By Brett Hoag Photography: Jules Art
Taz Taylor is an exemplary guitarist from the birthplace of Heavy Metal: Birmingham, England. He currently resides in the San Diego Metropolitan area with his wife Jules. Taz is extremely busy with gigs all over Southern California and, as he lives so far away from Los Angeles, he agreed to an Email interview.
First, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for me. I am sure a lot of people want to know more about you.
No Problem. Thank you.
Taz is a rather unusual name in fact, I only know of two others, the Warner Brother's Tasmanian Devil and the Hardcore wrestling legend, Taz. Is Taz your real name?
Taz is my legal name. My parents did not give me a middle name for some reason, LOL! I got the name Taz in high school and have used it ever since. When I became a U.S. citizen the first question on the application is what is your name? The second question is what would you like your name to be? This is a holdover from when immigrants would Americanize their names upon immigration through Ellis Island. I took this as an opportunity to add Taz as my middle name!
Very cool. Where and when were you born?
I was born a little outside of Birmingham, England in 1965.
Birmingham is known as an industrial city as well as the birthplace of Black Sabbath and all things heavy metal. What did your parents do for a living?
My dad had a small Engineering business with my uncle and my mom did secretarial work.
I have one, a sister that I do not communicate with due to opinions she expressed to me two days after the events of 9/11/2001.
What got you interested in music?
Seeing Rainbow on Top of the Pops performing "Since You Been Gone". I remember sitting on the floor mesmerized by the TV! I particularly recall my dad coming into the room and expecting him to have a similar reaction...but nothing! LOL
What was the first instrument you picked up and how old were you?
I got an electric guitar for Christmas when I was 13.
How did you learn to play?
I am self-taught for the most part, although I did take classical guitar lessons for a few years in my early twenties.
Who are your musical influences?
Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Nuno Bettencourt and Mark Knopfler were my biggest early influences. To this day, Dire Straits are still my favorite band. Even though my electric guitar playing is obviously completely different in style from that of Mark, he is pretty much the only reason I became interested in playing the acoustic guitar. As I mentioned, I took classical guitar lessons in my early twenties because of Dire Straits' Love Over Gold album! Obviously, at this point it's easy to say that is not a classical guitar album and I don't play classical guitar either...but here we are! More recently, John5, Tracii Guns and Simon McBride have had an impact [on my playing as well].
When did you come to the United States?
I moved to California in January of 1997 with a backpack, guitar, $2,000, a head full of dreams [with] absolutely no clue how I was going to be able to make this work...and I still don't. But, I do still have the guitar, the backpack and the $2,000!
Where have you toured?
We have toured the U.K., Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Where was the best dressing room you ever had pre-show and why was it the best?
For me, the best dressing room is simply the biggest. If we can all spread out and relax and you can put your guitar down and not have to worry that someone is going to sit on it or knock it off its stand...that's a good dressing room. Sometimes they are tiny and cramped and then a dozen extra people want to come and hang out pre-show. I'm generally a very social person, but venues are cleverly designed with a substantial area for that social gathering thing and sometimes people don't realize that backstage is NOT that area!
Where has been your favorite place to play so far, as in venues, and why?
My favorite place to play would be the Whisky A-Go-Go in West Hollywood because of the sheer amount of history and how iconic that venue is. Phil Lewis [of L.A. Guns] himself said, "We are standing on hallowed ground right here" coupled with how well they treat us there, how professional the entire staff is and how well we have always been received by the fans!
I see from your Social that you have two Ford Mustangs. How long have you loved the Ford Mustang and which one is your favorite?
Well...I always wanted a Corvette! My wife and I stumbled upon a '97 Mustang GT when it was just an 8-year-old used car. We are still driving the wheels off it 18 years later now considered a modern classic. We bought a 2016 model just last summer to add to the stable...so I guess I'm the Mustang guy now. We are currently looking for a '65 which I would say is definitely my favorite body style.
What do you do to relax?
Just like most people, Netflix and chill.
Right on, let's get into your band. Who's who in your band and how long have you been playing with them?
Well, first of all, a special mention has to go to drummer Val Trainor. He is no longer with us, having moved to Nashville last fall, but as we played together for 16 years, I had to mention him first. Barney Firks has been on bass for 13 years now. Not only is he a great player and a great guy, but he is a multi-faceted character and the longer I know him, the more I realize we have in common. Richie Klaar came on board as a rhythm guitarist in 2019. Having him in the band means we can pretty much sound live exactly as we do on record which would not be totally possible with just one guitar. He was easy to find. I just looked for a guitar player who was already known and respected by everyone in town and his name kept coming up! Dave Steinman is the man behind the kit and he is a fantastic addition on drums. He is a monster player and he brings great energy and visual elements to that part of the stage. Rounding out the band, on vocals we have the tremendously talented Laura K. Vreeland. As you know, our most recent album, Nocturnal, featured a handful of world-class vocalists including Graham Bonnet, Mark Boals, and Doogie White just to name a few. We found that it was a lot harder than expected to find a guy that could pull off all of that material live...so we had to go with a girl!!!! In addition to her vocals, Laura brings a great attitude and swagger to our live show. I am confident that we are going to do great things going forward.
Tell our readers more about your latest album, Nocturnal.
I have to say that Nocturnal is our most complete work, at least in my opinion. It is just a great Hard Rock album in the classic style. As previously mentioned, it has a handful of world-class vocalists onboard and I feel that is has my best guitar playing captured in the studio so far...I highly recommend it!! It is available on all streaming platforms.
Where can people catch you live?
September 24th we are opening for Molly Hatchet at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. And we are back at The Coach House October 19th with Pat Travers. You can get discounted tickets on my site: www.ttbrox.com
Finally, I do like to end interviews with two stolen questions from That Metal Show, If you didn't play guitar, what instrument would you play and what band would you be in? And what one song do you wish you wrote?
Piano and Dire Straits. Listen to Telegraph Road by Dire Straits and tell me that the piano and acoustic guitar playing on there is not the most beautiful thing you have ever heard. OK...well back in 2006 through 2008 when Graham Bonnet was in the band we obviously had to perform a handful of songs from his back catalog in our live set.
We performed the MSG classic "Desert Song" every night. What made it extra cool though was that we incorporated a section of the guitar solo from UFO's "Rock Bottom" into the middle of the song, making it into a 10-minute extravaganza!! A live version from somewhere in Europe in 2008 recently popped up online and it inspired me to put that song, including that crazy arrangement back into our set. It's a blast to play and I'm actually proud of that arrangement...so I guess it would be nice if I had actually written that as one song instead of just cobbling together two songs by two different bands, lol!
Thank you for your time and unreserved answers.
You're welcome. It's been my pleasure.
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