Any rock band that makes it to the three-decade mark should be stopping to take a victory lap. And that‘s exactly what Toad the Wet Sprocket—the alternative rock band that had a string of platinum-selling albums and radio hits in the ’90s—is doing this year with their 30th Anniversary Tour. Thankfully, Capital Region fans will get to join their celebration, as the tour will be landing at Albany’s The Egg this Friday, June 28.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut album, Bread & Circus, as well as the 25th anniversary of one of their most successful albums, the platinum-selling Dulcinea (1994), which spawned such hit singles as “Something’s Always Wrong” and “Fall Down,” the latter of which reached No.1 on the US Modern Rock charts.
“No one gets into this thinking they’re going to be doing it 30 years later,” says Dean Dinning, Toad the Wet Sprocket’s bassist. “The fact that we still have such an audience after 30 years is just incredible.” The four Santa Barbara, CA natives that make up the band—Dinning (bass), Glen Phillips (lead vocals/guitar), Todd Nichols (lead guitar) and Randy Guss (drums)—met doing theater in high school and, after realizing that they all shared an interest in music, started jamming in Guss’ basement. If you’re wondering, the band’s name was lifted from a Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch. “Nobody took it too seriously,” says Dinning. “We all thought we were going to probably break up when we went to college.”
However, while still in high school, the band scraped together $600 to record their original cassette release of Bread & Circus in 1989. Just a couple of years later, Columbia Records took notice of the indie rockers, signing them and subsequently reissuing Bread & Circus nationally on cassette, CD and vinyl. Toad’s follow-up album for Columbia was Fear (1991), which included the hit songs “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean,” and brought the band mainstream success and its first platinum-selling album. “It’s been an amazing ride,” says Dinning. “When you get signed to a record label, that is by no means a guarantee of success.”
That’s not to say there haven’t been a few rough patches along the way. Following disappointing sales from their fifth studio album, Coil, the group broke up in 1998. Despite some intra-band tensions, Toad’s members continued to work together intermittently, and the “break up” became more of an extended hiatus. They officially reunited in 2009. Since then, Toad has toured extensively and released two more studio albums: New Constellation in 2013, which was financed primarily through a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $250,000 online; and the six-song EP Architect of the Ruin in 2015. “The music has just refused to go away, [having been] used in films and TV shows, and it’s been popular online as well,” says Dinning. “I think getting out here and playing every year definitely helps that—we’re still working it.”
Speaking of which, in addition to their big anniversary tour, Toad the Wet Sprocket is also currently co-headlining a tour with another ’90s alt-rock band, Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The two bands released a joint single at the beginning of June, a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” with all proceeds going to support the Sierra Club. “It’s our No.1 charity right now,” says Dinning. “We’re all very much into the outdoors, and we want to preserve it for future generations.”
As for Toad’s return to The Egg this Friday, where the band last played in 2011, fans can expect a great setlist featuring highlights from the group’s entire discography as well as two songs from Bread & Circus—“Covered in Roses” and “One Little Girl”—that Dinning says the band hasn’t played live in years. “It’s going to be a great, laidback show,” says Dinning. “We love The Egg and, in fact, last time we came through we were trying to see how many egg jokes we could make.” As to whether the band will be cracking more egg jokes at Friday night’s concert, Dinning says, “Probably, but you’ll have to show up to find out.”