Toadies

Looking over his shoulder at Rubberneck, the Toadies' platinum-selling 1994 debut, drummer Mark Reznicekis reflective. "Hard to believe it's been 20 years," he says. "It seems like yesterday. But,at the same time,it was a lifetime ago."Thesongs on Rubberneckare fearless, literate and visceral. Their protagonists areperceived as anti-heroes: stalkers, serial killers and religious zealots (some are all three). Certainly, they're not your average, accessible radio fodder. Well, the Toadies weren't concerned about that. "We didn't even have singles in mind," Reznicek says. "Or the idea of even possibly getting on the radio. We didn't think that would ever happen." But "Possum Kingdom" remains a radio staple even today –and "Backslider" and "Tyler" still pop up. It's because raw expression makes for the most powerful art. The Toadies remainraw. Vaden Todd Lewis still sings as though he's on the precipice of insanity, clinging tenaciously but perhaps already plummeting. Lewis'sand Clark Vogeler's guitars rip and tear like thick fingernailsat supple flesh. Reznicek and bass player Doni Blair(who joined the band in 2008)fuel the fury with relentless, seething rhythm. When these sounds and those images and themesmix, the effect is pure adrenaline. The manic, chugging-choogling strains of Rubberneck's opening instrumental salvo"Mexican Hairless"run pell-mell into the equally breakneck "Mister Love," a backhanded plea for salvation. The pace slows, a little, for "Backslider," where a father drowns his nine-year-old son in deliverance. And then "Possum Kingdom," the Toadies' notoriously creepy megahit, slows things down again with a dangerous antihero's offer of a different salvation. In just these four songs, Rubberneckleaves the listener feeling fed. The songs are meaty, with much to chew on: images to parse, significances to consider, guitar riffs and drum parts to mime. It continues forseven more tracks –including fan favorites like "Tyler" and "I Come From The Water"–and leaves you satisfiedand alittle uncomfortable. It's the same with every spin of Rubberneck. That's why it endures. And it's why the Toadies, with their current label Kirtland Records, and the blessing of original label Interscope Records, are reissuing Rubberneck –remastered and beefed up with five unreleased tracks from the same era –for a new generation. Rubberneck's staying power breeds new fans to go along with the Toadies' early-adopters, whose faith never flagged even as the band struggled to release new music. When their would-besecond album languished on the label shelf, they circulated demos and bought tickets. Even whena different second album, 2001's Hell Below/Stars Above, faredpoorly and the Toadies brokeup, the fans' steadfast evangelismcontinued. "These are fans from when Rubberneckfirst
came out," Reznicek says. "They've turned their younger siblings, and their kids, on to us. We see them all the time –whole families wearing Toadies shirts. It's pretty cool."A one-off show in Dallas in 2006became a full-fledged reunion.The Toadies have since steadily built momentum.Athird album, No Deliverance, came in 2008and saw the band playing Lollapalooza. The heretofore-lostalbum, Feeler,finally materialized in 2010. Anew album, Play.Rock.Musiccame out in 2012. Tours followed each release. The band'sannual Dia de Los Toadies festival–at which the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Ben Kweller, Centro-matic, Sarah Jaffe, The Sword and Black Joe Lewishave appeared, grows each year.Todaythe Toadies –and their magnum opus –are stronger than ever. Rubberneck's new master makes it an even more striking listen. "Three of the five songs were actually recorded during same sessions," Reznicek says. In their customary position at the end of the original sequence, these tunes actually sound as though they're not bonuses. The loping "Run In With Dad," where titular fanatic catches his son fornicating, could fit right in between "Backslider" and "Possum Kingdom." Likewise "Stop It," which is actually a Pylon cover –it wouldn't be so out of place between "Tyler" and "Happyface." The instrumentalunfinished demo"Rockfish," (part of which was used to create "Waterfall" from Feeler) could make a nice bookend with "Mexican Hairless." The other rarities, Rubberneck-era live takes of "Possum Kingdom" and "Tyler" are snapshots of a band in original form. Of course, with 20 years and thousands of shows behind them, the Toadies sound even better. On the road in 2014, supported by the Supersuckers and Battleme, the Toadies will pay tribute to theirfans' supportby playing Rubberneck start-to-finish."I honestly cannot wait to get onstage in front of these fans and play the album front to back," says Vogeler. "I've been looking forward to it for years and, after this anniversary tour, I can't imagine that we'll ever do it again."Lewis is likewise stoked. "Performing these songs will never get old for me so long as I'm able to look out and see smiling, sweaty faces looking back," says Lewis. TheToadies will also have vinyl copies of Rubberneckat the merch table. It's a fitting celebration that the band can nowtoast with their new signaturebeer(brewed by fellow Texans as Martin House Brewing), aptly dubbed Rubberneck Red. And there's loads more to look forward to in 2014 –including a new album due this Fall. "It's gonna be our 'chill set' that we play on the first night of Dia de Los Toadies," says Reznicek. "Acoustic, stripped-down versions of our songs. Probably some new songs, some previously unreleased songs and some new covers." Recording is currently underway with Rob Schnapf, one of Rubberneck's original producers. And there'll be more where that came from. "[The Toadies] has been a hell of a lot of hard work," says Lewis, "but also a hell of a lot of fun. And it continues to be every time we take the stage."

Local H will release their seventh studio album, titled Hallelujah! I'm a Bum on September 18th through Slimstyle Records. The 17-track, double-album was produced by Chicago metal guru Sanford Parker (Yakuza, Bloodiest, Pelican) and showcases the pioneering, two-man band rocking harder than ever. The album will be available digitally, on CD and on limited-edition double-vinyl. The first leg of Local H's U.S. tour begins on release day with a hometown gig at The Bottom Lounge in Chicago. Full itinerary below.
Video of Local H in the studio with Sanford Parker at Engine Studios, set to a track from the new album - "Night Flight to Paris" -- can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlMemzaOZyA

Hallelujah! I'm a Bum is an epic concept record that sees frontman Scott Lucas setting his sights on the deeply divided political climate that exists in the U.S. and around the world, using the Windy City as a backdrop to sardonically comment on how this polarization personally impacts people. From the El-train inspired "Blue Line," in which Lucas sings "It's getting hard to realize / A sense of self in other eyes / It's us and them" to "Another February," which uses the city's brutal winters to paint a picture of anxious desperation within a family to the Peter Gun-riff of "Paddy Considine," a song that mocks the middle-aged Travis Bickles and the hotheaded "conspiracy of toughs" roaming the streets of his hometown's neighborhoods, the album examines how the national political discord affects people within their communities, their neighborhoods and even within their relationships.

"The last couple of records I've been involved with have been pretty inward-looking and navel gaze-y," Lucas confesses. "And with so much going on around us - to keep making records like that is not only kind of embarrassing, but borderline irresponsible. On the other hand it's still rock and roll - and no one wants to hear a bullshit polemic from me. The trick was to make the global as personal as possible and make it something everyone could relate to - regardless of who you vote for. We're on the same side we've always been on - the people's. Fuck - I don't think a band can get much more blue collar than us…..unfortunately."

Lucas often uses hot and cold to illustrate the divide. "Feed A Fever" skewers FOX News specifically and irresponsible media in general, while "Cold Manor," the album's first single, addresses giving in to cynicism and "checking out" politically, while the ruling class uses that apathy to push through its agenda.

A dog theme runs throughout the album, making it a fitting companion to the band's widely praised 1998 concept album Pack Up the Cats, which earned a spot in SPIN magazine's top 20 albums of that year. Hallelujah! I'm a Bum is Local H's first album of new material since 2008's critically acclaimed 12 Angry Months, for which the Chicago Tribune named them "Chicagoans of the Year," more than a decade after their breakthrough hit "Bound for the Floor" ruled the Modern Rock charts.

Despite a four-year hiatus from recording, Local H has kept busy with two releases in the interim -- Local H: The Island Years (a quasi-greatest hits that is part of Universal Music's ICON series) and Local H's Awesome Mix-Tape #1, an EP of covers. And, they've continued to bring their gut-quaking live show to audiences all over the country. In 2010, they put together the "6 Angry Records Tour," during which the duo -- Lucas covers both guitar and bass through an extra pick up in his guitar while drummer Brian St. Clair pounds out the rest of the sound -- allowed a fan to blindly select the name of one of their six studio albums from a hat at the start of the show and then played the album chosen on the spot that night. To complement that, they embarked on "The Singles Tour: All the Hits All Night" in 2011, playing only songs they had released as singles, a contrarian move to the "play a classic album in its entirety" fad that was just heating up. Lucas has also spent time performing and recording country-ish, alt-rock for people who like metal with his seven-piece solo band, Scott Lucas & the Married Men, who guest on this album on the country-western sounding track "Look Who's Walking on Four Legs Again."

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