Toad & the Stooligans chat about bonding as a band, new album

How did you all meet? And when did you realize you had something with the band?

Toad: Since about 2008, we all went to high school with each other. I think we really clicked when we started actually writing together. Stooligans started as just a backing band for Toad, and once we began involving all of us in the writing process, we were off and running.

Matt: I think we had a string of songwriting where we just kind of started clicking a bit. From there, we started recording, entered a battle of the bands for a local radio station, won that contest, and we’ve been keeping as much momentum going ever since.

Dan: I met Matt in 8th grade and we did NOT like each other at first, but we bonded over lauging about how dumb turkeys are and playing with spray paint.

Ace and I met in art class in 9th grade and we also didn’t like each other. We bonded over Avenged Sevenfold, of all things…

I met Toad at Aces one day but we became good friends after working at a deli together. Which is where we started rapping together and actually wrote Space on alternating bathroom breaks. It was obvious after our first show that we were all  going to be having a good time making music together.

Ace: We all met in high school. I’ve know Toad since I was about 13 and then I met the rest of the boys freshmen year of high school. As stated, this all started as a backing band for Toad Stool and I realized that we had something with this band as a colective when we played our second or third show and a lot of people commented on how much the really enjoyed the live band aspect of the project, and the fact that the raps weren’t trash. Its not what you expect when you hear someone say “Yo, you gotta hear my boy rap…”

Where does the name come from?

Toad: The name comes from our friend Sean Bianchi. He just said it to me one day, and it was a no brainer.

Matt: I love that it’s a play on words. Toadstool was always Toad’s full nickname, and Stooligans being a play on “hooligans” always felt like it made sense.

Ace: As stated, the name comes from Sean Bianchi, lord rest his soul.

Who are some of your influences then and now?

Toad: MF Doom, Every Time I Die, Earl Sweatshirt, Aesop Rock, Hiatus Kaiyote

Matt: The Roots, Nas, Kendrick, Anderson.Paak, Dr. Dre, lots of jazz styles, lots of pop tunes

Dan: I take influence from everything from Jazz to Classical to Metal, but for hip hop, I always loved Symmetry, The Lab Rats, MF Doom, Eminem, and The Roots, among many others.

Ace: Personal Influences have been Hunter Thompson, Keith Buckley and Every Time I Die, Sean Daly, and Max Trichome for starts.

What’s the song writing process like?

Toad: Ridiculously simple, honestly. We’re very much into the “feeling out” process of things; if if fits and we feel good about it, we move forward. Anything less gets trashed or reworked.

Matt: Depends on the tune. Sometimes Dan comes in with something all put together, sometimes we’ll improv and groove on something until it sticks. Sometimes Ace will come up with a bass line in the studio, sometimes we’ll meticulously plan something out. There’s a lot of different ways we go about it.

Dan: Usually just coming up with a good groove or idea and working out the details together after jamming it out a bit.

Ace: All the songs have had a different way of progressing when it comes to the composition of them. Sometimes its been Dan beat boxing over piano chords, sometimes its been a bass line, sometimes its been verse first, then build a beat around that. Everything works pretty uniquely and naturally. We try not to be too rigid in this process.

What’s your favorite tour story?

Toad: Tour Story 3, I loved Buzz Lightyear’s Spanish dominated role.

Matt: We haven’t toured yet, so unfortunately no favorite tour stories. Yet. Trying to make sure it’s obvious that “yet” is the key word here…

Ace: My favorite tour story is that one time in Mexico City when Toad gave a flying knee to a waiter, because he refused to ask the chef if he could whip up a bag of steam. That was great. The guy never saw it coming!

Talk to me about your new music and plans for the back half of 2017?

Toad: Our album “Very Handsome” (out September 15th) has something for everyone: lyrics, musicianship, nice production, hell we even put a breakdown in a pop song. Back half? We continue to get our name out there, and start writing for the next one.

Matt: We just dropped the first single for All Things Considered, which you can check out on YouTube. We’ll be releasing two more singles as a lead up to the release, and dropping a whole bunch of other goodies as well. For the rest of the year we’re gonna just push our music to where more people can hear it and play more shows. Writing for album two is underway. We’re always trying to stay moving with new music.

Ace: The plan as far as I know is to play as much as possible and get exposed to new bands and places and expand on that. Back half of 2017 will be a grind for sure.

Describe playing small shows and growing as a musician into where you are now?

Toad: I still love playing smaller shows, always. I love the intimacy, and bantering with the crowd. People look at musicians like they are more than people sometimes, and small shows are a reminder that we’re all on the same playing field, so to speak.

Matt: Shows are fun no matter what. Put us in a room in front of 20 people or a room in front of 150 and we’ll be ready to give you the same performance. If we get to a point where we’re playing in front of 500+, we’ll still treat it the same way. I think with this band, we try and vibe off of the crowd and off of each other. So small venues / shows definitely make for an intimate experience!

Dan: My first performances were at the Providence Cutting Sessions, which was all originally written jazz pieces by local musicians at a small venue called AS220. Ever since then I’ve tried to grow from everything I’ve played or written.

Ace: Playing small shows is nice, but the true treat is watching the small shows progress person by person. If we play the same venue five times a year, seeing the room fill more and more is always a nice thing to see. Personally, small shows have helped me build a significant amount of confidence in my musical abilities, and to anyone who has “stage-fright” my advice is to play more shows!

Who is your favorite comicbook hero or villain?

Toad: Hero? Deadpool. Villain? The Joker. I pretty much just like villains.

Matt: Hero would also probably be Deadpool, although I get down with Starkiller and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy as well. As far as villains go, I always thought Magneto was super badass ever since I was a kid.

Dan: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Ace: Not really into comics, but my favorite hero/villain combo has always been Batman and Joker. Or Scooby-Doo and The Creeper, if Scooby-Doo was a comic…

Who is your favorite Spice Girl?

Toad: I love them all equally. I mean, if I want to be their lover, I gotta get with their friends…

Matt: Its a toss up between Baby Spice and Sporty Spice for me.

Dan: Mrs. Dash

Ace: Good Ol’ All Spice

For those who don’t know your band, what are three words to describe why they should listen?

Toad: Very, very handsome.

Matt: Nacho average hip-hop. Mmmm, nachos.

Dan: Not that bad

Ace: “Just One Bite”, then followed up with: “You’ll like it”!

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Brian Cetina

Co-founder of Nü Sound. Co-founder of MadPark Designs.

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