Steve Taylor - Creation '94 Press Conference

Source: Andrew D. Taylor of QRSTUV
Creation '94 Press Conference, Agape Farm, Mt. Union, PA
June 29th(?), 1994
Thanks to Andrew D. Taylor

Install the Adobe Flash Player to listen to streaming audio of the interview.
[MP3 Download]

Steve Taylor: Well, I'm really scared. Geez. Be easy on me. [laughter]

Andrew D. Taylor: Petra opened for a Philadelphia Phillies game. Have you considered opening for a sports event, such as the Buffalo Bills?

ST: Yes, I would like to open for a professional badminton game, maybe. Nashville doesn't really have any professional teams, so maybe like a B-league badminton team. No, yeah, Buffalo Bills, they haven't called me. I don't know what's going on. Put in a good word for me. Do they have--do they let you...?

Andrew D. Taylor: I don't know.

ST: I've never seen one of these before. They have--the band comes on, and the play half time or something like that? We're putting marching bands out of work or something?

Andrew D. Taylor: Petra opened for a Philadelphia Phillies game a few years ago.

ST: No kidding? Wow, no no. Yeah, put in a good word for me. Buffalo, as long as it's not winter.

Audience: Chagall Guevara--are they split up now?

ST: If it's still alive, its brain is in some cryogenics lab or something like that. It's not doing very well, right. I see all the guys--Mike and Wade, the bass player and drummer, they're playing with me tonight, and Dave and Lynn, I saw them last week, so everybody still gets on. We actually have some stuff that we recorded that never got released, so there's some talk about maybe putting that out sometime in some sort of set. We were thinking about doing a boxed set shaped like a coffin, but I don't know if we'll do that or not.

Audience: Who are your musical influences, and if I went to your home and opened up your CD player what CD would be in it?

ST: Let's see, right now all of the Barney stuff, I'm into. I always get in trouble when I answer this question. My biggest musical influence was The Clash's London Calling record, that was, I would guess, 1979 or 1980. Beyond that it's just a very eclectic variety of things, many of them probably boring. Sometimes I'd pull out the old stuff I had to learn in school, the classical stuff, just to keep refreshed.

Audience: Tell us about the new album, Squint.

ST: Right, right, well let's see, it was recorded last year about this time, and the songs on it came together probably more quickly just as far as--I hadn't actually done any writing on my own during the time I was with the band, so when the band started falling apart, a lot of the songs came very quickly. Some of the songs actually, in some ways, were maybe even like a reaction and a follow-up to what the band had done.

One of the first songs I wrote was "Bannerman," which, those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's a song that's a tribute to that guy that holds up John 3:16 banners in sporting events, like at the Buffalo Bills games. I think maybe part of the reason for writing a song--I was reading an article about these guys and how they do it. The sort of artlessness of holding up a banner that says "John 3:16" in front of a television camera I think really appealed to me especially after being in a band where all of the guys in the band were Christians, but we had no specific agenda as far as Christianity or anything like that. I guess we sort of hoped that some light would sort of leak out in the places that we played and in the music that we did.

But I would have to say that, as far as that part of it goes, it probably wasn't very satisfying, and that coming off an experience like that, the thought of a guy that just holds up a banner, telling people "for God so loved the world," seemed like a really good thing. Probably the same reason I still like seeing street preachers is they have more nerve than I do, for one, and probably a lot more of us are Christians because of preachers boldly proclaiming the gospel than getting so cooled-out at a rock concert in a club where some of the members are Christians that we decided we had to find Jesus.

So that was one of the songs. There's another song, "Sock Heaven," that was more specifically about the band experience I guess. Other ones tackled a variety of topics. Maybe you guys have some questions on specific songs that I can answer.

Audience: Yeah, I was wondering, what all did you do while on your break from music?

ST: Well, I didn't break for very long. I took some time off in England. My wife and I went over there, and actually during that time we ended up producing a record for an English duo named Phil and John. A little while after that the opportunity came up to form Chagall Guevara. It was more just a break from being a solo artist than actually from music totally.

Audience: Pick a song--Squint in one word.

ST: Uh, it would be "Squint." No--I summed it up I think in an article in four words: "Jesus is the answer." The older I get, the experiences over the last five years, the more I'm convinced of that, that apart from Jesus, I don't get life. I would not have the faintest idea how to live it.

I suppose the events surrounding Kurt Cobain's death drove that home to me afresh in that, I liked their music a lot, and I liked what he did lyrically a lot. I thought he was a really good lyricist. I think I was hanging around with some friends and one of them said, "how can anybody commit suicide?" And I was actually thinking, man, I'm surprised more people don't.

When you look in the black hole and you see nothing, what's to keep you from that? That's why I don't get it. Apart from God, I don't see how life could make sense to anybody. I suppose that's the message of the album as much as anything.

Audience: Steve, you've been in the music business for quite some time. Can you comment on the Christian music industry and especially its spiritual side and how it's progressed the past several years?

ST: Right, well I was out of it for a while, of course, and back into it. I guess I have something now to compare it with having been on MCA and seen the pop side of things in all its glory. That probably gives me a little bit more understanding of what Christian music is all about. I certainly, as far as the people that I worked with on both sides of the fence, I definitely liked working with people at gospel labels a lot more.

I think what happens is--Christian music has become institutionalized, which is probably inevitable, but as soon as something becomes an institution, it's very easy for it to lose its soul. You now have gospel music labels that are owned by large corporations, like the one I'm signed to.

It's just very difficult for those labels to maintain a spiritual focus and also help their stockholders and their bosses at these corporations to understand what it's all about. It's a tricky business. When labels make decisions that are right spiritually and probably not popular with the powers-that-be in these corporations, I applaud that and hope that that keeps happening.

You know, gospel music does not have to exist, and if it gets to the place where people think that it's an institution with no soul, I think a lot of people will just stop buying records. Which, if it gets to that place, that's probably a good idea not to buy records.

Nicholas Greco: Hi. Nicholas Greco, CKCU, Ottawa, Canada. Pleasure to meet you. When you released Chagall Guevara, did you intend that to be released into the Christian marketplace, and if not, why did you change your mind on it?

ST: Right, well, no, we did not intend for it to be released to the Christian marketplace, and we didn't actually ultimately didn't have any say in it. Ultimately it went with Sparrow, and I was happy that it went with them, just because I knew those people and everything like that.

It was just simply a deal where a number of Christian labels went to MCA directly and wanted it and offered them money. And at first MCA asked us what we thought, and we said we would probably rather not, because we had definitely chosen one specific path--whether it was the right thing or not, you know, with hindsight, I don't know. But ultimately MCA just said, "well, we're going to do this whether you want us to or not," and I was happy it was with Sparrow.

Audience: Of all the songs you've done over the years, what's your personal favorite?

ST: Well, my least favorite, that's a lot easier probably. There's so many. No--I had this painful experience of having to go through recently--Sparrow's putting out a boxed set in the fall, which seemed a little premature to me, but those things are inevitable. So I had to go through, of course, and listen to everything. It had its high points and it had its low points.

The low points were--boy, I don't know--there's a few of them. Most of the low points didn't go on the boxed set, but a couple of them did, and I made comments--that's probably going to be the most telling thing is when you check those out.

As far as most favorites, there are a number of songs I think probably hold up pretty well over the years, but you tend to like the stuff you did most recently. I like the new album, I still like it a lot, and can still stand to listen to it. That song "The Finish Line" is probably the song that most moves me on an emotional level still when I hear it, so that would be one of my favorites I suppose.

Audience: I heard that one of your least favorite ones was "Since I Gave Up Hope [I Feel A Lot Better]".

ST: Oh, right, no, no, I like that one a lot. I'm trying to think what one that might've been confused with. No, I like that one a lot, I still like that one quite a bit. There's some that I don't like just because the music sounds sort of cheesy to me, and there's some I don't like because the lyrics don't seem to have necessarily nailed it. Overall I still like more songs than I don't.

Joanne: Hi, Joanne from 88.9 FM, Sellersville, Pennsylvania. On a personal level you have the hype, you have the touring, you have all that--how does Christ fit in personally when you're on a schedule like that, and how does he reflect to the people--to the ministry?

ST: Right, I will have to start by saying that I still don't understand how all this works as far as the example Christ gave us as far as denying self and all those kinds of things. That question is one I still wrestle with. I don't understand how we can be in a business of self-promotion when Jesus seemed to teach us the exact opposite.

That's probably, to me, the biggest single contradiction in my life, and I don't know how to solve it. Personally, as a Christian, my church is very important to me. It's a church in Nashville that a number of other musicians and artists go to, Christ Community Church, and our pastor had a lot to do with a lot of the themes on the record.

I would hope that--when you do songs that are not necessarily easy to get the first time you hear them, or that aren't just slogans, I guess you have to hope that a certain amount of that gets through in a live concert, but that a bigger chunk of it gets through when people listen to the records over and over again. That part is very satisfying, and, in fact, was one of the reasons I was anxious to get back as a solo artist, because that was one of the things that was lacking in what we did as a band.

I guess that answers your question, huh? Okay.

Audience: Steve, how does that make you feel that you have a tribute album that was just released recently, Steve Taylor: I Predict a Clone?

ST: Right, boy, I can't think of a less deserving subject, but I was really tickled with it. Just sitting down and listening to those songs was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had. The drag of it is that I like most of the new versions better than the originals. Some of the songs I felt got rescued, and yeah, it was really good. In fact, I'm in the process of going through and listening a number of times and making notes, and going to try to work some of these little bits of arrangements into our own live set because they're so much better.

Audience: Hi, I wanted to ask you about the song, The Lament Of Desmond...

ST: Oh, yeah, right. I won't make you say the whole thing.

Audience: I was just wondering if it was directly or indirectly about Kurt Cobain's death. I was wondering, it seems awfully close.

ST: Right, yeah, I wasn't thinking about that at that point. I never thought about that. In retrospect, I'll have to listen to it again. I think it was more directed to people who spend their who life trying to find theirselves and figure out what's going to make them happy.

This is no secret that we live in a very self-absorbed and self-obsessed society, and the way we treat our relationships and the way we treat our families all has to do with "how does this make me feel?" and "does this make me happy?" Psychotherapy and getting in touch with your feminine side, and all and on and on, and it just frankly makes me want to puke, I get so tired of it.

So I just wanted to take all that stuff and cram it into one song, that's what came out.

Audience: "The Finish Line," great song...

ST: Thanks.

Audience: ... Was there inspiration, or somebody's... [unintelligible]

ST: Yeah, well, there were things in it that were personal. I suppose more than anything it was just written seeing a number of friends that were just going through the thick of it, going through the mud, and writing a song that would help them to keep pressing on.

It's a song that--people get into it, and people that are sort of in that spot, it seems to hit them well, so yeah, I like the way that one turned out.

Audience: Is there any band in Christian alternative music that you really like and why?

ST: There's a lot, actually. There was a number of bands on this tribute album that I liked. I've seen The Prayer Chain, I thought they were really great. I saw Dakoda Motor Co., I thought they were great. We're taking them out on tour this fall. There's a lot. It's amazing because when I retired six years ago, there was just sort of rumblings of things, and now there's a lot of really good bands. I'm anxious to see more of them live, because I've just heard bits and pieces of different ones of them.

[Unfortunately, due to a problem with the tapes and equipment used at this event, the recording stopped a few seconds after this answer.]