When I sat down to speak with Clark Vogeler, lead guitarist of The Toadies, the common extracurricular interests we shared threatened to keep us from ever talking about his band. I’ve done you all a favor and chopped out a good ten minutes’ worth of rambling on about pizza and BBQ. But of course it always comes back to music in the end, and our discussion gradually morphed into an eye-opening one about how the music industry functions (or more specifically, how it doesn’t), and why a band that sold over a million copies of its debut album doesn’t even pay attention to those numbers anymore.
I watched Bombay Beach last night. How involved in that movie were you?
Oh cool. I was one of three or four editors. I worked on it while [Alma Har’el] was still shooting, and then I cut a bunch of it, then I had to go on tour, so the director and another editor finished the movie. So there’s maybe like, 25% of my stuff in the movie, maybe 30%.
Was that just a gig? Or was that something you got into on a personal level? How invested in it were you?
I got really invested in that. I worked on that for free, because I saw a little bit of footage and I just wanted to be involved. I could tell, just having seen a little bit, that it was going to be a really interesting film, and it did turn out to be really interesting and pretty bizarre. But I really loved that project.
How’d you feel about the end result?
I liked it. I forgot, it had been like two years since I worked on it, when I actually saw it all together, and I forgot how kind of like… you know, sad and depressing it can be, at times, but you know, I think it’s a pretty beautiful movie, and I’m happy to have been able to work on it.
When you see people living that close to the edge… It really messes with your perception of… I don’t know, the value of humans, of individual humans, you know? Like some of those people, the Slab City people, they almost seem like a different kind of animal.
Oh yeah, they’re on, you know, literally the fringe of society. They don’t want to be a part of the world you and I know of, they just want to be out there… The other thing is they’ve got no other options; there’s a lot of drugs out there… I think there’s a lot of sex offenders that have got nowhere else to go, it’s pretty much the lowest rank of society out there.
And there’s just nothing else to do, but be… a human, in the most basic sense. There’s maybe a couple of scenes where someone has some kind of computer or something, but for the most part, there’s just nothing to do but go out, break stuff, fuck, and do drugs, and that’s… life.
It was interesting that there was the one guy in there that was trying to get out, focused on getting that football scholarship. That made me think, I mean, you see something like this, and you think, well if I was in this place, I don’t care, I would just do whatever I had to do to get out. But on the other hand, you realize that if you were in that place, you’d just be a completely different person. Who knows what resources you’d have. There was just one guy that saw a bigger picture, and he was from outside of it.
Yeah, he was. He had landed there just a couple of years previous, and he was desperate to get out.
I’m glad the movie was thought-provoking for you. I just saw a movie called Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which just opened up this week, and it was a big movie at Sundance. It’s interesting, it’s pretty different, but the funny thing is, it’s like, it reminded me a lot of Bombay Beach, except that it, well, wasn’t as interesting or bizarre, and it was a scripted film while Bombay Beach is ostensibly a documentary… It kind of struck me, like, these people really are living a weird life out there.
And that’s in New Orleans, right? I saw a trailer for it.
Yeah, exactly. It’s interesting. It’s worth seeing… I heard really rave reviews from a friend of mine at Sundance before seeing it, so it kind of tainted it for me I think.
I saw Submarine the other night.
Oh yeah… What’d you think?
It was cool, it was funny… quirky. I mean one of my favorite movies of all time is this movie called Igby Goes Down…
Yeah, I saw that.
Ahh, great. Because most people I talk to haven’t… Anyway, with both movies really… They make me think, the way you imagine what growing up was like, looking back as an adult, you can’t help but take creative liberties, just to be able to live with yourself. The awkwardness was never charming. It was just painful.
But it’s nice to turn teenage life into something you can watch, and not squirm.
Well on that tip, have you seen Moonrise Kingdom yet?
Haven’t seen that yet.
I liked it, I mean, I don’t think it’s Wes Anderson’s [best], it’s not a great movie, the story isn’t all that engaging, but what I think the movie did for me was really evoked what it was like to be 12 or 13 years old again, it really brings that feeling out. It captured that in a way that a lot of movies don’t.
I could talk about movies for the whole fucking interview.
I could too. (laughs)
But let’s transition to videos. How involved were you in the Summer Of The Strange video?
I edited the video while we were on tour, and I collaborated with the director to kind of work out what we wanted to do in the video, but the whole story is… You’ll probably like this, you’ve probably seen Gummo before…
Yeah! I was going to say, there was a clip that popped up, it was that song set to a scene from Gummo, and I thought a fan made it or something, but then the video came out, and it was sort of similar…
We were all trying to come up with ideas for the video, and nobody had anything really great, and I just kind of wanted to try that. The scene where the guy smashes the chair has always been important to us because years ago I started, after seeing that movie, I started wrestling furniture backstage.
So if I’m really drunk, or if the band’s kind of down, and I need to kind of to amp them up, I’ll take out a table, or wrestle some chairs, and we always liked that. So I was curious to see what that would look like slowed down to the timing of the song, and it actually looked pretty cool, and kind of strangely engaging.
So you created that original Gummo clip video.
Yeah. I created it, thought it was kind of funny, and just sent a link to the band. But I guess somebody sent it around to somebody, and a week later, it got Tweeted, and it was just out there, and we hadn’t even made the video yet.
I mean, I saw that, and thought, actually, that it was one of the better videos I’d seen…
I saw the press release, saying the video is coming soon, and it has crazy stuff and violence, and I thought, ‘oh, I’ve seen that video’ but it went on about shotguns, and tits, and I’m like… well, wait, I didn’t see any tits…
Well there was about two days where we were trying to get in touch with Harmony Korine to see if he’d be interested in making the video. I think he just made one for the Black Keys.
Yeah, you guys may have dodged a bullet. That shit was wack.
Let’s talk about labels, and Jimmy Iovine.
(sigh, laugh)… We don’t think Jimmy Iovine liked the Toadies. And we think that Jimmy Iovine is the reason why it took seven years between Rubberneck and our second album. We think he was mad at the Toadies for something that The Toadies said on a radio station, like in ’94 or something. He never seemed to forgive us, basically, and squandered away years and years of our lives.
And so when our album finally came out, then they basically just put it on the shelf, and they were done promoting it. Whereas Rubberneck had two and a half years of promotion, there were seven videos, seven singles to radio, [for the second album] we had one single to radio that played for two weeks, no videos, basically they just put the album out and they were done with it.
Continue to page two, unless you work at Interscope.