Steve Taylor on Staring into the Sun

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Squint or You'll Miss It

True Tunes News
Winter 1993 Volume 5 Issue 9
© 1993 True Tunes Etc...
Cover story, Pages 3, 26-27, 30, 40, 45, 51

"Court Jester," "Clown Prince," and "Huh?" are all terms that have been used to describe Steve Taylor. For the last ten years, in one form or another, Taylor has consistently set the standard for other artists to live up to. Artistically his brand of quirky, new-wave pop was never questioned as to it's excellence. Lyrically he never shrank from an opportunity to satirize even the most sacred of cows. Commercially he set the watermark for sales of a specifically Christian, culturally relevant, genuine rock artist. He led the way by producing several of the first Christian music videos that didn't stink. He led the way by touring a top-notch band and packing out theaters and concerts halls in both the United States and beyond. He led the way as the first Christian Alternative/Rock artist to leave the CCM industry for the shallow, but sometimes fertile, soil of the mainstream alternative industry (Chagall Guevara). He was even the first to release an album of remixes and dance singles. All in all, Steve Taylor has quite a few firsts to his credit. It's been three years since Chagall Guevara (his MCA signed supergroup tangent) released their one and only album to a less than enthused populace. However, just like the irritating 'rabbit in the hat' trick you always think you can predict, and then still end up surprised by, Taylor is back. With more support from his label (Warner Alliance) than any artist has received this year, he is poised to re-claim his once relinquished position in the Christian music scene.

True Tunes News got a chance to hear the stories in full detail from the man himself. From his beginnings in the early eighties, to touring with Squeeze in the U.K., to a video shoot covering three continents, it's all here. If you're new to this scene, prepare to be impressed by a man who is simultaneously hysterical, sincere, gripping, and intense. There is truly no one like Steve Taylor.

by John J. Thompson

photography by Ben Pearson

John J. Thompson - Was your first "Big Break" at a Christian talent contest?

Steve Taylor - Well, it was sort of the equivalent to that. It wasn't a talent contest really, it was a thing that they do at Estes Park (CO.) every summer. In the afternoon, they usually have a speaker and then a couple of "newly signed" acts. I remember that afternoon they had White Heart playing. A couple of the people that ran it knew me and liked my stuff, so they said "What the heck, we'll just let Taylor do a couple of songs." And that was actually the first time I had ever played live.

Other than with the Jeremiah People.

No, this was before that. I think I knew I was going to do that, but I hadn't decided yet.

So this was in '81?

Yeah, that's right. Because actually the "...Clone" record came out during my stint with the Jeremiah People, which is a whole other story. "I Want To Be A Clone" came out about half-way through the Jeremiah People tour. I think we were in Houston, and somehow they advertised it as "Steve Taylor with the Jeremiah People" or something. Of course at this point I didn't even know, all I knew was that it was out, and nothing more. And this place was jammed with, at the time, "new wave-ers" who were ready to rock.

So the Jeremiah People were sort of an "Up With People" kind of thing?

Well, they weren't that bad. It was actually a musical comedy group. We did a traveling Broadway-style musical. There were seven people in the cast and it was built around a high school reunion. The production had it's moments, you know. It wasn't totally successful from start to finish, and I blame myself for a lot of that, because it had it's funny moments.

Well, I saw you play with REZ, at the Odium, when they recorded their "Bootleg" album. Everyone showed up that night having no idea who Steve Taylor and Some Band were. That was the night that the scaffolding almost fell on you. Where does that fit into this time frame?

That's right. I forgot that. I think that was the next year, because I think the "...Clone" record came out in January or February of '83, and I did that tour the following fall.

So the album had been out for a while by then? That was the first Christian concert I ever went to voluntarily.

Oh, no kidding? The thing that stood out at the Estes Park deal was that a bunch of friends came up to see the show and they spread themselves out through the audience, and I think I did "I Want to Be a Clone" and "Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number's Up?" and then those guys spread out and whooped and cheered and stood up and made a big deal. Not to denigrate record company people but, the one thing they do is when people really dig something they think "Oh, this must be good." So It think that sort of helped things along, but literally when I got off the stage Billy Ray Hearn was there and said "let's do it." So it's like it was just as simple as that.

It seemed like everything was going pretty well for you for a long time. I've heard that "Meltdown" sold over a hundred thousand copies, is that true?

Yeah, it sold a hundred-fifty thousand real copies. All the records were successful, although the "I Predict" record was less successful than the "On The Fritz" and "Meltdown."

How did "On The Fritz" do?

"On The Fritz" did like a hundred twenty-five thousand copies.

Wow, that is so much bigger than I had imagined.

It was actually really successful, and it did really well internationally too. Which helped out a lot. But I think what happened was that about the time of the "I Predict" record there were some things going on. There was, as you might recall, a very strong trend towards either "Praise and Worship," or the equivalent of "I'm back to being a Christian," music.

Easy Listening?

Exactly! To do a record like that, for me, would be wrong. I didn't feel like I had to remind people that I was still a Christian. There's something in me that wants to zig when everyone else is zagging. In many ways I suppose that "I Predict 1990" was the exact wrong record to do at the time.

Is that why you left Sparrow?

No, but I think they were sensing the same sort of trends in the business at that time. They knew that it was going to be a hard sell. What I was doing was such a large part of their business at that time, that they needed that record to be done by a certain time, and there was no way to finish it. I actually started recording it for them, and then after six months it changed hands. They were actually really cool about it. They had every right to say, "We're taking everything you've got and we're going to mix it down ourselves..." I asked if I could find someone to put it out later, would they consider that. They said yes, although it wasn't their first choice. At that point Lynn Nichols was the head of Myrrh records and he was definitely a kindred spirit in terms of what kind of music he was into, and would like to see released. So, it made it's way over to Myrrh, and was released by them when it was finished. Then, of course, Lynn's departure from Myrrh definitely played into my decision to retire.

Had you lost your respect for the industry at large, or what it a more specific situation?

I really hadn't lost my respect for the industry, because I could see why those kinds of things happened. It's very easy for artists to get an attitude that the only thing that matters is their little thing. You could look at the grand scale of things and it all made perfect sense. That was the time of all the TV preacher scandals and the Christian public was very shaken up. At that point I think a lot of people needed reassurance more than to be challenged. It all makes sense historically, but at that time it didn't make sense for me to keep doing that. I thought that the only way for me to keep doing Christian music was to become more "mainstream." I maybe could have kept on the same course, but the sacrifice would be more limited budgets, and less touring and stuff. I think most artists want to feel like they're progressing, and you don't want to see people disappointed. Our audience was used to us doing a pretty big production, but they might've had to settle for a couple of guys holding flashlights or something. It would've been very hard to maintain the level I had achieved without changing radically. Then there were a few stupid things like rumors about tarot cards on the "I Predict 1990" cover and stuff. In some ways you have to expect that with the territory. But it got to the point where I felt I was defending myself more than I was talking about the music.

In "Sock Heaven" you refer to "The glass ceiling." Where do you think that barrier is?

I actually felt that I had hit it at On The Fritz. Before that, I think that Sparrow felt that there was no limit to where it could go. I think it was a good record, it didn't have much to do with that project itself. It's just that it became apparent that it was going to be hard to take a Christian artist any farther if they weren't more mainstream.

Mainstream in what way?

Mainstream in terms of what the average Christian housewife likes.

Do you feel that's changed now?

I'm not sure. It may be that there is a limit. I suppose only time will tell. Maybe things will change, I don't think I'm in a great position to predict that.

Is there a significant difference in the American scene and the British scene?

The British scene is extremely small in comparison. I think the lines are a little more blurry. For instance, Jim Morrison's Grave got played on BBC-1, where here, it was limited to college radio and more adventurous Christian stations. A lot of what happens there revolves around the Greenbelt festival, which kind of makes a point of blurring the lines. I think the same prejudice exists toward Christian music, but I think it's almost always worked in my favor. For instance, I think many journalists formed negative opinions and were looking for something to undeniably break them. I probably got over-praised in England, including several positive write-ups in mainstream magazines over there.

The next step, after the retirement, was Chagall Guevara.

Yes. I'd made the decision to retire before any of the Chagall stuff was written in stone. Actually, at the beginning of the I Predict 1990 tour, I told my band that it would probably be the last big jaunt. I felt that the end was coming, and that way we avoided any hard feelings. I still didn't know what the next thing would be. I certainly wasn't thinking about doing a band. I don't know that I was even planning on doing music anymore. Debby and I wanted to move to England for a while. We had a lot of friends there, and we wanted a change of scenery, so that's what we did. During that time I produced a record with Lynn for Phil and John. Right before we left, Lynn, Dave and I had a meeting about putting a band together. When I came back in the beginning of '89 we decided to do it. That's what precipitated the moved to Nashville.

Why do you feel Chagall wasn't a success?

There's probably a book there. We started it with all the rights ideas. It would be very easy for me to step back from it and say "Oh, it was this, this, and this." We had a good plan and a good direction. There was one 'Achilles' Heel' to the whole thing, and I guess if I had been a little more perceptive I would have recognized it early on. It was simply that some of the guys were not only married, but had children, and lots of them. To start something like that from scratch was no big deal for Deb and me, because we didn't have any kids, and were basically unattached. But for the other guys with families, houses, roots in Nashville, it was quite a bit more difficult. Everyone agreed that we were going to be a touring band, but if I had been a bit wise, I would have realized that my idea of touring, and what was likely to actually happen were two different things. I suppose philosophically, my spin on why the band didn't work, I would argue this point to the death: Some of the guys felt that it was the record company that leads the charge. I felt very strongly that the band leads the charge, and the company follows. MCA hadn't broken a rock band in twelve years. It wasn't that they'd never had a decent group. Somehow, fundamentally, they didn't understand what it was about Rock and Roll, and what made it work. In retrospect, I still feel that if we had hit the road running and really gone out and made our case live, it could have happened. Once the record came out we kind of sat back and said, what's everyone gonna do for us. The whole story is what Sock Heaven is really about. I still wonder exactly what went wrong. It's not that we didn't approach it with prayer, or humility or any of that, because we really did.

Is Chagall a thing of the past, or is there a 'Michael Jordan' factor, hoping it might come back at some point.

I think I would like to do it again, but I'd want to approach it more like a hobby. Like something you do with your friends. To rely on it as my main gig would be pretty foolish. Wade and I used to crack jokes all the time in the van. I don't know that all the other guys found them very funny though. One of them goes like this. There's two vans driving down the road. One's got a frog in it, and one has Chagall Guevara in it. What's the difference? The frog could be going to a gig! It got to where it was a joke. If you're not playing live, you're not really a band. Anyone can go into the studio once in a while. Our shining moment on that level, was probably when we did that tour with Squeeze. It was great. We were in England, out for a month with one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately that was only one month out of two very long years.

Despite the failure of Chagall, do you feel that there is a distinct benefit with going to the secular industry as opposed to the Christian industry?

I would never want to discourage anyone from doing that if that's what they felt they were supposed to do, just because it didn't work for us. We'd probably still be doing it if we were all 18 and living in a house together. I would think that they would want to be careful about what it was that they really wanted to accomplish. I had to ask myself what I wanted from my life. A big revelation for me was that there were people who want to be remembered as musicians, and there are people who want to achieve a modicum of success, and if a little light poked through occasionally, with regard to their Christianity, that would make them very happy. For me, I had to think back to why I was a youth pastor, and why I wrote the songs I did. Back then, we didn't know how big the Christian music thing would get. I was more inspired by Christian thinkers like Francis Shaeffer, C.S. Lewis, or Billy Graham. There are certain things I admire about Christian musicians who are in the pop realm, but that was not what I was aspiring to. I do music, I'm not a writer, but those writers left something behind for us. If we had gone on with Chagall, and done a few more records, with similar lyrics, I don't know that I'd be happy with that. I want to be involved with something that would matter significantly to a number of people, and really help change the way they look at things. The way Chagall ended was not really my call, it just all sort of happened. I can look back and say that I missed being a solo artist, and I missed that connection with people. The way they'd dig into the lyrics and trying to figure out what I was saying, and it all meant something to them, and hopefully to their faith.

It's been ten years that you've been doing the whole music thing. Is there anything you wish you could go back and change?

There are some songs that I would like to erase from everyone's memory.

Give us a list.

"Written Guarantee", I'd definitely get rid of that one. Off the second album, probably "Meet The Press," the lyric was valid, was the song didn't work. "Jenny" was good, but it was too derivative of a certain English band. "You've Been Bought," had an ok lyric, but it was a lousy song.

I loved that one!

Really? Well, whatever.

What about your career decisions? Anything you regret there?

Not too much. There was a project called The Trans-Atlantic Remixes. I hated it. I hope they all disappear. The Meltdown remixes were kind of funny too. I can't think of a more boring remix.

You were the first Christian artist to release a re-mix single though. You've had lots of firsts. You were one of the first Christian artists to make a music video that didn't completely suck. You had a decent live album too. That's nothing to be ashamed of. If you had the power to change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

I would like to figure out a way to make it easier for bands to make it work. It's extremely difficult for bands to make it. It seems that there's almost a kind of prejudice against signing bands now. That would be the main thing.

Do you forsee ten more years in this line of work?

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I haven't really thought about it. It's not that I don't have goals, but I don't like to talk about things until I'm pretty sure that I can pull 'em off. With the 'round the world' video, I wasn't too keen on talking about it until we got back and saw the film and knew it was good. I've got other plans, and I'm enjoying myself right now.

What facilitated your re-entry into the Christian music scene?

All the time the band was going, my current manager, Norman Miller, was coming to town every couple of months saying "Come on, do another solo project." I'd have to admit, that his persistence was probably what put the idea back into my head. I know that doesn't sound like a very spiritual answer, but it's true. I talked to the band, and at that point they were pretty understanding about it. Later on I think some of them had second thoughts about it. The critical jump occurred when I met with my pastor about it. He was actually a fan of the band's. He liked what we were about. But I was surprised how strongly he felt I should do it. I think his words were, "I plead with you to do this." The reasons he brought up were hitting it on the head for me. Deb and I talked and prayed about it for quite a while. Then when I started writing again it appeared to be obvious that those songs belonged on a Christian record.

Are you hoping for some transcendence with this album. Do you want to see Warner Brothers pick it up?

At this point, it doesn't really matter. Anybody who says they don't want that, is probably lying through their teeth. You want the music to get to as many people as possible, but for me it's not worth the losing of the focus, particularly on this album. I had a strong direction for the material on this album. I don't care what anyone says. As soon as you start thinking crossover, you inevitably let that color the way you're writing. If I start thinking about some critic in SPIN magazine or something, I start looking at the lyrics in a whole differnt light, and I start panicking. I was not going to let that happen on this album. It may be a character deficiency on my part, but I had to say "I'm doing a Christian record, for a Gospel label, I don't know everyone who is going to listen to it, but I have an idea of who I'm talking to with this. Besides, there are songs that I don't think would make sense outside of that context.

"Jesus Is For Losers?"

Yeah, that one. Cash Cow definitely wouldn't make sense.

How did you end up with Warner Alliance?

Actually, my manager, Norman, was approached by Neal Joseph (VP or A&R) and brought it to my attention that they were interested. At first I said I was flattered, but that I didn't think it would work. The more they really wanted to see it happen, the more intrigued I got because I realized that it was a lot like when I did the first record for Sparrow. They had no rock acts on the label, but they had all this enthusiasm for it. They hadn't decided what would work and wouldn't, they were totally open. They were willing to try out some new ideas, and to work as hard as i was. The idea of the "'round the world" video shoot exicted them, and so it happened. I'm very glad, too. They are doing a great job.

Are you planning on producing more artists like you did Phil and John, and The Newsboys?

I don't see that becoming a second career or anything. The Newsboys were good to work with because they wanted to do what I guess you'd call an alternative pop record and it made me flex a whole new set of muscles. They were great to work with too. I think the best part of producing is the opportunity to experiment and mess around with stuff you wouldn't ordinarily find yourself doing. I haven't really thought about doing more production though. That's a good question.

Who the heck is Desmond R.G. Underwood IV?

That guy, to be perfectly blunt, came about after the song was largely written. I knew what I wanted to do with it, but then I was faced with a chorus that had a very sophisticated rhyme scheme that had a certain pattern developing. I need a name with a certain number of syllables that rhymed with other words. Basically the name is kind of a fill in the blank puzzle. The song thematically ties in with "Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number's Up?" and is something of a poke at all these new self-help therapies.

Like Stuart Smalley on SNL? It's a caring nurturing kind of song.


Bannerman seems to be a pretty complex song as well. I know that I mentioned in the review that it seemed like a typical Steve Taylor poke at the guy, but I guess I was wrong.

When I read the review I thought it was pretty accurate as to how many people will react to it. When you're a new artist, you have no history to live down. In some ways, Chagall was an attempt to start something that would not be interpreted in light of past albums, but of course there was no way to do that in the Gospel field because we had all done work there. Now I can't do a song like Bannerman without people hearing it and assuming there must be some kind of satire there somewhere. Fair enough, I would expect that.

Are the songs like "Finish Line" fairly autobiographical?

"Finish Line" isn't as autobiographical as "Jesus Is For Losers." "Sock Heaven" is also autobiographical like we mentioned earlier. "Finish Line" really was more a look at different friends who were going through it. There are elements of me there, but it's really a message of hope for those people who are in those situations.

The line about "Acid guile sucking at your shoes" seemed to possibly represent the habit of always looking for the negative.


I wondered then about Bannerman, what with the main guy going to jail for taking hostages at some point and basically flipping out. At what point did you decide to write about that guy?

(laughs) Well, you know that it can't be just about that guy, or the lyric would've had to say "He seldom shoots back when they tell him 'move along,'" instead of "He seldom talks back..." The impetus for the song was when I came across an article about these three guys. I didn't know if they were independent, or kind of a loosely affiliated federation. When I read the article, it kind of caught me. I guess I just sort of dug the idea, although I'm sure it's quite irritating if you happen to be sitting behind him. One guy was in Seoul during the Olympics. He had this little portable TV and he would figure out where the cameras would be. He was very compliant with the officials and had a cool attitude about it all. I definitely think being in Chagall affected my view of the whole thing. Maybe it was the Bannerman's combination of artlessness, and his belief that holding up a sign that read John 3:16 would actually help people. I got the feeling, with the band playing in clubs, and I think this is common for other bands that are trying to make a difference in the club scene, that maybe we're deceiving ourselves into thinking that we're making a difference. To contrast that, you've got this guy that holds up a banner at a football game, and I'm sure there's some self deception there too, but it reminded me more of a street preacher or something like that. I don't know how effective those guys are, but a lot of us became Christians from pastors or others who may not have been great theologians, but fervently believed in Jesus as the answer for the world. They were more concerned with saving souls than in making sure they were artsy or clever. There's something to that heart attitude that I would not want to put down. For one thing, those guys have a lot more nerve than I do. I admire them for that. I don't admire the guys that are out trying to make a buck, but these guys certainly aren't in it for the money. You have to really believe in your message to do that. Of course this one guy went wacky about a month after I wrote the song. A friend (Phil Madeira) that worked on the demo with me told me that this guy went nuts and took hostages. I thought he was joking, but he was dead serious. I was totally depressed for two days. I'd written this song, with no malice in mind, and then wondered if God was playing a joke on me. I decided to release it anyway, as a tribute to the idea. In the video we create this super-hero in a cape who kind of runs around with a banner.

How long did it take you to come up with the rhyme of "Freezing his little epidermis" and "Drinks clam chowder from a thermos?"

It makes it all worthwhile when people pick that stuff up. It took about a day and a half for that one. Those things come quicker the more you do it. It's a good thing too because it took me about two months (in 1982) to write "Whatever Happened To Sin?" The longer you write, the sooner you realize that well, nothing rhymes with orange so let's get off the subject. There's a list of words to avoid. Don't even bother with "world" or "self" cuz you know you'll use "girl" and "shelf" and that's already been used a few million times.

Was there a specific event that inspired "Curses?"

It was basically inspired by the experience with the band. Althought our situations don't compare to some people's struggles, there were times when it was pretty tight, especially for the guys with kids. That Psalm (38) was one that we came back to often in our prayers. I think it says "I was young but now I am old and I've never seen the righteous forsaken, or their children out begging for bread." Contrast that with the fact that there's a whole new generation of widows and orphans because so many fathers abandon their responsibilities. I'm happy with the way that one turned out.

"The Moshing Floor" is interesting too.

The moshing part, in many ways, is no more significant than when I wrote "This Disco." It's just using a dance to describe life. I have nothing against moshing--except for the time when I dove from the stage and the crowd miraculously parted like the Red Sea--but there's something about a bunch of people bouncing off each other that really represents a lot of different things. You've got all these baby-boomers wringing their hands saying "what's going on?" I'm saying "what do you mean? You caused this. You hired the nanny to raise your kids, what are you talking about?" I like the third verse when it says "Malls and religion, build the new forts. Jesus is a franchise, in your food courts." Jesus has become just one more thing to grab and throw into your philosophical bag. It really has nothing to do with moshing other than it was a convenient metaphor. Hopefully there's a lot more under the surface.

Is "Easy Listening" as blatant an affront to the CCM scene as it seems, or am I reading too much into that?

I don't think I was... Yeah... Gee, I don't know...

You can be honest with us.

It just surprises me, a lot of that music still seems like it owes more to Mr. Manilow than anybody. Don't get me wrong, I love Barry Manilow as much as the next guy. Maybe I'll do a cover album of all Manilow tunes someday. But I think a lot of that music is just about telling people what they want to hear. Plus it was another chance to dabble in another musical genre than I can mess up as thoroughly as I've messed up with previous ones.

Then again, you have the "Chicken Yellow / Lemon Jell-O" rhyme going for you in that one, it can't be too bad. Now, "Cash Cow" seems like the logical successor to "Easy Listening."


Is there any chance we might see a live, off-Broadway production of that--say in the lobby of the Stouffer Hotel in Nashville during G.M.A. [Gospel Music Awards] week?

That's something to think about. That would be a fun one wouldn't it?

Maybe Donny Osmond will be done with Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat production by then and we could get him to star in it.

It could work quite nicely.

I'd love to have TTN [True Tunes News] sponsor it. We could have a huge Golden Calf right there in the middle of it all.

I'm into the idea, I like it. We'll have to talk to someone about this.

Speaking of big productions (What a smooth segue eh?) tell us about this video project.

I've done "One-Offs" before, with the "Meltdown" video and "Jim Morrison's Grave." But the band's experience with video wasn't very great. We didn't really like how "Violent Blue" turned out. The lesson was, if you have the tools, do it yourself. It wasn't a huge budget, but they spent way more than they needed to, and we could have done it better ourselves. After that video I said that if I ever got the chance again I was just going to do it on my own. Along with Warner Alliance's enthusiasm, they wanted to see a long form video come out of this. I came back with the idea of doing this thing "Around The World." At first they thought they couldn't afford it, but I said "Let me come back to you with what I think it would cost." What we did was put some money aside and bought a 35mm camera, which was immediately a step up, since most videos are done on 16mm or video. We got a great deal on a used one. I got together with my friend Ben Pearson who is a still photographer, but had done a lot of stuff with the band. I knew that he was the kind of guy that, even though he had never done it before, would pick it up very quickly. I had Russ, the guy that engineered the album, to do sound, and Mark Hollingsworth, who is one of my managers, to road manage. We got four around the world tickets to all the places I'd always wanted to go. We started in Hong Kong, then to Vietnam. The point there was nothing political, I just wanted to go to places that no one had seen before. You can't get much more remote than North Vietnam because it's been locked off for so long. I also knew that they were trying to open things up, so we managed to hit it at just the right time. At first it didn't look good, but then at the last minute they decided they wanted us to come so they made it possible to get visas. We filmed a lot in Hanoi, which I thought was cool because of the combination of Asian and French architecture. Sure enough, it was like going back 50 years. We filmed most of "The Finish Line" there, then went to Thailand where we did "Bannerman" with the lounge band, etc... Then we went to Katmandu in Nepal. I really wanted to go to Tibet, but there was no possible way, since the Chinese had put the clamps on the place. It was totally bizarre what we encountered while we were there. We shot "Sock Heaven" at this place called The Monkey Temple which is basically this old Hindu temple with monkeys running around all over the place. Then there was this 100 year old suspension bridge built by some Scottish guys over a really deep gorge. It was very beautiful, very exotic looking. Then we had an unscheduled stop in Dubai, right on the Persian Gulf in a very strict Muslim country called The United Arab Emirates. Since it was an unscheduled stop, they didn't realize that we had all this film equipment with us. They gave us a 24 hour visa and we went and shot some film. We figured if they didn't ask, and we didn't tell them, it must be O.K. Then we went to Turkey where we found two of the most unique places of all. At the end of "The Finish Line" we were at this place called Pamukkale, which had these beautiful deep pools of water and white limestome cliffs. On "Smug" there's a shot where you see a sunflower in the foreground, and me as this little speck in the background. That was a landscape of giant ant hills that people have burrowed into. It's like a city build into these natural rock formations. Those were two thing I had seen in some travel book and just decided we had to go there. Then we ended up in England, with the final two days in Ireland. It was a total of about three and a half weeks. I gotta say, it wasn't only a trip of a lifetime, but just think of all the things that could've gone wrong. Everything from cameras getting confiscated to film being X-rayed to bad weather or sickness, and nothing like that happened. Actually Russ got sick and passed out on top of a sleeping tourist in the New Delhi airport, but he was still able to work the next day. The weather was beautiful, even though it was monsoon season. I really think God was smiling down on us, and I feel very fortunate that it turned out like it did.

Did you do any documentary stuff along the way? Will the video include behind the scenes stuff too?

Yeah, we did, but that stuff can get pretty boring. We had a pretty good handy-cam and it was basically running the whole time. I'd usually hesitate to include too much of that stuff because it can get so tiring. The fact is though, that on this particular project, there was interesting stuff going on all the time. For instance, during "Sock Heaven" I was doing this section where I was dancing around and stuff, and what you can't see in the video is about a hundred kids off to the side watching the whole thing. They were so into it and there were so many, I had to get them to sit down like a little audience, so that one of them wouldn't fall twenty feet off the precipice we were filming on. Then in Hanoi it was kind of strange because all the people there are just so small. I don't know if this is on the video or not, but once this little man snuck behind me and felt my legs right around knee level because he had a bet with a friend that I was on stilts or something. Stuff like that happened all the time, it was really quite interesting.

What can we expect form the Squint tour?

We are talking about a lot of different things, but again I hesitate to mention too much in case we can't pull it off. We're going to try and premire the long-form video in some different cities this spring. Then we'll probably do a fair amount of international touring, and festivals this summer, followed by a fairly extensive fall tour. I guess it depends on whether or not people care about the new album.

Squint has received more label support than any Christian Rock album I have ever seen. Considering the excellence of the album, the professional perfection of the video, and Steve's hyperactive work ethic, it's safe to say that this will be a "banner" year for this man.