Todd Snider is titling his next album after his alter ego’s band. Eastside Bulldog, due October 7th, finds the singer-songwriter telling tales of his identical twin/nemesis, Elmo Buzz, the hard-partying, Hank Williams Jr.-obsessed character he developed several years ago.
Snider came up with “Elmo” out of frustration over concert rules: “You can’t play anywhere within 75 miles of the place you just played in for 90 days prior to the show. . . and another 90 days after the show,” he explains of common concert promoters’ contract stipulations. “I am home about 100 nights a year. That’s 98 nights without music. Unacceptable. To work around this complicated botheration I came up with the name Elmo Buzz.”
As for Buzz’s band’s name, Snider called an East Nashville high school and asked what its mascot was. When he was told it was an eagle, he decided that didn’t sound quite right and came up with his own animal. Thus was born Elmo Buzz and the Eastside Bulldogs — an all-star cast that has also included Elizabeth Cook and Bobby Bare Jr. through the years. Cook lends her voice to this new album, as do Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Chris Robinson, Hank Williams III and Shooter Jennings.
Eastside Bulldog features improvised lyrics from the studio and the stage. “I told the band that if we got stuck for making a song up, we could always play one of those four syllable songs that everybody knows, like ‘Wooly Bully’ or ‘Tutti Frutti’ or ‘Louie Louie,’” writes Snider. But the LP is actually a collection of original, fast-paced bar-band tunes with locally-inspired lyrics like “Hey pretty boy/Go back to Franklin” (on lead single, “Hey Pretty Boy”). “[It’s] songs about East Nashville, chicks, cars, fighting, partying and Bocephus and that’s it. No bullshit… just the good stuff,” jokes Snider in the album’s liner notes.
Elmo Buzz and the Eastide Bulldogs released an EP, Shit Sandwich in 2011. But this time around, Snider is recording under his own name. He’ll be celebrating the release of Eastside Bulldog at his 50th birthday celebration concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on October 7th.