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Glen Phillips says Toad the Wet Sprocket is hopping again

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Between the bands Toad the Wet Sprocket and WPA and his solo work, Glen Phillips has plenty on his plate, creatively, these days. "Some of it's percolating, some of it's already percolated," he says with a laugh.

But that has changed the way the California-based singer-songwriter approaches songwriting these days.

"When I was in my early days, Toad was my only project and it was really easy to walk in and just keep writing for that," explains Phillips, 41. "These days I have to decide which project I'm writing for. It's a little more specific now.

"It's more different then good or bad, I would say. The thing I do miss is the way I used to write, which was...just trying to write a good song. Now there's a lot of other things to think about, and if I let that get in the way it stops everything cold. So I try to think less and write more."

Fans, of course, are particularly excited about the prospect for a new Toad album, the group's first of new material in 15 years. Phillips says two songs -- "The Moment" and "Friendly Fire," which both the group and Phillips solo have played live -- are locked with more recording ahead and a hoped-for release later this year.

"It's been a different process this time around, but it's been a lot of fun," Phillips says. "We're making a point of making sure it moves slowly and it moves in a way we all feel good about. So we're taking our time working on the songs and we're producing ourselves instead of getting into a big, expensive, weird high-pressure thing.

"I think we always worked best when we had the attitude of an indie band. Things started getting weird after we'd done well for a couple of records. As soon as we started trying to play the game it didn't work, so this time around we've put all that away and are back to what we started as, which feels good and natural."

Glen Phillips and Jonathan Kingham perform at 8 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org. Phillips returns Oct. 28 with Grant Lee Phillips to play at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. Tickets are $20. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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