3 October, 2014Print
Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil Debut 'Goliath' Nov. 18
Nashville-Based Modern Rock Band Premieres a Car Chase-Fueled Video, "Only a Ride," From Tarantino-Approved Cult Director Brian Trenchard-Smith Oct. 3 on YahooMusic.com
New York, NY - Oct. 3, 2014 - Foiled again… or for the first time? That may be the question with Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil, a freshly founded quartet of Nashville-based rock figures. In the eyes of fans of the respective members' previous bands, this may even count as a quasi-supergroup; to the rest of the world, they'll seem like not-so-dewy-eyed newcomers whose seasoned muscularity must have miraculously developed overnight. Either way, it's a giant - yet lean! -sound they'll be debuting when Goliath arrives Nov. 18 via Splint Entertainment.
Preceding their 11-song collection, co-produced by Menomena’s Danny Seim, is a video for the single “Only a Ride,” premiering Oct. 3 on Yahoo Music. Befitting a lyric that deals in waivers and liability issues as a metaphor for the psychic perils of 21st century existence, the video finds Taylor and company carefully (or is it carelessly?) composited into safety-defying footage from the 1980 cult film Stunt Rock, directed by one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite filmmakers, Brian Trenchard-Smith. The band members assume no liability themselves for what brain injuries may occur while viewing “Only a Ride,” but musical crash helmets are strongly advised.
How did Goliath get here? Taylor boils the band's biography into a helpful nutshell:
“We've been a secret society controlling and manipulating all aspects of the entertainment world, and we're so drunk with power we've decided to go public,” says the group's frontman. Fair enough, but there are also some less Illuminati-like aspects of their origins story to illumine.
Taylor had a GRAMMY-nominated solo career in addition to a run with the band Chagall Guevara, of whom Rolling Stone's Parke Puterbaugh said: “Not since the Clash has a group so effectively turned militant discontent into passionate rock & roll and still maintained a sense of perspective and humor, however black.”
Not since the New Radicals did a band break up so quickly after one acclaimed album, but Taylor emerged from the embers of Chagall Guevara to move more to the production side of things and start his own label, Squint, which had a massive hit with Sixpence None the Richer's Taylor-produced “Kiss Me.” Disillusionment with the business side of the music industry pushed Taylor toward filmmaking, with two theatrical features to his credit, including Blue Like Jazz, the funding campaign for which helped put Kickstarter on the map. That project's success led Taylor to also use the same crowdsourcing site to raise money for Goliath, his return to music after years in the indie-film wilderness.
And his foils? Bassist and multi-instrumentalist MVP John Mark Painter may be remembered as half of the duo Fleming & John. Wild-man guitarist Jimmy Abegg was a member of the California-based Vector before a long extramusical sojourn as a visual artist in Nashville. Drummer Peter Furler was the founding lead singer of the Newsboys before splitting from that Australia-based band five years ago.
“Our secret weapon is that John Painter can freakin' play anything,” says Taylor of the group's bassist, who has worked as a studio musician on sessions for everyone from Kings of Leon and Yo La Tengo to Kelly Clarkson, on top of composing the score for the animated film Hoodwinked. “If you suddenly think that a weird horn section would sound good here, John grabs the bari sax and plays that, then grabs a tenor sax and plays that, and then plays an alto and a trombone.” Then the challenge became not to make the album so studio-eclectic that it would only sound grand in the studio. “We wanted to make an album that could be performed live without disappointing fans who heard scores of different sounds and then only saw four people on stage” - and which is in effect a power trio, since Taylor doesn't play - “so we limited the palette a little bit.”
But only a little. “You wouldn't necessarily get this from 'Only a Ride,' which is based around a standard blues riff, but Jimmy Abegg is really into Robert Fripp and can play these things that come right up to the edge of dissonant jazz. Between the four of us we’ve got a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of music and John has a massive album collection right in the control room of his studio. So we'll flip through it and be referencing a Sham 69 album from the early '80s British punk scene, or something from Coltrane or Miles Davis, or Gang of Four or Television.” Amid all that eclecticism, there's another element keeping everything grounded. “Peter tends to write the melodies,” Taylor says - and while in most cases it might not be wise to let the drummer assume that duty, Furler did have quite a track record in his former role as the Newsboys' band leader. “If you take a good melody, it's almost indestructible,” Taylor maintains, “and so you can deconstruct it and add different instrumentation and dissonance and noise and it's still a great melody, no matter what you do to it.”
That leads us to the video for “Only a Ride,” which features a lot of automobiles literally being deconstructed in a sort of visually orgiastic destruction derby. Although it might appear as if the footage comes from a lifetime of car-chase movies, in fact, it all comes from not just one film - the aforementioned Stunt Rock - but the very trailer for that low-budget cult classic. Of the director, Quentin Tarantino famously said, “If you don't like Brian Trenchard-Smith… get the f--- out of here.” The fellows in The Perfect Foil certainly like him, and got his permission to splice themselves into the vintage coming-attraction with help from their friend and visual effects wizard Seth Worley. As Taylor explains, “Similar to the Dark Side Of The Moon/Wizard of Oz phenomenon, we discovered that our lead-off track 'Only A Ride' perfectly synced to the trailer for Brian Trenchard-Smith's Stunt Rock trailer in a marriage that can only be described as God-ordained.”
Sometimes you're the fly, and sometimes you're Brian Trenchard-Smith's windshield. Sometimes you're the giant, and sometimes you're the little guy hurling rocks skyward. Which mindset best applies to the members of Steve Taylor & the Perfect Foil? Perhaps only the Nov. 18 release of Goliath will tell. Come that day, fans old and hopefully new should be echoing the words of Sam & Dave as they say: “Wrap it up - in perfect foil! - I'll take it.”
Click here for the Kickstarter clip starring Steve Taylor - kck.st/1sRF1AJ