Afghan Whigs Share 'Toy Automatic (Demo),' Reflect on Loss of Late Dave Rosser

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There's a special sentiment behind Afghan Whigs' latest musical release.

Today the group is offering a free download of the original demo of “Toy Automatic” from its 2017 album In Spades  its social media. It will be followed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday by never-before-seen video clips of the group working on the song in the studio, prominently featuring guitarist Dave Rosser, who died in June 2017 of inoperable colon cancer.  

“I just found these things,” Whigs frontman Greg Dulli tells Billboard. “I was going through some videos on my phone and I kept finding Dave Rosser, which I like to do from time to time. I miss him every day, so any time I can be close to him or see him or hear him talk is nice. Then I started noticing I had several videos of that song and the way it sort of progressed, and then I found the demo and I was like, wow, it's kind of a sign. I think I'm going to immortalize 'Toy Automatic.' So that's what we're doing here. It felt kind of meant to be, and I wanted to honor that feeling.”

Dulli quickly professes that he does “love the finished version” of “Toy Automatic” that made the album, but he's also happy to shed a little light on the process that got the band to that point by releasing the more raw and stark demo version. “It's one of my favorite songs I've ever done,” Dulli explains. “I had a very unique relationship with the song; I worked on it for a long time, and a lot of times when I do that a song will become almost like my friend, in a way. So I have a very symbiotic relationship with that song. That it had so much chronicling around it didn't surprise me, and that's why I felt like it was something to share with people who dig my band.”

Dulli and company will be giving those fans more to enjoy in the near future. Afghan Whigs return to the road April 11 for a North American tour that concludes with a pair of shows May 15-16 in Seattle. The band has also started work on a follow-up to In Spades, though it's in its embryonic stages right now.

“We're always working,” Dulli says. “We got together in January and laid some stuff down. We got probably six or seven things in various states of undress right now. This is the last run of shows coming up. We might do a couple more later in the summer, but we're gearing up to make another record. It's time for that now.”