Toadies: Bombastic and Fantastic on ‘The Lower Side of Uptown’

The Toadies have been at it for more than two decades now – minus a few years when they called it quits before coming back together 2006. But, they’ve been making up lost time ever since.

The band is about to release ‘The Lower Side of Uptown,’ quite possibly their best record since 1994’s wildly successful debut ‘Rubberneck.’ They’ve also holding their tenth annual Dia De Los Toadies Festival at Possum Kingdom Lake down in Texas on September 16. The all-day music event features bands like Local H, The Riverboat Gamblers and Ting Tang Tina, a group that boasts the daughter of Toadies front man Vaden Lewis. Once the festival is over, the Toadies plan on finishing out the rest of the year touring the country.

Lewis, still prepping for the festival, took time recently to talk about the new record, the upside to the band calling it quits for a while and what’s ahead.

Innocent Words: September marks the 10th anniversary of your Dia De Los Toadies Festival. I assume it’s got to be difficult to pull off a festival like this. What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years?

Vaden Lewis: Honestly, I had to make myself relax and just enjoy the festival. We always hand pick bands on the bill that we’re fans of, and early on I would be too distracted to even watch them. Once I let go of that I was able to have fun and experience all this great music.

Innocent Words: Your daughter’s band is also playing a set this year, right? As a father, what’s it like to hear your daughter perform?

Vaden Lewis: She’s crazy talented, and the songs are super catchy. This will be the largest crowd they’ve performed in front of and I’m eager to see what kind of energy that brings to their show.

Innocent Words: The Toadies split for a while around 2001, but once you’ve gotten back together you’ve had a phenomenal run. What do you attribute that success to? Did splitting up temporarily contribute at all in the new success?

Vaden Lewis: A major part of the split was label and legal headaches that just overwhelmed the band and took our focus off making music. When the dust settled on all that I thought “well hell, now that all those headaches are gone I can’t wait to get back to making music.” I started writing and haven’t stopped.

Innocent Words: ‘The Lower Side of Uptown’ sounds a lot like some of the earlier records. Was that a conscious decision?

Vaden Lewis: No, not at all. We actually anticipated this record as being a fusion of the stripped-down style on ‘Heretics’ and our traditional sound. Once we got in the studio and started putting songs together we realized we were moving in a much heavier direction. ‘Lower Side’ turned out to be one of our more bombastic records.

Innocent Words: It’s also far removed from the stripped down ‘Heretics’ and the tour behind that album. Is it a much different mindset touring acoustically versus your more standard heavy rock shows?

Vaden Lewis: For the ‘Heretics’ tour we specifically targeted listening rooms and seated venues. We felt that fit the vibe of that performance. That tour was a bit more mentally taxing than other tours since we were doing completely different instrumentation and arrangements in new – to us – venues.

Innocent Words: Is there any significance behind the album title ‘The Lower Side of Uptown’?

Vaden Lewis: The title is from the lyrics for “When I Die,” which is sort of an agnostic prayer. The lower side of uptown would be sort of like the back-alley access to heaven or nirvana or whatever.

Innocent Words: The album cover is pretty damn cool. How did you get Michael Lark involved for that?

Vaden Lewis: Yeah, he rules! Michael Lark is a friend of Rez’s (drummer Mark Reznicek). He’s a well-known comic book artist and a fan of the band, so when we asked if he’d be interested in doing the cover he said, “hell yes!” He happened to be taking a short break from his regular gig drawing the Lazarus comic book, so the timing worked out great. My wife and I even commissioned a portrait of a family member after seeing his work.

Innocent Words: Any plans for a new set of Toadies beer this year?

Vaden Lewis: No new beer this year, but we are in talks with Martin House Brewing for a new one in 2018. This year both our camps had too much on our plates to dial in a new brew.

Innocent Words: What’s next for the band?

Vaden Lewis: We’re enjoying the last few weeks of home and family life before the release of the new album and a very long US tour. We’ll start rehearsals soon, then the first date is September 6th. After that we won’t see home until mid-November. We’re looking forward to getting back to the rock & roll venues and fans we missed on the ‘Heretics’ tour.

TOADIES TOUR DATES

09/06/17 Denton, TX Rockin Rodeo
09/07/17 Oklahoma City, OK Diamond Ballroom
09/08/17 Kansas City, KS Buzz Beach Ball
09/09/17 St. Louis, MO Delmar Hall
09/10/17 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s
09/12/17 Knoxville, TN The Concourse
09/13/17 Nashville, TN Exit / In
09/14/17 Memphis, TN New Daisy Theatre
09/16/17 Possum Kingdom Lake, TX Possum Hollow Dia De Los Toadies
09/19/17 El Paso, TX Tricky Falls
09/20/17 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
09/21/17 Las Vegas, NV Beauty Bar
09/22/17 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom
09/23/17 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up
09/24/17 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour
09/26/17 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
09/27/17 Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre
09/29/17 Seattle, WA The Crocodile
09/30/17 Portland, OR Star Theater
10/01/17 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
10/03/17 Salt Lake City, UT Metro Music Hall
10/04/17 Grand Junction, CO The Mesa Theater
10/05/17 Englewood, CO Gothic Theater
10/06/17 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room
10/07/17 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s
10/08/17 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
10/10/17 Chicago, IL Metro
10/11/17 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
10/12/17 Indianapolis, IN The Vogue
10/13/17 Detroit, MI St. Andrew’s Hall
10/14/17 Cleveland Heights, OH The Grog Shop
10/15/17 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater
10/17/17 Washington, DC Black Cat
10/18/17 New York, NY Gramercy Theatre
10/19/17 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of Living Arts
10/20/17 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall
10/20/17 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall
10/21/17 Asbury Park, NJ Stone Pony
10/22/17 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
10/24/17 Durham, NC Motorco Music Hall
10/25/17 Wilmington, NC The Throne Theater
10/26/17 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
10/27/17 Orlando, FL The Plaza Live
10/28/17 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Culture Room
10/29/17 Tampa, FL The Ritz Ybor
10/31/17 New Orleans, LA Tipitina’s
11/04/17 Carrollton, TX Carrollton Festival
11/10/17 Austin, TX Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
11/11/17 Corpus Christi, Texas Brewster Street Ice House
12/29/17 Houston, Texas House of Blues

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