This week on the Mostly Harmless podcast, we have a special DOUBLE EPISODE! Join us today are UME from Austin, Texas and THE TOADIES From Fort Worth, Texas.
Ever since I was 13 years old, The Toadies have always been a popular choice on the FM stations of my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. I had become friends with bassist, Doni Blair, when his surf-punk instrumental outfit, The Mag Seven, would play my venue in Colorado Springs. I had been following Doni (and his brother Zach currently of Rise Against) since their early 90’s Pop-Punk band, Hagfish, also from Dallas, Texas. I was delighted to find out one of my favorite musicians was one of the nicest, most welcoming human beings on the planet. Upon the announcement of The Toadies return to Denver, I jumped at the chance to sit down with one of my favorite 90’s rock n roll bands. Thanks to Doni’s grease on the wheels, I was welcomed with warm embrace by both Doni and Toadies singer/guitarist Vaden Todd Lewis. While the Ume sat up and prepared for their sound check, We watched from the balcony of the Bluebird Theater in Denver, Colorado.
On the balcony we chatted about a many number of things including:
- Vaden and Doni talk about their early memories of how their families influenced their love of music.
- Doni talks about his brother Zach (Rise Against) and his early band with Texas Hippie Coalition singer: Rich
- Doni also talks how influential their early shows with The Toadies were to him and Zach’s career
- Vaden talks how his piano teacher sparked his intrest in music at age 9, How he became a singer and his father’s influences on his live performances.
- How it feels to rerelease the raw enegery of The Toadies onto the world.
- How the songwriting process changed for the better on this new record with their unothadox recording processes
- They talk the genetics of Talent and Vaden’s Daughter’s idea of the band
- How it feels to be masters of their own destiny.
I feel like a fool. I had never heard of Ume until the day of my interview with The Toadies in Denver, Colorado. I had just finished my interview with Doni and Vaden and a beautiful woman had caught my eye. Doni introduced me to the 5’2 lead singer/ guitarist of Ume, Lauren Larson. He told me they were going to be the next Indie Rock darlings, and suggested I interview the band. I’m never one to turn down a chance to talk with a beautiful woman, so I quickly agreed. I took off to the local pizza shop, Fat Sully’s Pizza where for twenty minutes I pored over the band’s website and bio. When I re-entered the Bluebird Theater I was blown away by the raw intensity and viciousness of this tiny young woman and her live show. I watched as the slow crowd built and how the smirks and laughter of the audience turned into wonder and amazement of the three piece. Shortly after their set, Lauren joined me out in the dark alley behind the Bluebird. I was starstruck. Lauren has is one of the most down to earth musicians I have ever encountered, and I’ve encountered a lot.
Here are a few of the things we discussed:
- Sex Appeal, and why she doesn’t want it.
- How Nirvana influenced her to move from Piano to Rock N Roll aspirations on the guitar. How her small stature brought upon her unique playing style.
- Getting hand picked by Jane’s Addiciton’s Perry Farrell to play the Lollapalooza after party
- Future plans of entering the studio with Adam Casper (Queens of the Stoneage/Cat Power)
- Love at first sight with her Bass player/Husband Eric Larson.
- The Marraige of life on the road.
- The art of winning over a crowd.
Toadies selected Quotes:
Vaden on his early family memories:
“I was raised in the baptist church. I always like hymns and stuff like that. I’m not religious by any strech at this point, but the music is still very moving. You get a good version of “Amazing Grace” and it tears you up. I took piano as a kid and I just always imagined doing music. I remember having a day dream as a kid of being in a band and playing in front of my third grade class in the auditorium. I didn’t know anything about it. There were no instruments. I think my dog was up there. ”
Doni on his hippie parents: “My dad was a disc jockey. He would always bring music to the house and play it. My mom and dad were super hippies. They were always playing Zeppplin and the Who. We would go up to the station and listen to music with my dad. That and Steely Dan. We were always surrounded by that. At 13 or so. That was when we saw guys play guitar. We saw The Who and Zepplin. Zach and I were like, “I want to do that!” But I wanted to be a drummer at first. We had a friend who was a drummer so I had to play bass. Then I heard Chris Squire and “Okay! I can do that!” I can’t play like Chris Squire. I thought I could… Can’t!
How Piano opened up Vaden’s eyes to the musical world. “I took Piano as a kid. That’s probably what first sparked my creativity in music. I learned this piece of music. I was 9 and the teacher said “Okay, now that you’ve learned it. Your assignment is to go home and change it somehow.” It scared the fuck out of me. I didn’t know how to change it. So I just moved this hand up an octive and this hand down an octive and played it that away. That’s all i did and I hope it is good enough. She was just over the moon. I was like, “Oh wow! So I don’t have to do music the way it is written or any of that shit. Then I started to make stuff up.”
Lauren Larson’s selected quotes:
Lauren on sex appeal :
“I’m not trying to sell records through sex appeal. I’m trying to sell records that rock. I’m not up there to be posing with a guitar. I’m playing and I want to be respected as a guitarist and musician. Not as a “chick with a guitar.”
Lauren on what she wanted to be when she grew up:
“I always wanted to be a musician. That was always my dream, even when I was really young. I was not a really big performer, persay. I use to be really shy with it, but really made an emotional connection. You can hold nothing back, and I think I really surprised a lot of people. I’ve also been told I surprise a lot of people because I don’t nessasarily look the part.”
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