Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Toadies frontman talks about new material, the band's legacy ahead of Dec. 28 show in San Antonio

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The Toadies play a live set. How much you wanna bet it included "Possum Kingdom"? - THOMAS MOORE
  • Thomas Moore
  • The Toadies play a live set. How much you wanna bet it included "Possum Kingdom"?
Fort Worth's Toadies may be best known for the 1995 hard-rock radio staple "Possum Kingdom," but aside from a five year hiatus in the early 2000s, the band has been plenty prolific beyond that. It's released 10 albums, many on its own Kirtland imprint, and continues to hit the road.

Its most recent jaunt — a Texas tour that also features '90s alt-rock mainstays the Rev. Horton Heat and Nashville Pussy — will roll into San Antonio's Aztec Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Toadies will perform its debut album Rubberneck in full as part of the show.

We caught up with Vaden Todd Lewis, Toadies' vocalist and guitarist, by phone to discuss the band's legacy, how the tour came about, new recording plans and flipping burgers at Wendy’s.

On your current tour, you're playing your first album, Rubberneck, in full. How does it feel revisiting the album and having to remember playing everything live all over again?

Well, we general do play a majority of them — the songs off that record. You know, it’s still fun to pull 'em out and play 'em in order and try to make it as true to the recording as possible. Because, you know, things change over the years — how you play them and sing them. Then you try to go back to the original recording and duplicate it. It’s a pretty interesting and cool project.

Here in San Antonio, your song “Possum Kingdom” is still played on the radio 10 times a day. It's the group’s most-known song, but is there another song you guys like to spotlight?

Oh, I don’t know. That’s a very hard question to answer. (Laughs.) Off the second record, I always felt “Little Sin” was the song for that record, but you know, what are you gonna do? You can never predict what everyone else is gonna like. I’ve never been able to — or ever wanted to — predict what people are gonna like. So, I’m just gonna do what I like and hope it works out. I’ve just never pictured myself as somebody who writes radio songs or mass appeal songs, or however you want to explain it. I never saw myself as that.

Toadies have released 10 albums since their mid-'90s formation, many on the band's own Kirtland imprint. - TODD COOPER
  • Todd Cooper
  • Toadies have released 10 albums since their mid-'90s formation, many on the band's own Kirtland imprint.

It seems you guys have primarily stuck to the Southern U.S. for touring, even before the pandemic hit. Is it because it's easier to do little tours here, or was there another reason?

A lot of our bigger markets are in this area. Whenever we do a full tour, like the tour that was supposed to happen last year — then this year, and it's now supposed to happen next year — it's like 10 weeks of exhaustion. ... It’s just one of those things where we don’t know how much time we have and what we want to try to accomplish.

Right now you guys are just trying to get back out there, even though we're not fully out of the pandemic.

Right. The anchor of this little run is based around December 30, which is Toadies Day in Fort Worth. The mayor made it Toadies Day a few years ago, so we play Billy Bob’s Texas Festival every December 30, and we had to miss last year, of course. So were flying everyone in to do the show — it’s just not a great idea to fly everybody in for one show. It doesn’t make sense. We haven’t gotten together in a long time, so it’s just a good time to get out, get everyone together and see people.

Speaking of celebrations, you guys have the Dia de los Toadies Festival that you put on every year. Will we eventually see it come back?

I wouldn’t rule that out. We did 10 years in a row; we had a good run. You know, it kind of ran its course, I guess. If it works out to do it again, I would love to do it again. It was the highlight of my year.

Since the festival highlighted Texas acts, is there any Texas artist or group on your radar right now?

Oh, geez, I don’t really have a good answer for that. As a touring musician, I don’t go to a whole lot of shows when I’m at home anyways. Put a pandemic on top of that, and I’m completely out of the loop. I mean, there’s the big acts like Leon Bridges and Spoon, who are always kick-ass. I’m kind of at a loss for anyone new.

You said you don’t go to many shows, but how has the Fort Worth music scene changed? And where do you see the band’s place in it compared to 27 years ago?

My wife and I actually opened up a rehearsal space here in Fort Worth like five years ago. We expanded it early last year, right before the pandemic. We doubled our rooms, and it stays full. It’s just so cool to see all kinds of music going out of there. We got a lot of producers that do beats and mixing. We got a whole gamut of music. Fort Worth has always been a diverse, thriving scene. People who aren’t from here would just assume it’s a bunch of boots and hats, which there’s a lot of that, but there’s also a lot of other stuff.

Got any favorite Texas venues?

We always have fun at the Aztec, that’s a fun theater. I like theaters too. I don’t know, Billy Bob’s is always a great time. Emo’s and Stubb’s in Austin I always love playing.

Earlier, you said you were compiling music today, is there a new record in the works?

I’ve been writing one since — well, I’m always writing — and just with everything in the world on fire, we haven’t been able to go into the studio and record. We’re putting together kind of a loose game plan for next year. Step one or two of that game plan is just compiling what I’ve got, and looking at it, seeing how it fits together — if it will work together. Then see what we do next.

Did the pandemic help fuel your writing, or has the material been what you’ve been coming up with the over the past few years?

Yeah, since the last record. I don’t like to go too far backwards. It’s been several years, so it’s a good hunk of material to dig through and see what’s what.

It’s always good to take your time.

Yeah, the record’s ready when the record’s ready. I’m not gonna rush it. I don’t have a deadline. I don’t work for anybody. I don’t have a boss. So, I just write the songs and when we’re ready, we go do a record.

Do you guys ever get tired people reminiscing about your older music?

Sure beats bringing up the time I worked at Wendy’s like 20 years ago. “The time you served those burgers, those were good burgers!” It’s better than that. (Laughs.) I mean it just doesn’t get old. If somebody likes this stuff for this long, it’s always a new experience for me to hear it. It’s cool! You just enjoy people listening. It doesn’t get old. And just to clarify, no disrespect to people who serve burgers at Wendy’s. It was just the first thing I could think of.

$27.50-$39.50, Tuesday, Dec. 28, Aztec Theatre, 104 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 812-4355, theaztectheatre.com.

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