Toad the Wet Sprocket are again a, “From Now”
In 2019, it was obvious that there would be a new Toad the Wet Sprocket album. As frontman Glen Philips worked with what he thought was new solo material, something was wrong. What he had was a Toad record. “We had taken a long break before recording together,” says Phillips, “and it was like we had the right songs and the right energy again. “
Recording at the end of January and beginning of February 2020, laying the drums and aligning the basic tracks, just as the group was about to deepen their seventh album. From now on (The SRG / ILS group), and the first in eight years since New constellation, it all came to a halt around the pandemic, forcing the band to continue working on the album via transferred email files.
Songs were everywhere, some written years earlier, while others dealt with more personal uncertainties and hitting the restart button, in life. All along, From now on is surrounded by hope with the title song cutting the theme of facing an unforeseen future, while finding the center in the present ”, through“ The Best of Me ”, Phillips’ love song to his girlfriend with the guest voice of Michael McDonald. “Her voice takes care of itself because it occupies such a beautiful particular space,” says Phillips. “He [McDonald] sent on all these tracks, we just lost our shit. I love it.”
An earlier piece that Phillips started writing several years ago, “Hold On” initially addressed the border politics of the old administration, then moved on to something broader, while “Truth,” fleshed out around a quote from Frederick Douglass, “Truth is good and beautiful at all times, in all places.
“We’ve all been through two crazy years and I wanted to dig deeper into what it’s like to be out of the way and find a new way to live on the other side,” says Phillips. “How do we not only survive, but we actually put down roots in such unusual times? “
As he gathered From now onPhillips was also facing bigger changes in his life, the end of his 23-year marriage and the departure of his children from home, all of the changes he says have transformed his relationship with songwriting.
“I don’t write songs,” says Phillips. “I write from where I am if that makes sense. I write a few songs like letters from my future better self to my current self, hoping to increase my chances of happiness, so this is my therapy. Even when it can be read like I’m didactic, I try to avoid that line of “be like me, and then you’ll be happy.” ”
He adds: “For me it’s a lot more about gender: ‘I’m trying to find my way in nature, and I need all the help I can get, so the songs are my own breadcrumbs. for the things I know to be true but often forget, and in this area it is about leaning towards hope.
Over time, there’s less of the youthful ego, Phillips says, that whatever you create is worth hearing, or that “pretending” is good enough. “I fell very low during the divorce and had to take a personal spiritual toll and find my way back to my goal,” he says. “I am not a deist per se, but I had to redefine this as spiritual work for myself. I just write what I write. If people get it, that’s fine.
Over time, Phillips says his focus shifted to writing songs that serve as tools for people and references his 2016 solo album. Swallowed by the new like a collection of songs centered on mourning – the loss of a loved one or a life they once knew. Other elements of Phillips’ spiritual change are a deeper practice of yoga and being in the present moment, and the community song circles that Phillips has held over the past five years at a non-denominational church in California.
“I found my purpose in music,” shares Phillips. “A big part of it was leading those circles and providing a place for people who wanted a spiritual outlet and maybe didn’t have one or who had grown up in a religion so dogmatic as to be marked by it. Doing this kind of work took me to a different place with what songwriting means, so there’s a little less fluff now and a little more purpose.
Writing is also part of this escape and therapy. “It allows us to escape those circular thoughts and go somewhere more relaxed so that when we come back to the things we need to pay attention to, we can do it with a little more wisdom and a little more objectivity. , and a little more less mental and emotional strain, ”says Phillips.
“From now on, that’s pretty much it,” he adds. “Living with regret is just as bad as living with worry about the future … and I’m mostly stuck in between.”
Reflecting on 35 years with Toad the Wet Sprocket, Phillips says it’s complicated, really complicated. There are family aspects to the group, but they are not the ones who go on vacation together after the tour is over.
“In some ways our distance is probably what has contributed to our longevity,” he says, “This year I think I gave credit to the other band members for their evolution, where I can sometimes be locked up. by being careful and keeping myself in reserve. because I expect people to act like they did 15 years ago.
There is a slow thaw around the making of From now on, in a sense a new start for Toad the Wet Sprocket. From now on also marks Toad’s first album without their original drummer Randy Guss since the band’s debut in 1989 Bread & Circus. Guss split in 2020 and was replaced by Josh Daubin, who had worked with the band on previous tours. “We were with someone new, so it’s a huge change and a change in the chemistry of a band that has been together for 35 years,” says Phillips. “A lot of relationships are more family-oriented, so it really changed that dynamic, and I think it gave us a chance to relearn how we treat each other.”
Philips adds: “We intended to be a group that would feel when things weren’t going well but not when things were going well, and I think we get better at asserting, or just being nice. to each other, therefore, it gave us the opportunity for a lot of growth.
“These relationships are so old,” he says. “We met in high school and we’re really different people. The difficulty, I think, really comes when you expect other people to be something they’re not.
Still proud of Toad’s current situation, Phillips is in a space of renewal… and it all starts all over again.
“I tend to focus more on regrets, the times when if I had known what I know now, or if I was grateful, or if I was more understanding, things would have been better”, explains Phillips. “There is a fine line between regret and simple learning. It’s such a strange life.