SOY Q&A with Chad Taylor, from the
Sept 20th, 1995
SOY: What is your approach to the guitar
as an instrument? Are you really attached to certain ones, or are they more
utilitarian to you?
TAYLOR: I definitely don't think about the equipment or effects or anything like that. I prefer less. Less is more in my world. I like to use the instrument to express my feelings and thoughts. I feel that complex things, technology, gets in the way of that. However, my preference is definitely an electric guitar over an acoustic guitar. I'm really into feedback and distortion using tubes, valves - which kind of have their own life. I'm definitely not a digital person at all.
SOY: Will you continue to do more
"textural" guitar work on the next album (as you seem to do a lot more
on Throwing Copper than Mental Jewelry)?
TAYLOR: I think that the guitar work on the next record tends to be leaning towards the best of both worlds in between Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper. There's a lot less guitar in the new songs, however when there is big guitar, it's probably bigger than ever.
SOY: Will you try to get a little bit more
TAYLOR: For right now, I think that the solos are just going to stick with the concerts. We put solos in Waitress and into the end of TBD and then there's of course the solo at the end in White, Discussion. Quite frankly that feels like plenty for me right now, so I would expect to see the solos still happen live but probably not on the record.
SOY: Do you have any kids or do you want
any in the future (I wasn't making an offer or anything) and are you the dad
TAYLOR: Let me see -- children. I am married but I don't have any children, but I do see myself having a lot of kids in the future. I just need to make room in my life for them right now.
SOY: What kind of effect(s) are being used
on 'Lightning Crashes'? Someone told me it's a rotovibe or maybe a Univibe but
I'm not sure...
TAYLOR: The effects that are used on Lightning Crashes - I normally hate to talk about this kind of stuff but - since this is probably my last interview for this record I will answer it. On the record, I am actually using a rotovibe. I definitely prefer the sound of the univibe but we wanted to go for a kind of gritty Velvet Underground, Lou Reed type of sound and the rotovibe was definitely more in that line, a lot more tape hiss and that type of thing so that's what I'm using. So good guess!
SOY: Are there any plans to release guitar
transcription books (or are they available) of Mental Jewelry and/or Throwing
TAYLOR: No there are no plans for that.
SOY: I think that your sparring use of the
guitar and effects set up the mood for many of the songs on Throwing Copper
perfectly. I am particularly interested in 'Dam at Otter Creek'. What effects do
TAYLOR: Okay, here we are again back on the effects question. On' Dam at Otter Creek' on the record my guitar is running through LOTS of amplifiers, but in particular I'm using Lesley (sp?) cabinet which if you've seen any of the Throwing Copper shows it's the cabinet that sits in closest to Chad Gracey. It's the small one. Basically the rotovibe or univibe was an effect designed to emulate or stimulate the Lesley speaker cabinet so 'Dam at Otter Creek' is the Lesley cabinet, it's the really fast thing, sounds kinda like an organ.
SOY: If you and all the other guys are
friends, who are you closest to?
TAYLOR: Well, as far as the friendship in the band goes, we're all very close friends. I don't think there's any one particular guy that I'm close to than any other. I think every day my mood would make me gravitate towards one guy or another. If I'm in a bad mood I usually hang out by myself, try not to bring any of the other guys down, because we're out here to do work together, When I'm in a songwriting mood, I hang out with Ed. When I'm in a mood to have lots of fun and laugh and hoot and holler, I go hang out with Patrick. I guess in a more day to day situation I'm probably still hanging out with Chad Gracey probably the most.
SOY: I'm an "aspiring" guitarist
and was wondering if you could give me some hints on how to get started.
TAYLOR: I think the one thing I tell almost everybody is don't listen to anyone and just pick up the guitar and start listening to records and guitar players that you like a lot and try to learn how they're doing their stuff. For me, I'm basically pretty much self-taught as is the rest of the band. I know when I was teaching Ed how to play guitar, I just showed him a few simple chords, a couple of bar chords, and told him that the rest was up to him to make up. I think that a lot of Live's originality and sound comes from the fact that we're pretty -- we actually lack knowledge in the guitar department, se we tend to make up chords as we're going, play what we fell, go for the emotion more than the technical aspect of things.
SOY: I was curious who some of your major
influences are. You seem to have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix and I have
heard you mention him. There is also a picture of you where you look a lot like
Stevie Ray Vaughn. Who else?
TAYLOR: I can honestly say that I didn't own any Jimi Hendrix records until this year. MCA put out a box set of 4 - actually had all of Jimi's records, 4 records that he had recorded. So I really started listening to those, because I wondered why everybody thought he was so special. And of course I instantly figured out why he was so special. The particular thing I was drawn to in Jimi Hendrix was the tone of his instrument, the tone of his guitar. So I've done a lot of research actually on Hendrix and how he set up the guitar, set up his amplifiers, what effects he uses and things like that. So he's been a great influence to me there, however, I think that his playing ability was so far beyond what I can even grasp or understand that I would never expect to really be able to play like him, or even a guy like Stevie Ray Vaughn. I'm definitely a more simple-styled guitar player. I'd have to really honestly say that my first greatest influence is probably Eric Clapton more so than anyone else. And second, I would definitely say Keith Richards. Keith is probably still my favorite guitar player, I think for more than even playing guitar, I think it's his whole attitude about rock and roll. As far as me looking like Stevie Ray Vaughn in a picture, trust me it wasn't tried. Just must have been the camera angle and the strange faces I make.
SOY: Are you playing pedal steel guitar on
"Horse"? If so, how did you learn?
TAYLOR: NO, I am NOT playing pedal steel guitar on "Horse". We hired a session player from Nashville, it kinda bums me out, I can't remember his name. He actually played slide guitar and steel guitar on that song. The whole deal was he didn't want us to put his name on the record because of union dues or something weird like that, so we left it off and now I can't remember his name so NO, it's not me and I won't every take credit for that.
SOY: Is the band ever going to play
"Begin the Begin" again?
TAYLOR: Can't answer that. Don't know.
SOY: I was just wondering what kind of
guitar Chad was playing for the Unplugged performance.
TAYLOR: AH! Okay, here's an interesting question! The guitar I was playing for the Unplugged performance was a guitar that was owned and played by Bob Dylan for years. It's an old Martin. It's an early 50's Martin. It was given to me by a friend, a close friend that was actually Bob Dylan's guitar tech for many years. The guitar was given to him and then handed down to me. So it's a good luck charm. If you look really close at the Unplugged thing, right in the center, there's a plastic piece blocking the sound hole that says Dylan on it, which is leftover from him to mark that it was his guitar in fact sitting on stage.
SOY: How do you proceed in making a new
TAYLOR: I don't know, I wish someone would tell me that.
SOY: Your vocals underneath "I alone
love you, I alone tempt you, I alone love you" absolutely give me chills.
Your voice is really powerful. Whose idea was that particular line?
TAYLOR: Well, I can usually say I take credit for all the background vocals. However, you know, it's pretty easy to write background vocals. It's pretty simple to write background vocals when you're working with a guy like Ed who writes such wonderful melodies it's kind of easy to sing under that. So thanks for the compliment on my voice, I really appreciate that. That's the thing I fell most insecure about on stage is my singing. The guitar playing comes so natural and easy, the singing is actually a chose some nights, if you've seen enough shows you'll know that some nights I sing more than other nights it just depends on what kind of mood I'm in and if I feel that I can add that particular Chad Taylor spice to the song.
SOY: What's the best book you've ever
TAYLOR: Wow! I don't know. I've read so many great books. Let me see.. the last book I finished, and I finished that on this tour was a book, a U2 biography written by Bill Flannigan, it's called U2 - At the End of the World. When Live was first making a foray into new music and writing our own songs, I had read U2 - The Unforgettable Fire and that became pretty much my bible on how to do things, that's where we decided we should get managers out of that book, and that we needed a booking agent, and a lawyer and all those things by just reading the U2 book and how they did it. What's kind of interesting is I had a whole conversation with The Edge about the fact that we used that book as a manual. I told them that they should write another book that followed up the Unforgettable Fire for bands like ourselves that have become successful now and that just need to know about the later stages of success. I read that book hoping to help make my dreams bigger and my goals larger. I guess there's another book I read that I really like that I would encourage anyone that likes fiction to read and that was a Tom Clancy book I just got done, Dead of Honor. I'm currently reading a Henry Miller book, but I'm not sure of the title of that one - I've only been reading that for about a day now.
SOY: What was THE most embarrassing stage
performance you can remember in +Live+'s FANtastic history?
TAYLOR: There's a few embarrassing things in our history. I can remember once, a long time ago, we were playing a club in York. It was actually a comedy bar that decided to have bands and there was railing that went the whole way across the stage and it wasn't really a stage, it was a restaurant. I guess when they had comedy performers, they'd put them up there. Somehow, somebody had suckered us into playing there. Ed had climbed up on the front of this railing and was singing to the audience, and one of our techs - this guy names Butch who was the original partner with Matt, climbed out across the stage on his hands and knees and was behind Ed. Now Ed jumped off the railing backwards and was kinda running backwards towards the drum set and Butch of course was on his hands and knees and took him out. He tripped him, right on stage, right in front of everyone! Ed busted up his head and laid on his back. I think we actually stopped the song and hung out for a couple of minutes and let Ed catch his breath. The other night in Jones Beach on this tour, I slipped and fell over the front og the monitors and I cracked my head open and it was bleeding. Fortunately it was in White, Discussion so we were done with the set so we didn't really have to stop, definitely and embarrassing moment.
SOY: What's your favorite beer?
TAYLOR: What's my favorite beer? That's a good question. Now who would ever thought that a guy like me would ever drink? I don't know... I tend to prefer micro-breweries over anything else. And if I'm not drinking a micro-brewery you will usually find me with a pint of Guinness. I'm a big Guinness fan and if Guinness isn't around then I'm usually drinking some other type of import, but definitely not Budweiser.
SOY: Do you frequently interchange who
plays what parts at the shows, and do you also simply Ad Lib when it comes time
to do the solo?
TAYLOR: If you pay close attention, the solo is different every night. There's certain cues to every solo that lets the band know that I'm done. What I like to call my "guitar playing masturbation", so I'm coming out of something, there's some familiar lines or some familiar riffs I tend to go back to. For a long time, I always stuck to the solo that's on the record and White, Discussion I've kinda been changing that here lately, I've been getting pretty bored with doing that. But definitely the most two free-form solos are Waitress and White, Discussion.
SOY: I wanted to know if you play any
other musical instruments or if you are planning to, and did you take any formal
music training or did you learn the guitar and musical theory mostly on your
TAYLOR: I stated earlier, I did pretty much teach myself how to play guitar. However, at some point late in high school I took some music theory with the guy that originally put our band together, this guy names Don Carn. I thought it would help me a lot so I took musical theory on the piano. I basically learned myself how to play piano through that and I also play the trumpet. I wouldn't say I was proficient at the trumpet or the piano but at the same time if I had enough time to practice something I could probably fool you.
SOY: You tend to get pretty crazy on stage
... is this a result of the music, or are you being funny?
TAYLOR: Well, it depends in what kind of moos I'm in. Most of the time I've pretty driven over the top by the time White, Discussion comes. Music is my life, it's what I do, it's the one thing I feel very passionate about so I tend to act passionately about playing the music.