The Roughhousers
Photo: Neuman Mannas

Chatting with Grey DeLisle of Rockabilly Duo The Roughhousers

Children’s rockabilly duo The Roughhousers recently unveiled the video for “Toenail Soup,” a song about a questionable concoction dad whipped up for supper while mom was away.

Made up of Grey DeLisle and Eddie Clendening, The Roughhousers’ churn out fun songs for kids, while at the same time providing music palatable for adults. Songs like “Princess Mike,” which takes on gender identity, “Azucar,” which narrates youth dessert cravings artfully, and “Monkey Butt,” the ultimate bath time anthem for kids.

Grey is also known as the most prolific voice actress in American animation history, having performed over 2000 cartoon voices since 1996 from Scooby Doo to the Simpsons.  Eddie has 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 ‘50s era pink and orange kitchen, the video for “Toenail Soup” depicts Grey singing in a frilly outfit, while Eddie strums his guitar wearing jeans and a plaid shirt. When the visuals shift, both are dressed up.

Reminiscent of Johnny Cash, “Toenail Soup” rides a throbbing bassline flavored with delicious twang-filled guitars. Grey’s country vocals give the lyrics tasty downhome flavors.

CelebMix spoke with Grey DeLisle to find out more about The Roughhousers, the inspiration for “Toenail Soup,” and her unusual writing process.

What three things can’t you live without?

Cold Brew Coffee, Chicken & Dumplings, and the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast.

What inspired your new single/music video “Toenail Soup?”

I was homeschooling my 3 kids during the lockdown, and I was showing them chords on the autoharp during music class. I asked them to strum a chord and say the grossest thing they could think of…and a song was born! Ha!

How did you get started in 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 when I was 26 so I could release my own music!

Where are you from?

I grew up in San Diego and Eddie is from Denver Colorado but we both are heavily influenced by early 20th-century country music.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

I was a theater nerd growing up and have been doing professional theater since I was a kid, so I think all of those show tunes, my gramma’s Latin jazz records, and my dad’s love of Marty Robbins and Hank Williams all had a hand in molding me as an artist.

Which singers/musicians 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 EVERY notable musician from 1930 to 1960! He’s like a walking Google for that stuff! I’ve tried to stump him with some REALLY obscure acts, and he’ll come back with some weird detail about them! It’s eerie. I’m a sucker for anything produced by Billy Sherrill or Owen Bradley…. Phil Spector. Those big, dramatic, “Wall of Sound” productions are so magical to me. We both also love a clever lyric. Sometimes I’ll write one that I’m pretty sure will go over everybody’s head…. but nothing gets past 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 kinda fell into place! Humor is key when it comes to The Roughhousers!

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

I used to go to 12-step meetings, and I got a ton of inspiration from there!

What can you share about your writing process?

This might sound weird but sometimes I say a weird little prayer to any songwriters who may have passed on to ask them if they have any new song ideas they’d like to pass along! I talk to the ghost of Cindy Walker sometimes. She was a favorite! It sounds kooky but it works 100% of the time!

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

Amethyst Kiah, Sierra Farrell…. Lukas Nelson is a favorite of mine too!

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?

Eddie is producing a solo country record for me…and I’m also recording an all-original album of Bluegrass tunes with the legendary North Carolina artist David Childers and his band! I can’t wait!

The Roughhousers have a few live gigs in the works too, and we’ll be releasing some holiday songs on November 4.

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.