I Predict: Steve Taylor's Next Album

[Image: I Predict: Steve Taylor's Next Album - Harvest Rock Syndicate, Winter 1987 Cover Thumbnail]

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Harvest Rock Syndicate
Winter 1987, Volume 2, Issue 1
© 1987 Harvest Rock Publications
Cover story, Pages 10, 12

by Mark Eischer

You've probably seen the headlines while standing in line at the supermarket--"Psychic Predicts: Ted Kennedy Next Vic Tanny Spokesman." Or: "My Prediction: Ohio Housewife Discovers Cancer Cure in House Dust."

Well, I'd like to try my hand at forecasting, but, to be honest, predicting the outcome of Steve Taylor's next album is a risky proposition, at best. even experienced rumormongers are having a hard time getting a handle on it. The first story to circulate was that Taylor had teamed up with producer Michael Omartian, whose recent list of clients have included Rod Stewart, Christopher Cross, and ex-Chicagoan Peter Cetera. Then, there were indications the album would be recorded in England with Alan Shacklock, who had been associated with The Alarm. Gym Nicholson of Undercover had played guitar on some of the demos.

However, the story has changed again.

Reached by phone at his California home, Taylor said that the next album would be co-produced with Dave Perkins; the recording and mixing would be spread between LA, New York and England. At least, that's the way things stood at press time. Steve left to catch a plane east for a meeting with Perkins, and the eventual outcome is anyone's guess. Once again, cancel all bets. Expect the next Steve Taylor album to be like nothing you'd expect. So, in the meantime, here are some safer prognostications.

I Predict: A woman in California will give birth to healthy twin VCRs.

I Predict: Scientists at the University of Iowa will discover that many cabbages are actually sophisticated listening devices left behind by UFOs.

I Predict: Premier Gorbachev's birth mark will prove not to be a Rorschach Blot after all, but a tiny image of the Nativity. The Soviet leader will then be sued by the ACLU for public display of a creche. But, don't ask me to predict what Steve Taylor's next album will be like, except to predict that it will be unpredictable, as always.

HARVEST ROCK SYNDICATE: Do you and Terry Taylor know each other? Is there already a connection there?

STEVE TAYLOR: Yeah, there is. The most obvious connection for me is just Daniel Amos' music. For a while, I actually felt kinda guilty, because in many ways, Daniel Amos set groundwork that enabled me to do what I'm doing. Some of the issues they were tackling on the Doppelganger album just blew me away. It was great stuff, and very much ahead of its time.

HRS: Do you and Terry know each other?

S.T.: We know each other and we've talked a few times. There was even a time, uh--gosh, I haven't talked about this with anybody--there was a time during the Meltdown album where I had kicked around the idea of working with him. And for some reason, it just never came together.

HRS: Was it a writing relationship?

S.T.: No, producing. I never even really talked to him about it, I was just kicking it around with the record company. There was a time when I thought he would be a cool guy to work with. But, since then we've gone in different ways, and now I'm too insecure! (laughs) I have to work with someone who costs big money (more laughter), but I admire Terry a lot.

HRS: At one point, Michael Omartian was going to produce this new album, but I understand that is no longer the case.

S.T.: Well, it was the case. What happened was this: Omartian was visiting Sparrow's offices at the same time we were trying to get some phone numbers of different producers. I wasn't even there, but one of the guys from the office was talking to Omartian, and was asking him how to get in touch with some of these people. And Omartian said, "Hey, I'd like to do it." I guess his kids liked my records or something. That made me a little nervous (laughs). Of course, Sparrow liked the idea of pairing me with a really commercial producer. Omartian is an incredible producer, there's no doubt about it, but my initial reaction was that what I want to do and what he has done in the last three years are just absolute opposites. But, I talked it over with Sparrow for awhile, and we decided to meet, anyway. So we got together, and I set down the ground rules for how I thought it could work. I wanted to cut tracks in New York, and go for a New York sound, and get away from the LA sound that Omartian's been kinda stereotyped in. But, the farther we got into it, the more we both realized we were hearing two different-sounding records. We were having some disagreements on who the players would be, and where we would record it, and ultimately, just what was it supposed to sound like.

HRS: When we first heard about Omartian's involvement, we thought it signaled that you were trying to gain more mainstream acceptance, which has always been one of your objectives, right?

S.T.: Well, not really, no. I mean, that's one reason, uh--I was also nervous about it just from a perception standpoint. I was thinking, "Gosh, I wish he could just change his name for this one record," because I didn't like the idea of what it would say to people when they heard that Steve Taylor was working with Michael Omartian. Because, in general, people perceived Michael as being an "El Lay Producer." And there have been times when I've picked up a record, saw who the producer was, and haven't bought it, because I thought to myself, "I know what this is going to sound like." So, I didn't want that to happen. But, no, it really wasn't a bid for mainstream or anything like that. It was just a matter of wanting to get in the studio with someone who really knows what they're doing, and who I could relax a bit with.

HRS: The reason I made that comment is that, in past interviews, you've always made the statement that you want your records to be judged on the same basis as everybody else's --

S.T.: Definitely.

HRS: -- and I thought that, had this worked out with Omartian, this would have been another step toward that.

S.T.: In that sense, that's true, because i do want the record to be judged just as music. And that's how I think all Christian music should be judged. Is it a good record? Is it a bad record? That's why I was never big on the idea that Christian records should be exempt from negative reviews. I believe that if we're going to do creative endeavors, we're going to have to be willing to see them judged on artistic merits. You start walking on real shaky theological ground when you start claiming that, because your motive is to serve God, this or that album becomes sacred property.

HRS: In concert, you still do the little bit where you put on the plastic hair and imitate a certain TV evangelist. What is your feeling about that man?

S.T.: I don't want to ever convey the impression that I don't like these people. Because it's really not that at all. I grew up in a conservative church, and have been around conservative people most of my life, and I think I understand why they think the way they do. The problem I have with some of these people, and their opinions on certain subjects, is that they aren't educated opinions, and they don't seem to have any desire to really get to the truth of the matter. Secondly, it seems to be motivated out of a prideful nature, you know, "Don't listen to that music, listen to my music, because mine has been sanctified by the Holy Spirit," or whatever. That doesn't really speak well for a man of God in that position. I'd like to get together with Jimmy Swaggart sometime though, just to chew the fat--although I probably wouldn't be the best one to do that. Maybe Mylon (LeFevre) would be a better choice. I don't really get impatient with those opinions, it just bothers me that so many people believe it. That's where I get worried. If so many people accept something just because a, quote, "Man of God," unquote, says something, without testing it according to what scripture has to say, then we're in for all kinds of trouble.

HRS: Let's talk about the new songs.

S.T.: OK, there's a song called, "I Blew Up the Clinic (Real Good)." It's a spoof on people blowing up clinics in order to get their point across. Which is, uh, not the best way to get a point across. Let's see, what else, ah...

HRS: Are there any with that introspective quality that some of the songs from On The Fritz had?

S.T.: Well, there's a song called "Babylon" which is going to be a good song. It may even come close to being a ballad. I'll try to fix that if I can help it. Then there are some songs that tell interesting stories. One thing I've tried to do is make the lyrics kinda cinematic. There's a song called "Innocence Lost" which is that way. There's also a song called "Jim Morrison's Grave," which may get me into a whole lot of trouble. It's based on my experience going to see Jim Morrison's grave in Paris. All these thoughts just ran through my mind, I just scratched 'em down, and turned it into a song.

HRS: What place does cynicism have in satire?

S.T.: To me, cynicism doesn't have much of a place in anything. A cynic is kinda like the theology student who doesn't go to church. One of my biggest struggles over the past three years has been to not get cynical. I think the curse of a cynic is that they are always looking for the dark side of things. And that can get to be a real dead end. I'd like to think that what I'm doing is just being honest. You see, satire has the ultimate goal of changing things. Satire is used in the Bible. Like Elijah and the prophets of Baal, y'know? These prophets couldn't get their altar on fire, so Elijah says, "Pray a little louder, maybe your god's asleep, maybe he's out to the bathroom." And Jesus would say things like 'straining a gnat, swallow a camel'--good visual satire. Those kind of things are powerful, because they can illustrate things and get the point across.

HRS: So, if you weren't a person of faith--

S.T.: I'd be real cynical. Because our faith gives us hope.