Austin Taft Interview 28/03/21
MM: Can you tell us about your Band and whos your biggest influences?
AUSTIN: I would be happy to! Thanks for your time!
The "Austin Taft" studio albums are self-composed, self-performed and self-recorded. There is a separate live band called "The Austin Taft Soundtrack" which takes songs from the catalog and reinterprets them for the live stage. The live band is currently on hiatus, but I'm looking forward to navigating the live music scene again as things get closer to normal, and I'm working on a "Live From The Studio" YouTube series at the moment to fill a bit of that void.
Musical influences from the past and present would include Genesis, Type O Negative, King Crimson, Rickie Lee Jones, Meshuggah, Yes, Cypress Hill, Days Of The New, Stone Temple Pilots, Jim Croce, The Weepies, Pink Floyd, Brand X, Paw, Strapping Young Lad, PJ Harvey, Deftones, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, Tori Amos, Buke And Gase, Soundgarden and plenty more.
MM: Where do you draw your inspirations and ideas from?
AUSTIN: I probably find inspiration in most everything. Even music I can't stand. If I hear a song where the songwriting is very poor, in my opinion, I want to get in the studio and write something where the craft goes up another level. If I hear a song which is recorded, mixed or produced very poorly, in my opinion, it motivates me to get in the studio and get my record sounding that much better, and I've always got room to improve.
Some of the ideas are generated by circumstance, by things like what gear I have access to. I'm a drummer first, so there has always been a rhythmic center to the music, but in the early days when I was first teaching myself how to play the guitar, I didn't have much gear available for that. I had access to my Dad's Alvarez acoustic which is quite high-end and sounds great, and I had access to a decent electric guitar, but I didn't have a great electric amp or any sort of really acceptable tools for distortion, so a lot of the material written at that time was acoustic-focused. Also as a younger lad, when I bought the Digitech Hot Rod distortion pedal, suddenly I was writing things with more of a general "rock" feel, because that pedal isn't really designed for metal. Another example of circumstance might be a feeling that a certain type of song could really help with the live set, so you write a song to fill that void or achieve the desired response from a certain type of crowd.
These days, I'm trying to put a greater emphasis on creating music which is hopefully unique to my output. In other words, it wouldn't have come from someone else. If I write and record a song which could have just as easily been created another artist, what is the point? So in that sense, I'm really proud of the new album, "Skeletons". I've never heard another album quite like it, and I hope the listeners find it to be a challenging, unpredictable and one-of-a-kind experience.
MM: What would you say is your Band's favourite song?
AUSTIN: From my catalog? At the moment, it's probably "The Ladder", from the new album. It's a really punishing, relentless chunk of nasty music which probably best represents what I was trying to achieve with this new release. My favorite song from someone else's catalog is probably "Supper's Ready" by Genesis. It's pretty much the Sistine Chapel of progressive rock, as far as I'm concerned.
MM: Plans tour and festival wise for 2021?
AUSTIN: 2020 was the first year in over a decade in which I did not perform live. I'm hoping that some live performances will happen later in the year, but so many events continue to get rescheduled two, three or four times, I'm currently in "wait and see" mode.
MM: What can we expect from you guys live?
AUSTIN: To get your money's worth!
MM: What do you like best and worst about touring?
AUSTIN: If it's a true tour where you're doing a series of dates in different cities and only have select days off, I think my favorite thing is how polished a band can sound after the first few nights. It's in my nature to record every show, then listen back to each night's performance afterward and make notes about what worked and what didn't work, even if it's a scenario in which I'm just a hired gun in someone else's band. Whatever it is, I want it to sound killer, so making sure that the music is heard properly is the focus when I'm in that "tour" mode, and it's a great time. My least favorite thing is probably the wait before showtime each evening.
MM: Which three Bands would be your ultimate touring buddies?
AUSTIN: I'm going to try to give a diverse list here. 1) Devils Teeth. A killer band from Milwaukee. I've admired their output from afar, and I'm friends with their bassist who also handles their graphic design, but I haven't yet had the opportunity to rock with them on the same bill. Devils Teeth and The Austin Taft Soundtrack on the same bill would be fierce! 2) Metallica. One of my first exposures to heavy metal as a youngster, so there's a "cool" factor there. Their budget is through the roof. The exposure would be killer. They have a reputation for being really kind to the opening act. This is out of reach and will never happen, of course, but if the universe wants to prove me wrong, I'll make sure that setlist is full of that heavy, super-raw power. 3) Failure. Failure sports the very best live sound I have ever heard. Ever. In the history of time. I didn't even realize this level of clarity and power was possible in a band's live sound until I saw and heard it for myself. The amount of stuff I could potentially learn in an environment like that would be a very exciting prospect, and they seem like good dudes with level heads.
MM: What's the most memorable concert you've been to (other than your own) and why?
AUSTIN: Genesis, October 3rd, 2007, Chicago, IL, USA. Ten words: Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, Daryl Stuermer, Chester Thompson. The best show I've seen to date. High-level musicianship. A phenomenal setlist with a solid blend of progressive material and more accessible material. An insane amount of musical power coming from five people.
MM: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
AUSTIN: Those moments when someone tells you how your music helped get them through a rough time in their life. It pains me to hear of bad things happening to good people, but I am honored to have unknowingly helped to ease those burdens in some way.
MM: Which are your Two favourite Albums of all time?
AUSTIN: I don't think I have ever been asked for only two. Very clever! I'd say... 1) The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. 2) Genesis - Duke. Yeah, I know. Genesis is coming up a lot, but the band is *that* good.
MM: Can you remember the first time you ever played live and how it felt to have people watching you?
AUSTIN: Setting aside performances in grade-school orchestras and the like, the first time I ever performed as a solo artist was 2003. I performed songs I wrote for a room full of people, and what still seems weird to me about it is how comfortable it felt. Somehow, I didn't actually realize until days later that it was the first time I had performed live playing guitar and singing. Of course, listening back now, I sounded terrible. But you have to start somewhere, right?
MM: Growing up, which Bands posters did you have on your bedroom wall?
AUSTIN: Oh man. I can't really remember. N.W.A. for sure. Ren & Stimpy were up there for a long time, but that's not a band. I think my walls were pretty boring. But I had a lot of cassettes and CDs (and still do)!
MM: Who do you think influenced the world of Metal / Rock more than any other person?
AUSTIN: This seems impossible to answer, but in the world of metal... maybe Tony Iommi? In the world of rock, and this is reaching way back, but maybe Chuck Berry?
MM: What's the most important thing to the band right now?
AUSTIN: Getting the word out about the new album, "Skeletons"! https://austintaft.bandcamp.com/album/skeletons
MM: If you could do a cover of any song, which one would it be and why?
AUSTIN: A solid question. I don't really do covers, so this is fun to think about. If I ever put together an album of covers, it would be absolutely ridiculous. All over the place. Fred Astaire, God Dethroned, R.E.M., Duran Duran, Tanya Tucker. It would make no sense. But I'm supposed to nail this down to one song for the purposes of this question, so let's go with "The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences" by Type O Negative.
MM: Tell us why we should buy and listen to your Band.
AUSTIN: These records are a good fit for listeners who like when bands take chances and each record has a different sound. These records are *not* a good fit for listeners who like when each song on each record sounds the same. I would say these records are also a good fit for listeners who enjoy a wide variety of genres. I listen to most every genre, so I like to experiment with a bit of everything as well. Head over to https://www.austintaft.com/ and check out the two most recent albums, "Skeletons" and "The Human Condition" as examples.
MM: Four words to describe your Band.
AUSTIN: Totally worth your time.
MM: Final Words for your fans and our readers?
AUSTIN: The new Austin Taft album, "Skeletons", is available worldwide! It's a 71-minute pile of Prog-Metal-That-Sometimes-Isn't. If this sounds up your alley, you can listen or purchase through Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, Amazon, 7digital, Pandora and more! Spread the word! Thank you very much for your time and support.