Toad the Wet Sprocket tours ‘New Constellation’

A-Toad the wet sprocket
Band members of Toad The Wet Sprocket pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Rob Shanahan.

Band members of Toad The Wet Sprocket pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Rob Shanahan.

In 1975, Eric Idle from “Monty Python” created the fictional band Toad the Wet Sprocket for his sketch “Rock Notes.” To the comedic genius, it was just a silly name. He thought no one would be crazy enough to use it. However, in 1986, four teenagers from California used the name as a joke at their first gig, and the name stuck. Since then, the band Toad the Wet Sprocket has gone on to sell millions of albums, which has allowed them to extensively tour North America and Europe.

The group includes lead singer Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss. These four friends attended San Marcos High School together in 1986. They met during choir and theater classes and bonded over their shared love of music.

The band’s first two albums, released in 1989 and 1990, made small splashes. Then, in 1991, with the release of their third album “Fear,” the band achieved commercial success. The songs “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean” reached epic levels of fame, and to this day, it is impossible not to sing along with them.

Toad the Wet Sprocket released several albums after “Fear,” which all produced hits. Unfortunately, like many bands before them, tensions became too much, and the band officially broke up in July of 1998. Although partially dissolved, the group members remained on relatively good terms, and they continued to play shows together sporadically.

“We broke up for all the usual ‘behind the music’ reasons — pick an episode. We didn’t burn bridges with each other though, so we were able to play shows here and there. At some point, [playing together] started to feel vital again, so we kept on doing it,” said Glen Phillips, the band’s vocalist.

Each member pursued other paths while simultaneously playing short sets as Toad the Wet Sprocket. In fact, from 2002-2008, the band played a handful of shows throughout the United States. Then, in 2010, the band announced they were working on new music again.

Released in October of 2013, “New Constellation” is the band’s first studio album in 16 years. In order to create it, the band set a $50,000 goal on Kickstarter, a website that helps fund creative endeavors. Desperate for new music, die-hard fans contributed money to the project, and in less than 24 hours, the band’s goal had been exceeded.The title track “New Constellation” kicks off the album with soaring harmonies, soft guitar hooks and an infectious rhythm. This song, although simple in structure, presents the album’s theme — learning to be happy.

“Mostly [the new album] is about being aware, being present and treating happiness as a practice instead of an entitlement,” Phillips said.

Another stand out track is “I’ll Bet on You.” This song approaches pain and heartbreak but offers a different point of view — people make it through the hard things in life by focusing on the positive things. “We’ve all been hurt/ It’s nothing new/ Just bet on me/ ‘Cause I’ll bet on you.”

Toad the Wet Sprocket will perform at The Depot this Friday with guest artist Jonathan Kingham. Doors open at 7 p.m.

s.meyer@chronicle.utah.edu


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