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. The band enjoyed chart success in the 1990s with the singles "Walk on the Ocean", "All I Want", "Something's Always Wrong", and "Fall Down", among others. 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 have started writing songs for their first new studio album since their 1997 Columbia Records release Coil.
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.
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 Philips 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".
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).
Toad the Wet Sprocket was formed in 1986, with the members having known one another from San Marcos High School just outside of Santa Barbara, California. Singer/songwriter Glen Phillips was only 16, Todd Nichols and Randy Guss were 19, and Dean Dinning was 20. The band's first public appearance was at an open-mic talent contest in September 1986. The band lost the competition.
Toad the Wet Sprocket's first album was released in 1989. Bread & Circus was self-financed through their label, Abe 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.
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.
In 1992, the cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured the song "Little Heaven" and was 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" (previously 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.
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, they recorded two studio tracks for a compilation release, P.S. A Toad Retrospective, including one of the first songs they wrote together as a band, "P.S.".
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.
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 bands 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. This will allow the band to regain their publishing and licensing of those songs. 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. This new hits disc will be released into stores and on all digital retailers and online retailers later in the summer.
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 working on new Toad songs for their upcoming 2012 return, but is also writing for a solo follow-up to "Mr Lemons" as well.
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.
• Glen Phillips – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, mandolin (1986–present)
• Todd Nichols – lead guitar, mandolin, backing vocals (1986–present)
• Dean Dinning – bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1986–present)
• Randy Guss – drums, percussion (1986–present)
Official Website: http://www.toadthewetsprocket.com/
MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/toadthewetsprocket