We last spoke to TAZ TAYLOR back in 2009, and since then the TAZ TAYLOR BAND have been increasingly busy playing shows in and around San Diego, as well as recording two more albums. You deserve a sit down Taz! So we put him in the hot seat and fired some questions at him about the band's latest album PRESSURE & TIME.
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Hi Taz, it's good to talk to you again - we have a whole new list of questions for you! No pressure, take your time...
So, in its regular form, the Taz Taylor Band is a three-piece which doesn't include a singer, and three of your last five albums have been instrumentals, so... what made you decide to go with a vocal album this time around?
Well, that's actually a two-part answer for me and also quite complex. OK. It's all about being heard. It's not like I'm an attention addict, BUT after you have spent your entire life working on your guitar playing and being completely obsessed with it, you just want people to hear it. Music IS communication. At the end of the day that is ALL it is. That being said... if no one is listening, then you may as well be talking to yourself, right? If you are selling thousands of CDs, you want to sell tens of thousands. If you are playing to dozens of people you want to play to hundreds, if hundreds, then thousands and so on.
I do enjoy making instrumental music. To me it is already complete on that level. Most people however prefer a more complete picture, they want traditional song arrangements including vocals. If I write more traditional song arrangements and include a vocalist, more people will hear my guitar playing, and they will be hearing it in a setting that they are more used to. I do also enjoy writing in that way. It's not like I am selling out by making a switch away from instrumentals, I enjoy both. We did even manage to sneak a couple of instrumentals into Pressure & Time!
Chandler Mogel's vocals on this album have been getting great reviews - how and where did you find him?
Chandler had actually contacted me some years ago, probably around the time we were working with Graham Bonnet. He wanted to let me know that he had come across my band and would be interested in collaborating at some point. We stayed in touch over the years, just touching base from time to time. To be honest, he was the only vocalist that we really gave any serious consideration to for this album!
Val Trainor and Barney Firks have been in the band for a few years now - you guys obviously must have a great working relationship.
Indeed we do. Val joined in 2006 immediately after the "Welcome To America" sessions were completed. We have done 3 international tours together, and who knows how many SoCal shows, and recorded four albums together. I think we have both grown together as musicians throughout this process as we enjoy this crazy ride!
Barney came onboard for the release party of "Big Dumb Rock" in July 2010 when we opened for MSG for the first time. A very musical bass player, he is exactly what we were looking for before we even knew we were looking for it! There are a myriad of reasons why we keep him around... but why he chooses to stick around is a complete mystery, best answered by him! We now have two albums that we have recorded together and hopefully many more to come.
Explain the title... why "Pressure & Time"?
It was our way of saying that we are getting better at doing this... lol! Just continuing to work at it over a lonnnnnggggg period of time. I came up with the title as an analogy because Pressure & Time is how diamonds are created and it was better than "Too Stubborn To Give Up" !
The album artwork has also been getting very positive comments.
It has, yes! Tristan Greatrex, who has also designed artwork for UFO, MSG, Lionheart and many other bands, did a stunning job on the artwork for us. I just gave him the title and BOOM! - there it was. I love how his art takes me back to the great album covers of the 70s... the closer you look, the more little details you see. It is an honor for us to have Tristan on our team.
There are a couple of interesting covers on this album, can you tell us a bit about those?
OK. First off is "Highway Song" originally by Blackfoot. One of the very first concerts I ever went to was Blackfoot. It was their Marauder tour. I had never heard anything by them, all I knew was what I had read in an interview in Kerrang Magazine. A High School buddy and I went to see them and it was absolutely amazing. They ended their set with Highway Song. I never got around to buying any of their albums and this was a million years before the Internet, so the very next time I heard them was when Highway Song came on the radio here in the U.S. over a decade and a half later. I immediately got goosebumps... and that song has been special to me ever since. I broke down the full band arrangement and played it on acoustic guitar and Chandler sang it... beautifully! On the original there is a big instrumental jam at the end. I decided to do a similar thing, but instead of following the original at that point we just put a blues jam on the end - it was a lot of fun!
"Purple Rain" is a strange one! It was not meant as a tribute. Prince was still alive and by all accounts well, when we started playing that song in our rehearsal space. I loved the idea of covering a song that was by an artist from outside of our genre. Prince was a Pop, Funk, Soul, R+B artist... but we played that song without changing our own sound even one bit, and it still works. We almost canned the idea after he passed away because we didn't want to jump on the bandwagon of Prince tributes... but there is video of me playing that song on YouTube, posted a month before he died, and in any case it's a great song and I have always loved it. I hope we gave it justice.
Talking of recording other people's music... which three (or more) tunes would be your next choices of what could be 'taylored' to your style of playing?
Interesting question. I particularly like how "Highway Song" was broken down to be performed on a single acoustic guitar (for the most part) in the same way as we did on "Goodbye Mr. C." on Welcome To America... even though I did not think about this coincidence until months later! I have a couple of classic songs that I sit on the couch at home and play on acoustic guitar which I could see us doing in a similar way at some point. Kind of make that a theme that we do! I think I will keep the titles to myself for now though, ha!
It's nice to hear the acoustic guitar featured fairly prominently on this album. We haven't heard that from you since the Welcome To America album.
Thank you! Yes, people would often ask if we were going to bring that feature back... and I'm glad we did. I can sometimes go for years without breaking out my acoustic guitar, but this time I think it's going to be around for a while. The song "Astral Child" was an interesting one. It is simply acoustic guitar and vocal. I had a song all ready to go and the studio was booked. The very day before the studio date, I scrapped the song I had written... for no other reason than it was in the same key as Highway Song! I figured that if there are two acoustic songs on one album they should not be in the same key! I wrote a brand new song that day and kept the studio date. Chandler sang it magnificently and there you go!
With all the high-profile shows you've been playing in San Diego as special guests of Pat Travers, LA Guns, Tony McAlpine, Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, John 5, UFO etc., in what ways has your fanbase grown and changed?
I think our fanbase here in San Diego has grown considerably over the years but to be honest I have not noticed any significant change in the overall demographic etc. Maybe a few more younger people, definitely more females and we also get more people from across the border when we do shows with John 5 for instance.
In fact, now that you mention it I think we have seen a steady increase in fans coming from Mexico to our shows over the last couple years or so. Maybe that's a market we need to look into. Also, with the new album being released in Japan, we're building up quite a following there. Maybe a tour of Japan could be on the horizon in the future!
You made number 1 on the NEH Best Sellers list for June 2017, even though the album wasn't released until 23rd June! What kind of feedback have you been getting from long-term fans who knew you when Welcome To America came out, and also from new fans?
Feedback has been excellent right across the board so far! We couldn't be more delighted with the response!
What's up next for TTB?
We have a show coming up with Last In Line (featuring Vivian Campbell and Vinnie Appice) which is cool because I noticed on Amazon UK the other day that our album and their album are "frequently bought together". We are also going to be shooting a video for "Highway Song" in August.
We will have to see how well this album does and if there is enough interest we are looking at a European Tour in 2018.
Now click on the link below for the Taz Taylor Band website.
Our 2009 chat with Taz is online here.
© Get Ready To Roll - 7th July 2017