Taz Taylor and his band present another instrumental album, time to talk to Taz again and learn more about the new album and future plans.
Taz, you now have a new album out, the instrumental album Big Dumb Rock, an instrumental album for people who aren't usually into instrumental music. When did you first consider doing this album?
Well, when I hear you say that, it sounds like we have invented a whole new genre of music. Like reggae for people who don't like reggae, or jazz for people that don't like jazz... haha! So I guess that would make me a genius, so I only wish I had thought of this sooner.
But seriously, yes that's what it is. This album is basically the material I write before I give it over to a vocalist and the focus shifts and it becomes something else. This is what the band sounds like when we are having fun and doing what we do best. We have worked with a couple of really good singers, Keith Slack in particular, who is just awesome... but this album represents where we are at right now and I feel more connected to this than anything I have done previously.
It seems that you understand why so many music lovers are bored by instrumental albums... Are you also bored by some of these sonic ego trips of colleagues?
It is not so much that I am bored by them... it is more that they sound like they have become bored by the sound of their own guitar sometimes. What I mean by that is that certain guitar instrumentalists that came out strong in the 80s seem to have lost their way a little, to my ears at least. When you listen to our album, the guitar sound is just a great Rock Guitar sound, there is no quirkiness or weird trippy sound effects on the guitar. I love Rock Guitar and have not become bored by that sound yet. Instrumental music does not need to be weird and quirky...it can just be straight ahead Rock, big riffs, wailing guitar solos, big drums etc etc.
Why the title Big Dumb Rock? The cover is inspired by Stonehenge and anyone taking a brief look at it might think it's showing Stonehenge, how did you come up with that?
The title track has a big, extremely cliched guitar riff with drum and bass hits on the 2 and 4. When I demoed it, I actually thought it was really funny because it was so corny, so 80s. If it had vocals and David Coverdale style lyrics it would be so cheesy we wouldn't even be able to do it and take it seriously. But with a self mocking title and as an instrumental...it's just good fun.
Val Trainor (TTB Drummer) did the cover artwork and that actually IS Stonehenge...or rather it was until he started moving the rocks around digitally until they spelt out TTB. Spinal Tap WISH they thought of this...haha!
Big Dumb Rock is on your own label - No Hair Records- and is available via your web site and iTunes. Are you looking for distributors? How important are iTunes and co these days?
Yes, this is an independent release. We have already gotten it into a couple of other online stores for mail order apart from our own and there are more to come. But really when you think about it the world wide web is world wide! It really only has to be available at just one web site... It is extremely easy to order from our web site and if you google us...we will be right at the top of the search results. Distribution is not so important as it used to be...being able to afford a large advertizing campaign is what makes the difference. I'm not a fan of downloads myself and have never visited the iTunes web site. We are available there, because that is how some people buy their music and we need to cater to them, I am basically being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century!
Fireworks Magazine has Viper on the CD of issue #41. Was it a surprise when they asked for a track for their magazine's compilation? Are you happy to get the chance to show what Big Dumb Rock is about to the readers.
It wasn't a surprise, no. They had Radio Luxembourg off our Welcome To America album on their CD back in 2006 and The Fugitive off our Straight Up album in 2009.
Fireworks is a great magazine actually. I am very happy to get our music in front of their readers. It's funny really... I sometimes wonder about all of this. It's not that I want to be a Rock Star or that I'm an attention addict or anything like that...it is just that music is communication. It HAS to be heard, otherwise it is completely pointless. It would be like talking to yourself!
When someone comments on the emotion in someone's guitar solo for instance... If no one hears it, then who is the player expressing that emotion to? After myself and my band mates have poured heart and soul into our music we simply want it to be heard by as many people as possible!
Big Dumb Rock isn't your first instrumental album, in 2004 you had Caffeine Racer. What's the difference between the albums for you?
Caffeine Racer came after a long spell of musical isolation really. I had worked on my craft alone and away from other players. I was not a part of the music scene at all at that time and that album documents that period really well.
Big Dumb Rock is a lot more real shall we say? This album was made by a more mature player who has put to use those years of practicing in isolation and combined it with a few years of touring experience...plus I'm a way more expressive player now, I have confidence in the note I am playing and am not in a rush to move onto the next one!!
It's the first album with keyboard player Bruce Conners. Where did you find him?
Val was playing some gigs around town with a covers band in between our European tour of 2008 and before we started work on the Straight Up album. Bruce was in that band. Bruce actually joined us for a couple of shows in 2009 in support of that album with Keith Slack out front on vocals. We liked what he did so called upon him again.
I have to mention also our new bass player Barney Firks. He did not join until after the recording, but has played a couple of shows with us already. Great player, great groove, very solid and fluid.
You had a CD launch party in July in San Diego. How was the first reaction to Big Dumb Rock?
It was actually huge! We were opening for Michael Schenker Group... So it was pretty much our target audience. We have had 2 ex-MSG singers in this band after all, haha! The audience loved us and we sold a lot of CDs that night as well as all of the T-shirts that we had left over from last year!
You played a show in San Diego a few days ago and one in Ocean Beach is scheduled. Will there be more shows soon? Perhaps even a tour in Europe?
These local shows can be a lot of fun, but it gets to be that you are playing to the same people over and over again... So the Ocean Beach one will be the last for a while.
Touring in Europe is what we want to do. That is where our main market is. Almost all of our online CD sales are from Europe.
If you do a tour, will it be with or without a singer?
Probably instrumental, we have found our own niche. Instrumental Music for people that don't like Instrumental Music.... it can't miss!!
After Caffeine Racer you had 2 albums with vocals. Welcome To America had Graham Bonnet on vocals, on Straight Up it was Keith Slack. Will you consider working with a singer again? Or will you now concentrate on instrumental albums?
We really don't think that far ahead. We just do what feels right at the time. I would not rule anything out at this point.
Looks like these days heavy rock and even metal is used more often on TV, here in Germany they use it a lot as background music at sports events. Ever thought about trying to get some stuff used that way?
The track Lightening Strikes from Caffeine Racer was actually used in a German TV show! I got paid $100.75 haha. I would like more of those opportunities, but don't know how to get them!
Any other news to share ? Do you want to add something?
Tell all of your readers to call their local venues in Germany and demand that they book TTB to play there...and we'll see you next year!
I really hope they get the chance to tour Europe, and in this case I wouldn't mind an all instrumental show. And I agree that they found their niche and even if Graham Bonnet and Keith Slack are great singers, I prefer the instrumental stuff they do on Big Dumb Rock! Keep in mind I'm not really a friend of instrumental music!