Silent Uproar: We always try to start out with some basic questions about the band, so first off how did everyone in the band meet?
Todd: Lets see, Lisa and I worked in a record store in Forth Worth and we started the band in late 1988. Our first guitar player worked there also. We got turned on to Mark through different bands in Dallas when we got rid of a drummer. We new Clark, and we got him in '97 when we let Darrell go. He had played in Funland and some other bands around town, so we knew him also.
SU: Where did the name the Toadies come from?
Todd: We had put the band together and there was a friend of ours who had a club called the Axis down in Fort Worth, and we gave him kinda crappy little jam box recording, and he was like, hey come down and play at my club next weekend. So we had to throw a name together and that's what came out...(laughs)...it was something that obviously wasn't too serious, kinda whimsical.
SU: There are some rumors about the name had something to do with a High School Mascot that was the Toads or something.
Todd: Yeah, that's a rumor going around here, and it is actually TCU...see I don't get this at all, TCU is down here in Dallas, actually its Forth Worth, and they have the horn frog. So I guess that's what they figure, and it works for them...(laughs)... I don't really see that, at all.
SU: In think the Toadies music is very hard to classify due to its uniqueness. So how would you describe your sound?
Todd: I am with you on that, I think it is...rock. I mean, I don't know, it is just good guitar bass rock. I have heard it referred to as having a Southern feel to it, and I can kinda hear some of that. But it is really weird. To say southern rock, or whatever, kinda makes me feel like somebody is intending Lynyrd Skynyrd. You know, we have so many different things that we draw from, from the Pixies to Bob Wheel and so it is kinda hard to categorize it.
SU: Where do most of the ideas for songs come from? Does everyone usually come up with things, or is it just one or two of you?
Todd: Yeah, on the first record it was almost entirely my song writing and stuff. On this record the band has evolved quite a bit to where we all kick in, so it is really a pleasure writing with these guys now. We will come in and somebody will have an idea, and we will just build on it and go. I say the lion's share of the ideas are probably mine. But you know, like HB/SA, the title track for example, the first part of that I wrote myself, and it was just going be a like a minute and a half or two minute rock song. Clark decided, well we all decided that we should tag something on the end, so me and Clark started writing together, and just kinda made it up on the spot and it turned it into this huge outro that really changed the vibe of the song and the record. Things like that are just really great, when they happen that way.
SU: I think it is really apparent from listening to the new that you guys have definitely grown a lot musically. What if anything would you contribute this growth to?
Todd: You know, just getting out there and doing it, and a lot of what is on the record, at least from my part, I can't really speak for the rest of the band obviously, but from my part, a lot of what comes on this record is from growing up kind of. It is just figuring out who I am and getting comfortable with who I am, and not being so fucking paranoid all the time. I feel pretty good about what is going on in my life, and I think it makes a big difference in my creativity.
SU: Are there any plans to do anything with the material you were working on during the Feeler sessions?
Todd: Actually a couple of those songs made it on this record in one form or another. "Dollskin" was from that session. "What We Have We Steal" had a different title on that session, and a different arrangement. Then there is "Joey Let's Go" and "Waterfall" which we recorded for this session, which were also recorded for that session, but didn't make it on to the record. So those are recorded and mixed and everything. To answer your question, we have a bunch of stuff that we want to get out. Hopefully we will have the need to do b-sides and soundtracks.
If we are lucky then people will start making offers to us for soundtracks and what not, and it is good to have a good catalog of stuff ready, or not really ready, but closer to than not. You know, not from scratch, so we can maybe go back and remix the stuff. My wet dream would be to have Dave Sardi mix the stuff that we had from that session.
SU: What about songs like Send You to Heaven and Clarksville, are there any plans for those?
Todd: Not really. "Send You To Heaven" we play live every once and a while, and people really dig that one, so we will probably be digging that one out for live shows. If we do get the opportunity to do a soundtrack or somebody throws some money at us to go to the studio that might always happen with that one. "Clarksville" I am not really sure about. It is one of those that the never really clicked with anybody in the band.
What I have done in the past, like maybe a third of the songs on Rubberneck, and maybe even some of the songs on this record, what I would do is write a song and it didn't really seem to work so I would just kind of cannibalize it and make another song out of it. Like "Mr. Love" was another song that I wrote in '89 that was kinda silly, so I took it apart and tried to change the arrangement. Basically I used the chords and that's about it. "I Burn" was the bridge from a song and I just decided it was better that the song, so we just killed the song and lengthened the bridge. So things like that happen, so you might hear those riffs come up again some time in a song.
SU: Are you perturbed at all that some of these songs are available on Napster?
Todd: Yeah, my main beef with Napster is that, well you know there's always the beef that nobody gets paid for anything on there, but that's not really that big a deal for me, because I don't get paid right now anything anyway. My main beef is that there is some shit on there that I didn't want people to hear. You know, if it is not good enough for us to finishing mixing it, then it is not good enough for anybody to hear. That is really personal to me. It is like them coming in and taking my diary or whatever, and reading it and selling it or photocopying it and sending it out. That's really what I think, other than that I could really give a fuck. Unauthorized stuff is what really gets me. You know I can understand why people would want it, totally, but still. That stuff changes (songs) and we have done so much experimentation and there are so many expectations for this record that it is kinda frustrating to see stuff get out that we know we didn't want anybody to hear anyway.
SU: How do you think it is getting out?
Todd: I have no clue man, I really don't. I know there is a bunch of live stuff out there, but it is pretty obvious how that gets out. But I don't know, I don't really know.
SU: I guess if you knew, then it probably wouldn't be out there.
Todd: (laughs)...Yeah, I guess so. But you know, that kinda bugs me but I have realized it is a fact of life and put it behind me.
SU: How do you feel about online music zines like Silent Uproar, and how do you think they figure into the success of a record?
Todd: You know, I don't really know. I think it is obviously an untapped thing right now that as far as the labels are concerned, are not really getting into. Other than that, I don't know. I am not a total computer idiot, but...well Clark would be the guy to ask that. He does our website and knows all the stuff. So I don't really have a good answer for that one.
SU: All right, next question. Are Burt and Ernie really gay?
Todd: (laughs)...that's top secret, classified.
SU: From what I know, part of the reason it took so long to get the new record out had to do with Interscope. Do you think that the long time period since you released Rubberneck will hurt the potential for success of the new album?
Todd: Well it is certainly not going to help. That (the label part) honestly was just a part of it. We had that session (Feeler) that we just talked about, that was something that took up some time. First off we toured until '97 on the record (Rubberneck) and then we started writing the new record, and we also had manage problems, and head trips, and all sorts of crazy shit. You name it we went through it. So it was more than just the label. Anyway, to answer your question, I think it is definitely not going to help, but I think it has definitely made us a stronger band. We are at a much different place then where we were in '98 when we tried to do that Feeler session, emotionally and as a band. Just all around, on every level we are just better now, and think we couldn't have made this record in '98. It is just a better record.
SU: Does it feel almost like you are having to start all over again?
Todd: Kinda, yeah. It is kinda weird because it feels like we are starting all over again, but I know a lot more about the business and how to get things done and how to do it. We are also getting a really big push from the label right now, so that is going to help a lot. On the first record they were like 'hey you know we will put you out there and see if you sink or swim, and we went out there and kinda did it ourselves as far as I am concerned, I know there is a lot of people that would disagree with that... (laughs)...But with this record we have a good push going on and it is localized, but it is a good push.
SU: What about the artwork for HB/SA, it is really interesting. Who came up with that idea, and were there any alternate covers to choose from?
Todd: Well what we decided to was have a symbol or an icon or a brand if you will. We wanted something where it is easily identifiable and just an icon. Lisa had scored a book called "Colors of the Almighty" (should be "Pillars of the Almighty") by a guy whose name was f-stop fitzgerald. Anyway, it is a book where he did a bunch of photography of cool churches and gargoyles and buildings, mostly cathedrals and churches. We were just scrolling through that and found that cover art, found that image, that angel, and we just all at the same time said fucking A man, that's what it is going to be right there. We wanted the whole album cover to carry that kind of vibe, so the art director who is in Atlanta took a band photo and stuck it in there.
The image and all the artwork, and the title of the record, everything just seemed to fit together, so it worked really well. The back tray is an image that I have been wanting to use since I first started coming to Dallas. There is a building downtown, I think it is called the Power and light building, I am not really sure. It is this real ugly boring building, with this awesome stained glass window over it and that is really just a photograph of that stained glass window in the back tray.
SU: Well are there any plans for any videos?
Todd: Not right now. What we are doing is pushing this first song "Push the Hand", and my intention is to get that song out and to kinda remind people who we are. Then hopefully real soon, well I don't know, it depends on what kind of business decisions what decide to make, but I would like to see another single come out in the next few months, nationwide. Then maybe with that one do a video.
SU: Any ideas what that (next single) may be?
Todd: Not really. My personal favorites are "You'll Come Down" or "Motivational". I think (these) would be fun to see on the radio. But you know, I like all the songs on the record, so it doesn't really matter to me. I think "Push the Hand" is kind of a traditional Toadies song, it is kinda like an old school Toadies song, I think its a good one to go out and remind people , oh they're still around. We did a show up in Boston last weekend, and the DJ from the radio station was saying when they first played that song two or three different people called up and said 'If that is not the Toadies then someone is ripping the Toadies off'. So people are identifying with it, which is really good. So it is serving its purpose. I don't really see it as a big nationwide rock song, but what do I know, you know. So I would like to see another one get pushed nationwide, and really go out and tour on that too.
SU: You had mentioned earlier that you were doing a focused push in Texas, have you started reaching out with that?
Todd: Long story short we are going to try to springboard across the country like we did last time. On the last record we broke out of Tampa, Saint Pete, and Boston before Texas or anywhere else. That kinda spread and it just kind of lit up across the country. So that is kinda what we are trying to do with these 15 markets. Get people excited, and then just have it spread out. That's the ideal plan.
SU: So you are getting ready to go out on a national tour, it has been a while since you did this kind of tour, so are you looking forward to that?
Todd: Totally, that is what I got in the band for, that is why I wanted to start a band, so I could get out and go around the country. We have been touring around Texas and working our asses off around Texas, it will be good to get out in a bus and go all over the country, I can't wait.
SU: Do you have a little more funding this time to tour with?
Todd: Well I don't think we are going to have to take as much tour support. We are not gonna be really throwing down the dollars, because it is so expensive to go out. But we can at least go out and break even and not have to take a bunch of tour support which you have to pay back.
SU: Are you taking any bands with you?
Todd: Yeah, we are going to headline, it is like 6 weeks, April 18th through the end of May or beyond, I am not really sure when we are going to end it. Diffuser is going to open the whole tour on the first slot. This has changed so many times that I might fuck it up, the second act, for the first two weeks is Enon, a really great band, and then the second four weeks is Elliott I believe.
SU: If you could play a show with anyone, who would it be?
Todd: With anybody ever?
Todd: Bon Scott era AC/DC. Right now it would be Foo Fighters.
SU: I had read some stuff that Dave had made some comments about the Toadies, and liking you guys, and read some stuff that you guys had said about them. Do you think there would ever be the possibility of a tour with them?
Todd: I would love it man, that would be fucking rad. Anything is possible...(laughs)...What we are gonna try to do is do this headlining tour and what I would like to do, and what I think is the general game plan at this point, of course you know things change day to day, is after we got of this tour to go out on an opening tour with a big band. Because like I was saying, our plan is to go out and remind our fans that we are out there, and get them turned on to the new record. I would like to go out and open for a larger band and try to appeal to some new people you know what I mean. So get our fans stirred up and add some new blood to it would be a good plan I think.
SU: Alright, which is better, GI Joe or Transformers?
Todd: Oh, GI Joe hands down.
SU: I know you had a lot of big time people work on the record, like Tom Rothrock and Andy Wallace. How did you get hooked up with all those people?
Todd: Well actually we worked with these guys on the last record. And we got hooked up with them that time, Tom and Roth, we got hooked up with them just trough listening to different records and they produced a record by a band called Wool, called Budspawn, and on Rubberneck we were looking at AC/DC Back in Black as the epitome of kick ass rock. Just guitar wise and drum wise it just fucking slays, and that Budspawn sounded really good...(laughs)...
Anyway, and Andy Wallace, he just kicks ass. On this record we looked at different producers and stuff, but we just kept coming back to Tom and Rob because their tracking was impeccable. Just the tones, everything from Elliot Smith to whatever, sounded really tight and clean, and when you listened to it you didn't get distracted with, 'Well that's a study track', or 'that's a whatever', it just sounded really full. So that's why we went to Tom and Rob for the tracking, and once again to Andy to get the knobs twisted.
SU: I read in an interview somewhere a comment about you not using Protools. I know a lot of bands rely heavily on it when recording; do you feel that not using it in any way limited the complexity of the record at all?
Todd: I think ProTools is like Christianity, its like if it works for you, it works for you, it doesn't work for me so I don't want to have any part of it...For me personally it is just too fine tuned. I don't want to look at a screen and see a kick and a snare. I want to hear it and hear if it is right or not, because you can tell when you fucking listen to it if its right or not. Songs have to have a real push and pull, they have to have something real to them.
Of course you know, it depends on how you use it. I have heard people that used it and it sounded great, then you have got that Lenny Kravitz cover f American Women, and that just looks like a ProTools machine in front of you, because it sounds so fucking fake. Anyway, this record we just went totally the opposite direction with. We went into this old studio where a bunch of greats from the 70s had recorded, and we used an old two inch tape deck and a great board from the 70s, and played a 59 Les Paul you know, it was great. There was a lot of history, and that's really what grabs me, just history and sense of respect and all that stuff that went into the recording.
SU: I think really it creates a whole different sound when you use ProTools, even if some of it isn't so over-produced, you can just tell because a lot of the choruses will sound exactly the same, and you can just tell stuff has been sampled.
Todd: Yeah, I think that a danger today in music is getting things perfect. Because you don't fucking have to know how to sing, you don't have to know anything. You get someone who knows how to work ProTools...They can tune your vocal, they can fucking tune your vocals, and if you listen to stuff you can hear it man, you can hear it on all that stuff that's on the radio right now. Because it has been tuned.
For me, I think it is kinda dangerous because you get people that hear that and grow up hearing that kind of generic polished plastic sound, and that is what they expect to hear for the rest of their lives. But that is the only thing that appeals to them because that is what they grew up hearing, or got use to. So what are you going to do when you go see a band live, they are going to have to do that again, and just lip-synch it. You know, we bent over backwards to get everything to sound as perfect as possible, but that is really me singing on that record and that is really me playing guitar and Clark playing guitar and Mark whacking on drums, and the bass and all that shit, its all real. There is not matched choruses, it is just all there, what you hear is what you get.
SU: What is your favorite song to play live?
Todd: Favorite song, probably "Motivational".
SU: All right, this one I have read several different answers to, and people always ask and want to know, so what is Tyler about?
Todd: Well I was with family in Tyler and we were sitting around the dinner table and they were talking about some kooky fucker who was peaking in windows and had some of the neighborhood freaked out. You know if the guy was knocking on windows and peaking then it was obvious that the guy, this probably didn't ever really happen, but it was going around the neighborhood so everyone was freaked out about it, and you know if you are peaking in windows in Tyler then you are asking to get shot is the first thing I thought. So anyway, the first part of the song is just about what if you were that guy, you know what if, I was just kinda going with that, and the second half of the song I just kinda made up what if he went ahead and went inside or whatever. I just tried to put myself in this fictional characters head.
SU: I have heard a lot of people or I have heard a lot of criticism about the Toadies dealing with that song, and some people were saying that it was about rape, and wondering where the lyrics came from, and so on. Do you have an opinion on any of that?
Todd: Well, I let people draw their own conclusions; I think that is what good music does. That is why I try to avoid putting a hard core description on anything, because that is one of the things I learned from touring on Rubberneck is that people's descriptions of what my songs are about, 9 times out of 10 are much cooler than what the songs are actually about. On the other hand, if people get upset about it then that's a reaction; there you go, fuck it. My bottom line is if people don't get it, fuck em, there are other people. That is what I had to decide a long time ago. I am not really worried about what people think that much because if I get worried about that then I am going to start second guessing everything I do. I know what is in my heart, and what I write about, so if someone wants to some and call me a misogynist or whatever then I am just going to be like fuck you, what do you know.
SU: Well I think that people that really listen to it would know anyway, its just that sometimes reviewers maybe hear it once and pass it by, or leave comments about it that kinda stick with people.
Todd: Well you know it is kinda a kick teasing people too. I mean its like "Heel" on the new record, I was writing that and I was like ha ha ha, I am going to fuck with some people's programs. It is just a kick you know.
SU: And now, one from the message board. What is your favorite girl scout cookie?
Todd: Oh man, I haven't had any in a long time. That's a good question. I am not much of a sweets eater, believe it or not.
SU: That's cool.
Todd: (laughs)...Sorry, I don't have a good one for that.
SU: Any closing comments or shout outs?
Todd: I don't know man, no not really. The plan is just to go out and do this. Like I said, that is the reason we got together is to go out and tour, so I am just fucking gassed that we get to go out and do it with a record under us. It just feels really good.