Toad the Wet Sprocket
|Toad the Wet Sprocket|
Toad the Wet Sprocket in 2014
|Origin||Santa Barbara, California, US|
|Years active||1986–1998, 2002, 2006–present|
|Labels||Columbia Records, Abe's Records|
|Past members||Steve Brown|
Toad the Wet Sprocket is an American alternative rock band formed in 1986. The band consists of vocalist and guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss. They had chart success in the 1990s with singles which included "Walk on the Ocean", "All I Want", "Something's Always Wrong", "Fall Down", and "Good Intentions". The band broke up in 1998 to pursue other projects but in 2006 began touring the United States as a band in small-venue, short-run tours each summer. In December 2010, the band announced their official reunion as a full-time working band and started writing songs for their first studio album of new material since their 1997 Columbia Records release Coil. Their album, New Constellation, was released on October 15, 2013.
Toad the Wet Sprocket took its name from a Monty Python comedy sketch called "Rock Notes" in which a journalist delivers a nonsensical music news report:
Rex Stardust, lead electric triangle with Toad the Wet Sprocket, has had to have an elbow removed following their recent successful worldwide tour of Finland. Flamboyant ambidextrous Rex apparently fell off the back of a motorcycle. "Fell off the back of a motorcyclist, most likely," quipped ace drummer Jumbo McClooney upon hearing of the accident. Plans are now afoot for a major tour of Iceland.
As their first gig approached, the band still had not chosen a name. The members facetiously adopted "Toad the Wet Sprocket" because they thought it would be "hilarious". Vocalist Glen Phillips later called it "a joke that went on too long", and, according to their website, "it was probably meant to be temporary at the time". The name had been used once before, by a short-lived British blues band of the late 1970s that had appeared on the 1980 Metal for Muthas compilation, although the earlier band had long since split up.
Eric Idle, the sketch's original performer, reflected on the band's name in a 1999 performance:
I once wrote a sketch about rock musicians and I was trying to think of a name that would be so silly nobody would ever use it, or dream it could ever be used. So I wrote the words "Toad the Wet Sprocket". And a few years later, I was driving along the freeway in L.A., and a song came on the radio, and the DJ said, "that was by Toad the Wet Sprocket", and I nearly drove off the freeway.
There was also an extended skit about the fictional Toad the Wet Sprocket on one of Idle's later shows, Rutland Weekend Television (Season 1, Episode 4, "Rutland Weekend Whistle Test"). RWT musician and regular cast member Neil Innes, ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and "The Seventh Python," played keyboards with the somnolent band.
Early career (1986–1990)
Toad the Wet Sprocket was formed in 1986, with the members having known one another from San Marcos High School just outside Santa Barbara, California. Singer/songwriter and guitarist Glen Phillips was only 15, guitarist Todd Nichols and drummer Randy Guss were 19 (the other drummer, Steve Brown, was part of the band before the band was truly formed) and bassist Dean Dinning was 20. The band's first public appearance was at an open-mic talent contest in September 1986. The band did not win.
Toad the Wet Sprocket's first album was released in 1989. Bread & Circus was self-financed through their label, Abe's Records. The album spawned the singles "Way Away" and "One Little Girl", which made the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, but received little attention.
The follow-up to Bread & Circus, Pale, was released in 1990 and saw their sound mature. During the recording of the album, Toad signed to Columbia Records while declining the opportunity to re-record Pale, but negotiating to have Columbia Records reissue Bread & Circus. Featuring the singles "Jam" and the Modern Rock Chart hit "Come Back Down", the album was still not a success; but the singles received heavy airplay on college radio stations and the band's first music video (for "One Little Girl") was directed by Mark Miremont and aired on MTV's 120 Minutes.
Commercial breakthrough (1991–1998)
The band finally achieved fame with their third album, fear. The album was released in 1991, and saw the singles "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean" reach the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album became the band's first RIAA-certified platinum album.
The 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured the song "Little Heaven", which was also included in the movie soundtrack.
In 1993, the Mike Myers feature film So I Married an Axe Murderer included the song "Brother" on its soundtrack. "Brother" later appeared on the In Light Syrup compilation album, as well as on the 2004 release of the live album Welcome Home: Live at the Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara 1992.
In 1994, after years of heavy touring, the band released Dulcinea, their follow-up to fear. This album spawned the hit singles "Fall Down", which reached No. 1 on the US Modern Rock charts, as well as No. 5 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and "Something's Always Wrong", which also charted. Like fear, this album was certified platinum by the RIAA.
A compilation album of b-sides and rarities, In Light Syrup, was released in 1995; it included the singles "Good Intentions", which was featured on the soundtrack for the television show Friends, as well as the aforementioned "Brother". The compilation was certified as a gold album in 2001.
The release of Coil in 1997 acted as the proper follow up to 1994's Dulcinea. Featuring a more electric, rock sound, it featured the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock hit "Come Down", as well as the singles "Crazy Life" (a previous recording of the song was featured on the soundtrack for the film Empire Records) and "Whatever I Fear", which did not chart. The album, despite the success of "Come Down" as a single, failed to reach any sales benchmarks. This failure is often attributed to the label doing a poor job of promoting the album.
Toad the Wet Sprocket formally broke up in July 1998, citing creative differences.
Post-breakup and reunions (1998–2008)
Toad the Wet Sprocket, though officially broken up since 1998, worked together off and on over the years. They performed on several occasions in 1999, although only short sets. Also in 1999, Phillips, Dinning and Guss recorded two studio tracks for a compilation release, P.S. A Toad Retrospective, including one of the first songs the band wrote together, "P.S.". Nichols declined to participate in these sessions and was replaced by Lapdog guitarist Rob Taylor.
The band temporarily reunited in late 2002, playing a benefit for the Rape Crisis Center in Santa Barbara, and opening a few shows for Counting Crows. The group then played a few months of full-length shows in early 2003. Although seemingly successful, at the end of the tour the band decided to continue on their separate paths and careers.
In 2004, Toad released an album of a live show that was put to tape in 1992. This album, Welcome Home: Live at The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara 1992, showcased the height of their popularity during the tour for fear.
In between 2004 and 2010, the band performed several short sets together. In the summer of 2006, the band reunited for a 34-date nationwide tour of the United States. During the summer of 2007 they played several shows with lead singer Glen Phillips serving as their opening act. On January 16, 2008, the band reunited once again to play two shows - one in St. Petersburg Florida then the next night at the House of Blues Orlando prior to joining The Rock Boat VIII. On January 25, 2008, the band played a set at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in Ann Arbor, MI. On June 11 & 12, 2008, they played in Philadelphia and New Jersey at the Trocadero and Starland Ballroom respectively. On June 14, 2008, they placed at the 27th Annual Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival.
On June 15, 2008, the band performed at The Norva in Norfolk, VA. One of the show's highlights was the band performing Glen Phillip's solo hit "Everything But You". On December 19, 2008, the band performed on The Adam Carolla Show at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, CA. In May 2009 they played a four show mini-tour including two nights at the intimate 400 seat venue The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and also in an outdoor venue at Neptunes Park in Virginia Beach, VA. Continuing throughout the 2009 summer, the group played a second 12-stop mini tour which started with a show at the House of Blues in Houston, TX. During the show, the band noted that it had been some time since they had played a venue in Texas. However, noting the positive crowd response and energetic atmosphere, Philips stated that the group "would try to make it an annual stop" in the future.
Full-time reunion, return to recording, and New Constellation (2009–present)
In 2009 bassist Dean Dinning said the band is now something each member considers an active project, and though they haven't released a new studio album since 1997 and only do small summer tours, they no longer consider themselves "broken up".
In May 2010, the band gathered at a California studio to begin re-recording some of their older hits for licensing reasons. Columbia Records owns the masters to the band's albums, and the band makes little money from them, so to be able to make a living off their own talent again, they've made these recordings with the goal of having them used in film and TV.
On December 7, 2010, the band released their first new studio track in 11 years. The holiday track "It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas," a cover of a Sam Phillips original, was posted on their official site, available via bandcamp for free download just in time for the holidays, along with a new message on their site: "We're that band that did 'Walk on the Ocean,' 'All I Want,' 'Something's Always Wrong,' and "Fall Down.' The one with the weird name. We're back from a long slumber, and look forward to saying hello some time. Keep in touch…"
The band has recently signed a deal with Primary Wave to handle their back catalog and any future releases, and on December 11, 2010, the band mentioned, both on stage, and in an offstage YouTube interview, that they are currently writing songs for their first new studio album since 1997's "Coil". In addition they have begun playing two new songs, "Friendly Fire" and "The Moment" which are being worked on for the new album.
On April 12, 2011, the band released a new greatest hits album titled All You Want in digital and disc form via their official website. The 11-track CD includes brand new studio versions of their hits. Toad the Wet Sprocket does not have access to some of the versions they did for Columbia Records in the '90s. However, they did regain full control of the songs from their first two albums, and they plan to re-release them in remastered form on their own label, Abe's Records, following the release of their upcoming studio album.
On March 22, 2013, it was announced via the band's Facebook page that recording of the new album has been completed. The album was produced and mixed by Mikal Blue at Revolver Studios in Thousand Oaks, California.
On June 5, 2013, the band announced the first new single in 16 years on Rolling Stone's website titled "New Constellation." An album of the same name was released on the band's own Abe's Records on October 15, 2013. The band is marketing the new album via the crowdsourcing website Kickstarter. The band initially set a fundraising goal of $50,000, expecting it to take about two months to raise that amount. Instead, fans contributed more than $50,000 in less than 20 hours. When the Kickstarter campaign finally came to a close they raised a total of $264,762.
In 2014, the band resumed touring and opened a number of shows for Counting Crows. They showcased some of the new material from New Constellation, the Kickstarter-funded album, including "California Wasted" and the album's title track while playing a number of their earlier hits.
Glen Phillips' solo career
Immediately after the July breakup in 1998, Glen Phillips began his own solo career. He has toured almost constantly up to the present time, usually just him and his guitar, but often with regular guest musicians. He has a close friendship with the members of Nickel Creek, and they often perform together; they recorded a studio album called Mutual Admiration Society in 2000, released in 2004. In addition to that collaboration, Glen has released three solo studio albums, Abulum (2000), Winter Pays For Summer (2005) and Mr. Lemons (2006), along with a live album, Live At Largo (2003).
Also, in spring 2006, Glen released a studio EP titled Unlucky 7, featuring outtakes from his "Winter Pays For Summer" studio sessions (and one track, "The Innocent", from his scrapped 2002 "Tornillo" album). In February 2008, Glen released another EP entitled "Secrets of the New Explorers" consisting of six songs inspired by private space travel. In March 2008, Glen and Works Progress Administration, which includes Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek, finished mixing their WPA album, which was released on August 28, 2009.
Glen also released a self-titled EP with his side project Plover, which features Nielson Hubbard and Garrison Starr, and a full-length album for his project Remote Tree Children titled Veteran Of The Loudness Wars.
In December 2010, as a bit of a Christmas gift to his fans, Glen finally made his unreleased 2002 album "Tornillo" available via his bandcamp page.
Glen is currently writing for a solo follow-up to Mr Lemons.
Todd, Dean, and Randy have also continued in music. In the late 1990s, Todd and Dean formed a new band called Lapdog. They recorded and released the studio album Near Tonight (2001), and toured minimally. After this, Dean quit the band to split his time between recording and producing local music and pursuing his acting career, and Randy joined Lapdog as their drummer. Again Lapdog recorded and released an album, called Mayfly (2002). Todd Nichols has since ended Lapdog and is focusing on writing songs in Nashville for country acts along with Toad bandmate Dean Dinning, and producing bands at his studio Abe's in Los Angeles. The rest of his musical output is now focused on touring and potentially recording again with Toad. A Lapdog song, "See You Again," appears in revamped/revised form on the band's New Constellation album under the title "I'll Bet On You."
- Bread & Circus (1989)
- Pale (1990)
- fear (1991)
- Dulcinea (1994)
- In Light Syrup (1995)
- Coil (1997)
- New Constellation (2013)
- Architect of the Ruin (EP) (2015)
Other media appearances
- "Little Heaven" is featured in the film Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992), and the accompanying soundtrack release Buffy the Vampire Slayer Soundtrack.
- "Fall Down" is featured in the 1994 film Drop Zone and in a November 1994 episode of the TV series My So-Called Life ("Other People's Mothers").
- "Crazy Life" is on the Empire Records soundtrack, which was released in August 1995.
- "Something's Always Wrong" is featured in the 1996 film Fear, starring Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, and Alyssa Milano.
- "Windmills" is featured in the final scene of the 2003 film Latter Days, and in the season 4 episode "My Roommates" of the TV series Scrubs.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket has three cover songs on compilation albums: John Lennon's "Instant Karma!", featured in the album Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon; The Beatles' "Hey Bulldog" featured in the I Know What You Did Last Summer Soundtrack; and Kiss's "Rock and Roll All Nite" featured in the album Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved.
- "Walk On The Ocean" is featured in the 2013 film Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher.
- "Brother" is featured in the 1993 film So I Married an Axe Murderer.
- Fuoco-Karasinski, Christina (April 12, 2011). "Q&A: Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sprocket". SoundSpike. SoundSpike Media, LLC.
- "Toad The Wet Sprocket". Frightanic.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "How Toad the Wet Sprocket got their name". Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2006.
- Yagi, Anu (May 5, 2011). "The Long and Winding Toad: The industry has changed a lot since Toad the Wet Sprocket last topped the charts—but it's still all about the music". Maui Vents.
- "Eric Idle Sings Monty Python-Part 11". YouTube. November 10, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "4-1 Rutland Weekend Television". YouTube. July 4, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- Wildsmith, Steve. "Toad the Wet Sprocket: Older, wiser and still wearing their hearts on their sleeves". The Daily Times. Bounty County, Tennessee: Blount County Publishers LLC.
- Toadfacts, archived from the original on February 25, 2008
- "Official TTWS Website". See the Biography section.
- 27th Annual Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival. American Red Cross, Alexandria Chapter.
- Toad the Wet Sprocket Official MySpace Page. See Tour List.
- Blistein, Jon (June 5, 2013). "Toad the Wet Sprocket Find a 'New Constellation' - Song Premiere". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
- "Toad the Wet Sprocket Caught Off Guard By Fan Support for New Album". Billboard. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "New Studio Album from Toad the Wet Sprocket! by Toad The Wet Sprocket — Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- "Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Tonic announce summer tour". AXS. April 16, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Toad the Wet Sprocket". IMDb.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
- Official website
- ComeBackDownload.com—fan site; updated sporadically; complete lyrics listing; site was hacked recently and doesn't seem to have been updated in over a year. Archived website along with most content is available on the Internet Archive
- Toad Gold World Tour fansite detailing the travels of the fear gold record among fans
- GlenPhillips.com; Official Glen Phillips site (Toad's frontman)
- Live recordings by Toad the Wet Sprocket at the Internet Archive
- Toad the WWWet Sprocket—fan site; complete lyrics, with guitar tabs and news.
- How Toad Got Their Name w/sound clip
- Almost a Year Abroad—Glen Phillips travels Europe for 'almost a year' with his complete nuclear family. He writes of his family's travels here. (Reference from Doc Searls)