It’s been 26 years since the Toadies started playing rock music in Fort Worth, Texas. Through lineup changes, shelved albums, member departures, band break-ups, one-off reunions and full-on reformations, the Toadies are an act that has experienced nearly everything. After bursting onto the national scene in 1994 with their reakthrough Rubberneck album, which begat their signature single “Possum Kingdom,” the successful follow-up single “Away” and the immense fan favorite “Tyler,” the Toadies returned to the studio in 1998 with the pressure of trying to match their first album’s success. That success didn’t translate to label support when the Toadies submitted their second album, Feeler. Perhaps aptly, things in general just went wrong. “We got approval for a record,” says Vaden Todd Lewis, “and somewhere in the process of handing over the masters to get mixed, it got unapproved. So we went back to the drawing board.” Eventually some of the Feeler tracks made it onto Hell Below/Stars Above—a sophomore offering that came seven years after Rubberneck. Disappointed and dejected, the band dissolved just a few months after that album’s release.
Coming out of the Toadies, Lewis, guitarist Clark Vogeler and drummer Mark Reznicek were disillusioned. Vogeler went to work as a film editor being nominated for 3 Emmy Awards, Rez hooked up with the country-western band Eleven Hundred Springs. Lewis initially thought, “Fuck this whole business. I’m gettin’ out. I just wanted to do anything else.”
Toadies fans stuck with them though, often inquiring as to the band’s activities. Says Lewis, “People just asked me “So, what are you doin’ now?”
Soon it occurred to him that music was all he wanted to do. “I’m a musician.
That’s what I do, and I’m not happy not doing it.”
Meanwhile, “Possum Kingdom” never left the airwaves, enjoying constant rotation at major modern rock stations. Fans clamored for a Toadies reunion. “The band never went all the way away,” says Lewis. A one-off show in Dallas in 2006 became a full-fledged reunion with the addition of former Hagfish bassist, Doni Blair. Ever since, the Toadies have steadily built momentum. A third album, No Deliverance, came in 2008 and saw the band selling out shows nationwide while also playing Lollapalooza and ACL. The “lost album,” Feeler, finally materialized in 2010 followed by Play.Rock.Music. in 2012. Highly successful national tours followed each release. The band’s annual Dia de Los Toadies festival now in its 8th year –has featured the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Ben Kweller, Old 97s, Mariachi El Bronx, Helmet, The Black Angels, Centro-matic, Sarah Jaffe, The Sword and Black Joe Lewis.
In 2014, Toadies celebrated the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck by playing the album front to back for the first time ever on a U.S. tour. With 20 years and thousands of shows behind them, the Toadies sound even better. Lewis says “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.