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Rock School

Lesson #33: Look Before You Leap

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Going solo is no panacea.

Being the focal point of the band gives lead singers an inflated self-worth that can lead to poor decision-making. Ask Glen Phillips, singer-guitarist and chief songwriter for Toad the Wet Sprocket.

The reality hit home during the past year, as he started to reach out to a folk audience and let go of the idea of having pop hits again.

"It was so easy when Toad worked," Phillips says. "We were on a major [label]. We just put out records. We didn't think twice about it. We did really, really well. It doesn't work like that anymore. One thing is getting over the expectation that that [success] could ever happen to me again."

Phillips says the success spoiled him, especially as it came without his really trying. "It happened without having it as my dream. It happened when I was young, and I came to expect it."

Now he realizes that going solo means starting from scratch and building an audience from the ground up.

"I'm going to need to start at the bottom level basically. I thought I had been doing that, but I hadn't," Phillips says. "It's going to take me about two years of earning some respect on [the folk] circuit . . . before I can actually reach the audiences I want to reach."

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