A Few Minutes With Terry Taylor

Marietta, GA May 8, 1996

A Few Minutes With Terry Taylor

Marietta, GA May 8, 1996

by Tom Edmondson

For 10 years now Terry Taylor has been my favorite singer/songwriter. I've always wondered what it would be like to meet him. Well, I found out one night and it was kind of like sitting and chatting with a neighbor.

Tom: Looking back at over 20 years in the CCM market, how do you stay so current, inventive? After all, it's not like listening to the Grateful Dead or the Beach Boys after 20 years.

Terry: I think foundationally I love to write, for one thing. Not only do I feel challenged by myself to improve my craft--just like anybody that does any work they take pride in, you want to get better and better at it. And also, people like yourself --the fans, people who write--who really enjoy being surprised. They enjoy the artistry of it. But also there is also a kind of challenge to grow personally in my own life and to lyrically some way try to convey whatever I've learned about life, loss--Well, you know, I've been in the world for going on 46 years so I'm a different person than that young man who started Daniel Amos. My challenge is to convey what's happening in my own life and I've always found that when I do that people respond in a way that really ... uh ...sometimes it's astounding. They can identify and say, "you know your music got me through this period.

Tom: Fearful Symmetry is my favorite album musically. Darn Floor is my favorite album lyrically/Theologically. But it seems to me that recently, especially on Zoom Daddy, there seems to be a sense of artistic confidence that comes through lyrically. To me it's some of your best work.

Terry: That's a real compliment. To me, when I step back from each project--which I can do--when I'm in the middle of something it's difficult to get objective about what you're doing and say, 'well, you know, here's my span of records and here's the children I favor more than others.' Probably Zoom Daddy too was one of those transcendent projects that every one was caught up into. And for some reason lyrically I felt, too, that I was sort of running a race and got a sort of second wind and things were happening lyrically, I felt a sort of freedom. Inspiration is a spiritual--you know God does something in your life--of course I'm not the kind to say, 'God gave me a song.' I think that's kind of insulting to Him at times. In terms of my own craft in combination with the idea that the Eddies can be anything it wants to be, it opens up vast vistas of creativity and, to me, in my own opinion, lyrically it's probably the best work I've ever done.

Tom: I hear there's a new Eddies album coming out?

Terry: Yeah, but this is going to throw everybody a curve ball.

Tom: Is it going to be a sort of tribute album?

Terry: Well, yeah, in our own sick way. We're doing 10 Christian songs. We're doing a Carman song, two Degarmo and Key things, Amy Grant's "Baby, Baby", and it's very strange and it's going to be very controversial.

Tom: I wouldn't expect any less . . .

Terry: We though we'd take a break from the Zoom Daddy thing, go all out and do something like this.

Tom: Will there be a tour?

Terry: We're talking about doing a tour. Everybody wants to tour in the Fall. Lost Dogs is talking about touring in the Fall. Daniel Amos has been approached about touring in the Fall. So I just sort of have to prayerfully wait. Right now Lost Dogs is a priority, but I want to tour the other two bands.

Tom: Will there be a John Wayne album or will this be your Smile album?

Terry: No, it is going to happen. As a matter of fact, Gene and I have been talking about it all through this tour and when I get home we're going to get back into the project. The basic tracks are recorded, most of the guitars are recorded. When we get back we're going start working on vocals.

Tom: And I understand you've signed a new deal with Benson?

Terry: I'm doing some writing for Benson. Actually, they're my publishing company. And we've been doing that for about a year or more.

Tom: I thought maybe I'd read they were going to print some of your back catalogue?

Terry: I hope so. I don't really know. We haven't really developed a relationship yet where we've looked at all the possibilities. Hopefully that can be done.

Tom: And do you think Horrendous Disc will ever make it to disc? (the quintessential question!).

Terry: Your guess is as good as mine. I'd love to see it come out. It's the only record that hasn't come out on CD Daniel Amos has been a part of.

Tom: How do you write enough songs to fill 2 or 3 albums per year?

Terry: I just happen to be lucky enough to be a prolific songwriter. I don't feel the burden that some people do when writing a song. Some people take an amazing amount of time to produce really great songs and for me I don't know where it comes from. You know, since I was a kid I liked making up rhymes and singing. So I've always enjoyed it. I was sort of one of those introverted kids that would do things like that. And so I think that it was just something God-given and I've never felt burdened. I can't say I haven't felt pressure or a situation where I've got to get those three songs done by such-and-such a time. But for some reason it's just different for me. I can really dig in and get some work done and I enjoy the process so much.

Tom: Have you ever considered the secular market just for the sake of saying, "I wonder what I could do out there?"

Terry: Well, I think we've all sort of dabbled to see what would happen in a secular situation. And now there seems to be a new generation of bands that are starting to get signed as Christian bands--Jars of Clay, MXPX-- so we're sort of the people behind all that that sort of forged the way a little bit, pushed the boundaries of Christian music. And then the alternative labels started up. And right now we're doing a showcase in Los Angeles with the Lost Dogs. Because we really feel that, although we'd like to continue with our own bands, a venue like Lost Dogs is good in that it is ageless. It's something that we don't have to go out and continue to try to be rock stars and get face lifts and dye our hair. We can go with it and still make credible music and still enjoy working together. So I think the Lost Dogs is something we'd all like see succeed. That doesn't mean we're abandoning our bands. We're going to continue to do those. Right now while we're riding high, we're together and we're really doing a tour where we're getting tighter and tighter we want to see what happens.

Tom: You played fairly close to album perfect tonight amid a broken string or two.

Terry: Well, we keep our albums sort of loose and open to some interpretation, so, live you get the same kind of thing.

Tom: Who do you think are some of the brighter spots in Christian music right now?

Terry: I really like Starflyer a lot. They're a great band. In fact, some of the guys in the band said that they listened to DA and were inspired by us . . . Prayer Chain, I enjoy . . . I mean I'm probably going to leave somebody out. I like that some of these guys are getting some attention by some major labels. Anyone that could get that kind of attention has my vote.

Tom: You've been compared to the Beatles at times . . .

Terry: We've been inspired, definitely, by that British pop sound.

Tom: Sometimes I get bothered when people make band-to-band comparisons. I get more out of DA than just a Beatles sound.

Terry: Well that can get overly done. And I think some people can do that in sort of a derogatory way. But at the same time, who wasn't influenced by something? Musically you have to be. It doesn't come in a vacuum. What you do is take your influences and hopefully you're not just aping some other band, but you're taking all your influences and putting them in the pot and adding whatever magic you have with it and it comes out something that's unique.

Tom: Were there other people considered for the Lost Dogs?

Terry: The first time Gene and I talked about it we said, "well, who would make sense in a band where you wanted some people that were fairly recognizable, somebody that we could relate to musically, you know, alternative type bands." And immediately it was Derri and Mike. I didn't know Mike that well. Of course I knew Derri very well. And Gene. So that was the only factor. I said, "yeah, that makes total sense that Mike be part of it." And Gene knew Mike very well. So, from the inception of the band it was the four of us. We didn't know if the other two would want to do it, but they did.

Tom: Is there a DA project in the works?

Terry: Well, my priority right now is finishing my solo record. It's possible that Derri might be doing a solo project through Gene's label. So we might start that. So I would say that DA is probably third on the runway.

Someone who walked up: Is it possible that Darn Floor, Big Bite will ever be re-released?

Terry: I hope so. It's kind of stupid that record labels don't keep something up because there's always someone like you who would like something. What we do at Stunt records is, when enough people ask for something, then we'll kind of jump on the bandwagon and get it out . . . I'd like to see it to. We're working on all that. If we have to do it ourselves on Stunt, we'll do it.

Tom: How about a 10th anniversary Fearful Symmetry re-issue . . . do you have bonus tracks from this period? Maybe an Eddies live album?

Terry: Yeah, Eddies live would be a great record.

Tom: How many copies does an average DA album sell?

Terry: I don't know . . . between 20 and 30 thousand.

Tom: I'd say that's pretty good for the market.

Terry: Not bad.

Tom: I, like thousands of others have been inspired by your work. Your albums possess a depth that most others don't. I've been listening to you for 10 years. I just appreciate that. I hope you don't mind my saying so.

Terry: We appreciate that. We never can get it enough. When you come out and do a tour and someone comes out and says something like what you've said . . . that's our life blood. So that encourages us--it encourages me to do what I do. I never tire of it. I have people I admire in my life for certain reasons, so I'm not put of by that at all.

At this point Terry had to go and help the other band members to pack up their belongings. I thanked him for the time. I hated that I and he were so tired at the time of the interview, but I feel it was a real highlight for me. Thanks Terry.