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Formed in Santa Barbara in 1986, high school friends Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols, Dean Dinning, and Randy Guss, named their band after a fictional band briefly mentioned in the Monty Python sketch "Rock Notes". In 1988, the band cheaply recorded their debut album Bread and Circus, which caught the ear of Columbia Records, who signed the band and agreed to re-release the debut as-is. The band's second album Pale was released in 1990, and found a home on college radio stations, as the band continued to tour and expand their fanbase all across the country.

The band's commercial breakthrough occurred with their 1991 album Fear, and found huge success with the singles "All I Want" & "Walk on the Ocean". 1994's follow-up Dulcinea, gave the band another Top 40 hit with "Fall Down". In 1995, the band released In Light Syrup, a collection of b-sides and previously unreleased material, including the single "Good Intentions" which was previously recorded for Fear, but got bumped off the album to include "All I Want". The band's fifth studio album Coil was released in 1997.

After attempting to work on new material for a sixth album, the group decided to split up in 1998. Glen Phillips went on to begin a solo career, while Todd Nichols & Dean Dinning formed a new band named Lapdog. In 1999, the best of album P.S. (A Toad Retrospective), was released. Towards the end of 2002, the members of Toad decided to reform and in early 2003 they played a reunion tour to packed houses all across the country. But a permanent reunion was not in the cards, and after the tour the members went their separate ways again. The latest album from the group, Welcome Home: Live at the Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara 1992, featuring a live performance to a hometown crowd from 1992, was released in late 2004.

Over the past decade, they occasionally did reunion shows, including one with leader Glenn Philips opening up.

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