Dean Dinning, the bassist for Toad The Wet Sprocket, gives the News-Press an exclusive look inside the band’s rumored reunion, the tolls of touring and everything in between.
News-Press: So what spurred the reunion this time?
Dean Dinning: Don’t know I’d even call it a reunion at this point. After we played about 37 shows in 2006, we’ve kind of done this thing where after we broke up in 1998 and then we got together to play shows. And we kept doing it. So now we’re like, this breaking up thing is ridiculous. So let’s just take that off the table. If we want to play together again, we’ll play. If we don’t, we won’t.
We got rid of all the managers and it’s been a much more enjoyable way to go. If there’s something we want to do, we book the show and then try to build a little tour around it.
N-P: And were managers really the bad part of the equation?
DD: Managers always try to throw their weight around and get you to do things you don’t want to do. No one would say, okay let’s play four shows and then go home. Besides, they’re not the ones that actually have to go out. They sit in their office and say, four shows? That’s ridiculous. But we found a crew that all works other jobs and is willing to do these short tours and all the things that have sort of hung us up in the past have disappeared. I do this now and my wife and daughter barely realize I was gone.
We got really, really burned out when we were really doing it. We did 275 shows and got really burned out on the road thing.
N-P: What is it about touring extensively that burns you out?
DD: It’s totally a control thing, not having any choice. You don’t have any choice over what to eat, where to stay, you can just go somewhere, you have a runner give you a ride or call a cab. So when you get home you just want to exercise that freedom. And I know this makes me sound old, but when we were doing this was before people really had cell phones. Tours today are so much easier now that you can call home whenever you want. We used to have to coordinate things so it was like ‘I’ll be at the hotel after 11 p.m. EST so call then, but not before. And you somehow miss each other. Pretty soon the thing you’re looking forward to more than the shows is your call home.
But things certainly worked out well, the promotion worked the way it did and now we can still play shows where people show up. Looking back we were probably a bunch of whiny complaining little brats anyway.
N-P: Is it easy to slip back into playing with the other guys in Toad the Wet Sprocket?
DD: It’s getting easier and easier every time we do it. We’ve gotten the kinks ironed out and worked out some problem spots. We’ve added a friend of ours, Johnny Hawethorne, and he’s been playing mandolin and lap steel and electric guitar. That’s brought a whole new element to the live set. I think we’re all really enjoying it.
N-P: Have you done anything new with your live shows recently?
DD: We’ve done a little more audience interaction. We have a song, Butterfly. We first did it on the rock boat last year. Someone came up to us and was like, are you guys going to do Butterfly? Can I do the talking part on it? And it’s a female voice, it’s Glen’s wife who did it on the record. We were like sure, do you know it? So we called her up on stage and it’s sort of turned into a little thing. People will bring signs that say “I want to be the Butterfly girl.”
N-P: What’s the most enjoyable part of these tours?
DD: Most enjoyable part is how good the band is sounding right now. We’ve changed some of the songs, made some of the solos longer, changed the key. Sometimes we were worried it would make it sound really dark, but it usually made it sound really cool.
We put a lot of effort into what we were doing when we were doing it. Looking back at the records, we worked really really hard, we felt prepared, we picked the best songs. Everything was right for a time. And that makes things so much more enjoyable now. We’re not playing from silly songs we wrote as kids. We’re playing some really well thought out pop rock songs that still resonate today.
That’s always been the thing for me is getting together with three other guys and making a sound that’s just so big. That’s what I love.
• For more on Toad the Wet Sprocket, visit www.myspace.com/toadthewetsprocket.