While for some, Toad the Wet Sprocket might fall under a collective '90s era "oh yeah I remember that song, who sang it?" genre, muddled with contemporaries like the Gin Blossoms, or later Dishwalla, the band continues to have a strong loyal fan base and cult following. This is noteworthy for a group that hasn't released an album of new music since the late '90s. Though they may be best known for their 1994 hit "Fall Down," the group is far from alternative in the Pearl Jam/Nirvana sense of the term, residing closer to the calmer, less angry sounds of Counting Crows or REM.
Formed in 1986 when Santa Barbara-area high school friends, singer Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning, and drummer Randy Guss started the band, they were widely successful in the early 90s. The band's sound - and perhaps also its bizarre name - appealed to a large audience, propelling them to mainstream radio play. Inspiration for the band's name came from a Monty Python sketch. British comedy writer and Monty Python troupe member, Eric Idle, wrote a fake music news sketch that included the band name that he thought, at the time, was so ridiculous no one would ever use it.
Remaining dedicated to their loyal fan base, and having newly acquired rights to their songs from albums owned by Columbia Records, the band recently decided to release All You Want, a remastered compilation album of fan-favorite songs. The record won't be out until later this year, but fans can snag it early at the band's shows or online.
Toad band members continue to maintain a humble attitude toward their success.
"For a band that got together in high school, we had a pretty good run. We never thought we'd get a record deal. We never thought we'd get our songs played on the radio. We never thought we'd get to play our music for so many people. We are incredibly lucky to have had these experiences... We thought people would forget about us, but to our surprise and pleasure, many didn't," the band wrote on its website.
Toad the Wet Sproket achieved commercial success with two platinum albums, 1991's Fear and the group's follow up fourth album Dulcinea in 1994. Their "breakthrough" singles from Fear include the mellow acoustic song "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean." The popular grunge-influenced crossover hit "Fall Down," which spent six weeks at number one on the Billboard Rock Chart, appeared on Dulcinea. The rest of the album featured songs more in tune with the band's traditional folk-rock acoustic sound, a sound present in songs like "Something's Always Wrong." A number of Toad songs, along with some of Glen Phillips' solo work, have also been featured in movies and television.
In the late '90s, the band failed to maintain their mass appeal. While popular with fans, their album Coil didn't achieve the same level of commercial success as their previous work. Seemingly satisfied with their run, the band split to work on other projects in 1998. Among those, lead singer Glen Phillips released a few albums as a solo artist and worked on some collaborations with other musicians. Toad continued to maintain a loyal following and the group got back together a number of times for reunion shows. Then in 2006, all five original band members got back together officially to resume touring. Currently, the group is continuing an active tour schedule and next year plans to release its first full-length album of new music in over a decade.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
9:30pm Friday, July 8. Clear 101.7 Main stage at the Bend Summer Festival. Downtown Bend.