Kickstarter gives '90s band big boost

2014-07-31T00:00:00Z Kickstarter gives '90s band big boostBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

When Toad the Wet Sprocket decided it was time to create a new album after 16 years, its members turned to Kickstarter to make it happen.

They launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site last summer. The ask was $50,000.

“We thought we might have about 3,000 super fans willing to put in a little extra,” bassist Dean Dinning said in an interview from the road in Michigan. “We were pretty confident that we could do it.”

Over the course of a month, the campaign went above and beyond expectations, raising more than $260,000 from more than 6,300 contributors.

“It blew our minds,” Dinning said. “We never dreamed we would receive that much.”

The infusion of funds was more than enough to cover many of the costs associated with the band’s 2013 release, “New Constellation.”

Toad the Wet Sprocket will bring tracks from the album to Tucson, when it opens for Counting Crows at Casino del Sol’s AVA, Wednesday.

The new music helped instill a new confidence in the band, which is coming up on its 30th anniversary.

Toad the Wet Sprocket formed in 1986 in Santa Barbara, California. It reached its height of popularity in the 1990s. Songs such as “All I Want” and “Fall Down” were major radio hits, featured in everything from film soundtracks to television shows.

By 1998, the band called it quits, but continued to perform on-and-off. In 2006, members made an official go at a 34-date reunion tour, and have since tried to keep that momentum.

The impetus for a new album began with an injury to guitarist Glen Phillips’ arm. Phillips had fallen through a glass table, which severed his ulnar nerve, limiting his ability to play a lot of the old Toad songs.

“He had to relearn the guitar,” Dinning said. “We went back through our songs, took them apart and changed the way we played a few things.”

With new arrangements came the idea for new music.

“We started writing songs and putting them aside,” Dinning said. “We thought the idea of playing things that were fresh to us would freshen up the whole show.”

By the time the Kickstarter campaign rolled around, the release was already all but finished.

Toad recorded it over Christmas 2012 with Mikal Blue, a producer best known for his work with pop artists such as Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz.

Dinning said band members didn’t want to totally reinvent their sound, but rather modernize their music. One of the elements they wanted to keep was their harmony singing, found on Toad albums going back to its 1989 debut, “Bread & Circus.”

“To be able to have that on the record and pull it off live was important for us,” Dinning said.

With the success of its Kickstarter campaign, Dinning said the band wouldn’t rule out calling on its fans for funding in the future.

“We are still deciding which direction we want to go,” he said. “Do we release an album? A single? A double album? There are so many choices.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@tucson.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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