Narrow talks to Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket)

Narrow talks to Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket

by Meghan Gallagher

Get ready and prepare to get in touch with your emotions because Glen Phillips is coming to town. Have you stopped screaming? Well, listen, St. Augustine already has so much in common with Toad the Wet Sprocket’s front man. I mean, half our town gravitates towards bare feet, so Phillips will be in good company if he decides to stick to his shoeless stage tradition he has been known for as he melts our hearts.

“It’s just more comfortable,” He says.

His set won’t consist entirely of 1991 flashbacks to driving with the top down in your friend’s Jetta. If you need some heart mending or a good ugly cry tonight, check out his new, more acoustic songs before he hits the stage of Café 11 on April 18th.  He’s even put out a couple modern acoustic takes of their platinum hit “All I Want,” so now you can jam out on your bike instead of that friends Jetta because God forbid downtown traffic.

In all seriousness, Phillips is bringing us this music from his own trying experiences. His pure words accompanied by his familiar voice of gold and guitar riffs that have aged and progressed incredibly well share stories of a rough year that he claims was necessary in order to be where he is today. Instead of being victimized by these experiences, he’s choosing to acknowledge them in a somewhat cathartic way.

“Grief is part of balance in life. No one is exempt from it,” The California native tells Narrow after sharing that this year has been full of floods, fires and most recently, having his car totaled by a drunk driver. “But I keep having a place to go when all this happens and I realize how great my life is. It’s all about how you interpret it.”

His songs are a hug, there for you with whatever goes down. He admits to feeling more of a responsibility in his writing these days. “I want to put out something wholesome, something somebody needs to hear. Music is a way of not being alone, there’s always someone on the other end.”

The once 18-year-old who thought he would still have to go back to school after getting signed by Columbia Records has since seen the music scene evolve and laughs recalling a text from his daughter in which she claims to have found a new band, the Zombies. “People are taking in a lot more music these days. Music doesn’t see a generation anymore; it’s bridging that gap. My dad and I didn’t have a lot of musical overlap, so it’s been cool to have that bond. That’s one thing I do love about the Internet. They’re also taking in really different music.”

That last line is something Phillips is also contributing to, but in a more subterranean sense, as he has been spending much of his time off the road in spiritual-community singing circles, making and experimenting with a lot of different noises. “I still love the studio and playing with sounds, but some of the best music experiences I have had have been un-amplified. There’s something so satisfying about being in a room together and creating a sound.”

While some may say a year full of so much drama can provide inspiration for more ballads, the most inspiring thing has been the people such calamities have brought him to.

“We spend so much time being with people who are just like us. But this year has brought me close to people I never otherwise would have and it’s been amazing.” Who knows, maybe you’ll find the humble, platinum winner in your St. Augustine drum circle while he’s in town. “I love playing with other musicians, whether its electric, acoustic, as long as they have a good heart. I’m a cheap date.”

dave kosciolek