Yesterday, an announcement was made that The Toadies' major label debut, Rubberneck, will be reissued in April on Kirtland Records. Remastered for CD and vinyl with five unreleased bonus tracks, this is obviously a pretty big deal for longtime fans of the band. The band will head out on an anniversary tour in the spring to promote it as well.
To discuss the band's history and legacy, Eric Grubbs and Darryl Smyers had a little chat about the impact of the record then and now. True to form of previous discussions on records like Too Far to Care and Vulgar Display of Power, they had a lot to say. And yes, the record came out 20 years ago this year.
Eric Grubbs: Rubberneck is getting reissued in April. Are you going to rush out and get the expanded, deluxe 180-gram vinyl reissue on April 1?
Darryl Smyers: Yeah! That and the reissue of [Old 97's] Fight Songs.
EG: Oh, you sarcastic man. I look at the album credentials and you can tell they had a majority of the right guys making that record. You had Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, who would later work with Elliott Smith on some pretty fantastic records. Howie Weinberg mastered it. Andy Wallace mixed it -- the same guy that mixed Nirvana. Rubberneck was primed for rock radio. Correct if I'm wrong, but when this record came out in 1994, it was a slow burn. It didn't really catch fire until MTV started playing "Possum Kingdom" on a regular basis in '95.
DS: Yeah, I had been out of the country before then. When I came back to Dallas, that was one of first things I was exposed to. I was blown away by "Possum Kingdom," but when I bought the record, I thought the rest of the album didn't have enough punch to me. Maybe that's why it became as popular as it did because some of the other songs are the same. Even "I Come from the Water," which I love when I saw them live.
EG: Let me give you my perspective. In 1994, I was a ninth grader who had heard of The Pixies but had never heard them before. I think The Toadies were a good gateway band. So when I did hear The Pixies a couple of years later, I had the taste for it. Because of Darrel Herbert's lead guitar lines were very similar to Joey Santiago's. I played in a band that wanted to cover "Mister Love" and "Quitter." Fun songs, but we never got around to covering them. My point is, if you got into this record when you were in high school or college, you probably still love this record. Do you agree or disagree?
DS: I'm more jaded and older than you are. I was in my 20s when this album came out. I remember having a similar feeling when the album was released. When I first saw them, before they really broke, their crowd was more of the punk underground sort of thing. When they broke, the crowd was more cynical SMU frat boys. Guys with backwards hats on, proclaiming their love for Run-DMC. I kind of got more turned off by the crowd.
That album sold a million copies and then there was internal conflict in the band and what happened to band afterwards? They're one of those legendary Dallas bands that you can probably go to Denver or Chicago, Phoenix or L.A. and ask somebody, "Hey, you heard of The Toadies?" And they'd say no.
EG: Oh, come on. I don't believe that!DS:
Who's more popular: Old 97's or The Toadies?
EG: They're pretty even at this point.
DS: There are people on the streets of Dallas who have no idea who Old 97's are.
EG: When did that happen?
DS: Believe me! All the time. I mean, I work with people who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and no one knows who Old 97's are.
EG: I disagree. In the case of The Toadies, you still hear songs from Rubberneck on The Edge.
DS: Yeah, that album has some staying power. It's like that first single by Bush. What's its name?
EG: "Everything Zen."
DS: Yeah! A Nirvana clone, people went crazy, somehow Howard Stern says they're a great new band and then everybody went, "Oh no, we're wrong." For me, I love "Possum Kingdom." It would come on the radio and the chords would break in and it would really give me goosebumps like when I first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or The Pixies' "Tony's Theme." The rest of the album, to me, is spotty at best. Like, "If we can stay more on the regular mainstream rock station."
EG: What would you say is the band's legacy?
DS: I don't know. Rubberneck is very nostalgic now. When they did their reunion, they got a great crowd response. It's undeniably powerful music. That album is the band's high-water mark and they reached it pretty early.
EG: Truth to be told, it's a record that I've never been able to really sink my teeth into. I like it and I don't object to seeing them live, but Rubberneck is not something I want to grab and listen to that often. That's always been the case with that record for me. But the band is still around, they have Dia De Los Toadies every year. People still care about this band.
DS: Oh yeah! And, the fact that there are so many bands like The Phuss, who I think are a great band but who obviously are influenced by The Toadies.
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