Is there a black cloud hanging over Fort Worth’s Toadies? You might think so based on the alt-rock band’s recent history. Their major-label debut for Interscope, 1994’s Rubberneck—a painfully angst-ridden record—went platinum after two years of incessant touring, but some strange stuff happened during all that time on the road: First they were practically booed out of Oklahoma after they made light of the Oklahoma City bombing in a radio interview, then kids in Florida misread vampirism into the creepy lyrics of the hit single “Possum Kingdom” (possibly the only song named after a Texas lake) and started coming to concerts wearing fangs and clutching Anne Rice novels, and then their sound man, Dave Kehrer, died unexpectedly when a blood vessel in his liver burst. But now that they’re recording their follow-up in Austin’s Arlyn and Pedernales studios, the cloud seems to have lifted. “They’re not gloomy at all,” says Butthole Surfer Paul Leary, who’s producing the as-yet-untitled album, which should be out in late summer. “They’re like large children. The studio is full of candy, and they’re sneaking off into town to go to comic-book stores. They’re serious about their music, but they’re quite a bit of fun.”