Chop Top Toronados
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Chop Top Toronados


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Chop Top Toronados @ Circle A

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Chop Top Toronados @ McAuliffe's Pub

Racine, Wisconsin, USA

Racine, Wisconsin, USA

Chop Top Toronados @ Miramar

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


It’s not every rockabilly album that brings to mind the Clash, Joy Division and Devo. Indeed, it would be a great disservice to Milwaukee’s Chop Top Toronados even to mention the words “standard rockabilly” in a review of their new full-length release, The Good Life. But oh – irony of ironies! – I’ve already done so.

Clearly indebted to the Reverend Horton Heat, yet slashing a deep niche all their own, the Toronados churn out 10 tracks that expound on the virtues of whiskey, women and heartbreak. Lead vocalist Mark E. Lee sets the mood with a surprisingly dark, rich voice that conjures up the somber tone of Ian Curtis, while the rhythm section – especially the exemplary bass work of Rex Handsome – keep things percolating at a perfect pace.

From the get-go, things are much darker than one would expect; the album’s first track, “Super Computer,” is a pure garage/surf stomper tinged with enough minor-key danger to send it spiraling in a more precarious direction. Elsewhere, “Dangerous Man” borrows some of the mechanical strut of Devo and turns it into a 7-minute mini-epic. “Gin Sewer” sounds like a cut from a long-lost David Lynch soundtrack, while “Son of Sam” manages to meld a funky, Flea-esque bass line with lyrics about New York City’s less-than prodigal son. “The Devil Wears Spurs,” a menacing slice of Tex-mex country, contains the album’s most telling line, “I cared for her / but she left me / the tale of my life / is told in a minor key.”

It would be too easy to call the album’s title ironic. Instead, the Toronados seem to know what every hard-drinkin’, hard-livin’ pro has already discovered: The good life is indeed here – whiskey, women, more whiskey – but with it comes the eventual downfall, the diminishing returns, the minor keys. VS

Matt Wild - Matt Wild is ¼ of the rock and roll band Holy Mary Motor Club. - Matt Wild

Band: Chop Top Toronados

Who's who: Mark E. Lee, singer, guitar; Rex Handsome, bass; Buck S8n, drums; and The Colonel, guitar. The Colonel spoke for the band.

When formed: "We actually started getting the band together, really putting it together in January of last year."


Most recent album: "Four on the Floor," self released in September.

They say they sound like: "It's really hard to describe because we do have a lot of different influences. Mark is into a lot of punk stuff. I'm into jazz and a lot of rockabilly. We all really like Reverend Horton Heat. It's a mix of country, punk, rcok 'n' roll, and the rockabilly influence."

We say they sound like: Good old-fashioned rave up rock 'n' roll, fast and hard and edged with the taste of cheap, yet tasty, beer.

Describe your look: "We dress up like Western-style people."

Sell yourself in 20 words or less: "we have a blast when people check out our music, and we have a really good stage show."

Favorite food on the road: "We'd have to go with pizza."

Unofficial band beverage: "Pabst Blue Ribbon."

What other band/musician could you take in a fight?: "We've thought about that one a lot. I could give you a general type of band: like country-rock bands that make bad rock music with cowboy hats. I think that it really has turned off a lot of people to that style of music."

First gig: "Our first show was at Quarters- January 2003, I think."

Worst gig: "We played a place up in Green Bay that was kind of a VFW-style place. There were a lot of locals during deer hunting season. They just didn't understand what we were doing. We had this one guy tell our drummer that we were the worst band he'd ever heard. The sound system was terrible, too, so it didn't matter what we were doing."

Song you're most proud of: "The first song that we wrote, which was 'Unwanted Super-star." But we're really working to put together new tunes, nad they seem to be getting more intricate as we go."

Favorite cover song in your live show: "I personally like 'Big Sky,' which is the Rev's song."

Biggest band achievement; "We've gotten to open for some very good national bands. We recently played with Nick Curran. The band include the original bass player for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It's just really nice to be in a band where it's real enjoyable for all of us; we can meet other great musicians and have fun."

Why do you do this?: "The whole reason that all of us do the music is that it's a real good outlet to get together and play."

Where do you want to be in five years?: "At some point, we'd like to do some touring and see what happens from there, hit some different states and stuff like that."

Next gig: 10 P.M. Saturday, with the Fallout and Chris Voss, BBC, 2022 E. North Ave. $5

-Jon M. Gilbertson,
Special to the Journal Sentinel
January 30th, 2004

- Jon M. Gilbertson


EP "Four on the Floor"
LP "Hotrod Love Songs" compilation 2004
LP "The Good Life" 2005
LP "Cowtown Chaos" due out fall 2007


Feeling a bit camera shy


2006 was a good year. 2007 is going to be even better for The Chop Top Toronados.

The genre-bending, hard to explain Chop Top Toronados need to be seen and heard because they are too hard to describe by words alone.

What other regional bands have shared the bill with country acts (Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Cowboy Crush) rockabilly acts (The Lustre Kings, Two Timin' Three) psychobilly acts (Twistin' Tarantulas, The Legendary Shackshakers) Bluegrass Acts (Split Lip Rayfield, .357 String Band) and Rock Acts (M.OT.O and Bleed).

Blending hot rod rockabilly, boot kickin' country, and old school punk sounds, the CTT have played many gigs throughout Milwaukee and the Midwest in 2006 including their first appearance at Racine's Harbor Fest, various Milwaukee street festivals, a biker wedding, and even a church festival!! (this tested Mark's lyric editing skills).

The CTT are currently putting the finishing touches, and shopping to labels their 2nd full length CD "Cowtown Chaos." The Chop Tops are planning a fall 2007 release and Midwest tour.