Sounds like your other two records, Blue-Sky Research and Our Long Road Home, were not properly publicized.
SR: Oh yeah, absolutely. It was a pretty pivotal time in the record industry—like Atlantic and a couple of the other big ones were merging. There were a lot of artists being dropped and it was kind of changing and that’s why I think Atlantic didn’t do a good job promoting it at all. It’s a bummer because it was a pretty good album too; Billy Corgan [Smashing Pumpkins] helped write some of the material, too. Our last record, Our Long Road Home, was kind of an independent release and without the connection and the powerful pull that labels have, that just kind of faded to the wayside.
Now I just want to ask you something incriminating. What’s been your most embarrassing moment onstage?
SR: I’ve had plenty, plenty. We were somewhere in Atlanta and with my wireless mic, I always run around the building and I climbed up on the balcony and I thought I was jumping on the wood platform, but it turned out to be a wood finished piece of cardboard.
So I was about 30 ft in the air and I thought I was going to drop down about 5 feet, so I fell 30 feet to ground. It was humiliating, because I had to finish the song. If you ask me a plead the fifth-worthy question, it would have to be something sexual, and you don’t have to worry about that with me, or bodily fluids like pooping on the road.
Let’s leave the bodily fluids alone, so what do you think the record says in terms of a statement for the band?
SR: We are by no means old farts at all and we are by no means young antsy teenage kids. At the end of the day, we just made a record that is who we are, a heavy rockin’ band, I guess the word that I would use would be staple. The staple that is Taproot.
PL: To me, this album is culmination of all them, at the same time, completely different from everything we’ve ever done. It’s heavy, but not like our other albums, it’s something we might have touched on very briefly. With every album, we always have something new, but there is an energy that I don’t think we’ve had since our first album really. We had a very short amount of time to do this record; Victory wanted it out before the summer, so we could tour in the summer. We worked on it really hard and really fast, and I think you feel that, some of the frustration we were feeling as well as the excitement. We actually had the single out before the record was done; it was an interesting process. We didn’t have the master copy of the album done since probably a week before the album came out.
You must be excited about touring again.
SR: Oh yeah, it’s starting two weeks before the record comes out, so we don’t want to play too many new songs that nobody knows yet. Yeah, but getting out and playing for the people is what we’re good at.
PL: I love touring. I dig home, but I don’t miss home. I am happy being on the road, and feeling like we’re accomplishing something. We are still waiting for the second half of the tour to come in, but the first half is all booked and ready. We are taking out Divide The Day and Destrophy.
What has sustained Taproot over the span of five records?
PL: The friendship, the love of music, the not wanting to do anything else. Even when times are tough, it’s still better than a nine-to-five in a factory somewhere. This is pretty much the only thing we know how to do, so we are going to do it pretty much regardless. It does cross our minds, ‘What are we going to do if this doesn’t work out?’ But luckily, we always keep our heads above water, and none of us have worked a single day other than the band since 2000. That’s my main goal. I don’t care if we get huge or famous; I just don’t want to ever get a job.
SR: Honestly, ever since I was a little kid, it was always hockey and music and I am just naturally good at both. I think a little more so on the music. Ever since I was a little kid, that’s always what I wanted to do, either be a rock star or a hockey player. By no means do I consider myself a rock star, I know that I’m not. But to be able to live a life that might be considered crazy or not normal—just that it can work out as long as you set your mind to it, and follow your dreams. That’s what I love, hockey and music, so to be able to do one for a living means the world.
Have you ever had a situation where your hobby interfered with your livelihood?
SR: I actually have, over the summer I took a skate to the chin and I basically dislocated my jaw and the blade cut my chin wide open. It cut my jugular and luckily it didn’t get down to a bad level, but I had to go to the ER and all that kind of hell. I got TMJ and my jaw gets real stiff. I’ve actually had a lot more injuries on the road (laughing) then I’ve had playing hockey.
On a more upbeat note, your videos are super interesting since you weave the band into the storyline. They’re not just pure performance or all acted out.
SR: I think a lot of our videos have the same look and feel. It obviously is part us and what the music seems to convey. It’s kind of a universal thing, because we never use the same director twice. This cool thing that I tried to incorporate was that we cast the guy and girl from the ‘Poem’ video. That third video, ‘Mine,’ with Shavo from System Of A Down, he directed that, but we cast the same guy and girl again, so we were thinking they should be the Taproot guy and girl. Like a mascot, so we used them in two videos in a row, but then the second video didn’t really get that much play.
I think it’s just that the songs convey that kind of attitude and look to the videos. Usually the treatments that you get for videos are just from this one poor dude who wrote this treatment and just gives it to everybody, everybody until someone uses it and then he writes another one. That type of imagery usually with a guy and a girl and a relationship ending, even if that’s not what the song is about, which a lot of times it is. It’s an understandable way to delve the energy of the song.
Taproot play the Studio @ Webster Hall in NYC on May 15 and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, May 16.