ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Toadskin, Weird Storm

A late night bill of indie rock took place at Bremen Cafe Friday evening, featuring bands Toadskin and Weird Storm. It was the first show for both bands in quite some time, not to mention both projects began shortly before COVID hit.

Toadskin consists of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Van Dreel, bassist/vocalist Trevor Broskowski, and drummer Logan Byrne. Their sound could be described as grungy and stoner rock. Broskowski explains how the band formed.

“It was 2019 when we started practicing – August, I believe – and we contacted Logan and started having three-piece practices where we were actually writing songs. We continued to write songs and played a couple shows that January, made plans to record a demo, and then sure enough the pandemic hit right after as we were recording the demo. And now here we are.”

Of course, we had to ask about the band’s name.

“It was an organic, random, picking-out-of-a-hat sort of thing,” Broskowski said. “We had a few finalists and it was the one that stuck.”

“I think we have kind of a nature theme to our band,” Van Dreel added. “I’m really into foraging and I work for Tippecanoe Apothecary, so I’m into herbalism and mushrooms, and this band just formed from Trevor and I hiking down by the river and coming up with song ideas.”

The band released a self-titled demo EP last September. Van Dreel explains the recording process.

“It was originally just gonna be a basement tape that we recorded for ourselves but it turned out better than we thought it would. So we put it out to get our name out there, since with the pandemic there’s no shows…what else are we gonna do. Our friend Tim Schweiger recorded us in his basement, just with two mics on the drums…mic on the guitar…mic on the bass…real stripped-down and stream-of-conscious. We were still writing the songs as we were recording them.”

They describe their songwriting style.

“Trevor and I do a lot of collaboration,” Van Dreel said. “Even Logan gets in on the songwriting. Trevor will have notebooks of lyrics and I’ll pick out some that I think are cool, one of us will come up with a riff, and then I’ll refine them a little bit.”

Toadskin share what they’re up to in the coming months.

“We’re recording a new album right now, a full-length, at Howl Street Recordings,” Van Dreel said. “I feel like our first tape is kind of trash compared to what we’re doing now. We’re gonna play some shows and then we’re thinking winter for the record to come out. This is my first time being a guitar player or a singer in a band so we’re just working hard practicing every week.”

“We’ve moved leaps and bounds from what we were doing a year ago,” Broskowski added. “I’m really excited about the new stuff.”

Weird Storm consists of vocalist/bassist Nick Ouchie, vocalist/guitarist Charlie Hoehnen, vocalist/keyboardist Chris Ouchie, and drummer Bob Schaab. A math-tinged art rock band, the band is named after a song by The Microphones. Nick gives us the story of how they formed.

“So we actually all knew each other like ten years ago, we worked together.” Charlie was like, “hey I’ve got a bunch of songs” and my brother hung out with him a lot and was like “Nick knows how to play instruments” so we got a band going. We started jamming a little bit and then we called Bob; me and him had a handful of songs we had written too. We had just got all of our stuff together right before shutdown. It’s almost our two-year anniversary and this was only our second show.”

Their debut EP “Alone on Meat Beach” came out in February.

“Because of quarantine, it left me time to start building a studio in my basement,” Schaab explained. “We figured we wouldn’t be playing shows for a while so we decided to try and make a record ourselves. We had time to do it too; if we messed something up one week we could come back the next week and scrap it.”

“That was the nice thing, that we were able to listen to every single thing that we did and edit it,” Nick added. “We had a week to sit on each song and come back and be like “oh well that sucks.” It’s also nice because both Bob and I are very interested in recording in general and it’s nice to flex that muscle.”

The title of the EP gets explained by Hoehnen.

“We combined a couple of ideas. It just kind of feels like how we all feel – which is alone – surrounded by these other hunks of meat that we can’t know or understand.”

“Lyrically a lot of our songs are very dark and serious,” Nick added. “The songs I wrote on the album are all about mental illness and dealing with shit, and Charlie wrote a lot about his divorce. This is a lot of serious material and we needed to have something with a little bit of levity, so we made it with just a tiny bit of silly.”

“We can have shimmers of darker-sounding music but we’re all a bunch of goofs too,” Schaab said.

They are working on their next record already.

“We have about three quarters of an album done,” Nick said. “We’re only like two songs off. I’ve been working on a recording studio so we’re hoping to engineer it ourselves with a much-higher production value environment.”

Weird Storm just filmed another music video accompanying their EP and apparently it’s just as goofy as their first (“Brittle Pastimes”). They are in the process of booking more shows.

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