Steve Taylor - Rock A.D., Deep Ellum Internet Radio Interview

Source: Rock A.D., Deep Ellum Internet Radio
May 13th, 2014
Thanks to Robert Miguel

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["On The Fritz" is played]

Robert Miguel: This is Rock A.D. on Deep Ellum Radio. Alright, here it is, time for our very, very special guest. Please welcome Christian alternative music pioneer, acclaimed record producer, filmmaker, and the vocalist of Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. The one, the only, mister Steve Taylor. How are you sir?

Steve Taylor: I'm fine, Robert. Thank you for the kind intro. I'm actually on the tour bus. We are travelling through Amish country, so if somewhere during the tour I just get excited and yell out "buggy" or "chickens" or something like that, you'll know why.

RM: Alright, I will totally understand if you have to stop to churn some butter or raise a barn or something.

ST: We played "Amish Paradise" just to get in the mood.

RM: Yeah, we absolutely love some Weird Al out there. Alright, you are on the road right now, currently on the road with Peter Furler, formerly of Newsboys, his new Peter Furler Band, he's playing drums for you, and of course you're headlining with Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. Now it has been a while since you've hit the road, what, something like 20 years?

ST: Man, it's been a really long time, yeah, almost that long.

RM: So tell me, how is the road treating you thus far?

ST: I have to re-learn everything! Remembering, "How do I tie my shoes when I'm jumping around? When do I get before a show? Is an hour too short? Two hours too long? How do you get these clothes dry after the show's done?" Yeah, you know, I've gotta go through rehabilitation to remember how to do this.

RM: Now Steve, you're a rock legend, a living rock icon, come on, don't tell me you don't have people there to pick out your M&M's for you?

ST: You would think I would have some people there to feed me and dress me, but it hasn't worked that way so far.

RM: Apparently it's been so long they ever forgot their job as well. Well, I'll tell you what, your fans are just so excited you even decided to get out on the road again. So what exactly spurred this long-awaited return to the road?

ST: It's a bit of a long story. The last movie I did, Blue Like Jazz, took almost seven years to finally get filmed. A lot of that was just spent trying to get the money raised.

It got so tedious, so life-sucking, that I remembered, hey, I used to make music for a living, and compared to spending seven years to make a movie, music is like total instant gratification. So I got with my old friend Peter Furler and we thought, let's just put a little band together and get together in the studio on Mondays, just almost for therapy.

We asked Jimmy Abegg to join us from Ragamuffin Band and Charlie Peacock days, he's been a friend forever, and then John Mark Painter has also been a friend forever, he's a fantastic studio musician in town, and of course has his own group "Fleming & John" that was signed to Universal.

The more we did it, the more it started sounding like something, so we were pretty close to having an album done, and then the movie got funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The next thing you know, I'm making a movie, and it took almost two years to go through the whole process of making it, finishing it, promoting it, all that stuff.

Finally, it's time to get back to the music.

RM: And of course your film Blue Like Jazz was critically-acclaimed, and is available now for purchase or rental on DVD, so if you haven't got it, pick it up now.

ST: Thanks, yeah, we debuted at South by Southwest, so that was a great day for all of us.

RM: Now you did manage to get one brand new track on that Blue Like Jazz motion picture soundtrack, which is great. From what I understand, you are in the middle of another Kickstarter campaign to fund the new album by Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. Where are you on that?

ST: Well, it was supposed to be done by now, and we are very apologetic that it's not. We're really close. You know, the closer you get to being finished, the more I start second- guessing things, wondering if the mix needs to be tweaked, and all that stuff. So the pressure is on.

RM: Oh yeah, it's been a long time, so of course everybody's watching, and so you gotta do it right.

ST: Yeah, if they wait that long and it's not a good album, that would be bad.

RM: Alright, now in the past it's always been Steve Taylor & Some Band, or Steve Taylor solo, or your stint with Chagall Guevara. This time around it's Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. You've accumulated some great musicians within their own right. Is this more of a solo effort, or more of a band effort?

ST: It really is a band effort. We make the music together, and then I'll go off and write the lyrics. I like to think it's a really good combination of everybody working at what they do best. We typically start with one of Peter's melodies--I think he's the best melody writer I know--and then it's just a matter of let's see how far we can push this melody around and it still holds up. So the songs are pretty indie rock. I wouldn't say we've mellowed with age.

RM: Alright, now I did managed to check out some recent YouTube footage, and I gotta say, Steve, you're looking quite spritely, getting around nicely, very fit, energetic, so I'm sure the show here in Dallas at The Door is going to be exciting.

ST: Yeah, I love The Door. I've seen some shows there myself. I'm not sure I've ever performed there.

RM: Now when was your last visit exactly in Dallas? I want to say last time I saw you here was SMU, McFarlin Auditorium, with Newsboys.

ST: Right, that's probably it.

RM: Now I think you missed us on the Squint tour, but I managed to catch you at the White Rabbit in San Antonio.

ST: Okay, yeah.

RM: Now previous to that, tell me if you remember this, the Bronco Bowl for the I Predict 1990 tour.

ST: Oh, I remember that show, I remember that show because--well, there's a bowling alley there, so of course I'll remember that.

RM: Right, of course, how can you forget that?

ST: We had a disaster with one of the tracks. It was a dark day.

RM: Oh, you probably don't know, that place is now, I think, a Home Depot by the way.

ST: No way! That's actually kind of sad.

RM: Yeah, I drive by there every once in a while and think back to the old days of Steve Taylor in an ice cream man costume.

We are talking to Steve Taylor of Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. Now we are excited about the big show this Friday night, May 16th, in Dallas at The Door, here in Deep Ellum. You're on the road with Peter Furler and the Peter Furler Band. How'd you get all together? Just good timing? How'd you get Peter on the road with you?

ST: We asked Peter if there was any chance he'd want to join us with his band on the tour since he was going to be playing anyway. He said, "Only under one condition: I want to go on first." I was like, "Why would you want to go on first?" The only thing I can figure out is, you know, he plays and sings a full set, and then he drums a full set, so I'm guessing it would be easier to end with the drumming than start with the drumming.

RM: Or it could be that he's just honoring a veteran musician.

ST: Well, that could be, too. [laughter] Honoring his elders.

RM: Now Steve if you don't mind hanging out for just a few minutes, we're going to take a break, play some new music by Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil, and then come back and talk to you a little bit more about the old days, is that okay?

ST: Sounds good, Robert. Whoa, buggy! There's a buggy!

RM: [laughter] Alright, check it out, Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil from the Blue Like Jazz motion picture soundtrack. This one's called "A Life Preserved". We'll be right back with Steve Taylor in Amish country.

["A Life Preserved" and "Am I In Sync?" are played]

RM: This is Deep Ellum Radio with Rock A.D., rocking in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ, the best in classic Christian rock, contemporary Christian rock music, and much more.

We have a feature interview right now going on with mister Steve Taylor from Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil. Doing some old school right there, "Am I In Sync?" from Meltdown going back to, what, 1983? 84?

ST: Yeah, 80s, 84, yeah.

RM: [laughter] Nineteen-eighty-[mumbles].

ST: [mumbles]-four.

RM: "Am I In Sync?" still one of my personal favorite songs after all these years. Even got a seven-year-old daughter who knows all the words, even the mumbling in the beginning and the end.

ST: [laughter] Well if you bring her she can sing it.

RM: Oh, absolutely, it is an all-ages show this Friday night at The Door, so yeah, bring the kids, old and young alike. Tell me, that is an older track, what's the ratio going to be, old versus new?

ST: Well, we just want everybody happy, so we play a lot of the older stuff, and then we play enough new stuff so that people know we're not just taking their money and not going to do an album--there really is an album done. We thought we had to at least prove, hey, we can have new songs, too. It's a pretty good mix.

RM: Alright, now how about the infamous Steve Taylor costume changes? Are we going to see a Fritz suit? Ice cream man? Mrs. Aryan? Anything like that?

ST: You know, typically not, but it is Dallas, and it is The Door, so I may have to bring along at least one of the outfits. I'm a little nervous, won't make any promises, but since you asked...

RM: Well rest assured we will be elated just to have you here in any capacity, just to see you, so don't worry about the outfits, as long as you show up, safe and sound, we'll all be blessed.

Okay now, for those who know your words, your lyrics, your songs over the years, it's common knowledge that satire is kind of your go-to vehicle lyric-wise. Steve Taylor today versus young Steve Taylor--has your worldview changed? Are there any lyrics you've written over the years that, well, has your worldview changed on any of the issues, or do you stand by all those words?

ST: When I listen to the old albums--which only happens when I have to prep for a tour--for the most part, I'm reasonably happy. But there are certain songs that, for whatever reason, don't sound very [unintelligible] to me anymore, or that I would have probably changed a turn of phrase on, or things like that. You're just constantly living in this kind of dialectic with your older material, and as you hopefully get wiser and better at what you do, you can't help but think, "I could've done this better." But if you go back and try to change it, that's probably not a good idea either. A famous poet, W.H. Auden, actually re-wrote a lot of his earlier poetry, and I think his fans weren't happy with that choice.

RM: Oh yeah, that would absolutely be tough. I mean, just ask George Lucas about that whole Star Wars things.

ST: [laughter] Yeah, that's right.

RM: Alright, so it has been about thirty years, and it was just occuring to me, I was watching some old videos, getting ready for this chat, and I was watching the old "Lifeboat" video, and it occurred to me that right now it would be about time for a thirty year class reunion for the "Lifeboat" kids.

ST: That's right! Oh my gosh, just thinking about that, crazy.

RM: So have you ever run into any of those kids, who are now middle-age adults, saying, "Hey Steve, I was in your video!"

ST: I think I have! I want to say we did it on the east coast, at a studio in New Jersey, and I think that's happened at least once or twice.

RM: I tell you what, I'd love to be a fly on that wall. "Hey Steve! Man, it's been a long time! Haven't seen you in thirty years! Last time I saw you, you were in a dress!"

ST: [laughter] Yeah, that's right. Well, the video, that's funny 'cause I was thinking--we recorded the audio, of course, and there was no dress involved, but then we did the video, so that was all on the west coast, and they were mostly--

Oh my gosh! Three buggies in a row! Sorry. And a cheese factory! Oh my gosh, another buggy! It's just like Amish paradise, it's everywhere, this is beautiful.

Okay, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, the dress. So yeah, on the west coast, the kids were mostly like already acting-types, so a lot of them brought their managers with them, they wanted sushi for lunch. That was a very different experience.

RM: Alright, well thank you very much mister Steve Taylor, what a great experience this has been for me, an honor and a privilege, so I really appreciate you taking the time. I know I've gone past my allotted time and you've got other people to talk to.

We will see you Friday, May 16th, this Friday at The Door in downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum, tickets available at the door at The Door, if that makes any sense, or go to the web site at and we will see Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil along with Peter Furler Band this Friday night with Rock A.D. and Deep Ellum Radio.

["The Finish Line" plays]