BOALSBURG - Toad the Wet Sprocket is a 4-piece alternative rock band from California who formed in 1986 and consists of Glen Phillips on guitar and vocals, Todd Nichols on guitar, Dean Dinning on bass and Randy Guss on drums. With songs like "Something's Always Wrong," and "Fall Down" they left them mark in music history. Toad the Wet Sprocket will perform at 7 p.m. July 27 at Tussey Mountain Amphitheatre.
LAURA KNAUR: How did the band get started?
DEAN DINNING: We met in high school while acting in plays. We did "Our Town" and "Oklahoma!" together. We were all in choir or acting class.
Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sprocket is seen performing. The band’s single “Fall Down” went to No. 1 on the US?Modern Rock Chart in 1994.
LK: Did you always know you wanted to be musicians?
DD: We sort of "fell into" this while we were in college - it was never the number one thing we wanted to do. We thought we'd break up when we all transferred to other colleges. Instead, we got a record deal and went on tour.
LK: How did it feel to have one of your songs go to No. 1 on the Modern Rock charts in 1994?
DD: It was amazing! "Fall Down" actually broke a record for the most weeks at number one (6 weeks). The record was previously held by Morissey. We never thought we'd get played on the radio at all.
LK: Who were your main influences musicwise?
DD: Mostly the music we were growing up with: U2, REM, the Police, the Smiths, the Waterboys. Those were the people who were doing what we wanted to do.
LK: What's it like on tour?
DD: Playing every night for our fans is the best part. Getting to meet them after the show is great as well. Being away from your family is hard, but it's gotten easier with all the new technology like Face Time.
LK: What is one unforgettable tour memory that you have?
DD: Getting our first tour bus - it had a million miles on it and it was falling apart. It had a manual transmission and the driver had a hard time finding the gears. But we finally had a bus and we were going places.
LK: Would you rather play in small venues or larger venues? Why?
DD: We do both now, changing things up so people can have a more intimate experience at a smaller venue or they can see us with a large group of people at an outdoor festival. Some people like to do both.
LK: What is your favorite thing to see in the audience while you are onstage?
DD: We always see people singing along with the lyrics. That always makes us feel good.
LK: Do you have a favorite song you have written?
DD: "Walk on the Ocean" is pretty much a signature song for us, and it's something only we could do. It's very California.
LK: What's new in terms of how you record your music?
DD: We have studios at home so that we don't have to go away to record and we can take as much time as we want without breaking the bank.
LK: Do you get nervous before a performance?
DD: The only thing we get nervous about is not being able to use the bathroom for an hour and a half. Everything else we can handle.
LK: What has been the most bizarre thing thrown on the stage with you? How did you react?
DD: One time we asked people to throw money at us (we were kidding - we never thought they would do it). We got pelted with pocketfuls of change. Painful.
LK: What's the wildest story with the group? If you care to share?
DD: We used to say if a woman ever bared her breasts at one of our shows we would break up. It finally happened, we broke up and immediately got back together. It became our first reunion show.
LK: What are your up-to-date performance plans? New releases? Tours? News?
DD: We are currently recording a new album for release in 2013. Keeping the touring minimal this year while we stay at home and work on the new tracks. We also put out a new "best of" album of re-recorded tracks last year called "All You Want." It's available on iTunes and all the usual places, as well as at our shows.
LK: What do your fans have to look forward to during your upcoming tour?
DD: We are playing a couple of the new songs live, and they have been getting a great response. The fans are really psyched for the new album.
LK: Have you been involved in any benefits performances? What was it and how did you become involved?
DD: We have always done benefit performances, currently we do about one a year. Lately we have been doing them for the Santa Barbara Birth Center, a nonprofit that is run by people close to us.
LK: Thinking back to the very beginning of the band, how do you feel about your performance today and it is much different for you now than when you first started performing?
DD: It's nice to be able to play and know people will show up; we don't have to go out and plaster the town with posters. We also have been able to reflect a bit and are really thankful that we still have so many fans, and our music seems to have stood the test of time.
LK: What's it like to hear your music on movie soundtracks and television programs?
DD: It's always nice to be connected to the culture in other ways besides just making music- - we are all big film fans, and some of us have done film scores as well, and getting the songs in films and TV helps to keep the music alive through the years.
LK: Are there any other "behind the scene" secrets, tips or additional information you would like to share with our readers?
DD: We don't do a very "rock star" type show - our show is more like letting the fans in on a dress rehearsal for a big rock show. We keep it pretty light, and like to have fun with the audience and ourselves.
LK: Is there anything else you want the readers to know about yourselves or your music?
DD: We never imagined we'd still be doing this after all these years, but we are very grateful to have lasted this long. We couldn't do it without the fans, and we hope to be able to continue this for a long time. It's great to be able to do something with our lives that makes so many people happy. It's necessary in these crazy times.