Toadies Tell Us About Cranking Up the Volume on The Lower Side of Uptown

The Toadies formed almost three decades ago, but they're as busy as ever.EXPAND
The Toadies formed almost three decades ago, but they're as busy as ever.
Matt Cooper
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September is a busy month for the Toadies. The Dallas-based band kicked off a 47-date, 29-state tour Sept. 6 that has them crisscrossing the U.S. until early November. Two days later, they released their new album, The Lower Side of Uptown, via Kirtland Records. It's the follow up to 2015's Heretics and is the Toadies' seventh album.

For The Lower Side of Uptown, the Toadies enlisted the help of producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith and mixer Rob Schnapf. Smith and Schnapf have a long history of working together for the Toadies. Smith produced the band’s 2012 album Play. Rock. Music., and Schnapf produced Heretics and Feeler and co-produced Rubberneck and Hell Below/Stars Above.

“Since our last album was a stripped-down, mainly acoustic recording, we had kind of assumed that sound would play at least a part of this new album, perhaps mixed in with our more traditional loud rocking sounds,” Toadies drummer Mark “Rez” Reznicek says. “But once we started making music, it sort of took a life of its own and became an altogether heavier affair.”

Toadies guitarist Clark Vogeler says recording with Smith is always an interesting experience.

"He brings such enthusiasm to the process that it’s infectious,” Vogeler says. “He’s got a great ear for what makes a good rock 'n' roll record, and as much as anyone else, he put his heart and soul into this record.”

The new 12-song album was recorded at two Austin studios: Arlyn Studios, a favorite of Texas legend Willie Nelson, and The Bubble. Particularly compelling is the band's cover of Jay Hawkins’ 1956 song “I Put a Spell on You."

“When we got to the studio with nothing more than a pile of riffs, what came out of the band was really loud and heavy music,” Vogeler says. “So not only is this album louder than Heretics, I think it's louder and heavier than the last couple Toadies albums.”

Michael Lark, a comic artist who has worked on Daredevil, Captain America, Winter Soldier and other books for Marvel and DC/Vertigo, created the cover art for the new album. The Chicago band Local H is joining the Toadies on tour.

“We’re excited to be on tour with Local H,” Reznicek says. “We’ve been trying to make it happen for several years, ever since they played Dia de Los Toadies a few years ago. Finally the stars aligned, and it’s happening.”

After shows in Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee, the Toadies will return to Texas on Saturday, Sept. 16, for the group's 10th Dia de Los Toadies at Possum Kingdom Lake.

"People can expect to hear their Toadies favorites, as well as songs from our new album, which hopefully includes songs that will become favorites,” Reznicek says.

North Texas will have another opportunity to see the Toadies perform when the group plays the Carrollton Festival at the Switchyard on Nov. 4. The tour ends Nov. 10 with a performance at Stubbs BBQ in Austin.

The Lower Side Of Uptown track list:
1. When I Die
2. Take Me Alive
3. Polly Jean
4. You Know the Words
5. Mama Take Me Home
6. Keep Breathing
7. Amen
8. Human Cannonball
9. Broke Down Stupid
10. I Put a Spell on You
11. Echo
12. Sentimental

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