Like much of his latest solo album Swallowed By The New — inspired by the breakup of his 23-year marriage — Glen Phillips’ “Go” isn’t exactly a cheerful ditty. But he and director Hans Neleman still managed to have a good time making the song’s video, which premieres exclusively below, on the seaside in Stratford, Conn.
“We had lots of bags of cookies and chips and stuff, which made it alright,” Phillips tells Billboard. “It’s a great thing about pointing a camera at the earth; there’s enough beauty there to get you pretty far.”
The video for “Go” certainly finds a kind of beauty in the emotional desolation conveyed in both the song and the clip. “I had the idea of doing something that was just impressionistic on this one,” explains Phillips, who’s seen walking along the shore amidst seagulls, looking pensive and a bit melancholy as he sings. “I wanted to convey the mood more than anything else. Neleman — who photographed Toad The Wet Sprocket’s album cover for Fear as well as other projects — discovered the site while lunching with friends, coincidentally just after Phillips played a solo show in the area.
“I knew immediately that I had stumbled upon a great location for the video,” says Neleman. “It was snowing at the time and the hungry seagulls were out in full force circling overhead…The whole thing was surreal, kind of like a scene of out Stranger Than Paradise. Another plus; a lighthouse nearby, which dovetailed with a key metaphor in “Go.”
“The song was written about that metaphor,” Phillips explains, “the idea of breaking up being this act of love. Lighthouses are like that; Most styles of love are ‘Come here. Come be as close to me as possible,’ whereas the general message of a lighthouse is, ‘I care so much about you, you should go way over there, as far from me as possible.’ That’s what the song is about, the idea of breaking up being this act of love, the most compassionate thing you can do. It’s inherently a sad song, a breakup song, but it’s about that being an act of compassion rather than severance.”
Nearly a year after Swallowed By The New‘s release, meanwhile, Phillips himself is enjoying a clearer and more positive life perspective, some of it due to the exercise of making the album. “This album was written to give myself a set of tools to deal with transitions that big and to understand that just because something hurts doesn’t mean it’s injurious,” Phillips says. “It can hurt, but it can also be a sign of growing and learning to allow change and have some fundamental trust that what’s happening is what needs to happen. The album was written from that point of view, and I’m happy that I listened to my advice for once — at least sometimes. Being on the other side of it, I’m like, ‘Hey, that stuff was really true. That was good advice I was giving myself,’ which is a nice position to be in.”
Phillips’ next position will be making new music. He’s playing shows both on his own and with Toad this fall and into the winter, and recording projects for both as well. Toad has actually recorded new songs for an upcoming Roger Miller tribute album and for the children’s film Animal Crackers, and Phillips says that may be a new model for the band moving forward. “We’re doing more kind of single-serving songs at the moment,” he says. “It’s possible there’s another album in the works, but I think the way touring works and the way the world is working right now for Toad, a song here and a song there seems to be the most fun, and making Toad fun is something we’re all very into.”