Music Interviews: Steve Taylor

Cornerstone Magazine
Q1-Q2(?) 1983, Volume 12, Issue 66
© 1983 Jesus People USA
Page 41


When new wave music came along I latched on to it because it was so energetic--it stripped away all the stuff that was cluttering up the music of the day. You could say things through new wave that you couldn't say in other musical forms.

I don't have any special revelation. But since I grew up in the Church as a pastor's son, I think I have a better than average view of what's going on. I love the Church and I would hope that comes across on I Want To Be A Clone. I was walking on thin ice when I was doing this album because whenever you're using satire, people can take it wrongly. I just felt this is one of the best ways to get a message across to the Church, but it's a bit risky too.

I directed a traveling musical/comedy group called Jeremiah People last year, and they use satire all the time. They've been around for twelve years, and have found that humor seems to break down barriers that would otherwise be there.

The important thing to understand is the difference between satire and sarcasm. To me much of the book of Proverbs is satirical. lt uses a big illustration to exemplify something going to an extreme. Yet its purpose obviously is not to tear down but to change things, whereas sarcasm insults a person's character and is destructive.

Some writers in Christian music can go too far in being cynical. It becomes a trademark, and that could be a dead end. I am sure that I could be in danger of doing the same thing.

When you're writing lyrics you become aware that you're stepping out on a limb, taking stands on issues. And you always wonder, "Am I going to far and am I going to have to backtrack later?" I've discovered that it's real important for me to think through everything I am writing down.

Some people will pick up the album and think it is too extreme, but I was trying to focus on our weaknesses in a loving, humorous way. It's a gentle protest against some things that have been going on in Christian music during the past few years.

The first album that I felt the lyrics ever said anything on was Colours. I was at a friend's who had the album and he opened it up and started reading the lyrics. I said, "Yea! Why aren't more people writing this?" There was so much junk being written that said nothing. It wasn't necessarily wrong but it was just that everyone was saying the same things and they weren't saying it in a different way.

At first, Sparrow was really surprised when they originally heard some of the cuts off my album. They weren't going to put out any advertising for it at all. We did it for a total of $8,000 in a basement studio. They just looked at it as a "throw it out there and see what happens" kind of deal. But as the project was getting closer to being finished they got more excited and decided to put a little money behind it, some advertising, and a nice cover. It picked up from there and now we're both really happy.


I never went through any super rebellious stage when I was growing up. My dad's a Baptist preacher and I accepted the Lord when I was four. They never pulled the old "do this because I say so" routine. My parents set the example and were real consistent in the way they brought me up.

A real time of questioning for me was when I transferred to Colorado University in Boulder. I had gone one year to Biola, a Christian college, and now I was at the opposite extreme. Boulder's like Berkeley was in the sixties, a very radical campus.

It was during that second year of college that I really needed to know whether Christianity was credible or not. I had gotten to a place where I was realizing what counting the cost in Christianity means and I really wasn't ready to do it. I was ready to chuck it, but I decided to check into Josh McDowell's books first to see if there really was reason to believe or not.

As I went through his books on prophecy and history, I was faced with the truth, and it would have been hypocritical of me to say it wasn't true. My faith was re-strengthened, and I was the one who was asking the questions that fellow students didn't and weren't able to answer. At this point I was the leader of a high school youth group and right then I started stressing that to tell someone else about their faith was not just what is in their heart to make them feel good. I wanted them to be able to explain why they believe Jesus is the Son of God and why Christianity is true from an apologetic standpoint. I was telling them that while you can't argue people into believing, at the same time it is not good to roll over and play dead when someone questions us.

As my ministry expands, I am still trying to encourage young people to look at their faith as something that is intelligent, that is rational, and to get away from just an emotional aspect to faith.

If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and we believe that the Bible is true, then we have to be obedient to the Bible. It says that we show our love for God not by our emotions, but by our obedience. That's what love for God means--being obedient. The obedience factor is very important, and the more we know about the Bible, the more we know what God expects of us, and that's when we start getting the good feelings Christianity can produce. It's by being obedient, and not waiting for the Lord to zap us with a high.

At L'Abri a couple of years ago I had the opportunity of studying some of Francis Schaeffer's works. He points up the necessity of Christians getting involved in all areas of life instead of trying to compartmentalize things into spiritual or secular. When we don't get involved in the issues ot the day, we lose by detault. There are so many examples of this, for example abortion. I don't look at abortion as a political issue but as a basic human issue.

I respect people like that who have taken a stand on issues but at the same time have kept a real good balance in their teaching. I dropped an album off with Edith Schaeffer, thinking Francis might be interested in reading the lyrics. Well, he wrote a letter encouraging me to "just keep doing the things that I'm doing."

A couple summers ago I got a chance to go over to Poland with the Continental Singers. The concerts were incredible with as many as two and three thousand people. Five of them were sponsored by Solidarity. I got a view of people under oppression but who were hanging on to their faith.

We've played a couple concerts with Rez Band before, and are really looking forward to our fall tour with them. I think the guys in my band are going to learn a lot and we are all excited.

Steve Taylors's first release, I Want To Be A Clone, on Sparrow, is jam-packed with energy as well as conviction, and is a welcomed addition to Christian music.