Friday, March 8, 2013

Glen Phillips coming to Evanston's S.P.A.C.E.


Musician Glen Phillips continues to push forward after a freak accident a few years ago almost put an end to his career.

Phillips,, had to relearn how to play the guitar after severing nerves in his left arm in October 2008 when a glass coffee table he was sitting on gave way.

He will play songs from his esteemed career, including as frontman of Toad The Wet Sprocket, when he performs March 30 at S.P.A.C.E., 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston.

Dave Sills also is on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets range from $20 to $40, available at

I had the chance to talk to Phillips about the upcoming show and his other activities.

Q - Great to talk to you again. I understand that you will be drawing on songs from your entire career during the upcoming show at S.PA.C.E. Will it be hard to choose which songs to perform? Will you take any requests from the audience that night?

I usually just write down more songs than I'll need in no particular order and wing it. 

I play things from pretty much every project, and try to get to requests as long as I think I can pull them off. There's a lot of solo material, some Toad, some WPA, and a few covers.


Q - Last fall, you toured with Grant-Lee Phillips. When you are not touring with Toad The Wet Sprocket, do you prefer touring by yourself or with someone else? Or do you need both in your life?

I need variety and freedom creatively, so it works for me to mix things up. That's a big reason Toad was able to get together and make a new record (we're just finishing it up). 

We all have different projects, so Toad doesn't have to be our one and only outlet. When I'm out solo I like getting to be on the road with someone else. 

I've made a lot of good friends that way. Otherwise, it's just me in the car listening to Ira Glass talking.

Are solo shows a way for you to showcase how far you have come in the rehabilitation of your left arm?


A few years ago I fell through a glass table and severed the ulnar nerve in my left arm. I just started using my pinky again in a limited way about a year ago, but it's still pins and needles and feels more like a balloon than a finger. 

I was told by my doctor that playing guitar was the best physical therapy I could do. I'm not trying to showcase the recovery so much as I'm trying to just play the music as well as I can. 

There was a lot of room for improvement before I hurt my arm, and there's even more now.

Q - How is the new Toad The Wet Sprocket album coming along? When can fans expect it to be released? What should people expect from the new album?

We're very close to being finished. I'm actually writing these answers in the studio as we're doing some last-minute keyboard overdubs. 

Mixing starts this week. As for the release, we'll put out a single in late spring and sell the record at shows and online to begin with, and hope for a broader release maybe in September. 

All the details are still coming together, so we hope people will check in at the website or sign up for the mailing list so we can let them know about it. 

We're all happy with the record. It's not the record we would have made in 1997. We've learned a lot in the last years, and I think these songs reflect that growth.

Q - Do you view Toad The Wet Sprocket as your main project these days? Do you have any dream projects or dream collaborations?

Toad is my main project for the next year or two, but I have a lot of and friends I want to play with, and am excited about the next solo record as well. 

As for dreams…who knows. I'm lucky to get to do this at all. I just want to keep that in mind and keep trying to do good work.

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