Chagall Guevara

[Image: Chagall Guevara - Creem, June-July 1991 Page 12 Thumbnail]
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[Image: Chagall Guevara - Creem, June-July 1991 Page 13 Thumbnail]
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June-July 1991, Volume 1, Issue 5
© 1991 Alternative Media Inc.
Pages 12-13

Photography by Ron Keith

The various members of Chagall Guevara weren't kicked out of the Christian Rock establishment, but God's rockers breathed a sigh of relief when the group was gone. Not that they were forced out of L.A., but when the quintet felt the freedom of Nashville, they did the sighing.

"This is the part of the interview we enter with a little trepidation," says lead vocalist Steve Taylor when discussing their Christian past. Of his own four solo albums, he explains, "They were mostly pointed satire and a lot of it was directed at the church. The jolt of it made it very successful within that realm. But by the time we were working together in different combinations in that field, we were starting to feel the ceiling of creativity coming down."

Leaving a trail of songs about TV evangelists and religious universities with racist admission policies, Taylor and four like-minded players packed up their bags and left Beverly--for the hills that is. "We came to Nashville because there were no mechanisms here for rock bands," says guitarist Dave Perkins, whose history includes a long gig with Jerry Jeff Walker, and stints with Carole King and Papa John Creach, among others. Guitarist and former minor-label magnate Lynn Nichols adds, "We didn't want to feel record company pressures." Bassist Wade Jaynes and drummer Mike Mead round out the lineup.

"There was no religious undercurrent in our plans," says Perkins. "Possibly some spiritual ideas, but no hidden agenda. We felt it would be difficult, unfair and frustrating to bring that baggage to the creative process."

Despite the potential clash inherent in the union of three solo careers-- vocalists and songwriters all--the collaboration was a healthy one. After only their second Nashville gig they were offered a contract; less than a year after their formation they'd signed with a major. Their eponymously titled debut on MCA has more hooks than a PTL sermon, and the playing is as punchy as a hoarse street prophet. "Our songs cover the far swinging pendulum of the passions of youth," says Perkins.

If their music is not as revolutionary as a Bolivian socialist, nor as inventive as a Jewish painter, Chagall Guevara does manage to avoid the pop music ruts. They asks in "Monkey Grinder," "All you higher primates sweatin' to keep the company strong / Have you heard the song of the monkey grinder?" When previously faced with dancing on a leash for peanuts, they walked. Chagall Guevara have their own tune to crank out.

-- Robert Gordon