Pray For The Soul Of Rock 'N' Roll: An Interview With C.R. Taylor
Bassist/Songwriter For The Hard Rock Band 'Pray For The Soul Of Betty'
Artist: Pray For The Soul Of Betty
Genre: Hard Rock
Label: Baby Julius Productions
Download: ďSome of My ****** Up WorldĒ
Photos: Photos by Joanne Schulter, Live Photo by Rob Johnson
C.R. Taylor is the bassist and a large part of the creative force behind New York hard rock band Pray For The Soul Of Betty. The proud parents of a killer debut CD and a largely sold-out tour, these guys have certainly shown that some good music and a lot of hard work can take you a long way. While the name may not be familiar to most, there's no denying Betty's fast-growing popularity and, as Taylor tells it, there's nowhere to go but straight up!
[Janice French] When did you first fall in love with music?
C.R. Taylor When I was one? My oldest memories include music in them, so I think I always really loved it.
[Janice French] Do you write all the lyrics for Betty?
C.R. Taylor I donít write all the lyrics for Betty, but I have had some hand in all of them except "Suicide."
[Janice French] What about "Renwick St.?"
C.R. Taylor "Renwick St." I wrote by myself.
[Janice French] Iíve read your lyrics and they're outstanding. What kind of education do you have in music and writing?
C.R. Taylor I guess I have a street education. I did take music classes in college. I took a Jazz class, a Theory class and Classical Music. But I really wouldnít attribute my writing to them. I think everything kind of co-mingles. I think writing is something that most writers have to do rather than aim to do.
Most of the songs that ended up hanging around were written in a moment of inspiration. They just come to you, they just come out of your fingers or they just come out of your head and there they are. There are hundreds of songs I write that nobody hears. But the ones that wind up being good usually get written that way.
[Janice French] I think everybody would like to hear more of those songs.
C.R. Taylor I think there will be more. I donít think I am ever going to stop writing. It's just something that comes out of me, and I have a certain amount of pride in it. Especially after sharing music for the years that I have publicly, it's very fulfilling and Iíll be doing it for a long time to come.
[Janice French] There is a streetwise edge to your music. How is this a reflection of your own life?
C.R. Taylor I think most people who have met me think I am a pretty friendly kind of character, and I think that a lot of the music comes from the other side of that. Everyone has a degree of a dark side to them, whether it's anger or frustration. A lot of the hardest stuff that we have comes from me subconsciously releasing that kind of energy. That has also been the music that I have been most attracted to as a fan.
The stuff Iíve liked to listen to the most tended to be on the darker side. Whether it Janeís Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, Mar Volta or something like that. Or even the early versions Howliní Wolf, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters, all the blues guys that really allowed that side of music to flourish. That music didnít need to be this happy go lucky type of thing.
[Janice French] I love the bluesy edge to your music.
C.R. Taylor I am a huge fan of the blues. I listen to it regularly and there is a ton of it out there that I am just getting to. I just love blues; itís a very natural style of music. Actually, blues progression allows for the most melody of any other progression that exists.
[Janice French] When Betty wrote its first song and actually performed it, what was the experience like? Did you know you had something then?
C.R. Taylor The first time we got together, which was me, Joao and Hamboussi, we came up with a couple of the riffs for "Cut The Cord," "Drift" and "F***** Up World." I knew there was something right away because Joao and I connected and fed off each other really naturally. Then Constantine came along a little bit later. We knew he definitely had the performing bug in him and that he would flourish, whatever stage we put him on. Our first gig was at Don Hill's in New York City, and we went out there not even knowing the songs that well. A lot of the lyrics were undecided and he was just making them up as he went, but we didnít really care that much. We just wanted to start, to get out there.
It has always been my experience that bands grow the most through playing out, so I encouraged the band to do that as soon as possible. I think it paid off, because as we got things together we did have our live legs and a lot of the songs developed live. You can just tell by the reaction to certain parts and certain things that theyíre working.
[Janice French] You were recently on the road with Pray For The Soul Of Betty. What was it like to be on the high road with your band?
C.R. Taylor We had been on the road ghetto-style early in the band, and this was certainly a little more accommodating. We had our beautiful bus to travel around in. That made it easier on all of us even though we had to do all those (television) morning shows and stuff like that, and sleep was definitely at a premium. It enabled us to have a certain level of comfort. That made it really easy compared to the old days. Everybody got along really well. It was great from beginning to end. There was so much support along the way, and our crew was just amazing and it made it easy. The shows from the first to the last were fantastic.
Constantine Maroulis (vocals), Joao Joya (guitar), C.R. Taylor (bass) Hamboussi (drums)
[Janice French] What was your favorite night on the tour?
C.R. Taylor There were so many really good ones. Chicago was a great night and I felt the show was fantastic, and I had some old friends around me. Every night was really good and there werenít any down nights. The first show was interesting because it was the first show and it was great for us to be out there and playing again. The Roxy was fantastic and we had Bo up there. Anaheim was a great show, and I had some of my family there and some of Bettyís family was there, which was special. All the shows were really great.
[Janice French] You introduced three new songs, "Renwick St.," "To My Unborn Son" and "Three Cheers For The Unknown Solider" Is that the title of it?
C.R. Taylor We were just calling it "Solider," but I think that song is a work in progress. I think the final recorded version of that will be a little bit different than the way that we performed it. We were just calling it "Solider" for now, but who knows - it could wind up with a totally different name.
[Janice French] So is there a new CD in the works?
C.R. Taylor Well, the music is there and there is more where that came from, although I donít know when that will actually happen, it's bound to eventually happen.
[Janice French] You and the guys seem pretty tight. How has Constantineís recent rise to fame affected the band?
C.R. Taylor I think not at all to tell the truth. I think the dynamics have stayed exactly the same as it was before. And, to his credit, he has basically stayed the same as he was before, as well.
[Janice French] He has a lot to balance on his plate.
C.R. Taylor Yea, and it's quite a trick and it's really commendable. The amount of time we spent before that ... all four of us packed in one hotel room or driving twelve hours to Chicago. All those experiences tend to bond you in a way that is somewhat hard to change. We have a good dynamic. There are a lot of different relationships going on within that four-person entirety. Itís a special thing.
It's very difficult to maintain a four-person relationship. Imagine how hard it is to have your two-person relationship, so expand that by three times, even exponentially. It's like having twenty-four relationships at once. It's difficult to manage sometimes. But on this tour and from the beginning, thatís one of the main reasons I decided to get involved with the project, and why we brought Constantine into the project was the cool factor - the ability to roll with the punches and adjust and communicate, and all the things that a real relationship takes to flourish.
[Janice French] You have a large group of fans. What was it like to meet them on the road?
C.R. Taylor It was fantastic. I think our fans are the best fans in the world. We all value them a lot, and why we did a lot of things that I donít think any other band does as far as the meet and greet and the signings. Hopefully, they felt some of the reciprocation of our appreciation for them just like they appreciate us.
It was great; we got a lot of nice little things along the way and sent to us afterwards. Our fans are very giving and dedicated. We have done this unconventionally from the start. Even the way the shows were put on film and stuff like that. It's been a Ďready set goí kind of a thing, and our fans just kind of adjust and roll with the punches and just kind of keep it positive the whole time, which is exactly what we try to do.
[Janice French] While Constantine works on other projects, it was mentioned that the rest of the band has projects to work on also. What are you up to?
C.R. Taylor Baby Julius is one of the main things Iím going to be spending time with, and weíre looking to eventually be taking on new artists. There is one artist in particular that we are already courting. Musically, I havenít stopped writing, so depending on timing there is definitely a chance we could see another project for me musically in the not to distant future.
[Janice French] I saw that your old band, Clyde, has a new MySpace page and both Hamboussi and you are on it.
C.R. Taylor Yea! I donít know where that came from. I think it's fantastic because I think that was a great band, so Iím glad people are getting to hear that music. I had a large part in that project and the music that you hear there. People who know a lot of the songs that I influenced on our stuff probably can guess the songs that are Taylor derivatives. Me and Hamboussi had a great time in that band. It was a great band and great guys and Iím still in touch with them. Iíve been letting them know what has been going on, and they are super excited about it.
[Janice French] Itís been the talk of the Internet.
C.R. Taylor Yea, I think it's great. A couple of people in the office got wind of it and wanted to hear it, and I actually had the album. That band made three albums, an EP and a full length (when) we were named Junk Man, but we had to get rid of that name because it was already protected by somebody, and so we changed the name to Clyde and did a full length album under that name. Iíve been listening to it recently because of what has going on. I am very proud of that project, also.
[Janice French] How does your band plan to deal with not having a vocalist to practice with? Are you going to be jamming in California with Constantine?
C.R. Taylor It depends. I think (because of) his situation with his projects, it has yet to become fully clear what his scheduling is going to be like. Once he does find out what thatís going to be like, weíll go from there. Itís been already a year and a half of constant adjustments and figuring out how to squeak in what we have managed to squeak in, and I think that will continue and hopefully weíll manage to squeak some more stuff in.
[Janice French] Iím looking forward to seeing you on the stage again and your band.
C.R. Taylor I'm looking forward to being on the stage again. Thank you.
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