Steve Taylor

[Image: Steve Taylor: Everybody Loves A Clone - The Lighthouse, June 1994 Page 8 Thumbnail]
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[Image: Steve Taylor: Everybody Loves A Clone - The Lighthouse, June 1994 Page 9 Thumbnail]
Page 9

Everybody Loves A Clone

The Lighthouse
June 1994 Volume 3 Number 6
© 1994 by Polarized Publications
Pages 8-9

A trend of recent years has been the tribute album. Usually an honor reserved for deceased artists, the phenomena of musicians recording covers of a respected performer's songs has now reached the land of the living.

R.E.X. Music's Alex Parker was pondering the whole concept of tribute albums when he was struck with an idea--to do a tribute album for someone who wasn't dead. His choice of honoree--Steve Taylor, the sometime "bad boy" of Christian music. In Parker's words, "He accomplished so many 'firsts' in this industry--he was one of the firsts artists to do Christian alternative rock music; he was the first artist on a smaller label to have his music come out on compact disc; he was the first artist to talk his record company into letting him do remixes; and he was the first Christian artist to convince his record company to let him do a concept video. I thought it would be fitting for him to be the first person to have a legitimate tribute album. Besides, I've always loved his music. A lot of lyrics in Christian music tend to be more like milk--his lyrics were always full of meat."

Parker pursued his concept by contacting Taylor's management to determine their feelings on the idea. After some consideration, the answer came back as an affirmative, as long as Taylor didn't have to be involved in any way. "He didn't want people thinking that he was behind the project," says Parker, "that he was being self-promoting."

So Parker started sending the word out about the project and encouraged any artist who was interested to select a song and record a demo. After all the demos were in, he sat down and decided which should make it onto the final project--a difficult process. The result is an amalgamation of styles, ranging from the melodic alterna-pop of Sixpence None The Richer to the grinding industrial-dance of Circle of Dust to the Appalachian bluegrass of The Sanctified Glory Mountain Revival Family. The songs include cuts from every Taylor album.

THE LIGHTHOUSE recently spoke to some of the artists, to find out why they wanted to be a part of the album and how they choose the songs that they covered. Some artists were exposed to Taylor's music when they were fairly young, while others have only recently caught on to what some people have known for years.

Taylor's response after listening to the final project was, "The problem with these new tracks is they're better than my original versions were... This is the happiest day of my life. I am certainly undeserving of such an honor, but I thank all of you who contributed to the project for making it possible."

R.E.X. designated the project a benefit recording, and Taylor chose Jesus People USA's Cornerstone Community Outreach as the recipient of all of the royalties from the album's sales. The ministry, located in Chicago, has several different outreaches for the homeless, including a shelter for women and children, housing for lowincome senior citizens, and a daily meal for approximately 300 homeless people.

Beth Blinn

Circle of Dust "Am I In Sync?" -- Meltdown

Scott Albert, vocalist for Circle of Dust, had an unusual introduction to Taylor's music--through his parents. "When I was a young'n, I was basically forced to listen to it--I had no choice. That's not totally true, but my parents wanted to get us some kind of radical music, so that we would have something to listen to. Steve Taylor just happened to be the man. I was listening to him since I Want to Be A Clone, since way back when. As I said, I was forced into it, so I really didn't like it that much," he laughs. "No--it is kind of true, in the sense that it was what was around, so I listened to it. It may have something to do with the fact that I have such a sarcastic nature. I don't know--I can't blame it directly on him. I just totally dug that. It was cool--somebody asking questions and not in a formatted or typical way. Alex had asked me a long time ago [about being involved in the project,] before it was even going to come out through R.E.X. I immediately said yes, because I grew up listening to his stuff and totally dug it. I didn't even have a song in mind, I just knew I would love covering his stuff. I was one of the first bands that said yes, but I was one of the last to get my choice of songs. Just listening to that song--first of all, I've always loved it, because it had such groove to it, but it was definitely recorded in 1984. That's not an insult, it was just a totally different era. So I just came down, fiddled around with my sequencer, and said 'Yeah, I can do something with this song.' And I totally dig the lyrics to it--just, everybody has to fit in, and everybody going through this peer pressure type stuff--it's just cool."

Hot Pink Turtle "A Principled Man" -- I Predict 1990

We caught up with Jamin Rathbun of Hot Pink Turtle at home in Kansas City, Missouri. For Rathbun, wanting to be a part of the tribute album was natural. "One of the first three albums I had was Meltdown. I thought that it was awesome--'Hero' is still one of my favorite songs. When Alex asked us if we were interested in being involved with the project, we said yeah. We kind of reviewed some songs and we liked the time signature of 'A Principled Man.' It kind of had a 3/4 feel to it. Just listening to it, we almost instantly had some ideas of how we could completely tear up the schedule," he laughs. "My favorite part is when we break down this one part, and the timing is completely trashed. For the most part, I think I was the only one familiar with Steve Taylor--a lot of the other guys just didn't listen to the old Christian music."

Sixpence None The Richer "Bouquet" -- The Best We Could Find

While most of the artists we talked to were introduced to Steve Taylor through his first two albums, Matt Slocum, guitarist for Sixpence None The Richer, was first exposed to Taylor's music with the release of I Predict 1990, the last album Taylor did for the Christian market before taking a long hiatus. "I saw the video for 'I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good' somewhere, so that kind of turned me on to I Predict 1990. I never really got into Steve Taylor fanatically, or was a die-hard fan, but I liked that record. And there's the fact that he kind of pioneered Christian alternative music. We wanted to do 'To Forgive'--I think that's my favorite song, but the Wayside took that before we could get to it. I thought 'Bouquet' was cool--that we could do something good with it. Plus, I thought it was cool that it actually had never been released [as a single.] So it's kind of an obscure cut."

The Wayside "To Forgive" -- On The Fritz

John Thompson, vocalist and guitarist for the Chicago-based The Wayside, totally blames Taylor for the fact that he is in a band today. "Rob Anste [the bassist] and I started the band back when I was fourteen and he was thirteen, simultaneous to the release of Clone. We went with our youth group to a REZ concert in the fall of 1983 and Steve opened. No one had ever heard of him--it was his very first tour. It just blew us away--I mean, we had never heard Christian music that was so sarcastic and quirky. It definitely was right in line with what we were into, in terms of Oingo Boingo and that early 80's pop/new wave kind of stuff. So we bought his tape... He and The Altar Boys were the main inspirations for us to want to be in a band. I just completely freaked over his lyrics, and musically, Rob found it real interesting and challenging. Rob and I would get each other a little something for Christmas--usually a little toy or something. The Christmas after Meltdown came out, we both bought each other the Meltdown songbook--I got it for him and he got it for me. So we learned every song on Meltdown. I used some of the stuff for my guitar lessons and I wrote a lot of lyrics that were--I just plain ripped off his lyrics. We were huge fans from early on, and when Alex mentioned to me the concept of doing the album, I told him it was a great idea. When he asked if we wanted to be involved, I didn't even have to ask Rob--I just said yes. The hardest part was picking the song to do. Our guitar player, John Estling, was also into Steve very early on, and was very influenced by him. There were obvious songs that came to people's attention right away--'I Want To Be A Cone,' 'Meltdown'--kind of the bigger, more trademark kind of songs. 'To Forgive' was sort of a sleeper hit. I thought it was such a great song. It's so simple, and so direct, and it really allowed a lot of room for us to sort of reinvent it, while still staying true to what the original feel was. We wanted to be sure to keep the same emotion and the same vibe, but we wanted to make it a Wayside song, to kind of color it with our own box of crayons."

[Photo and caption: "After announcing the project would benefit JPUSA (L to R): Jay Swartzendruber (R.E.X. Publicist), Vickie Cornwell (JPUSA Representative), Taylor, Alex Parker, Tyler Bacon (R.E.X. Marketing Director), and Gavin Morkel (R.E.X. Executive Director)"]

Starflyer 59 "Sin For A Season" -- Meltdown

Hailing from California, Starflyer 59 recently had their debut album released on Tooth & Nail Records. The band covered "Sin For A Season" and Jason Martin, guitarist and vocalist for the band, says that when the opportunity arose, he was really happy to be involved in the project, considering the influence that Taylor had on him when he was young. "I used to listen to him [Taylor] and Daniel Amos, because my parents wouldn't let us listen to secular music," explains Martin. "I picked up Meltdown when I was in 4th grade. 'Sin For A Season' is my favorite Steve Taylor song--in my opinion, one of his all-time coolest. With the chord changes--it's just a good song. It's pretty fun to do a cover song--to change it around and mess with it a little bit."