The Toadies on Recording Rubberneck: "Like Kids in a Candy Shop"
1994 was a hell of a year for music.
While in order to listen to most of your favorite albums from that year, you must come into contact with your moldy CD collection, at Culture Room on May 16, you can hear Rubberneck by the Toadies in an actual human environment. The Fort Worth, TX, alternative four-piece will perform the record live in its entirety.
Though it took the band two years after the album was recorded to find its audience on the strength of hit single "Possum Kingdom," it's been twenty years this August that this full length was officially released. New Times reminisced with Toadies drummer Mark Reznicek about memories of recording Rubberneck along with discussing his side projects involving beer and comic books.
New Times: Let's start from the beginning. How did Toadies form?
Mark Reznicek: The three original members all worked together at a record store. They went through a bunch of drummers in the space of a year and then this girl Tracey (Sauerwein), who I was in a band with, joined the Toadies as their second guitar player.
So I started watching them, stalking them basically, and when they had auditions for a new drummer Tracey got me in, and I got the job. That was 1991.
With this tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the album, can you talk about what band the band was like at the time of recording?
It was 1993 when we recorded it. We had just been signed to Interscope in June and in September we went out to the studio in Mendocino, CA, up in the mountains in the redwood forest. It was a beautiful setting. We showed up and made a record. It felt like kids in a candy shop. We made recordings at home in studios around Texas. But this felt big time with A&R people hanging around. We never thought twenty years later people would still give a shit.
What music were you guys listening to during the recording?
I remember we had a cassette of the Breeders' album Last Splash in the van. We didn't have any other tapes with us, so we were always listening to the Breeders when we'd drive into town to get groceries or beer, so that seemed like the soundtrack. I also remember listening to Nirvana's In Utero, which was new at the time. ZZ Top's Tejas and the Pixies were in constant rotation. I seem to remember Spiderland by Slint being big.
It's rare when the longest song on the album is the biggest hit as "Possum Kingdom" was. What do you attribute its success to?
I'm not even sure, because it's a weird song with a weird time signature and it doesn't really have a chorus. The name of the song isn't even mentioned, it just seemed like an unlikely hit. I guess something about it seemed to grab people, and if I knew what it was I'd do it over and over again.
With this tour you're playing Rubberneck in its entirety live. I know when I read something I wrote years earlier I want to make improvements. Have you and the band made any changes to the songs you wrote 20 years earlier or are you trying to stay as faithful to the record as possible?
Over the years, some of the songs have mutated with different tempos and adding stuff we didn't realize we were doing. When it came time to rehearse for this tour we went back and listened to the album and noticed we were playing the songs one way while the record's another way. It was fun to go over the album with a microscope and find stuff that had changed over the years and bring it back more in line with how it was played on the record.
You guys have a beer out to commemorate the record's anniversary called Rubberneck Red.
Yeah, there's a local craft brewery in Fort Worth, TX, called Martin House. They grew up as fans of Toadies and we were fans of their beer, so the stars aligned. They made some test batches, we tasted them, told them what we liked and didn't like. They fine-tuned it and it's been getting positive reviews. They have rules against us transporting it across state lines and selling it, so unfortunately for now Texas is the only place you can get Rubberneck Red.
And you also wrote a comic book?
Buzzkill (about a superhero whose powers come from drinking alcohol) came out from Dark Horse Comics. It was originally a four issue miniseries and there's now a trade paperback compilation of all the issues we'll be selling at the show.
Our tour manager Wes introduced me to a buddy of his from junior high who was an intern at Marvel Comics, Donny Cates. He figured we'd get along real well since I read comics. After a show in New York, we started talking about how I wanted to write comics. I forgot about it, and then six months later, we ran into each other and talked about it again. I said, "I might have an idea." I typed up a proposal, and he took it from there, and it ended up a comic book.
Any last words about what audiences can expect at the show?
We play the whole Rubberneck album which is 40 minutes or so and we fill up the rest of the time with songs from our other records. We also have Supersuckers and Battleme on tour with us, so it's a full one two three punch of rock.
Toadies, the Rubberneck 20th Anniversary Tour, with Supersuckers and Battleme. 8 p.m., Friday, May 16, at Culture Room 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20 plus fees. Call 954-564-1074, or visit cultureroom.net.