Live & Direct with Toad the Wet Sprocket

It’s been 16 years since the last Toad the Wet Sprocket album, but finally they’ve come back with some great new material. Rosemary Welsh had the opportunity to interview the band, and they were kind enough to play a few songs between questions.

Rosemary started by asking them about what brought the band back together after having split up for so many years. “For me, a huge part of it was having worked for so long time outside the band, and in some ways fought against the past,” said frontman Glen Phillips “And I finally let that go.” They had done some work together over the years, but there just wasn’t much hope of getting the band back together. “Sometimes when we first started getting together again it would start feeling weird and we’d remember why we broke up and then we wouldn’t play shows for a while. At some point we were thinking, ‘oh, this is why we played music. This is why we did it,’ instead of this is why we stopped doing it.” Once the band began getting along and wanted to play some more shows, they realized they needed something. “At that point, the next logical step was to add new songs to the set.”

The new album, New Constellation, was funded by fans via the website Kickstarter. The band had set a goal for $50 thousand, but the fans donated far exceeded expectations. $264 thousand was raised, more than 5 times the asking amount, and that gave the band a lot more freedom. “It’s not like this [guitar] is lined with dollar bills now. It’s all spent, but the great thing was that we made the album we wanted. That’s totally paid for and we own it. We got to make really cool stuff for people and ship it to them, and that took up the majority of the money. What’s left we can use for promo, for paying our team, for the management, and it means that our team is actually getting paid for the work they do, and we can hire a publicist.”

Bands that can fund the album’s without the help of major record labels also have more freedom. Toad the Wet Sprocket has a great deal of respect for bands that do it themselves, and they were glad they could finally be label-free. “We think of these huge bands that do it themselves, and the labels have their part when it’s the right time, and not until then. I think that’s great, because the artists get to make the art. Because that’s what we’re good at, but not necessarily what suits are good at.” Since they have all the rights to their music, they got to start making money off the new album sales immediately, soon as the first song was downloaded on iTunes. Glen Phillips said the statistics he got from iTunes and Bandcamp made it easier to tell which songs were popular. “You have stats now! And that’s a weird thing. Instead of doing all that other stuff, you just look at a chart, and it’s like, ‘well I guess people like that one!’”

Rosemary asked how important they think it is now to tour behind a new album. Phillips said it is very important, since the record industry has changed so much with new technology. “We’ve gone from a record industry where most families would have two copies of a record they like, because they have the cassette and they have the CD, maybe the vinyl too. Now you’re lucky if 1 in 20 owns the record. That means that people that are actually supporting the music they care about are doing a much bigger job of it, and they’re very conscious about it. And that’s great, but it does put a burden on those people.” 

Set list: 

New Constellation

California Wasted

Walk on the Ocean

All I Want