Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket on The Morning Mix
Cindy had a chance to talk to Glen Phillips, the frontman for Toad the Wet Sprocket, who just released their first album in 16 years. The album is called New Constellation and it’s out now.
Cindy wanted to know if they had always planned on releasing another album at some point, despite their breakup in 1998. “I thought we’d do another album if we could, if it could be good enough, if we could be enough of a band. There were a lot of years where we’d get back together and play a handful of shows and it felt like that was all we were capable of. There wasn’t enough unity and we were having the old arguments. You can’t make good albums if everyone’s walking on eggshells.” The new album is great, so they must have been walking on something harder than eggshells. Maybe it’s the mountain of cold hard cash they raised through kickstarter to fund the album.
Toad joined the growing trend in music that has artists crowdfunding their albums and tours. Going 529% over their goal of $50,000, Toad the Wet Sprocket was only planning on raising enough to cover the cost of studio time. “We set our goal at what we thought was a reasonable minimum that we thought would basically cover recording expenses. We got where we hoped to get, actually, so we were excited.” Five people even donated $1,500 to the cause, so you know Toad has a dedicated fan base. “We were extremely happy with the response. It was great.”
A song from the new album that Cindy wanted to know more about is “Enough”. Glen had an interesting story behind the song, which wasn’t even written for Toad! “I wrote it with a guy named John Taylor, but not the John Taylor from Duran Duran. We actually wrote it for his band in an initial version that had less of the riff and everything. But I love the song and I had been playing it live and it was kind of late in the Toad project that I brought that song in because we were missing that particular emotional arc. We had a lot of pop songs but not a lot of ‘ripping your heart out of your chest and holding it out in front of everybody songs.’” Apparently his mom likes it too, since he quotes Rabbi Tarfon’s line "The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house is insistent." “Anytime I rip off rabbis my mom is happy,” Phillips says.
On the subject of their early success, Glen says that he was surprised by being noticed so young. “We were not a typical rock band. I think the reason that our audience has stuck with us is that even at the time, we were authentically awkward.” While nerddom now is praised by mostly everyone, back then people reacted differently. “We were kind of a band of nerds before nerds were cool and before nerds ran the world. Now its cool to be a nerd, back then it was hard… We were all a little shocked when we got signed, we were all a little shocked when our music got played on the radio."
Toad the Wet Sprocket’s new album is called New Constellation, and it came out October 15th.