Toad the Wet Sprocket is an American alternative rock band formed in 1986. The band consists of singer/guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss. The band crossed-over to mainstream pop/alternative radio with the singles "All I Want", and "Walk On The Ocean" in the early 90's.
Toad the Wet Sprocket was formed in 1986 at San Marcos High School just outside of Santa Barbara, California, when singer/songwriter Glen Phillips was only 14 and a freshman; the other members were 17 and juniors. The band drew its name from the Eric Idle monologue "Rock Notes" on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album from 1980, although the name is featured in a parody of The Old Grey Whistle Test on Rutland Weekend Television in 1975. 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 came out 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 did not receive much 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 twenty 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 #1 on the US Modern Rock charts, as well as #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 since the breakup
Toad the Wet Sprocket, though officially broken up since 1998, has 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 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 played 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. The Virginia Beach show was very successful and the patrons were very appreciative of a very good playlist and good showing.
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.
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 a Works Progress Administration, which includes Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek finished mixing a new album to be released in early 2008. Also on tap for this prolific songwriter is an album with Garrison Starr and Nielson Hubbard to be released under the band name Plover. Glen is also mixing another EP to be released in 2009 before starting work on his next full length record for a 2010 release.
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). Since then Lapdog has kept a fairly low profile, though they still occasionally perform publicly.