Toadies may be gearing up for a big 20th anniversary celebration this year — and there’s new versions of its old music on the way, too. Frontman Vaden Todd Lewis tells Billboard that the Forth Worth rockers is in the midst of finishing a new album, Toadies’ sixth overall and the follow-up to 2012’s “Play.Rock.Music.”
“It’s kind of a retrospective of our whole catalog, with a new lens,” Lewis says of the set, which he calls an outgrowth of performances from the band’s performances at its annual Dia De Los Toadies festivals. “On the first night we started doing a chill set with different instrumentation. We’ve played these songs for so long, we wanted to take them apart and make them into something new. We decided after the last (festival), ‘Let’s do a record of this, the same idea but in a studio with a more controlled environment. It’s all acoustic guitar, (Fender) Rhodes piano. It should be shocking” to a lot of Toadies fans, but I think that’s good to do, occasionally.”
Lewis says Toadies also “wrote a couple new (songs) in the studio that will hopefully make it on the record,” which he hopes to have out by late summer.
Meanwhile, Toadies will be setting out to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Rubberneck,” and its breakthrough hit “Possum Kingdom.” The group’s tour will begin with performances March 12-15 at the South By Southwest Music Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, and run through June, with dates still being added to the itinerary. The quartet will, of course, be playing “Rubberneck” in its entirety, and an anniversary edition of the album comes out April 1 sporting live versions of “Possum Kingdom” and “Tyler” as well as the unreleased bonus tracks”Run In With Dad,” “Rockfish” and a cover of Pylon’s “Stop It.”
“I’ve never understood what people loved so much about it,” Lewis says with a laugh. “I love the record. I’m happy with it, of course, but it still just astounds me that people connected with it the way they did. I can see how that was pretty much my beginning effort as a writer, a serious songwriter. Those were some of the first songs I’d ever written; ‘I Come From the Water’ was the first song I wrote for the Toadies, that I actually finished into a song. It’s a snapshot of, like, a year, I guess, but I can see the progress I’ve made. It still just astounds me.”
And though he had to have his arm twisted a bit to record it at the time, Lewis says he’s happy with Toadies’ take on “Stop It” (hear it exclusively, above).
“The Pylon version of it really kicked ass,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Let’s put some heavier, louder guitars on it and do it, just real simple.’ We just ran through it in the studio a couple times and I kinda forgot about it. In hindsight it would have made a great addition, but I was a real stickler for making it an all-original record at the time.”
Amidst the other projects, Toadies have also entered the beer market, teaming with Texas’ Martin House Brewing company for Rubberneck Red, a limited edition malty red ale with a hoppy flavor. “We met them through some mutual friends in the beer-drinking circles of Fort Worth, and we started talking about how cool it would be to do a Toadies beer,” Lewis says. “I’m not a real beer snob, so I don’t really know the terms, but it’s good. It’s sessionable, which means you can drink a shit-ton of it. It’s not real heavy, but it’s not a pansy beer, either.”
Watch a “120 Minutes” performance of “I Come From the Water”: