Toad the Wet Sprocket guitarist Todd Nichols has a problem many a guitarist likely faces: Too many guitars, not enough space.
A guitarist for more than 30 years, Nichols has accumulated his fair share of instruments. But his collection really started to grow when he was looking for a way to fill time when Toad wasn’t on tour.
Nichols was originally going to become a fly-fishing guide but hurt his elbow from, surprise surprise, too much fishing.
He decided to find a hobby that was easier on the elbows and stumbled upon one a little closer to home.
“I’ve always been interested in guitars and have always been too afraid to touch them, spent tons of money getting them fixed,” he said. “So I decided to spend the thousand dollars … on tools and learned from the StewMac videos and books on how to build guitars and started building them.”
He’s sold a few to friends and often gets requests from fans after posting photos of his guitars on his Instagram, @NicholsGuitars, which helps him keep his collection in check.
“I’m actually leaving some of my favorite vintage guitars at home this time because I don’t have enough room to bring all the new guitars I have,” he said, referencing the band’s current summer tour.
Toad fans can check out Nichols’ creations for themselves when the band plays the Bing Crosby Theater on Saturday.
Toad the Wet Sprocket – Dean Dinning (bass, backing vocals), Randy Guss (drums, backing vocals), Nichols and Glen Phillips (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) – dominated alt-rock airwaves in the ’90s with “All I Want,” “Something’s Always Wrong,” “Walk on the Ocean,” “Fall Down” and “Good Intentions.”
The band broke up in 1998 after releasing five albums, but reunited just over a decade later and in 2013 released “New Constellation,” its first record in 16 years.
Toad followed that up with the “Architect of the Ruin” EP in 2015, and it’s got a few new projects in the books.
First up is an appearance on the Roger Miller tribute album, “King of the Road,” which is set to be released on Aug. 31.
Nichols doesn’t think fans will be too surprised to hear them covering Miller’s “Nothing Can Stop Me,” surrounded by the likes of Ringo Starr, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Asleep at the Wheel, and Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, because Toad has always had a little country influence.
“Country still has real guitars in it, which is great,” he said. “Dean and I even went to Nashville and wrote some country songs for a year or two and you can hear it in some of the songs, especially on our latest, ‘New Constellation.’ ”
The second is a song, “One of Those Days,” in the to-be-released animated film “Animal Crackers,” which features the voices of John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Ian McKellen, Danny DeVito and Sylvester Stallone.
The studio initially wanted to use “Something’s Always Wrong,” from 1994’s “Dulcinea,” but it didn’t have quite the right vibe for the scene.
They then wanted Toad to cover the Shirelles’ “Mama Said” but soon found the publishing rights to the song are owned by Michael Jackson’s estate, making it far too expensive to license.
It was finally decided that the band would write a new song for “Animal Crackers.”
“When you want cheap songs, you come to Toad the Wet Sprocket,” Nichols said with a laugh. “I love having songs in soundtracks. I’ve always loved how much more powerful it is when you match the visual medium with the music … When they match up just right, it’s a great moment.”
Financial difficulties have delayed the U.S. release of “Animal Crackers,” but it was released in China on July 21.
Finally, Toad the Wet Sprocket recently announced the release of remastered versions of 1991’s “fear” and “Dulcinea” on vinyl, available online and at live shows.
“I can honestly say that this is the best I have heard these albums sound since the day we mixed them,” Dinning wrote on Facebook. “There is a new clarity to each instrument in the mix, and their placement on the sound stage is especially three dimensional. The versions available on streaming sites sound hollow and thin by comparison. For fans wanting the ultimate Toad listening experience, these new vinyl editions definitely deliver.”
Nichols isn’t sure if the band will release another full-length again (“People aren’t interested,” he said. “They can’t wrap their head around an album. They can’t appreciate the complexity or the depth of an album, I don’t think, as much anymore.”) but he is confident more EPs, or, at the very least, a one-off song here and there are in the band’s future.
The quartet wanted to record a few songs in 2018, but the fires and floods that ravaged Santa Barbara, California, earlier this year put those plans on hold until next year.
For the time being, Nichols and the rest of Toad will continue on its summer trek, even though some shows require a refresher.
“It’s been awhile but that sounds a lot more recent than I thought,” Nichols said, when reminded of the band’s 2014 show at the Bing Crosby Theater. “The last time I remember playing Spokane was back in the ’90s in some little low-ceiling place near the college there, I think. I’ll probably remember it when I see. It’s great being back.”
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