Ben Taylor talks songwriting, "Listening"
Most children don't realize the effects their parents have on them until much later in life. However, Ben Taylor, the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, learned how to "contemplate songs on a pretty sophisticated level in a very early age."
"However, I didn't realize that everybody didn't have parents who [sang]," Taylor told SoundSpike. "It took me a while to realize that."
He reinforced this thought during tours with his parents.
"It's amazing to be able to play music with my parents," Taylor said. "It's like an added depth of personal dimension on top of the normal parent-son relationship. As adults we're very good friends, my parents and I. But also we have a depth of knowledge and understanding of each other's catalog musically, which allows us far deeper insights into each other's personalities and so forth."
What he learned as the son of Taylor and Simon has benefited him as an adult. His most recent release, "Listening," will be released Aug. 14 on Sun Pedal Recordings/ILG.
"I love being in the swing of an album cycle," Taylor said. "It makes things a lot more action packed, where I'm coming from.
"I think the cycle of a performing recording artist, you have to take a really intense down time in order to balance out the sort of frenzied momentum you collect when you're playing six shows a week and sleeping on a bus every night. It really does need to be the case. It kind of works perfectly because the studio's very, very slow paced. It's almost geological time where the windows are darkened over and you don't know what time of day it is. It's the perfect anecdote for the relentless momentum of nomadic musicianship."
Taylor calls "Listening" a combination of songs, some of which have been around since the last album he wrote, 2008's "The Legend Of Kung Folk -- [Part 1 (the Killing Bite)]."
"They didn't make it on there," he said about "The Legend of Kung Folk." "Some of them had been written the week that we recorded them in the studio. It's taken me a long time to finish and release another album. It's been about four years since my release. I've been quite busy but mostly just swirling around in my own little vortex of music and thought."
Speaking of which, Taylor writes songs whenever an idea "tears its way out of me musically." He doesn't write songs that don't have to be written, he said.
"I think when I was young, I would just try to write a song out of anything," he continued. "Everything has a song or it's possible to write a song out of anything. But it's different. There are some songs that really, really want to be written. Those are the ones that you can't express with any other language other than music. Those songs I find they write themselves more resolutely and I have less trouble distracting myself while they're being written. I don't rush songs. I wait until something's obvious and then I make it music."
In other words, he doesn't waste time writing uninteresting songs.
"In order to make my fans understand my song and have a narrative that they attach to it, I want to be able to tell them when I perform it on stage why it is important to me and why it should be important to them," he said. "I want to be able to explain it. That's the heart of it. You want to attach something of importance to it so you want to write from your own experience. You always want to write the truth, ideally."
Taylor is in the midst of a U.S. tour, which will wrap up July 18. He is soon expected to announce a fall jaunt.
"I'm playing with a four-piece band right now," said Taylor, 35. Depending on the venue, I'll probably do some songs solo acoustic or two-man acoustic. Depending on the venue, we've got the dynamic range of a four-piece band.
"I think that the importance of being able to get loud on stage is really balanced by the importance of being able to get quiet on stage. I think you're able to be sometimes distinctly more powerful with a whisper than you are with a shout."
12 - Norfolk, CT - Infinity Hall
13 - White River Junction, VT - Tupelo Music Hall
14 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall
17 - Portland, ME - Port City Music Hall
18 - Londonderry, NH - Tupelo Music Hall