Toad the Wet Sprocket
by Tiffany A. Kearin
Here’s the scenario: Some high-school friends in a West Coast suburb form a garage-rock band under an obnoxious name from an obscure Monty Python sketch. Their unique sound attracts sold out crowds to local clubs while they themselves are well below the legal drinking age. When a spirited but crudely-made demo tape has the majors singing for more, they settle on the only label (Columbia Records) that will afford them complete independence.
Toad the Wet Sprocket‘s popularity grew as their music became a staple on college radio, and their mailing list ballooned after touring in support of the B-52s and Deborah Harry. However, nothing prepared them for the success of their third LP, Fear.
Faster than you can say “Dead Parrot,” Top-40 Radio got hold of the catchy “All I Want,” and Fear was on its way to certified platinum status. Their tour itinerary rose from 100 to 275 dates in the US and Europe.
The extension of the tour gave Toad the chance to better know their way around their instruments, and bring that live feel to the album that would be Dulcinea. “Fear was very manicured,” vocalist Glen Phillips admits, “It was our first experience in the studio with the luxury of time, so we experimented with overdubs and the like. We lost some of that ‘band’ feel. We missed that.”
Toad’s leisurely schedule at The Site, a residential studio in Marin County, CA, gave them the opportunity to catch up on their reading, which included Cervante’s classic novel Don Quixote. According to Guss, the nickname of Quixote’s dream woman was chosen because “it’s kind of a romantic ideal. Quixote really lives for it. If you really believe in something, you let go of your cynicism and keep moving. It seemed to fit because we juxtaposed our fears – or whatever you wish to call it – and find the answer.”
Visions of windmills aside, Toad have brought a very spiritual feel to this CD. Says Guss, “This music is spiritually inclined accidentally. The lyrics don’t have a directly spiritual overtone, at least not a calculated one.”
For a band as spiritually in-tune as Toad, they’ve been showing up in some pretty odd places. Last summer, a ‘teaser track’ from the Dulcinea sessions called “Brother” landed on the soundtrack to Mike Myers’ last film, So I Married An Axe Murderer. More recently, Toad’s hysterically twangy version of the KISS classic “Rock and Roll All Nite” appeared on the KISS tribute Kiss My Ass.
“It was bizarre,” Guss says. “We were very into them during our childhood, but not in high school. Those ties ran pretty deep – Dean saved all of his messages from Gene Simmons. He just wanted us to do ‘Rock and Roll All Night’ the way we’d do it, not how KISS did it.”
Toad’s tour will extend until December 1995 and will include a return to Boston. Randy’s plans between now and then? “I want to brush my teeth and shave between now and then,” he says after a moment of deliberation.