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The Toadies Reclaim Their "Kingdom" at Manic NYC Show

June 27, 2008 1:05 PM ET

"Everything feels even better this time around — except the hangovers," says Vaden Todd Lewis, frontman for post-grunge comeback kids the Toadies, during an early-morning conversation. "Those still feel the same." He's jokingly referring to his band's reunited form, which has spawned a sold-out tour and a new album No Deliverance due in August. The group, most notorious for its hit "Possum Kingdom," splintered several years ago after a struggle with their label over their second album and the departure of bass player Lisa Umbarger. After the occasional reunion show, Lewis finally got the band back together after the departure of two of the members of his other band Burden Brothers. "They just got burnt out," Lewis explains. "So did I, really. I started to write songs that I realized were Toadies songs, and the other guys were into it, so we had to do it."

The group also got a load of support from their rabid Internet fan base — impressive considering the band broke before the Internet age really kicked in. They also aren't nervous about making their return in such a complicated era for the business. "For selfish reasons, I'm excited to see what happens to the majors," says Lewis, referencing their tumultuous end at Interscope. "We're on a small label now and doing exactly what we want to be doing."

They're also doing exactly what their fans want them to be doing if last night's sold-out show at New York's Bowery Ballroom is any indication. The band delivered a healthy mix of old favorites and new songs, and they sounded as though they'd been playing the fresh stuff (especially single "No Deliverance," a bold mix of post-grunge aggression and spicy Texas roadhouse flair) as though they'd been skillfull executing the riffs for a decade. "The songs feel good," says Lewis. "And in the end, it's all about feeling good."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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