Squintessentially Steve

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Winter 1994, Volume 4, Number 1
© 1994 Nelson/Word Canada Ltd.
Page 25-27

Words of Wonder: Roberta Croteau

Image Grabber: Ben Pearson

"Keep away," he deadpans after being asked what phrase he thinks people most use to describe him. Good answer for a laugh, but about as far from the truth as you can get. In reality, Steve Taylor is probably one of the nicest guys you'll ever run into. Don't let that Taylor mystique fool you. Sure, he's a towering presence (six-three, to be exact), a razor sharp wit (don't even try to keep up) and still holds claim to being one of the most creative forces in Christian music (even after a five year absence from the solo spotlight). But there's no prima donna complex here. The man also returns all his phone calls, remembers mom on her birthday, and blushes modestly at even the slightest accolade. Not that the accolades are even close to being slight these days. His triumphant return to Christian music, in the guise of the new Warner Alliance album, Squint, has already been hailed a masterpiece by critics. "Trouble is," he muses, "critics just never send money." Maybe not, but there's still a lot to take to the bank here.

Squint, Taylor aficionados will be glad to know, bears the distinctive thumbprint of everybody's favorite gadfly. There's the trademark foible-fencing in tunes like "The Lament Of Desmond R. G. Underwood-Frederick IV" (he's still into long titles), and "The Moshing Floor" and rest assured, there's a carload of quick barbs for today's headline grabbers; everyone from Barbra Streisand and Rush Limbaugh to Robert Tilton and David Koresh get a Taylor made skewering. Then there's "Bannerman," a decidedly uncaustic tribute to the John 3:16 man from every ball game you ever caught on the tube. "As stupid as that is, you know," he confesses, "I kinda dig it." "Sock Heaven" on the other hand is an honest look at Steve's stint with his mainstream band, Chagall Guevara, using, as he calls it, the popular "sock metaphor." You'll just have to hear it...

...and see it. On video, that is. Not one to do things in a small way, Taylor has created Squint, The Video, a six song collection of tunes from the album filmed at a splattering of worldwide destinations. We're not talking London and Paris. Taylor and his crew somehow managed to bring their rock and roll and video cameras to the deserts of Turkey, the temples of Thailand, and verifiably became the first artist to ever film a music video in Vietnam. The resulting travelogue is a brilliant tour-de- force from an insightful, happy wanderer. But we'll let Steve fill you in on all the details himself...

Postcards From The Ledge-Man

Dear RELEASE readers:

My friend (and your editor) asked me if I'd write captions for some of the photos we took from around the world, almost as if I was sending you a postcard. Actually, I wanted to send you each a personal postcard from all ten countries we visited, but I ran out of saliva on our first day after licking only fourteen stamps. I'm very embarrassed--next time I'll just rent a St. Bernard by the hour.

1. Speaking of St. Bernards, here we are in Hong Kong on a boat in front of the "World's Largest Floating Restaurant." I can neither confirm nor deny the "world's largest" part, but my scientific background leads me to believe that the "floating" part was most likely true.

Our second stop was Vietnam, where we filmed the first music video ever shot in that country for my song, "The Finish Line." The country was beautiful and the people were very friendly.

2. Speaking of "The Finish Line," these two shots were snapped in rapid succession as we rode down the streets of Hanoi in fun little "bicycle taxis." Ben (the photographer) was in the other taxi, and we actually were having a race to see which one could make it from the restaurant back to our hotel the fastest before something called "Ho Chi Minh's Revenge" took effect. (I guess it comes free with every meal.)

I'm told that if you cut these photos out and staple them together into a "flip book," you will get a dramatic sense of speed and motion similar to what we experienced.

3. We're here in the Himalayas, north of Katmandu, Nepal. This region of the world is extremely remote, with only a few flights coming in and out each week. Because of the high altitude, many people arriving in Nepal experience shortness of breath, dizziness and nosebleeds, but at this point in our trip we were too tired to notice.

You remember that "flip book" that you started making with the photos from Vietnam? I'm told that if you add this shot as a third page, you'll get a dramatic sense of me going down a street in a bicycle taxi and then jumping over a small Nepalese hillside cottage.

4. I made lots of new friends on my trip, but the main reason I'm including this photo is that the flip book needs a fourth page so you won't get motion sickness.

5. This was taken in Vietnam, at the Emperor's Mausoleum outside of the city of Hue. I don't have a good caption for this photo--I just wanted to include it because I look so thoughtful and pensive.

6. We're in the Arab port city of Dubai on the Persian Gulf. If I look a little upset here, it's partly because no one warned me not to rest my arms on those razor-sharp pointy things along the top of the fence.

7. Here's a place in Katmandu, at a place called the "Monkey Temple." It seemed like a strange name at first, but I think I figured out why it's called that.

First, I noticed there were a lot of monkeys everywhere, and that they like you to feed them cookies, so we took this short after I'd just fed them the last crumbs from my bag (notice the dogs like cookies, too). But I couldn't figure out the second part of the name "Monkey Temple" until I observed that if you stop feeding them cookies, these furry little creatures will jump on your head and try to bite you in the temple.

8. Greetings from the deserts of central Turkey! I don't normally like to brag, but the stunt I'd attempted here is very dangerous. The nomadic tribe that owned this camel all let out a collective gasp when I boldly dropped the reins and threw my hands into the air. In fact, they were so impressed that they asked me to join their tribe as a junior camel wrangler, and I might have accepted if they'd had a better pension plan.

I want to remind our younger, more impressionable readers that I am a trained professional, and this stunt should not be tried at home without adult supervision (particularly if you own a North African dromedary of even a Bactrian).

9. Here's another camel photo that someone must have taken while I wasn't looking. I guess this trip was similar to previous trips in one way--the only reading material I ever travel with is my Bible and my latest issue of RELEASE Magazine, which I find both informs and relaxes no matter what the mode of transportation. By the way, I should mention that not only are these camels a lot of fun to ride, but they really perk up a casserole.

10. This is it--Ireland, the last stop on our three and a half week 'round-the-world filming expedition. It sure has been fun, but we're all anxious to go home now and staple our flip books together.

Thanks for joining me, and for those of you who have really gotten into the whole "flip book" part of it, I have one more fun idea: Try scanning this photo into the 3-D modeling application of a computer with a high-yield monitor that supports resolutions up to 1152 x 870 at 24-bit color depth to simulate a rotoscoping effect moving my right boot up and down. (I've never actually tried this myself, but I'm pretty sure it will look cool.)

Your friend,