Mike Rimmer interviewed Christian rock singer of the '80s and '90s STEVE TAYLOR
Considering that Steve Taylor hasn't released an album since 1995's 'Liver' his reputation and vociferous fanbase remains extraordinarily strong. The internet is crammed with material about the singer, songwriter and record producer who with a series of groundbreaking releases - 1982's 'I Want To Be A Clone', 1984's 'Meltdown', 1985's 'On The Fritz', 1987's 'I Predict 1990' and 1993's 'Squint' - created some of the best rock music, Christian or non-Christian, of any era. In recent years Steve has worked mainly as a filmmaker, interspersed with bouts of lyric writing for the Newsboys. Last year Steve was interviewed by Mike Rimmer for his Rimmerama programme. Here are the edited highlights of that interview.
Mike: We've got to say that you were supposed to come on the programme last night, but you emailed me and asked if you couldn't and you had a very good reason. You went to the White House yesterday, didn't you?
Steve: I did. Here's a long story. A friend was talking to someone else at a White House function and this person that works there said, 'Oh man, I've always wanted to meet Steve Taylor', so he contacted me and said, 'Would you want to come up and have lunch at the White House and I'll show you around?' and really, how can you turn that down? So that's where I was yesterday. Actually we went to lunch on Tuesday and then he gave me a tour of the West Wing. Then yesterday we were having a tour of the East Wing and as we're walking through the rose garden, kind of sneaking through, a group of people were coming our way and we stepped aside. It was George Bush Sr. who was there for a lunch with every living president so we kind of smiled and he said, 'Hi, Fellas'. I guess, technically, I've been greeted by the President at the White House. We didn't go into the situation room but there's a situation room there that my new friend was describing and he said it's kind of like you see in the movies; they have big screens on the walls and they can be talking to a general in Afghanistan and seeing coordinates of what's going to be happening and all kinds of stuff. We didn't actually get to poke our heads in that room, it's like a bunker within a bunker.
Mike: People are asking me, to ask you, are you ever going to make music again?
Steve: Well, it wasn't a conscious decision not to. Other stuff came along and the last album I made, I really liked, and I could actually sit down and still listen to that and not wince too many times. Part of the trick is if I'm going to make new album, it needs to be better than that album. I've been gathering bits and pieces of songs over the years but I haven't sat down and decided I'm going to make an album and it's time to put the material together. In the meantime, the music business, as we know it, has crumbled beneath us so I'm not even totally sure what it would look like now but I've not ruled out the idea of making more music. I just had other stuff that needed more immediate attention.
Mike: You do have a cult following that would quite easily be reactivated I would imagine?
Steve: Well, I suppose that's possible. You don't really know until you make another album and find out if anybody wants to get it.
Mike: You played at Cornerstone a few years ago and people came to see you, didn't they?
Steve: I did. That was very enjoyable and made me think that maybe it's not too late. Was it Randy Newman who said, 'As you get older as a songwriter, the object isn't to get better, the object is to not get way worse', and certainly music history would bear that out.
Mike: Yes. Most artists make their best work in their 20s and 30s, don't they?
Steve: Yes that's true. My goal would be to make something better than the past stuff but I definitely don't want to make something way worse and then people would look at it and think, 'Oh wow, maybe he was never that good after all.'
Mike: So how come the 'Squint' videos haven't become available on DVD? That was quite a project wasn't it? Making the videos?
Steve: That was! You know, out of everything that I've done, that's probably the one project that I've thought most seriously about. Should I go back and re-transfer all that stuff and put out a high def version because that project turned out well? I don't know if anybody would still care, but that would probably be at the top of my list. I was happy about it.
Mike: When it comes to the changes in the record industry, you're uniquely placed to understand how record labels and the industry can crumble beneath your feet, since that's exactly what happened to you with Squint Entertainment.