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"I feel super lucky we’re still healthy and able to play some of the best shows of our career." - Todd Nichols

Posted: March 23, 2024
Toad The Wet Sprocket - the trio of founding members Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, and Dean Dinning - are still making new music and touring with the same spirit and independence that started it all, over three decades ago. This year marks a new milestone in their journey with the 30th anniversary of the 1994 platinum selling album Dulcinea. 

Photo by: Chris Orwig

Road Warrior is slang to describe a person who travels extensively on business.

The life of a road warrior is familiar to me. I get it. It is almost second nature and takes priority over many parts of your life. Some is for fame and fortune, and sometimes it’s out of necessity. Life on the road isn’t easy. However, its beat’s being alone, waiting for your next local gig. Especially for artists, does “road warrior” have a deep meaning to it. Part of promoting music is to be on the road. Touring, or traveling to the next gig. Some do not enjoy it as much as others. However, it is necessary for the success of any artist or musician.

Some of the most talented bands in the world are considered “Road Warriors”. The top bands that are well traveled are as follows:

The following artists are not listed in any order.

Snoop Dog
Cyndi Lauper
U2
The Rolling Stones
Muse
Aerosmith
Metallica
Bob Dylan
Paul Van Dyk
Tiesto – Famous DJ who has traveled 1,557,131 miles. Which means he traveled around the world 62.53 times. He has put on more miles, than the previous bands or artists mentioned. However, his notoriety is not as strong as the above-mentioned artists. Tiesto makes a compelling case for being the top performing “Road Warrior” of all time.

Toad the Wet Sprocket are also a Road Warriors playing over 200 headlining shows throughout the U.S. since their inception. Performing with some of the most notable artists in the world.

I wonder if Todd Nichols, guitarist for Toad the Wet Sprocket has kept track of how many miles that comes out too? Let’s find out, as he is our guest today.

TOAD THE WET SPROCKET

Toad The Wet Sprocket - the trio of founding members Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, and Dean Dinning - are still making new music and touring with the same spirit and independence that started it all, over three decades ago. This year marks a new milestone in their journey with the 30th anniversary of the 1994 platinum selling album Dulcinea

After the success of fear (1991) the band re-teamed with producer Gavin MacKillop, to create a new body of work that would become their album Dulcinea and sequestered themselves in a residential studio in Marin County, CA. Inspired by the sound that they had developed from their recent touring, the band tracked the record mostly live in a huge room lit by hundreds of candles. With minimal overdubs, the album comes across as an honest document of a stunning batch of songs, some of which had the benefit of having been already played in on the road.

It was also during these sessions that the band recorded its unique cover of "Rock and Roll All Night" for the Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994) at the request of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, who loved it and said, "it reminded him of Jackson Browne". 

Dulcinea arrived in 1994 and was followed by a tour in which the band played over 80 headlining shows, with openers as diverse as Milla Jovovich and Hootie & the Blowfish in their first national tours. The first single "Fall Down" (with a video directed by Samuel Bayer of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" fame) spent 6 weeks at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "Something's Always Wrong" was featured in the movie "Fear" and had a groundbreaking music video that put the band on the Home Shopping Network selling themselves to the lowest bidder. A highlight of the Dulcinea era was playing the NOW rally in Washington, DC in April of 1995, a performance that put the band in front of a million people and was nationally broadcast. 

Crediting their success to the unwavering support of their fans, Toad the Wet Sprocket are celebrating Dulcinea throughout the year on tour – including a co-headline summer tour with the Gin Blossoms, a fall tour with Barenaked Ladies and additional headline dates in select markets.  Limited edition commemorative Dulcinea merchandise will be available at the band’s online store and on all tour dates, as well as a limited quantity of Dulcinea on vinyl that will be a repressing of the original.

Dulcinea went on to sell over a million copies and was certified by the RIAA, giving the band its second platinum album in a row. Many songs from Dulcinea are played in the band's live set every night on tour, and in 2023, "Fall Down" was featured on the Showtime series "Billions", with the song showing up on the Shazam charts the following week. 

Throughout their career, Toad the Wet Sprocket has remained committed to creating music that is both meaningful and accessible. Their songs are filled with introspective lyrics, melodic guitars and vocal harmonies that have resonated for fans for decades.

Toad the Wet Sprocket first gained attention in the late 1980s with their debut album, Bread & Circus, originally self-released on cassette in 1988. Their sophomore release, Pale, was recorded independently in 1989. Both records were released by Columbia Records, in 1989 and 1990 respectively.

Toad’s third studio album, Fear, followed in 1991 and included their multi-format iconic hit singles “All I Want” and "Walk on the Ocean”. It was certified RIAA Platinum and further solidified the band's popularity and mainstream success. In 1994, Dulcinea followed.

In 1995 Toad released In Light Syrup, a collection of rarities that included the hit “Good Intentions”, which was featured on the Platinum-selling Friends soundtrack.

The band took a break in the late 1990s, with the members pursuing solo projects. However, they reunited in 2006 and have continued to perform together ever since. In 2013, they released their first album in 16 years, New Constellation. The album includes fan-favorite tracks “The Moment”, “California Wasted” and “Enough” that showcase the bands growth and versatility.

Starting Now (2021) marked a return to form for the band, with introspective lyrics, and signature harmonies. It well-received and showcased the band's signature sound while also exploring new sonic territories. Songs like “Transient Whales”, “Starting Now” and “Hold On” serve as core performance tracks at live shows and as fan favorites.

Toad's most recent album, All You Want, is a remastered greatest hits album and features the most recent single “Best of Me (2023)”, an alternative version to the album release cut of the track featuring Michael McDonald.

Throughout their career, Toad the Wet Sprocket has remained humble and grateful for the loyal support of their incredible fans.  This is the fuel that inspires the band to continue creating music and performing live to this day.

INTERVIEW WITH TODD NICHOLS AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Hi Todd. Thank you for chatting with us today. I look forward to this interview as you are quite the accomplished guitarist. I would ask if you got around much. However, it is quite evident that you do. How do you sustain your energy with traveling as much as you do?

Todd: Hi Guitar Thrills. Well, we’ll usually go out for about 12 weeks in the summer /early fall so it’s not too much. We separate it into 2 to 6-week tours with a break in between. We’ve found that anything longer than 6 weeks at a time is too long. Basically, you need to get good sleep. I find I can sleep in the bus bunk well. Although the schedule is a little later than when I’m home. On tour I usually go to bed around 3 am and sleep until 11am.  

Guitar Thrills: What is the payoff for being a Road Warrior? 

Todd: I don’t really consider Toad to be Road Warriors. We get all our touring done in a 3-month period and then have the rest of the year to do other things which is nice. So, I guess the payoff is that. Being able to have fun for a few months playing music with your friends, and then be able to go back home and do whatever. But back in the late 80’s to mid 90’s we would tour a ton. One year I think we did over 200 shows!  

Guitar Thrills: What have you given up due to the amount of traveling that you do?

Todd: Hmmm. Not much. I suppose because we tour in the summer mostly, I’ve given up the chance to go fishing and enjoy the outdoors in the summer a little bit, but I’ll always choose playing shows over anything.  

Guitar Thrills: It must be worth it, otherwise, you wouldn’t do it. Have you recorded how many miles you have put on your tires, or frequent flyer miles?  

Todd: Totally worth it. I feel super lucky we’re still healthy and able to play some of the best shows of our career. And that our fans have stuck with us over the decades. We travel in a rented tour bus, so no idea how many miles. But occasionally the drive between shows is so far that the bus company must fly in another driver to finish a 12-hour drive. There are laws that prevent driving over 8 hours or so.  

Guitar Thrills: What is your preference, could you stay local if the conditions presented itself?

Todd: Staying local wouldn’t be possible to earn a living with Toad, plus traveling to other parts of the country is cool.  

Guitar Thrills: Other than being a Road Warrior, what artists have you worked with during your career? 

Todd: Toad has played with tons of different bands over the years. Once we had Hootie and The Blowfish open a tour for us back in 1994 just when they were starting to break. We also brought the Gin Blossoms out on our tour back in 92, I think. Right around the time they were starting to blow up. And now more than 30 years later we’re going to tour with them again this summer. 

Guitar Thrills: We have established that you have worked with many talented artists and companies throughout the years. What have you accomplished for yourself, 

that fans may not be familiar with. 

Todd: I build the guitars I take on tour and play live.  I used to be like most guitarists - afraid to touch their guitar and just take it to the local guitar tech/luthier.  So back in 2016, I decided to learn how to set up guitars from watching YouTube videos. Then I built a guitar for myself.  I was playing it live on tour so Toad fans started asking me if I could build them one.  I think I’m up to about 80 guitars I’ve sold.  It’s really just a hobby I enjoy and not a serious business but it’s really cool to know, how to get a guitar to play as good as it can.  I have a website people can contact me through and check out some of my builds if interested. www.NicholsCustomGuitars.com or on Instagram: @nicholsguitars   

Guitar Thrills: Obviously, we are a magazine about music and guitars. Almost everything that you do includes the use of a guitar. Which brand do you prefer and why?

Todd: Well lately as I mentioned I play mostly the “Nichols” Guitars that I build. Partscaster types, but have always loved Fender, Gibson, Gretsch and Martins. Who doesn’t? I have a few old vintage ones, but I always worry when I take them on the road. 

Guitar Thrills: What is your favorite genre, and why?

Todd: I tend to listen to alternative types of music mostly. If that means anything anymore. I like a lot of genres though and with streaming services like Spotify it’s easy to find good new music easily.  

Guitar Thrills: What do you think about the up-and-coming talent in our modern day? Is there anyone that stick out to you for their abilities?

Todd:  For sure. I listen to a lot of new up and coming artists. One is Ethel Cain. It’s been cool to watch her music go from the bedroom studio to the big stages the last couple of years. Not all bands get that lucky, though. I also like this kid named Woz and the band Cannons. 

Guitar Thrills: Looking back at your experiences, what would you have done differently, if you could? 

Todd: I try not to look back and think about mistakes too much. If I had to say one mistake … it was not really realizing how lucky we were to have the support of a major label back in the 90’s and that the industry would soon change drastically. We only made 3 records in our time on Columbia Records and then we broke up for a bit, when we should have just taken a break. Although we’re fortunate to have worked things out and still tour every year and occasionally make new records. It’s a great time to be an independent artist, it’s just a different way of doing things these days. 

Guitar Thrills: What project are you working on now, that we can look forward too?

Todd: We’ve been working on acoustic versions of older songs and starting to throw some song ideas around for another new Toad record.  

Guitar Thrills: Thank you, Todd, for spending time with us today. Please keep us in the loop of anything you would like us to promote. If you just want to stop by to 

chat about music, our ears are always open. 




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