'I feel like an old man now'

·4 min read

Jul. 22—AUBURN — Toby McAllister doesn't look like he's 35 years old.

Sitting patiently Wednesday evening in the back room of the 1800 Club at 34 Court St., he has Eli and Jed Allen apply a fake old-man beard to his face with glue and gob whitening gel all over his head.

"I feel like an old man now," McAllister said.

The musician is recording a video for his song "Coast to Coast." The script was written and directed by the Allen brothers, fellow musicians from the band Skosh, who depict him in the future reflecting on his past.

McAllister went to Poland Regional High School where he was a member of what he calls an "awful punk rock band" that had fun and wrote songs. "I lived in the band room as much as I could. I played trumpet and I was in the Steel Drum Band, Jazz Band and Show Band."

He did a short stint in college, where he formed the band Sparks the Rescue.

"We pretty much spent that time writing and practicing," he said.

They started booking tours through MySpace, which led to getting picked up by the New York City record label Double Blind Records. The band released songs, secured a booking agent, kept touring, got picked up by Fearless Records of California and toured some more.

"We spent most of our 20s touring around the country," McAllister said.

He met his wife, Leslie, while Sparks the Rescue was touring with the band The Dangerous Summer.

"She was there to see the Dangerous Summer," McAllister said.

They dated long distance and eventually she moved to Maine where they started a family in Mechanic Falls.

His newest video for "Coast to Coast" is from the perspective of McAllister looking back at those early days of touring and meeting his wife.

Besides the bar scene at the 1800 Club, there are scenes of him driving his pickup truck and reminiscing about his touring days. His wife, who played an alien in their last music video, will play herself in the past and in the future.

The Allen brothers wrote the treatment for the video and are calling the shots. "I'm kind of surrendering myself to them," McAllister said.

He is hoping the videos will help him tap into a new audience.

"A lot of people don't do music videos anymore, especially locally," McAllister said. "But it's something I've always been a huge fan of. I'm going to keep trying to make them as long as I can."

He is a big fan of '90s pop-rock videos. "My favorite music videos growing up were Blink-182 videos," he said. "The way they could incorporate humor so easily into their music videos made me latch on to their songs more."

McAllister plays in a wedding band and in bars and clubs throughout the state. "I gig almost every day," he said.

When the pandemic shut down live performances, McAllister retreated to his studio.

"It gave me the freedom to be home and fall back in love with writing my own music," he said. "When restrictions eased, he recorded his first solo studio EP, "Daydreamin.'" The experience presented unexpected opportunities. He opened up for some bands in Portland and went on a short tour in April.

But his primary focus is writing, recording and being happy.

"With Sparks (the Rescue), we were signed to a record label," he said. "We had managers, we had booking agents, and we were on the road eight, nine months out of the year. We did the thing, and it was a dream of mine. And I'm glad I did it."

While he does not discount the idea of another tour, he said he is focused on making music and his quality of life.

"I'm strictly doing this for the joy of it and not to make a record label happy," he said. "That's why I started playing guitar in the first place when I was 14 years old. Because it was fun. It's nice to get back to that."

"Daydreamin'" is available on all streaming websites and on his website as a CD.