometimes known as Red Scare Records), but first, a disclaimer. When we do interviews we try to ask questions that most other outlets would never ask because we want to paint a picture of who these artists / bands / label heads are as people. You learn a lot of interesting things about people when you’re willing to ask completely ridiculous questions.]

Toby (right) with Kody from The Lillingtons / Teenage Bottlerocket [Image from Jeg]

Toby (right) with Kody from The Lillingtons / Teenage Bottlerocket [Image from Jeg]

Toby Jeg is the founder of Red Scare Industries, a punk rock label that’s now based in Chicago. Over the past 10 years, Red Scare has worked with everyone from Brendan Kelly (who is part of the label) to The Lillingtons and The Methadones to The Menzingers. We’re doing this interview with Toby because punk rock and also because the Red Scare 10th Anniversary Weekend starts tonight. The big anniversary show is 10.25.2014 (that’s tomorrow if you don’t like calendars) at the Metro. The lineup looks something like this:


In other words, if you’re in Chicago and not at this show you’re an idiot. Tickets are still available.

From his feelings on Taylor Swift to Brendan Kelly’s dick jokes, here’s everything you never knew you wanted to know about Toby Jeg.

D!S: If you could sign any one artist to the label, who would it be?
TJ: Sir Mix-a-Lot would be pretty sweet. He’s from my home and that old “Posse’s On Broadway” shit it pretty great. Serious answer: Randy. They’re from Sweden.

D!S: If you could go back in time and see any show, what would it be?
TJ: Probably The Clash.

D!S: What’s your favorite venue in Chicago that isn’t the Metro?
TJ: I think Beat Kitchen is Chicago’s most perfect venue. I also really dig Underground Lounge for it’s divey-ness. I think we’re doing a secret show there for the Red Scare weekend. WHOA.

D!S: If all beers were priced like they are in Sweden at about $10 a pop, what beer would you drink regularly?
TJ: At $10 a beer, I would probably NOT drink beer. I prefer cocktails anyhow, but if I could pick ANY beer I might go with Hoepfner Pilsner, which is an easy-drinking beer from my Dad’s hometown in Germany.

D!S: What’s your favorite condiment?
TJ: Is Ranch a condiment? Seems like it’s a real universal cure-all these days. I love mustard too. Maybe horseradish?

D!S: You recently talked about Red Scare moving again. Where are you going? What will you miss the most about Chicago?
TJ: I want to move back to the Northwest. Who knows if I will. Chicago has the best music community. Everyone here is so nice and so supportive. They party hard too. If I do move away, I’ll still be in touch and come visit often. Don’t get all mushy on me…

D!S: What does the head of a label do in his spare time? Besides, you know, running a label?
TJ: Well, I have a job. So there’s that! I spend a lot of time with my dogs, Jasper and Ernesto. Those little guys are the BEST. I try and exercise every other day and I see a lot of movies in the theater. In 2014 I spent a lot of time touring with The Lawrence Arms. I’ve been their tour manager since 2007 and this year was actually pretty busy with the new album. 5 tours!

D!S: In addition to being fantastic, 10 Years of Your Dumb Bullshit might be the best name of an album ever. Is it safe to say you don’t take yourself too seriously? Is that just punk rock these days?
TJ: I can’t really speak for punk rock. The title can refer to anyone, really. Me, the bands, the listeners…who knows?!

D!S: We put together a collection of images that Ray has shot over the years that we’ll describe as “Red Scare related.” Check them out, pick a few favorites, and caption them.


That’s Dan from The Falcon, of course. I believe that pic is taken from the Slapstick show at Riot Fest? Nobody gets more bummed over a Bears loss than Dan. He needs to be more realistic about his team.


Brandon loves playing music more than maybe anybody I know. He goes for it, and is quite the showman. I really wanna go camping with him someday. Brandon, are you reading this?!


I love Miguel and I love this shirt. The Dickies are one of THE greatest.


Neil is generally my roomie on tour and we end each evening by watching hotel TV together and being thoroughly confused by it. Any rock show with the “HEN-E-SSY” chant is a success in my book.

D!S: Are you jealous of Brendan Kelly because the guys from Going Off Track [a previous interview they did] only mentioned having him as a guest host?
TJ: Did they? I would too. They’re fond of his dick jokes, and no one delivers more consistently than BK. I’m sure there’s a podcast out there that would rather talk to some guy who knows about production turnaround times and USPS shipping rates, so there’s something for all of us.

D!S: What’s your favorite best friend thing to do with Brendan Kelly?
TJ: Mock him. I’m really mean to him, but it’s gotta be done. Actually, I really enjoy traveling with BK. He likes to DO stuff and experience things out on tour. Being around open-minded, inquisitive people is the way to go.

D!S: What was your favorite thing about touring with TLA in the UK?
TJ: I found this food called a PIZZA CONE in Glasgow. Holy shit, was it delicious. Anyone who wants to make millions should get that shit over here and start feeding it to the gluttonous American masses. It was also really nice to hang out with Sam Russo and Bangers.

D!S: Taylor Swift accidentally released a track that’s eight seconds of white noise. It topped the Canadian iTunes chart. How does that make you feel?
TJ: I’ve been a pretty outspoken detractor of Taylor Swift and her crappy “I’m a REAL songwriter” grift for a long time now. Of course 8 seconds of white noise sold like hot cakes. I expect nothing less from the people who buy into her corny bullshit. She’s an affront to anyone who is trying to do anything genuine with their art. She’s like ISIS in lipstick in heels.

D!S: You know that interview question that everyone asks about your desert island book or record? Think of this like the exact opposite of that. What’s your single most hated song ever? Stuck in purgatory, being tortured, whatever. What song is playing on repeat?
TJ: Man, you’re asking a seasoned hater what I hate the most. Damn. Believe it or not, I don’t like to dwell too much on the negative, so the first thing that comes to mind is Pink’s “Funhouse”. You heard that stinker? The video is even worse and they play that shit at my gym.

D!S: Would you keep doing this if it weren’t fun anymore?
TJ: There’s plenty of stuff not fun about putting out records. Truth be told, it’s mostly shlepping boxes and waiting in line at the post office. As long as our efforts continue to pay off, I’m willing to do the work.

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