Heavy Catchy Fun: An Interview with Toadies
The band Toadies may be best known for the song Possum Kingdom from their breakout 1994 album Rubberneck. After six singles and three years of touring, in 1997 the band recorded Feeler but Interscope decided not to release it. Hell Below/Stars Above was put together from the Feeler sessions and released through Interscope but the label didn’t support the band’s tour or album and by 2001 singer Vaden Todd Lewis broke up the band.
In 2006, seeing some unfinished business and a whole lot of incredible music needing to be heard by the world Toadies got back together for a series of live shows with Toni Blair taking over on bass and in 2008 they released No Deliverance on Kirtland Records. Since then Toadies have put out Play.Rock.Music and also re-issued Rubberneck and Feeler as well as the stripped-down covers album Heretics.
Now, Toadies are back with The Lower Side of Uptown, an album of heavy, soulful and cathartic tunes featuring the band’s quirky humor, catchy melodies and Vaden’s gut-wrenching vocals.
In late August drummer Mark Reznicek took some time to tell us about the little band from Ft. Worth, Texas that did and still does rock houses the world over. In September and October of 2017 they’ll be touring the States with Local H and headlining the tenth annual Dia De Los Toadies festival in Texas.\
Did you set out to do anything new, different, better on the new album? Was there directions you followed on what to do and what not to do?
Our last album, Heretics, was a quieter, more acoustic record by design. So we expected our next album would incorporate that sound with the more recognizable, loud Toadies sound. But once we started working, it came out even heavier than usual.
You seem to enjoy songs that are cathartic, soulful and have this sound like I wish church sounded like. Like the scene with James Brown as the preacher in the Blues Brothers. Is there something about your upbringing or the culture where and when you grew up that these things just pour out of you and the band?
Vaden was raised a preacher’s kid, so I think that feel comes pretty naturally when he’s writing and singing.
You put on a festival every year. Has it taken on a life of its own after how many years?
Yeah it kinda has. It’s really fun to move it around to various locations around the state and showcase some of our favorite acts. This year will be the 10th annual Dia de Los Toadies festival and it’ll be at Possum Kingdom Lake where the first one was held. And we’ve invited back some of our favorite acts from previous years.
When looking for bands how do you choose, what are the typical reactions when asked (besides hell yes!)? What band would you love to have but for whatever reason hasn’t joined you yet? It seems like a fun day!
We usually start by compiling a list of all the acts we’d like to see. It’s really just bands that one or more of us happen to be fans of. After asking their availability, we narrow it down to the ones we feel would make the most interesting line-up. We’ve never had ZZ Top or Willie Nelson, but we can dream, can’t we?
Yours in not a nostalgia band. You’ve been releasing albums since 2008 after your “hiatus”. Are you all able to make a living off of music?
Yeah we make our living off of music. Various band members also have day jobs as a means of making extra money and/or keeping busy during the downtime between tours.
What have you learned in the past that enables you to continue as a band? These days you have to be smart about the business side of being a musician, especially without labels. Do you have sponsors, backers, or just save up from your day jobs to release albums and tour? Any wisdom to pass on?
We’re lucky enough to be able to make enough money from national touring and one-off shows around Texas to sustain ourselves as a band. We have a great Texas-based label to release and distribute our recordings. So, I’d say educate yourself about the business and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t just play in your hometown in front of family and friends. Book an out of town show on the weekend and play in front of strangers.
There’s always going to be those few songs that get the biggest reaction from fans when played live. What song or part do you especially enjoy performing and why?
I enjoy playing all the songs, and generally the newest songs are the most fun. It’s cool to see how the crowd reacts to a song they’re not yet familiar with. That being said, it’s definitely a thrill to hear the audience go wild when they hear Possum Kingdom or Tyler.
I’m an armchair traveler and would like to know a little about where you’re all from, with a focus on the things locals know best. Where ya from?
Born in Omaha, Nebraska.
Where ya now?
Hurst, Texas, near Ft. Worth.
What is the city most known for?
Ft. Worth is known for their stockyards and barbecue, and a lively arts scene. Hurst is known for being near Ft. Worth. Haha.
Where’s the fun places to see music?
Lots of good venues in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Where do you buy music? Are there still music stores there?
Lots of great independent record stores in the area: Good Records, Josey Lane Records, many others.
Where’s the best eats and/or drinks?
There’s a famous Mexican restaurant in Ft. Worth called Joe T. Garcia’s.
Signature dish or favorite thing to get there?
Cheese Enchiladas and margaritas.
When you need quiet where do ya go?
You’re touring with Local H, another amazing live band. What is it about them that you appreciate? Are you going to be standing on the side of the stage watching them every night? I still have Joe Daniels’ chipped up drumstick from a show at The Roxy years ago. Now they have a new drummer, whom I’m sure is also awesome. Will there be any joining each others’ bands? Shenanigans?
It’s really cool that Local H is still out there tearing it up, melting faces every night. Heavy tuneful rock music that we can’t wait to enjoy every night. I’m sure there’ll be some jamming and shenanigans!
Be sure to pick up The Lower Side of Uptown, out now on Kirtland Records and see Toadies live this fall with Local H.
(by Bret Miller)
Catch Toadies on the Road with Local H this Fall:
Sept. 7 – Oklahoma City Diamond Ballroom
Sept. 8 – Kansas City, MO KRBZ Beach Ball
Sept. 9 – St. Louis, MO Delmar
Sept. 10 – Cincinnati Bogart’s
Sept. 12 – Knoxville, TN The Concourse
Sept. 13 – Nashville, TN Exit In
Sept. 14 – Memphis, TN New Daisy
Sept. 19 – El Paso, TX Tricky Falls
Sept. 20 – Tucson, AZ Congress
Sept. 21 – Las Vegas, NV Beauty Bar
Sept. 22 – Phoenix, AZ Crescent
Sept. 23 – Solana Beach, CA Belly Up
Sept. 24 – Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
Sept. 26 – Anaheim, CA House Of Blues
Sept. 27 – Berkeley, CA UC Theater
Sept. 29 – Seattle, WA The Crocodile
Sept. 30 – Portland, OR Star Theater
Oct. 1 – Boise, ID Knitting Factory
Oct. 3 – Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall
Oct. 4 – Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theatre
Oct. 5 – Denver, CO Gothic
Oct. 6 – Omaha, NE Waiting Room
Oct. 7 – Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall
Oct. 8 – Minneapolis, MN 1st Ave.
Oct. 10 – Chicago, IL Metro
Oct. 12 – Indianapolis, IN The Vogue
Oct. 13 – Detroit, MI St. Andrews
Oct. 14 – Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Oct. 15 – Pittsburgh, PA Rex
Oct. 17 – Washington DC Black Cat
Oct. 18 – New York NY Gramercy Theater
Oct. 19 – Philadelphia, PA TLA
Oct. 20 – Boston, MA Brighton
Oct. 21 – Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony
Oct. 22 – Norfolk, VA Norva
Oct. 24 – Durham, NC Motorco
Oct. 25 – Wilmington, NC The Muse
Oct. 26 – Atlanta, GA Masquerade Hell
Oct. 27 – Orlando, FL Plaza Live
Oct. 28 – Ft. Lauderdale Culture Room
Oct. 29 – Tampa/St. Pete Ritz
Oct. 31 – New Orleans, LA Tipitinas
Nov. 4 – Carrolton, TX Carrollton Festival at the Switchyard
Nov. 10 – Austin, TX Stubbs BBQ