Podcast - Ep. 11: Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket) Interview
Written by Ben Province
On the latest episode of our podcast, John Fleming chats with solo artist and Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips.
The Santa Barbara, Calif. band saw its first mainstream success when the platinum 1991 album “fear” produced the top-20 singles “All I Want" and “Walk on the Ocean.”
The record was followed by the band’s fourth, “Dulcinea,” which also went platinum and featured the hit “Fall Down.”
“I spent most of the period, when Toad was doing really well, in a state of deep imposter syndrome,” Phillips said. “I was 22, and [thought] ‘we’re in the top 40; that’s weird.’”
“So, I probably could have enjoyed it a lot more,” he said with a laugh.
Toad the Wet Sprocket’s latest single, “Old Habits Die Hard,” takes on the U.S.’s polarized political landscape.
“I like the idea of there being a lively, active and hopefully respectful conversation going on between those kind of extremes. And it's also a song about kind of reconciling our past,” the singer/songwriter said.
But when politics are tackled in music, there can be pushback from listeners with differing opinions.
“Oh, I successfully alienated a portion of the audience. But, I also think it's a nuanced song,” he said. “I think any political conversation or any conversation between left and right is necessary to make any complex country run, right?”
“So, there’s certain ideological things I’m not gonna back down from, but I do have a lot of conservative friends, and I do actually deeply respect conservative ideals, although I’m a die-hard liberal myself.”
“Old Habits Die Hard” is one of two singles released by the band 2020. The other, “Staring Now,” is the title track from the band’s forthcoming album.
The record has finished tracking, according to Phillips (at the time of this episode's recording), with the exception of backing vocals from “a very special guest.” Toad the Wet Sprocket’s seventh studio album is set to come out later this year.
These releases fall in the second chapter in the career of a group that originally split up in 1998.
“When the band first started playing again, we were still, I think, sorting our way through a lot of the reasons we broke up in the first place, and in the last few years, I think we’ve found a real peace.”
But even with Toad the Wet Sprocket back together for more than a decade, Phillips continues to create as a solo artist as well.
“I think there’s so many ways to be creative and make music,” he said. “When I go back to Toad, I’m ready to be in a rock band again.”
Phillips has about two songs left to write for his next solo album.
“And then I have kind of a side project that’s more hippie,” he said with a laugh.
Phillips performs live on Facebook and YouTube during “most weeks” Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on StageIt during Sunday nights.