I am going to start my story about Will Taylor by telling about past performers, so let me have a tangent or two before I begin! I have never been the type of fan to call myself common. When I find songs that speak to me I don’t just like to listen to them, I love to live them. I’m not just a faithful fan, I become addicted to artists. In high school I was a Guns N Roses girl, a Tom Petty pusher, A Fleetwood Mac follower, a Beatles buff (and still am). Since none of them were touring at the time I had to open myself up to other musical outlets. One tour that always came calling every summer that I saw was the Dave Matthews Band.
DMB would jet through every July for back to back shows. My friends and I would first remedy a ride since we didn’t have our licenses yet, then crowd into a camp and play corn hole to pass the time in the parking lot prior to DMB playing. We would scuffle over the set, each wanting them to perform particular songs (Crush and Grace is Gone are the ones I kept calling out and clamoring for). DMB puts me in a specific mindset, a memorable mood, and as someone in the audience said during Will Taylor’s set, “Wow, if you close your eyes it’s almost like you’re at a Dave Matthews show.”
It’s hard to capture that kind of vocal quirkiness and also pull it off in a place where you have a tiny space to set the tone, but Will Taylor managed to make his moment meaningful. During his prestigious performance he played in the place that he had craftily created, both bringing back musical memories for me while conveniently creating new ones. He sounded so similar to something I’d seen, yet brought a brand new backdrop to it. He was a live, living, paradox player.
Will Taylor listened to his first KISS record, fell in love with rock n’ roll, and started playing guitar around the advantageous age of 12. His dad showed him seven chords and from there Will listened and learned by ear. At the age of 17 Will decided to add another part to his guitar playing and so he started singing. Although he admits singing somewhat stunted him from growing on the guitar, it did expand his repertoire reach and helped his musical horizons as he also started listening to the likes of Pearl Jam and DMB.
Sara Fincham: You mentioned you were a Dave fan. I’m sure several people have told you how similar you can sound to him? Is that on purpose, do you try to mimic his music vocally, or is your voice just more secure singing that style?
Will Taylor: The first artists that I ever covered were Dave Matthews and Eddie Vedder, so my voice was molded around them. I never took vocal lessons, I just kept singing along with my favorite songs and eventually learned how to control my voice and learned how, well, to sing.
SF: My e-mail, which I haven’t changed since high school, includes the word “strutter.” I, also, am a KISS fan! What songs did you start playing by them, and what specifically about them got you into guitar?
WT: When I was younger I didn’t listen to much rock until I heard my first KISS cd, which was the mtv unplugged cd. From that point on I started to buy every KISS cd and I fell in love with the energy and excitement and plus they were loved by the women and I wanted to be also, so I figured if I start singing and playing I can be more like that! So I started playing and it wasn’t til later on that I started singing. I couldn’t hit the Paul Stanley high notes so I stuck to guitar at first!
SF: You’ve played out at a few places – is that an important aspect of artistry for you, sharing it, and did you have a good first show? Were you nervous, can you walk us through that memory?
WT: I love to play out, although I get very nervous it truly takes me to another world. I played for friends and at parties for a while before, but my first time “out” was at Down on Main Street about 8 years ago. I played 2 songs and went down the street to Larry’s Sundown Club for seconds. I could not get enough!
SF: You mentioned a few of your influences – what are you currently listening to and why?
WT: I am currently listening to Kings of Leon, Shinedown, Seether, etc.. A lot of more modern rock. I really appreciate the love of music that they all show. Their commitment and energy really just gets me going.
SF: You make setting the tone of your performances seem so easy and eloquent. You create an atmosphere as soon as you sit down to sing. Is that intentional, the mood you make, or does it just come naturally?
WT: When I first get up to play I am so nervous that I kind of slip into a musical coma. I go some place else. I guess setting the tone comes almost without thought. I just do my thing and hope people like it. Also, I try to stay very humble and appreciative. As long as I keep that frame of mind my presence and performance stays very real.
SF: How has music helped you – what options does it open up for you that you couldn’t fathom without it?
WT: Music keeps me alive. It calms the savage beast. No matter how high or low I am feeling music always brings me back to ground level. Plus, I have met some really great people from playing out and through music none of this would be possible for me.
SF: Coming from a cover song kind of capability, when you make your own music, is there ever a question of “who is Will Taylor and what music would he make?” Does that make sense? Do you struggle finding your own voice, I suppose is what I’m asking, when you’re writing your own songs instead of singing someone else’s?
WT: I am very critical of my music due to how I view the way that so many bands have changed the face of musi – Pearl Jam, The Beatles, etc.. I guess I am sort of a dreamer too. I have about 20 original songs recorded of which only 6 or so that I actually consider to be good, but due to my critical thought and constant comparing I have many more that I keep to myself. I want it to be more than just an original song. Music, to me, is all about emotion – if I can’t convey and relate that in my music than to me it is nothing more than just scrap. I dont want to write a song just to say I did, I want it to mean something not so much to me but to the listener. Of course I am influenced by the music that I love but I try very hard to not be exactly like it.
SF: Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to promote?
WT: I am playing at Jerry’s Bar in McMechen tonight from 9:30 – 1:30 and at Generations on May 2nd from 9 -12!