Nineteen ninety-four will go down as one of the most eventful years in music history, a year full of landmark releases where little-known bands would sell millions of albums and enjoy critical as well as commercial success. One of the albums released that year, The Toadies’ platinum-selling album Rubberneck has just been re-released on Kirtland Records, in a remastered edition with five bonus tracks.
Audiophiles will rejoice as the album is also getting a vinyl release for the first time, with a download code for the bonus tracks. A twentieth anniversary tour has been weaving it’s way across the country and a new, yet to be titled album, is in the works for a early 2015 release. In addition to the tour, Toadies Drummer Mark Reznicek has also been busy with his other love, comics. He along, with Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, has created the comic Buzzkill for Dark Horse comics. Reznicek recently took the time to speak with TJ Spurgin, on his experiences with The Toadies, as well as the creation of Buzzkill and what is next for him.
Drunk Monkeys: How is the tour going so far?
Mark Reznicek: Really good. We finished two legs of the tour and it went so well we decided to add another leg. We couldn’t ask for much more than that.
DM: What made you decide to go back and re-explore Rubberneck?
MR: We were trying to decide on a way to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the album and the two most obvious ways were to re-release it with the remaster and do a tour where we played the whole album. It seems like everybody is doing it nowadays.
DM: So what is next for The Toadies after the tour wraps? Are you guys working on a new album?
MR: Yeah, actually we already have another album recorded, so that will probably come out early next year, and then we will go on tour to support that. It’s a little bit of a departure for The Toadies. The back story is we host a festival every year in Texas. It’s a two day festival called Dia De Los Toadies. The first night we kind of a stripped down I hesitate to call it acoustic because there are electric instruments involved but kind of that vibe. It’s kind of a deranged rearranged versions of our songs and covers that kind of stuff. It’s proven to be really popular so we decided to do a album and a tour based around that. As we were recording it the group came up with some new songs too. So there will be rearranged versions of old songs some covers and new songs. It came out really cool so I’m excited for people to hear it. We’re just trying to keep it interesting.
DM: Maybe do a tour with The Reverend Horton Heat?
MR: We did a tour like that with The Reverend back in the 90’s, and it was fun. We do shows with him around Texas from time to time but another tour like that would be great.
DM: How about your comic Buzzkill? How is that going?
MR: It is going really well, after the four issues came out we compiled it into a graphic novel trade paperback. It turned out pretty cool. We have been selling them at the shows they should be up there at our merch table.
DM: How did Buzzkill come about?
MR: Our tour manager Wes introduced me to an old friend of his a few years ago. His friend was Donny Cates, who was working as an intern at Marvel Comics in New York. So when I met him, we hit it off, and we both started talking about comics and all kinds of geek stuff like that. He said we should team up on a comic someday. I don’t know, six months or a year later, we put our heads together we came up with what we thought was a pretty cool idea we shopped it around and Dark Horse Comics picked it up.
DM: Did you come up with the idea for Buzzkill or was that a group effort?
MR: I guess the initial germ of the idea was mine. I told Donny about it and he took it to Geoff Shaw and they developed it. We started putting our heads together and had story conferences and developed a story. We kinda co-plotted it and he pretty much wrote the script. After he would write an issue he would send it to me and I would kinda proofread it and say this part isn’t very clear, or that character wouldn’t say that or whatever. It was a pretty fun collaboration. We are talking about doing something else pretty soon.
DM: Is there going to be more Buzzkill, or is that story pretty much done?
MR: I think the story is pretty much done. We talked about doing a prequel to it but we have some other ideas unrelated to Buzzkill that we would probably like to get to first. But it seems like Dark Horse wants us to explore some more stuff at least in the Buzzkill universe. We’ll see what happens.
DM: So what are some other ideas you guys have in the comic world?
MR: Well the idea we have been throwing around here lately is a Rock n Roll/Horror/Murder Mystery. It’s a band on tour, and there are murders happening and a horror element develops as the story progresses, but I don’t want to give the whole story away. We haven’t really written it yet but we’ve done some development. We’re just trying to find time in both of our schedules so we can really get down and work on it.
DM: Tell me a little bit about your time with Eleven Hundred Springs.
MR: The Toadies broke up in 2001, so shortly after that I hooked up with some buddies of mine Eleven Hundred Springs a country band down here in Texas. They used to be a Rockabilly band called Lonestar Trio and they played a lot of shows with us back in the day. Actually, Lonestar Trio was our opening act when we Did our Rubberneck release show back in 1994. They were looking for a drummer and I was looking for a job and it was a blast and I played with them for six years. When the Toadies reunited, I tried doing both bands for a while. I went for three and a half months without a stop and something had to give. I still friends with those guys I go out and see them every chance that I get. We occasionally play a show with them.
DM: Coming from a great band like Eleven Hundred Springs that stuck to the traditional roots of country, what is your opinion of the current state of country music?
MR: For the most part I hate it. I don’t see how they get around calling it country. It’s basically soft rock with a fiddle in it most of the time. Just because they write songs about beer and pickup trucks, cut off jeans and whatever doesn’t make it a country song. I just think it’s some of the worst music being produced today. I think most of it is un-listenable. That being said there are still some really good artist out there. I’ve really been impressed by this relatively new guy called Sturgill Simpson. I don’t know if you have checked out his albums but he keeps it in the traditional vein and adds a few modern elements. Of course Willie Nelson is still cranking out new records and they are still good. There is a guy called Jamey Johnson that I’m a big fan of that keeps it mostly traditional. I think it’s like anything, I don’t like most of the music I hear on the radio but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot of good music coming out you just have to dig for it.
Top image © Joel Habbeshaw.
A veritable rapscallion and modern-day vagabond, TJ Spurgin is currently based is The Midwest. A life-long student of Traditional American Music, he cites Chuck Berry and Marty McFly's version of Johnny B Goode for sparking his initial interest in music. As a teenager, he discovered Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bruce Springsteen, and The Byrds, along with The Flying Burrito Brothers, whom have all shaped and inspired his writing.