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Glen Phillips appreciates the little things and values his evolution as a songwriter

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Glen Phillips
Chris Orwig
Glen Phillips

Glen Phillips chats with Music Journeys about the inspiration behind his latest batch of songs, reflects on Toad The Wet Sprocket, and takes part in the Fast Five.

His current tour includes Cleveland 1/26, Cincinnati 1/27, and Dayton 1/28. Visit for more information.

Stone Throat plays...

Stone Throat opens the 11-track There Is So Much Here release by Glen Phillips, and it reflects an awareness and appreciation of the little things.

"If you slow down and pay attention, there is more happening at any given moment than you can possibly take in," Phillips said in summing up the inspiration for the album. "We find ourselves historically distracted to a degree that I don't think our systems can quite tolerate. The amount of random input and distraction, even the little dopamine pump of our phones. During the lockdown, I felt privileged that I was able to move in with my partner and was at home for probably the longest I'd been home in 20 years. Just starting to slow down again and having to notice the little things and not be able to run away from myself as much. So for me, a lot of this record is to remember the good parts of that time and somehow integrate it with a life that's once again going back to what we call normal."

Scenes From A Vinyl Recliner plays...

Phillips' journey in music has been anything but normal. Born and raised in Santa Barbara with parents who are experts in science, Phillips credits their curiosity for informing his creative side. Then Phillis met his future Toad The Wet Sprocket band mates in the high school theater program.

"We did Oklahoma and Our Town together," Phillips recalled. "Todd, the guitarist, lived a couple blocks away from me. We started writing songs together. Up until it seemed like the band might get signed, I was theater-driven and wanted to be a high school social sciences and theater teacher. For some reason or another, we ended up getting a record deal. I had the idea that this would take two years, we'll get dropped, and then I'll go back to school. But it never happened. It was a surprising turn of events for me."

The band's third album struck a chord with music fans led by this song...

All I Want plays...

"I really appreciate that song now," Phillips said of the hit song. "It's opened a lot of doors for all of us, and I see the value in it right now. There was a period when I felt the hits were trying to trap me in the past, but then I realized it's not personal. When music hits you, it sticks with you forever. You hear a song back then and you kind of return to the better memories of the time and realize what a good time it was."

Come Down plays...

After five albums and with the band on hiatus in the late 1990's, Phillips continued his craft as a solo artist. But his love of music began to wane with the constant focus on industry metrics.

"Those things have nothing to do with why I like making music," Phillips continued. "When you do this professionally, you're supposed to succeed at these things that I eventually had to admit I didn't want to succeed at. I found myself doing community choir leading and things outside the rock touring world. Those enabled me to go back and write about divorce and grief in a more universal way with songs like Grief and Praise."

Grief and Praise plays...

"The songs I've been able to write in the last number of years are hitting a groove that's certainly not as mainstream and popular as I've done in the past," Phillips said. "But I get a lot more people playing my songs at funerals or listening to them when they go into chemo or telling me they helped them when they got divorced or lost a child. That's the stuff that really means something to me. Being a tool to help somebody get through a vulnerable time in their life - not that everything song has to be that heavy but that's kind of my new metric for success. Music is what breaks me open. With the community choir leading, the songs are so happy and uplifting. They're not cool or sexy and all those things I was told were important for so many years in rock music but never quite believed. It's nice to get old enough to enjoy making music that makes me feel good."

Call The Moondust plays...

"Saying thank you just feels good," Phillips said. "Music provides this opportunity to disappear into wonder."

Other tracks are less personal and more universal or with a universal message...

Big Changes plays...

"We're needing something that feels certain, and the only thing that's truly certainty is that everything is changing," Phillips said. "We can't predict where it's gonna go, and there's no guarantee we'll bail ourselves out. It kind of calls on us to expand ourselves in ways that are imaginative but not delusional, and that's where the challenge is. Attention is a rarer commodity. We're very distracted generally."

Technology, while so important as a connection for musicians and their fans, also brings tremendous distractions.

"I'm trying to figure out how to construct a life where I don't feel the need to bring a phone everywhere or habitually check it," Phillips continued. "It's offered us amazing connectivity but when I was a kid, connectivity was my neighborhood. Connectivity was reading a book or just shutting up and going for a walk. I don't know what we do. I'm still trying to work out my own relationships for that."

I Was A Riot plays...

"That was the biggest surprise on the record, and I did not expect that to make it to the album," Phillips recalled of the song. "I played it a couple times in live streams and people just wanted to hear it. I think the fact that the album exists at all is interesting. These were written for a songwriting game with Matt the Electrician. He sends out a title every week. It's a great exercise. You're handed a title like 'sound of drinking.' I knew there would be a lot of songs about bars. I wrote instead about the sound of drinking water. It's about noticing the tiniest details and appreciating them."

The Sound Of Drinking plays...

Reflecting a little more on Toad the Wet Sprocket, he's proud of the band's impact and sees more ahead.

"The Moment is a song we've had probably more than any other song a lot of letters and emails of people saying that song helped to turn some corner," Phillips said.

The Moment plays...

"It's been beautiful to move the band forward," Phillips said of Toad the Wet Sprocket. "It's been a long journey, and it's not done. There's a mutual respect for our each other and each other's talents, and the band itself. I feel there's an excitement within the band that we haven't had in decades. It's amazing to have that entity and those relationships turn a corner that at so many times I would have walked away from. I'm really grateful for where we are."

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Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.