Children’s rockabilly duo The Roughhousers recently released the video for “Toenail Soup,” a song about a dodgy concoction dad cooking up for supper while mom was away.
Composed of Gray DeLisle and Eddie Clendening, The Roughhousers offer fun songs for kids, while providing palatable music for adults. Songs like “Princess Mike,” which takes on gender identity, “Azucar,” which artfully chronicles young people’s dessert cravings, and “Monkey Butt,” the ultimate kiddie bathtime anthem .
Gray is also known as the most prolific voice actress in American animation history, having performed over 2,000 cartoon voices since 1996, from Scooby Doo to The Simpsons. Eddie starred as Elvis Presley in the hit Broadway musical The Million Dollar Quartet and toured the world with his band The Blue Ribbon Boys.
Shot in a pink and orange ’50s kitchen, the video for “Toenail Soup” shows Gray singing in a frilly outfit, while Eddie strums his guitar in jeans and a plaid shirt. When the visuals change, both are dressed.
Reminiscent of Johnny Cash, “Toenail Soup” rides a throbbing bass line flavored with delicious twang-filled guitars. Grey’s country voice gives the lyrics a tasty local flavor.
CelebMix sat down with Gray DeLisle to learn more about The Roughhousers, the inspiration for “Toenail Soup,” and his unusual songwriting process.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Cold Brew Coffee, Chicken & Dumplings and the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast.
What inspired your new music video/single “Toenail Soup?”
I was homeschooling my 3 kids during lockdown, and showing them chords on the autoharp during music class. I asked them to strum a chord and say the rudest thing they could think of…and a song was born! Ha!
How did you start music?
My grandma used to sing with Tito Puente’s touring band, and she raised me so I grew up around a lot of great vinyl records. I wrote my first song when I was 5 and started a record company at 26 so I could release my own music!
Where do you come from?
I grew up in San Diego and Eddie is from Denver, Colorado, but we’re both heavily influenced by early 20th century country music.
Has your hometown had an impact on your sound?
I was a theater buff growing up and I’ve been doing professional theater since I was a kid, so I think all those show tunes, my grandma’s Latin jazz records, and my dad’s love for Marty Robbins and Hank Williams all played a role in the casting. me as an artist.
Which singers/musicians have influenced your sound?
Dolly Parton, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Juan Carlos Jobim, Linda Ronstadt…. Peggy Lee….gosh…it’s so hard to make a fair list!
If you had to explain your sound to the uninitiated, what would you say?
We’re both heavily influenced by the old stuff. Eddie knows almost everything about ALL notable musicians from 1930 to 1960! He’s like a walking Google for that kind of stuff! I’ve tried to surprise him with REALLY obscure acts, and he’ll come back with weird details about them! It’s strange. I’m a sucker for anything produced by Billy Sherrill or Owen Bradley…. Phil Spector. These big “Wall of Sound” dramatic productions are so magical to me. We both like smart lyrics too. Sometimes I’ll write one that I’m pretty sure will go over everyone’s head…. but nothing beats Eddie’s pompadour!
Did your sound evolve naturally or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
I just started trying to write FUNNY lyrics…and the music kind of fell into place! Humor is key when it comes to The Roughhousers!
What inspires your writing? Are you inspired by poetry, music or other media?
I used to go to 12-step meetings, and I got a ton of inspiration from that!
What can you share about your writing process?
It might sound weird, but sometimes I say a weird little prayer to all the songwriters who may have passed away asking them if they have any new song ideas they’d like to share! I sometimes talk to the ghost of Cindy Walker. She was a favorite! Sounds weird but it works 100% of the time!
Which artists do you think are killing it right now?
Amethyst Kiah, Sierra Farrell…. Lukas Nelson is also one of my favorites!
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live concerts?
Eddie is producing a solo country record for me… and I’m also recording an all-original Bluegrass album with legendary North Carolina artist David Childers and his band! I can not wait !
The Roughhousers also have a few gigs in the works, and we’ll be releasing holiday songs on November 4th.