- - Thursday, August 11, 2016

Formed in 1986 near Santa Barbara, California, by four high school pals, Toad the Wet Sprocket created smart, acoustic pop music. The band gave birth to a handful of singalong hits like “Walk on the Ocean,” “Fall Down,” “Something’s Always Wrong” and “All I Want.” Thirty years in, the original lineup of Dean Dinning, Glenn Phillips, Todd Nichols and Randy Guss continue to make catchy tunes and play to adoring audiences around the globe.

In advance of two District-area shows — Monday at Rams Head Live! in Baltimore and Aug. 19 at the 9:30 Club — bassist Mr. Dinning spoke with The Washington Times about how he spends his downtime, the band’s lasting effect on fans and why a country Toad album is a possibility.

Question: Where are you right now?

Answer: I’m in Boise, Idaho, on a day off. Some of the guys are out river rafting, but I have very fair skin, so I can’t do any of those things. I just explode and catch on fire as soon as the sun hits me.

Q: Besides hiding from the sun, what do you do on your days off?

A: I’m sketching out some tracks on my laptop in the hotel so I can be ahead of the game when I get off the road and back into the studio. I’ve been doing some writing with a group of writers that blossomed out of the studio scene where we recorded our last two records.

I wrote a thing for a Lego ad campaign. There is so much content being needed out there. Whether it’s for the web or TV or film. There is a big need for music.

Q: Any plans for your downtime while in D.C.?

A: I always tend to go to Oohh’s and Aahh’s for some soul food, which is very close to the 9:30 Club. It’s in walking distance.

It’s a great town to walk in. Maybe I’ll take a walk up to The White House and say hi to the prez.

Q: What is the secret of keeping the original band together 30 years in?

A: We’ve known each other since we were kids. We’ve all made music with other people, but the music we make together is different and special. And it has affected people in a profound way. I really think the appreciation that the fans have for what we do is what has kept us all together. We never want to let them down.

Q: How has the creative process evolved over the three decades?

A: It is different than it used to be, but in some ways its the same. We’ve got Glenn, who is strong with music and lyrics. Especially lyrics. And then we’ve got Todd, who writes a lot of the music. He doesn’t do a complete lyric, but he’ll come up with phrases and titles and things like that that stick.

Nowadays we do more of sending things back and forth just because we can, and everyone doesn’t live in the same place. It’s different from when you had a rehearsal room to go to and jam ideas.

We end up coming up with music and sending it to Glenn with lyrical ideas, and it’s great because he will figure out something much cooler than Todd and I had in mind.

Q: Why did the band take a break between 1998 and 2004?

A: I think the band needed a break, but we didn’t need to break up. People wanted to do other things. We needed to have experiences away from the band, musical and otherwise. We needed to get off the grinding road a little bit. Some of us had gotten married and started families. We were ready for a different chapter.

When we came back, we all realized how hard it could be out there and how lucky we were to have this thing we all enjoyed so much. At the same time realizing that the music wasn’t going away. The fans were still listening to this and still wanted us to play.

Q: What is it about the songs that stays in people’s hearts?

A: Somehow we managed to create something that grows with people. As they get older, it resonates in a different way.

I love the music that we make because it’s not really of a time. It doesn’t sound like the ‘80s. It really is just two guitars, bass and drums. Our spin on it, with the three vocals and the way we arrange it, creates something people listen to again and again and keep hearing new things in. Nobody would have dreamed our careers would last this long. It’s … I keep wanting to say tremendous, but that’s a Trump thing, so I’ll leave it alone. [laughs]

Q: Any plans for a new Toad album?

A: We try to do a little something [every] year. We don’t have plans for another full-length album right now. The thing we have out soon is a song we were asked to do, a cover of the Roger Miller song “Nothing Can Stop My Love” for a tribute album that’s being put together in Nashville [with] Ringo Starr, Ben Folds, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves and some alternative people. It will put the band in front of a different audience than we’ve ever had before, and I always like to do that.

Q: Would Toad ever consider doing a country album?

A: I can’t say we haven’t thought about it. I think if Nashville came calling after they heard the single we did on the tribute record, I would have a hard time saying no.

Our friends in Sister Hazel just did a country record. So did Steven Tyler. If anything, we may be a little bit late to the party. There has always been a little California country in Toad.

Toad the Wet Sprocket plays Rams Head Live! in Baltimore Monday. Tickets are $32 by going to AXS.com. Tickets to the 9:30 Club show are $35 by going to Ticketfly.com.

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