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21 Cornerstone 2001 Press Conference
Friday, July 6, 2001
Transcribed and edited by Linda and Tony LaFianza
Dan Michaels of Galaxy 21 Records and The Choir, Terry Scott Taylor of Daniel Amos/Lost Dogs/Swirling Eddies, etc. and Mike Roe of 77s and the Lost Dogs, made up an indomitable trio to face the press at Cornerstone Festival 2001. Or farce it. The fierce mock rivalries of close buddies prevailed. Who could be funniest? Who can pull off the best deadpan delivery? Will the rapid-fire repartee flag? How much new information can the press wring out of this, their most closely studied cohort? Towards the end, when the intellectual energy of the press began to wane, Roe took over and interviewed Taylor. Prepare to ROFL. You are welcome to borrow lines for .sig files. Here, in its entirety, is Cornerstone 2001's funniest half-hour.
Michaels: OK, Who's here from Rolling Stone?
Michaels: ...Uh, how about some web site?...
Roe: Vanity Today?
Roe: Better Homes and Garbage?
Michaels: Tiger Beat?
Roe: Zen and the Art of Plastic Removal?
Roe: There is no opening
statement. We want to get this over with as
Taylor: "Yes" and "No" questions only, please.
Press: Where's my CD?
Press: You were going to personally sign it!
Roe: That's a Zen code, isn't it. Where's my CD?
Michaels: ...No, I''m going to do the record company thing first.
Roe: Oh, okay, okay. Then I take it back. There is an opening statement.
This is Buckeye Dan.
Michaels: Am I hearing ... what? No applause?
Press: [Obliging whoops and hollers, smattering of applause and, "Yeah, Buckeye!"
Michaels: Well, thanks, ah, everybody, ah, for coming out. Glad to be here. There are representatives from Daniel Amos, Lost Dogs, 77s, and the Choir. Of course we have Terry Taylor, Mike Roe, each have new records out; Mr. Buechner's Dream for Daniel Amos, and A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows for the 77s. The Choir has a boxed set called Never Say Never, The First Twenty Years, and the Lost Dogs have just completed a brand new record for BEC called Real Men Cry. And, ah, welcome you here, and just want to open up for any kind of questions you'd like to ask. Just raise your hand, and we're ready to go.
So go ahead...
(Now the guys start to bang on the mikes and joke.)
Roe: ...Is this thing on? Check. Check One, two, testing. Check. Check. Can I have a little more monitor, please? Can you make mine louder than Terry's?
Taylor: More vocal, please.
Roe: We need to hear my clear, bell-like tone.
Michaels: Anything you want to hear about Plus One, behind the scenes of Plus One and Jennifer Valesquez, we're here for that.
Press: Do you ever check out the bands that listen to your music, and consider you an important influence for their own music?
Roe: I'm completely unaware that we've influenced any other bands.
Taylor: I know that we've influenced the 77s, so, ah. . .
Roe: Yeah, we've learned what not to do.
Taylor: Awwwwh. Bah dum dump.
Roe: That's that chapter, "Don't let this happen to you."
Taylor: No I've heard of various bands being influenced.
Press: Doesn't Collective Soul listen to you?
Taylor: Yeah, I guess Collective Soul is into Daniel Amos, which is great!
Michaels: Yeah, I think Brittany Spears has listened to a lot of Mike Roe solo.
Taylor: Mike Roe's solo stuff, yeah. Especially in her quiet times. In her quiet time with the Lord...
Michaels: The Jars of Clay guys came up to Steve and Derri, I guess, at the GMA festival and cited Chase the Kangaroo and Circle Slide as some of their influences that helped them sell three million records.
Roe: Actually, you know what, we probably have greater influence than we're aware of because I hear about it usually years later. Like the Ocean Blue recorded one of our songs, I didn't even know it. The Innocence Mission likes us a lot, and I didn't even know that. Apparently the drummer for Alabama, we're his favorite band. I find out these really weird things. dcTalk has us listed on some web site as one of their favorite bands.
Taylor; Kentucky Headhunters, like, when they go out on tour, they listen to the Lost Dogs the whole time.
Roe: Yeah, but they're not, they're not...
Taylor: I mean, that's no big thing, but...
Roe: They're like at our level. . .
Taylor: I'm trying to drop some names. I'm trying to come up with some, you know, names.
Michaels: Bachman Turner Overdrive. . .
Roe: Ah, yeah.
Taylor: 1910 Fruitgum Company
Roe: William F. Burroughs thought I was the greatest literary voice of the twentieth century, but he's dead now, so I can't prove that to anybody.
Press: For Terry, or even Dan. How will Tim Chandler's move to Nashville effect DA and The Choir?
Taylor: Well, I've had conversation with Tim, and Tim is family. There's just no way that he's ever going to be replaced. It was unfortunate that his move coincided with this summer stuff, so, ah, you know, I mean, Tim is part of the band. He always will be.
Press: So there'll still be future recordings [with Chandler]?
Taylor: Oh, absolutely! Absolutely. Ah, Luis Garcia from Plankeye has graciously stepped in, and he's doing a great job, he's really ... and he's a great guy. But there's you know, only one Tim Chandler and, you know, that's . . .
Roe: Tim Chandler was the official bass player for the new Lost Dogs album.
Taylor: Oh, did he? That's right.
Roe: Which I was really pleased about, because I always try to fight to get him on the records. It doesn't always work out. He ended up playing the whole album.
Taylor: Yeah, I just happen to think he's probably the greatest bass player on the earth, so there's no way we're going to tell him, you know, oh, now that you've moved to Nashville, we can't work it out.
Michaels: It's just kind of ironic that his move kind of coincided with the festivals. He basically started a brand new job three weeks ago and he wasn't able to take off the entire week and stuff, starting a new job.
Press: Can you talk about Frederick Buechner?
Taylor: Ah, just a guy that I've enjoyed down through the years, he's been inspiring to me. I just think he's a great ... some people refer to him as the American C.S. Lewis. He's sort of a guy in a strange place in terms of his writing. He is sort of too spiritual for the world, and not, I don't know what, cliché-ridden enough for Christian world. But he's just a guy that I've loved through the years. A very close friend of mine has had a lot of correspondence with him. As a matter of fact, we were able to send him lyrics to the record we just did, and if you ... inside of the CD, if you take the CD off, there's a little quote from him saying, "I enjoyed my ‘Dream.'" So that was a real compliment to us. He's one of the few writers that spiritually can reduce me to tears. He just has that gift.
Anybody else? Thank you. Good night.
Roe: [blows in the mike] ...is thing on? [taps repeatedly]
Press: Can you give us a date on the Lost Dogs record?
Taylor: I don't give dates.
Roe: It's the object of much controversy at the moment.
Taylor: I don't go out on dates.
Roe: There is a discussion about finishing it. It's actually finished, but not mixed.
Roe: We need to discuss this.
Taylor: We'll probably get it mixed by the end of the month and then we'll see what happens.
Press: You mentioned a couple of years ago about the Armor Dillos. Any chance that that might re-surface?
Taylor: What is that? Oh, is that ... oh that was sort of along the Sprinklerheads? Did you guys catch that last night? Somebody was playing the Sprinklerhead's song. ... Awwhhh, the Armor Dillos.
Roe: Like the Farm Beatles? Is that another one of your...
Taylor: Yeah, it's another one of those schticks. Sure, why not. I'll do a Arma, Arma, Armor Dillo record.
Roe: You have so many vague concepts that don't come to fruition and then they, you know... What starts as a gesture...
Taylor: No, the problem is, they ALL come to fruition.
Roe: Yeah, but only because of people like this that want them to be.
Taylor: Yes, of course!
Roe: The sad thing about you, Terry, is that what begins as a gesture often hardens into a posture.
[general laughter and puzzled looks circulate the press tent]
Roe: Isn't that neat? I just now made that up.
Taylor: Yeah, I could tell...
Roe: I hope I get credit for that.
Michaels: You're weird.
Taylor: You sure are.
Roe: Is that the best you can...? That's like that clown joke...
...All right, next. Not everyone at once now.
Press: I have a question for Terry. There's talk in the news of the State of North Dakota changing the name of their state to simply Dakota because it's better for tourists, or something like that...
Press: ...And if so, there might be the possibility of changing the abbreviation to "DA."
Taylor: Are you suggesting we move there?
Press: No I'm just wondering if there is any litigation planned?
[panel breaks up]
Roe: That is the best question today,
Taylor: That's the best question. Quite possibly.
Michaels: You'd probably make more money off the lawsuit than your entire career.
Roe: That's total veneration of my statement about a gesture becoming a posture. DA was gesture, a posture would be the state.
Taylor: Let's just get off this track.
Michaels: It's beautiful, though!
Taylor: You're going to ride the wave all the way.
Roe: All the way! I have to redeem it.
Press: I've heard before that there were tracks recorded for Green Room Part 2. Are we ever going to hear them? I know there are some on compilations, but what about the rest?
Roe: The band is divided on this. Because we ... there really isn't ... I haven't been through the tapes. I heard that you (looking at Taylor) went through the tapes and what we found was ... "Elvis and Priscilla," that song, which he, foolishly, released before the band had a chance to get their hands on it. But we'll re-do it again, finish that original track.
There is some stuff where Gene [Eugene, deceased] is kind of mumbling some things, and then, he's got some choruses going, a country song that I wrote that was abortive. How many songs would you say there are on those tapes?
Twelve? Nine? Half a dozen?
Taylor: No, no. It's probably five or six.
Roe: Oh, there's more than that.
Roe: Only about half a dozen.
Taylor: I think so.
Roe: So's there's half ... okay, what it is ... the songs that weren't finished. ...You know, it was a grand concept that we were ambitious about at the time, but what we were thinking was two things. One is, we'll do a box set, since all the stuff is kind of out of print, we'll do a box set and we'll find and finish all those songs. Or, the least likely thing that would happen would be in the far distant future actually go back and see if we could get to that mind set which, I think now that Gene is gone is probably not likely we would. Because we would have needed his ... you tend to move forward, rather than backward.
Taylor: Yeah, and I think part of it was that we kind of felt uncomfortable with being locked into something we had already, you know ... the kind of lyrical style or approach to production or whatever, that we had at the time that we did Green Room [Serenade]... And so we just kind of wanted the liberty of a clean slate, and starting with new ideas and taking the band into a specific direction, which I think Gift Horse sort of defined the band a little bit better.
Roe: And the new album is a million times better than anything that would have or could have been. I think our greatest error was announcing that there was, ...promising... We made a promise that we didn't fulfill and I think that that's...
Taylor: Yeah. And to tell you the truth, the fans really get hung up on things like that. "...Gotta have whatever this thing is..."
Roe: I'm still waiting for the Beach Boys to put out the official Smile album which, of course, could never occur because Brian Wilson is no longer 22 years old. He's almost 60. And it's like, I'd like to hear the sessions, but it's unreasonable to expect an elderly man can become a young man and re-find whatever...
We had a good time in 1996. We toured, we made that record, and at the time we were making it, we thought, yeah, well, there's so much material, let's do a double album. Let's do it in two sections. Now it's something where every time either one of us appear publicly around people that like what we do, it's a question that we'll probably take... we'll be answering until we're in a wheelchair.
...It's sad because I like that song I wrote for it.
Taylor: Ah, I didn't...
Press: Do you have any kind of preview to give us as to what style the new Lost Dogs' album is?
Roe: The material is very similar to Gift Horse, songwriting-wise, I believe, although it's probably got a wider range. But the approach to the production is funkier, earthier, simpler, cruder. Whereas Gift Horse sounds to my ears like, ... we intended it to be more like what the new record is like, but in the end, we put it on, and it gets up and dances. It sounds like a record, like a real production. Whereas this new one, maybe after it's mixed it'll end up sounding as cool as that, but I think this is going. . . we had Frank Lentz which was a departure. His approach was very tin can/garbage can kind of approach to the drum set. We used to use Burliegh Drummond [on drums], he's a studio guy, and he's great, very polished. Frank played almost like, as if, someone who ... he's a very skilled drummer, but he played it oftentimes like someone who just learned in the last year. Not that he played badly, but he approached the kit in a kind of a way that's a little bit more, ...it's just funkier.
[Looking at Taylor] Do you think that gets it?...
Taylor: Yeah. I think that's right. And you know, this is a real important record to us. Because its basically the three of us coming together for the first time and doing this thing. It was really more that the material was strong; we honor Gene [Eugene] in it. And also, admittedly we have something to prove in a way. This is sort of the new band now. I was extremely blown away by Mike's performances on the record and Derri [Daugherty]. I'm really, really excited about the record. I think it's one of the best things we've ever done.
Press: Were you all involved in the song writing for the record?
Roe: It started that way, where, we were going to say, "Okay, no more of Terry writing all the songs," but sure enough, he walked in with, how many? 16 brilliant songs.
Taylor: And of course, I don't, ...It sounds like I'm coming in and going, "These are the songs we're going to do." It doesn't work that way... I'm a very humble person...
Roe: Terry basically has a work ethic and Derri and I, a loafer's ethic.
Taylor: That's the difference. I actually enjoy writing songs.
Roe: I will say this. I made myself write the first song I've written by myself since, what? Six years. This is the first song I actually wrote by myself, music and words, in six years. I was going to write more, but I didn't. And Derri, I think, pretended to have a new song. Maybe he actually did? Didn't he do track?
Taylor: He did a new song. He brought a song in and he, I don't know, I don't want to start another thing where they're saying, "When are you going to release that song?" But he kind of wasn't happy with it.
Roe: But didn't it turn out that he admitted that someone else wrote it?
Taylor: Well, he wrote it with,...
Taylor: Phil Madiera.
Roe: Oh, okay. Yeah, in the end, so,... but I have to say this, and its embarrassing, but Terry blew us away. The songs he brought in were just so focused. And they're all over the map stylistically. It's not like it's one thing where you can pin it, "this is a Terry song." [sighs] The older I get, the more I consider myself an interpreter of songs. Which means I don't really have the ambitions I had when I was really young to be a great songwriter; I have to write all my own songs. Although I should write more. I get as much out of embodying someone else's great song as I do writing my own. To me, a song is a vehicle of expression. The only difference between me singing his song and me singing my own is that he gets the publishing money. Financially, he's better off for it.
Taylor: Oh, yeah, I'm just,...
Roe: Yeah, he's floating in the bucks, you can just see. But I get as much, ...I put myself as much into his songs as I do my own, sometimes more so, depending on the tune, because a great song is something you can live inside of, if you are a singer and you are a performer. There are people who want to complain about this because they feel like we are slacking off or we're letting Terry take over, and that's just not the case. He brings in the stuff and I just say, "what's the point? Why should I go in my bedroom tonight and beat myself to write something that will be a tenth as good as that?"...
Taylor: Although, Mike wrote a great song for this record. He's right about, when I'm writing for the [Lost] Dogs, because I've had a habit of doing it down through the years, in a way I'm sort of going, this is a Mike song. I've sort of taken on that role; this would be great for Mike to sing. Or this would be great for Derri, or whatever. So I'm happy to do it. And he's right about it. It's a supreme compliment to me that when I bring these songs, these guys are saying, "This is great stuff." And when I hear them really, with passion, getting into the song. ...Like he doesn't just walk in, walk up to the vocal mike and start singing. As a matter of fact, there were a few times he said, "I'll do this now, but I really need to think about it, sort of sing it to myself." We came back a few months later and he did a vocal on one of the songs he just felt like he wasn't ready to do earlier. And I appreciate that kind of thing. That it's not just thrown out there, here it is, okay here's my voice. He knows what the song is saying, he understands it. Derri understands it, and there's passion in the performances. That's a supreme compliment to me as a songwriter, and I appreciate it. I think most people just get a little too hung up on who's writing what. I think if you didn't know who wrote the songs, you'd think, Derri probably wrote that one, oh, Mike probably wrote that one. So it's really a secondary consideration, I think.
Roe: Well, the only thing, the only reason you would know I wrote my song is because there is a dirty word in it and there's no redeeming spiritual quality to it.
Taylor: That's true.
Roe: So it will stand out if for no other reason than that.
Press: What's the word?
Roe: We can't... We don't want to ruin sales.
Taylor: It's so horrible that I can't even ... I can't even think about it. ...Stumbling right now, thinking about it.
Press: Then there will be a radio edit of that song?
Roe: I don't think it's going to be a single... I wrote it for Merle Haggard. He might get a single on it. Phil [Madeira] likes the song a lot, but then that's ... let's get off this trend.
Press: What do you have in your CD player right now?
Roe: The ocean.
Roe: Well, yeah. It''s like my nerves are shot.
Taylor: [laughs] I think O, Brother, Where Art Thou? is the last thing...
Roe: Yeah! That kind of stuff I'm listening to that, too. There's an album that's a companion to that by John Hartford, who just recently passed away, with David Grisman and Mike Seeger. It's a bluegrass album where these three guys got together, and did, very much like a Lost Dogs record. They all went to David Grisman's house in northern California, sort of near where I'm from, and he has a whole closet full of vintage instruments and they just pulled out their favorite bluegrass songs, rock ‘n' roll songs, and other obscure folk songs and they did like seventeen songs in a week using these instruments and their voices. Normally, I would think, "well, I'd like to hear that, I'll just put it on and ignore it." ... I've not been able to stop listening to it for like two weeks straight. I''ll just play it non-stop. It's funny, you can tell that they had a good time doing it.
I'm just getting more and more into these real basic American forms that are not rock ‘n' roll, that are not pop, but going back to the more rootsier forms and the simpler, older songs and just discovering these great, classic songs and the simple way of performing them where you just get inside of the song and bring some sort of novel approach to an old chestnut. Maybe that's just me getting older, but it's just meaning more to me emotionally than the latest superstars spew. I can't see plunking down nineteen or twenty dollars for some guy who's been doing this for two years and I'm going to hear the single and then turn it off.
Taylor: The other thing I've been listening to, I'm going to do a plug, is the new Starflyer record Leave Here a Stranger, which I produced, and I think it's pretty great.
Roe: You know, I have yet to do this today.
Taylor: What, plug?
Roe: Plug my own stuff.
Taylor: And of course, my own record I play endlessly. I never stop listening.
Roe: That's because you can't remember all the songs [laughs].
Taylor: Well, that's true! But nevertheless, I'm enjoying it. ...That's Mr. Buechner's Dream.
Roe: Hey, you need to tell them the story that you told us about that album. When I first heard he was doing this thirty-five song double CD, and I thought it was pompous and ostentatious, and then I thought, wait a minute! There's other practical problems for a project like this. How do you keep track of that many songs on master tapes? Tell them about how you ... it got weird once, where, something like... you actually thought you recorded one song twice? [laughs]
Taylor: Yeah. Yeah, it got so weird that I thought I recorded ... we were recording, we were all in the middle of the song, we kind of looked at each other, and we were thinking, didn't we already record this? It was nuts. I had ten tapes I was referring to, and notes. . . I actually had a vocal session, because I was there by myself doing vocals, a lot of time, and I was there for sixteen hours, sitting in a chair, doing vocals.
Roe: Awhhh. That had to be brutal.
Taylor: Oh, it was brutal. And it was obsessive. Because I wouldn't even get up to like, get something do drink. But I had...
Roe: Why did you do that?
Taylor: And I had to tell myself to stop. I don't know. Because I knew that we had this thirty-three song thing, and I thought, I've got to go for it. And I felt good. I felt like I can get this done. But it was just one of these things. . .
Roe: Did you keep any of them? Like, in the end, you were going, "That's good." "That's cool."
Taylor: Yeah, yeah I did. No, there were a few... when it got to around three, four, in the morning, and I came back the following evening, there were some ragged things there I kind of had to replace...
Taylor: That's Mr. Buechner's Dream, available here at...
Roe: Out now.
Press: Please tell us the story of how the new 77s album, A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows got its name.
Roe: Yes. It's a great story.
Taylor: I doubt that...
Roe: Well, shut up, Terry!
In 1978 or 1979, the guy who was helping us get our band started, Steve Scott, a lot of people here at Cornerstone know him for his lectures, poetry and whatnot. Well, when we first started our group, we weren't really a serious artistic band. We were just an outreach of our local church and we were playing at high schools, things like that. Steve was writing a lot of our material at the time. One of the first songs he brought in was "A Different Kind of Life." He had just recorded the song with Larry Norman for an album that Larry has yet to release. It's called Moving Pictures and John Lynd played lead guitar on this album. He has now passed away, but John was really the hot guitarist of the day. They were looking for a sound on "A Different Kind of Life" for the lead guitar. Something that would really be abrasive and obnoxious and would have kind of a burning quality to it. And eventually John came up with a big chord. He just struck this big open chord that went [Roe demonstrates vocally, chchchkkkkkk] like that. To get it even more obnoxious and more powerful, they sped up the tape recorder when he played it [the chord] so when you played it back at normal speed, it was more like a [Roe demonstrates vocally again] something like the sound of a short wave radio being jammed. Steve Scott, upon hearing this sound, this just intensely distorted, obnoxious sound, he just sat there, Steve waxes poetic twenty-four hours a day, and he said, "Yeah, it's like ... it sounds like a golden field of radioactive crows." This was one of the anecdotes that came back from these sessions and it stayed with me, for a long time.
Every time you go to name an album, you are thinking about titles, most of them are really stupid. The first title we were going after came from a friend of mine who is into natural foods. I said, "why are you into natural foods?" He replied, ""I thought, what would it be like if I was sitting in my house and it was three or four thousand years ago, what would Adam eat? He wouldn't go and kill a squirrel and rip its head off and eat it, he would probably pick berries, or something like that." So I thought, "What Would Adam Eat?" that's a great title. But we decided to drop it. Then I thought, "A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows." Somehow it came up again. And all the guys are going, "That's too long. People are going to think of Counting Crows and Sheryl Crow." And I said, "yes, but just think about how many people are going to trip on that image and what we can do with it visually." Somehow, they couldn't talk me out of it, and I got an idea through. It stuck.
[hip hop artist MG! the Visionary begins his afternoon set next door inside the encore one stage, loudly] . . .
Roe: Yeah, Milli Vanilli is a major influence on our band. Anyway, did I answer the question? Yeah, that's about all I have to say.
Press: Tell us about 77s, Lost Dogs and Daniel Amos playing Creation Festival last week.
Roe: Playing the festival was fine. We would have liked more people there. It was a bit daunting to play on a stage that you see there's room for 40,000 and there's only like, maybe 150 people there. We all had really good sets, it was fine. We didn't like the festival, though.Pennsylvania is really weird. People made up lies and things.
Taylor: No, I love Pennsylvania.
Roe: I love...
Taylor: I love it because Daniel Amos really has a following in Pennsylvania.
Roe: Now, wait a minute! So do we, and I love how the state looks, and I love the Amish.
Taylor: I think there were a few...
Roe: I love Lancaster,
Taylor: Oh, yeah. Lancaster.
Roe: But we were in a Twilight Zone. Where they have Creation, there's a Twilight Zone kind of warp. And all the townspeople are in on this big cosmic joke. I think they resent the festival somehow, so they make up stories about hotels that don't exist, and they point you in...
Taylor: ...Give you wrong directions.
Roe: Wrong directions. And I think they find it kind of amusing. It's their way of entertaining themselves.
Press: I'm from Pennsylvania!
Roe: Do you understand this phenomena? Maybe we can discuss it later and you can explain what the motive would be behind such a thing.
Roe: We are doing Creation West. [Looks at Taylor] Are you doing that with us?
Taylor: Where is it?
Roe: It's in Washington.
Taylor: Oh at George Washington...
Roe: Yeah, George Washington. And Kingdom Bound, there's one in Merrimac
Roe: Yeah, Boston. I don't
know what it's called. Yeah, we're doing a lot
[MG! the Visionary begins his first song, an improvisation on Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me," very, very loudly.]
Roe: I have a feeling that this is probably officially over, unless there is just something that someone just absolutely has to know, we probably should stop. Any last question?
Press: Is your blues project on hold? What is its current status?
Roe: Phil [Madiera] and I talk about it occasionally. We actually got together in Nashville where we talked about getting together to record, and the hard edged line became kind of a vague curve. We're gathering ideas for it and at some point this year, we'll probably go into the studio and do it. It's a fun thing. I don't think it will come at the exact moment that everyone thinks. But when you least expect it, like the return of Christ. When you least expect it... Like how God answers prayer at the very last minute. He waits until you are just almost over the edge, and then he's there. It'll be that kind of a record.
Press: [the freestyling sounds of MG! the Visionary have jammed all frequencies now]
Press: Will Daniel Amos be touring to support the record?
Taylor: [over the loud neighbors] Yeah, we're talking about the fall, doing a tour. ...Mr. Buechner's Dream, now available.
Roe: Out now.
Thank you very much.