With this twenty year anniversary of Rubberneck, the Toadies are touring the states coinciding with the release of the remastered album. Up there with classic ’90s grunge albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s Ten or Stone Temple Pilots’ Purple, Rubberneck is an album teething with harsh yet melodic guitar riffs, solos with heavy distortion and a powering pace that drags you along. While the album’s hit single “Possum Kingdom” got its fair share of radio play during its day, the star of Rubberneck is the combination of songs that compose a distinct picture of the Texas grunge-rock scene.
While the album hit various themes typical of the times, such as anti-religious sentiment in “Backslider” or the variation of the light-to-heavy progression in the “Creep”-like song “Tyler” or acoustic album finisher “I Burn,” Rubberneck still seeps personality. Vanden Todd Lewis’s voice transmits pain and rage when he screams about growing up in hyper-religious Texas. Few would argue that Rubberneck is the most influential album of the ‘90s, but it is distinctly grunge, and it is distinctly Texan.
Given the 20 years since the release of Rubberneck, the album feels like a relic of its time. When talking to Toadies’ drummer Mark Rezineck, who has played in the band since the release of Rubberneck, he feels the band has progressed and developed much within these 20 years, although Rubberneck is still a distinct highlight of their career.
“When we were writing and recording Rubberneck, I think our tastes were a little more confined to the sort of music we were playing like during the big grunge explosion, post-Nirvana,” Rezineck said. With a couple listens to Rubberneck, that statement will make sense: although later parts of the Toadies’ discography is more varied, Rubberneck is pure grunge.
Since their success in the ’90s, the Toadies have been going strong for the past two decades. Despite a brief hiatus in the early 2000s, they have released a steady stream of albums. “I think that we’re a little more mature and we’ve improved as musicians, but we’ve still retained that sort-of rebellious spirit in our playing,” stated Rezineck.
With a quick listen to their later discography, that sentiment will ring true. While the Toadies still produce solid alternative rock, it’s not distinctly grunge. Rezinick definitely understands and agrees with this feeling, as he stated: “As time has gone on, we acknowledged more various things that we’re into. For a while I played in a country band, so I took some of what I learned and applied to how I play drums now.”
While the band has developed for the past twenty years, the music industry has changed as well, for better or for worse. In terms of the music-making process, Rezineck feels like they have more control than in the days where MTV and radio were king. “Nowadays,” Resineck commented, “we have a lot more control of our career and a lot more freedom to basically write and record in whatever style we want.”
Playing at the Independent this Sunday, including a full live performance of Rubberneck, the Toadies seem set to deliver a great show. Whether familiar with the band or not, those going should be ready to enjoy a piece of unappreciated music history.
Contact Art Siriwatt at [email protected].