Toad the Wet Sprocket plays free show in Vail
August 16, 2010
Anyone who grew up in the ’90s almost surely can recall hearing at least one song by the alternative rock band Toad The Wet Sprocket. If the catchy lyrics and pop melodies to songs like “Walk On The Ocean,” “Something’s Always Wrong,” and “All I Want” didn’t stick in your brain then the band’s quirky name certainly did. Those were the days when alternative rock was just that – alternative – and bands like TTWS stood out because the airwaves hadn’t yet been glutted with copycat bands and over-done rock stereotypes. Such a thing as originality was still a commodity in the music market.
But times have changed and even the band’s frontman, Glen Phillips, knows that songs by Toad The Wet Sprocket that were once all the rage are now just “comfort food” for their fans.
“I think comfort food is doing well,” Phillips said during a phone interview from a tour stop in Boise, ID. “I’m just happy we’ve been able to go out there and do OK and sell the places we’re playing because I know it’s been hard for a lot of people this year touring.”
Toad The Wet Sprocket will play a free show in Vail Tuesday night, giving longtime fans and newcomers to the band’s music a chance to see what made them alternative icons in the first place. And considering the members of Toad don’t tour together too often anymore, it’s almost a blessing that they stop off in Vail at all. That’s also one of the big draws to a show like this.
“It certainly doesn’t hurt when a band has not been touring on a regular basis,” said John Dakin, spokesperson for the Vail Valley Foundation. “Every once in a while we’re able to come up and hit a homerun like this.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Toad The Wet Sprocket created so many memorable songs that audiences can easily sing along to.
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“It’s going to be a very popular evening at the amphitheater,” Dakin said. “Even old guys like me remember them and I think their music is still pretty relevant with some of the younger folks. I think it’s going to be a great show.”
Toad The Wet Sprocket’s success is a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. Radio was a lot more open to taking chances on new artists and the band’s label, Columbia Records, was investing heavily in artist development when they first came on the scene.
“We didn’t even try to get signed,” Phillips said. “It was a lot of the right place at the right time … we were really lucky.”
After a 10-year run that produced two platinum albums, 17 singles and a large fan following, Toad The Wet Sprocket called it quits. Phillips went on to release several solo albums and guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss also moved on to other projects, but eventually they decided to give it another shot and start touring again in 2006. But it hasn’t necessarily been an easy road.
“We broke up for very good reasons,” Phillips said. “We stayed apart for four or five years and usually when we would get back together people would, on our behalf, try to make it snowball and make a quick buck and nobody … would notice the personal makeup of the band was still not working.”
But given enough time and perspective all the members of the band decided they wanted to reunite and let some of the old history go, Phillips said.
“At this point we’re actually planning further out into the future and just enjoying it. We finally got to bury the past a little,” he said.
So what about a new album? After all, Toad The Wet Sprocket hasn’t released a new studio album since 1997.
“I certainly won’t make any promises yet,” Phillips said. “None of us see the point of making a record together unless we feel like a band, unless we feel like we’re going to make a great record. We’ve always had the option of doing it because we know people are waiting for it but you have to feel like a band or else you’re going to make crap.”
But that doesn’t mean a new record is totally out of the question.
“I think we’re all feeling like we have that vibe again,” Phillips said. “There was a period where it was really, really, really dark … it’s a complicated thing. We’re finally all a lot more grateful for the fact that anybody wants to hear this music, the fact that it made a difference to people and the fact that we just get to play music. It’s a real gift.”