Steve Taylor will be the very first to play when the curtains open on Communion – the U.K.’s premiere live music showcase. Communion events in the U.K. are renowned for their community spirit and their penchant for artist advocacy, bringing performers together under the best of supportive circumstances. It’s fitting that Steve Taylor should open this long anticipated event, as his mindset matches that of Communion’s founders. I spoke recently with Steve Taylor, after catching his band’s headlining show at the Independent.
I caught your show at the Indy, and truly found your performance that evening to be uplifting and soulful – just a great vibe. Would you talk to me about what’s behind The Steve Taylor Band, what you’re trying to put forward?
I’m really into music as a spiritual vehicle, in a humanist, ’70’s revival way – having it be celebratory and social, creative, and helping people get down. If my music results in people feeling emotions at a deeper level – I love all that. And, though the music that I’m making could be looked at as Retro Pop, it’s definitely art. There’s a lot of craft going into it. We’re trying to create a vibe of the innocence of ’70’s pop, folk music, vintage R & B, and mid ’70’s electro-analog synthesizer influenced music. That’s it in a big, big nutshell.
There were two things that really surprised me about your show – the first of which was that your band has only played together for a short while. It sounded as though you’d been together forever. Tell me about your band mates, and the relationship you have to them.
The band is very new. I haven’t played with anybody in this band more than four or five months. Dina is the longest running person that I’ve played with. We have a really deep connection. We’re both really psyched about life, and what we can do with music to create community and elevate ourselves. Dina is a singer, and percussionist, and an all-around very enchanted being. Our bass player, Dustin Smurthwaite, is a multi-instrumentalist who’s been around the Bay Area for a while. He’s great. We felt that the vibe was right – that we would grow as friends. As for the rest of the band – I’ve been playing with a pool of musicians recently. At the Independent, we had an expanded line up that included a horn section, a percussionist, and a Telecaster/pedal steel player. Our horn players – Forest Reige on sax, and Anthony Ant, on trumpet, we met while doing a weekly at The Layover, in Oakland. They jumped up, and were immediately playing harmonized riffs! They’re both in school, studying music at Mills and UC Berkeley. Our guitarist, Nick Swimley, and our drummer that night, James Neil, are from my hometown – Sacramento. They play in a country band called The Golden Cadillacs, that I sometimes sit in with, on keyboards. The Percussionist that sat in with us is Adu Jamal. He’s a bit of a gypsy who travels around, playing with different folks. He also designed our T-shirts! For a bunch of recent shows, we’ve been playing with drummer, Alex Feldman, who, like Dustin, used to play with The Audreye Sessions.
The other thing that really impressed me was the mix of genres – you guys went from bluegrass, to soul, to that 1970’s spring day airy vibe. So, the last thing I’m going to ask you is about who your various influences are,
As far as lifetime influences – Joni Mitchell, King Crimson – their early ’70’s period, and Stereolab are really big influences. Those are the ones that I keep going back to, again and again. For some of the recent stuff I’ve been doing with the ’70’s pop vibe – Simon and Garfunkel – some of the later stuff, and Bruce Springsteen – his first two albums in particular, I really like Italian psych rock and progressive rock from the ’70’s. It’s got good pop sensibilities – almost BeeGee-esque vocals -breathy, soft, harmonized vocals. I like the BeeGees also. So, that’s a starting point.
Steve Taylor’s next Bay Area show, (band line up tba), will be at Communion, hosted by Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. Doors at 7
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