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Q&A: Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sprocket

This is the year to rally the troops for Santa Barbara, CA-based Toad the Wet Sprocket. The acoustic rockers are playing more shows than they have in years, and they have written new material for a 2012 CD, their first since 1997's "Coil." // Tour dates at SoundSpike

This is the year to rally the troops for Santa Barbara, CA-based Toad the Wet Sprocket. The acoustic rockers are playing more shows than they have in years, and they have written new material for a 2012 CD, their first since 1997's "Coil."

Formed in 1986, Toad the Wet Sprocket -- singer/guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist Todd Nichols, bassist Dean Dinning and drummer Randy Guss -- broke up in 1998 after enjoying chart success throughout the 1990s with songs such as "Walk on the Ocean," "All I Want," "Something's Always Wrong" and "Fall Down."

In 2006, the act began playing small venues and short tours each summer, and subsequently announced a full-scale reunion in December 2010. They have been thoroughly touring the nation since January, and have dates scheduled through the summer. Later this spring, the band will release "All You Want," a collection of new recordings of fan favorites. It will be available via the band's website and shows first.

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"The process of recording this music again brought us closer together as a band, and closer to the songs that we've lived with for so long," the band said in a statement. "These songs still mean a lot to us, and we hope our fans enjoy listening to them as much as we enjoyed making them."

Dinning spoke to SoundSpike about the jaunt, the new songs Toad the Wet Sprocket is performing and why now was the perfect time for a new album.

SoundSpike: How's the tour going so far?

Dean Dinning: It's going real good. We're on the West Coast and we're trying to build it into a little tour. It's hard because we haven't been using a bus because they're so expensive and our dates have been few and far between. As we do more shows, I think we'll be able to pick up more of these cities in the West, even though they're so far apart.

Have you started writing new material or working on a new album?

The answer there is yes. We're even starting to play new songs in the set. We have two songs that we've worked up. We've played them for the past three nights, and they seem to be going over great.

What can we expect from the new material, for people who haven't heard the new songs?

You know, gosh, what I've heard from people in the crowd, they say it doesn't sound like a retread of our old material, but it doesn't sound like we're trying too hard to be hip. It sounds like us. The first impression is that it sounds like us, but us in 2011.

It must feel good to finally be back in the studio.

It really, really does.

What else do you have planned for this year?

The plan for this year is to go out in the road and play more shows than we've done in the past, while taking this year to write an album that we will record soon-ish after we come off the road. Hopefully put it out, maybe at the earliest, spring 2012. We still have a lot of things to figure out. We just signed with a new management company called Red Light Management, who are the company that was started by Dave Matthews and his manager. Very good company. They're working with us now. This is the year to kind of rally the troops. Gather everyone together in preparation for this release, which will be the first one in 15 years.

Why was now the time for a new Toad the Wet Sprocket CD?

We've been going out and playing and keeping it really, really casual and kind of noncommittal. It started to get really good is the thing that happened, and it kind of surprised us how much we enjoyed playing together. The only thing that seemed to be missing was doing new material. We thought, "Things are going well with the band, people are getting along great, we've got the sound back, we've been playing live, we're pretty dialed in. Let's see if we can do some new songs." We've gone to a real good place with the band. Better than we have in a long time.

Why is that?

Just maturity and mellowing out and your world view. I think time passing gave us an opportunity to look back at what we did. Also, we got our catalog back. We now own all of our songs again. Taking a hard look at what we did and what we accomplished and being pretty happy with the body of material that we had, and wanting to expand on that. It's kind of a time when we're claiming ownership of our creativity and what we do and getting some things returned to us that we haven't had in a long time -- and making it ours. In that spirit, we want to move forward with that and create something new.

You must be really happy that you have your back catalog.

It was great. Lawyers and record companies make things really difficult. Once they have something, you have to pry it out of their cold, dead hands. We got it back and it feels really good.

Have you chosen a studio yet?

We're taking it one step at a time. We've never made a record where we wrote in the studio. We want to make sure that we have the songs, and the recording will probably go fairly quickly. We're pretty quick in the studio. We have two home studios that we can also work at. We'll probably do the majority of the work at Todd's home studio or Glen's. We're very comfortable and can accomplish a lot there. We have a lot of great, great and gear and feel very comfortable.

It seems like it would be hard to write in the studio.

I think people used to do that when they would throw a whole lot of money at a project, with the guidance of a producer, where they can squeeze a song out of people. Maybe they'd sit around and take a week and come up with a hit. I don't know how they do that. We generally write and write and write and then edit and edit and cut down, and go in and cut the best stuff.

So what can fans expect from your tour this year?

We are playing everything that people would expect we would play. It's a good time. It's got a bit of an arc to it. I tell Jason, who's our sound guy, it's an arena rock show in a bar. It's got some drama to it. It comes down. It's got some highs and some lows that kind of takes you on a journey. It's a good set. At the same time, we have these two new songs that we're throwing in to the middle. We're not going to torture people by playing an hour of new stuff. It's a little treat. It's nice. It's fun.

 tour dates and tickets

April 2011
12 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel
13 - Charlotte, NC - McGlohon Theatre
14 - Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre Center
15 - Atlanta, GA - The Variety Playhouse
16 - Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues (with Carbon Leaf)
27 - Pensacola, FL - Vinyl Music Hall
28 - Tallahassee, FL - The Engine Room
29 - Lake Buena Vista, FL - House of Blues

May 2011
1 - Tampa, FL - The Ritz Ybor
6 - Kailua-Kona, HI - Royal Kona Resort
7 - Kaanapali Landing, HI - Royal Lahaina Resort

June 2011
18 - Santa Monica, CA - McCabe's Guitar Shop
30 - Des Moines, IA - Simon Estes Amphitheatre

July 2011
1 - Stevens Point, WI - Riverfront Rendezvous
3 - Bellevue, CO - Mishawaka Amphitheater
4 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre (with Matisyahu and Blues Traveler)
8 - Bend, OR - Downtown Bend (Bend Summer Festival)
9 - Snoqualmie, WA - Snoqualmie Casino
16 - Ephrata, WA - Basin Summer Sounds
28 - Mount Pleasant, MI - Max and Emily's Eatery
29 - Mears, MI - Val Du Lakes
31 - Chicago, IL - Taste of Lincoln Avenue

August 2011
6 - Lowell, MA - Boarding House Park
27 - Templeton, CA - Castoro Cellars Winery (Glen Phillips solo)

 tour dates and tickets

     

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