Behind the Band Name: Toad the Wet Sprocket

We’re going to get straight to the point on this one: Toad the Wet Sprocket is a weird band name. Picked for their first gig, the band—Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, and Dean Dinning—chose its name with the understanding that it would be a temporary moniker, a placeholder. But the first gig came and went, and so did the second, third, fourth, and so on. And all of these gigs were under the name Toad the Wet Sprocket. It had stuck.

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But where did it come from?

The Origin Story of the Band Name Toad the Wet Sprocket

The band name was first imagined by the comedy troupe Monty Python. This group of professional jokers had created a sketch called “Rock Notes” in which a journalist reads out a hilariously nonsensical music news report about the fictional band Toad the Wet Sprocket.

“Rex Stardust, lead electric triangle with Toad the Wet Sprocket, has had to have an elbow removed following their recent successful worldwide tour of Finland,” the sketch reads. “Flamboyant ambidextrous Rex apparently fell off the back of a motorcycle. ‘Fell off the back of a motorcyclist, most likely,’ quipped ace drummer Jumbo McClooney on hearing of the accident. Plans are already afoot for a major tour of Iceland.”

Monty Python, also known as the Pythons, and its routines were well established on the comedy scene by the time Phillips’ band came around in 1986. So, after hearing this sketch, the four-member band adopted the intentionally wacky name, Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Several years after the band decided to use the Pythons’ zany band name, Python comedian Eric Idle heard the band on the radio. And, as Idle confirmed on Twitter, hearing that a band had adopted this name came as quite the shock to the comedian.

“Toad the Wet Sprocket got their name from a Monty Python sketch written by Eric Idle; supposedly it was the stupidest band name he could think of, believing no one would use it. When he found out about the band, he nearly drove off an LA freeway,” one Twitter user wrote.

Idle simply responded: “True story.”

“Sprocket” Defined

According to Merrian-Webster, one of the many friends creators like to keep, a sprocket is “a toothed wheel whose teeth engage the links of a chain.”

Toad the Wet Sprocket Today

In 2021, the band released its first album since 2013, titled Starting Now. One of the songs on that album, “Transient Whales,” stands out to the band as an indicator of the album’s themes. “It was written after a long period of being unanchored in the world,” Phillips told American Songwriter. “The ironic thing is that during the time the album was being recorded, I moved in with my girlfriend and feel like I have a home for the first time in about seven years. ‘Transient Whales’ is the last song from the post-divorce period of my life. It feels good to have it as a marker of a new chapter.”

Regardless of all the toads and whales present, this band is one we’re glad has stuck around.

Toad the Wet Sprocket (Photo Credit: Chris Orwig)

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