Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket on Embracing Awkwardness

After Toad the Wet Sprocket (due at the Ogden Theatre on Saturday, November 22) started 25 years ago, the guys in the band eventually became reluctant rock stars, partly thanks to 1991's Fear, which included the singles "Walk on the Water" and "All I Want." But front man Glen Phillips says that none of them really felt like "band people."

"I think there's a certain self-confidence that normally comes along with people who have perseverance to get this job," he says. "I mean, we cared a lot about the music, but we didn't necessarily have that, which I think ended up being, in some ways, a strength, because at a time when everybody's being really aggressive we were kind of authentically awkward and vulnerable.

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"For the people who were into Toad it's like, 'Hey, they look like they're not trying as hard as those other bands to be cool,' because we knew it was a lost cause. It's strange to have been able to continue to make music when we're not the kind of personalities that are supposed to be able to continue making music."

Although the band broke up in 1998, Toad reunited for occasional shows and a tour in 2006 and four years ago the band got back together on a full-time basis.

"It had been an interesting decade after the band broke up, and the music industry really kind of shrunk and changed," Phillips says. "We did the paying of our dues, I think, on the other side of things. Instead of while we were coming up we did it after we broke up. It's not what I thought I would be doing with my life. I'm really grateful to be able to make music, but I thought I'd be like a high school teacher or something. I'm still wondering how I ended up here."

Over the last decade and a half, Phillips made solo albums and he has a few other projects as well. During that same time, Phillips says there were periods where the band wouldn't play at all for a while or maybe play a few shows and just wouldn't right so they'd wait a few years and play a few more shows to see if it felt better.

"I think enough time just passed that we realized that people asked all the time when we were going to make a record," Phillips says. "There was a period when we finally.... I don't know, we were on the same page enough, and we felt like we could do a record that had heart and we could do a record that we'd be proud of. That was it more than anything. And even having an option to do it on our own."

When it came to record New Constellation, Toad's first new album in sixteen years, the band looked to its fans, and raised $264,762 on Kickstarter. $50,000 of that was raised in less than twenty hours.

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon

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