It's been 23 years since 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 performances, Toadies are an act that has experienced nearly everything except, perhaps, the freedom to grow as they choose.
But that mark is about to be checked, too. On July 31, Toadies will release their fifth proper full-length album a disc fittingly called 'Play.Rock.Music.', because, perhaps for the first time in their career, the band feels capable of unapologetically doing just that.
After bursting onto the national scene with their breakthrough 'Rubberneck' album, which begat their signature single, 'Possum Kingdom', the successful follow-up single 'Away' and the immense fan favorite 'Tyler', Toadies returned to the studio in 1996 with the pressure of trying to match their first album's success. The result was a disc called 'Feeler', an album the band's then-label home, Interscope Records, was supposed to release in 1997 but decided to shelve despite the band's protests. So it was back to the drawing board for the 2001-released 'Hell Below/Stars Above', an awkwardly timed sophomore album that enjoyed moderate success and almost universal critical acclaim but was ultimately doomed because of the seven-year wait to arrive.
But a reunion show in Dallas in 2006 reignited the band's spark. The following year, the band embarked on a surprise tour of Texas. A year later, they fully re-formed, recording and releasing 2008's 'No Deliverance'.
This past spring, the band, joined by Grammy-nominated producer Chris Frenchie Smith entered an Austin recording studio with a clean slate. The songs on 'Play.Rock.Music.' are some of the best the Toadies have ever released. The trademarks of the band are all present Lewis howl, the chugging guitars, the unrepentant angst but they're also improved upon. Without question, it is: With the band's second successful stint now having lasted almost as long as the initial run, 'Play.Rock.Music.' shows off a band in full stride, an outfit with renewed vigor and, perhaps most important, a group with a clear and confident understanding of itself.