By Pat Hill
Hi all. Very recently I had the opportunity to see the band in two performances, both very different in that one show featured the entire band, while the other showcased Chris Soucy and Sally Taylor's acoustic ensemble. Chris was gracious to offer his time to answer some of the Fans' Forum II questions directed to him. Thank you once again for all the questions fellow fans submitted. At least one more installment is expected with this interview, maybe more, so please feel free to check back at the web site for an update with additional interview coverage. So, here it goes, enjoy!
Q: [Each band member directly contributes to the success this band becomes. What do each of you do to ensure that you all continue to grow/create as professional musicians?]
CS: "Practice, practice, practice. I still try to practice almost every day. That may mean just running scales to keep in shape, or it may mean picking up a book on a style I don't really specialize in to try to broaden what I can do. I've also begun writing tunes for a solo album of my own. I hope to collaborate with many of the Sally Taylor Band regulars on the record, and I hope to record it this winter. If all goes well it will be available next summer. Maybe."
Q: [When the band was off the road and not working in the studio in December 2000, most of you didn't take a true "vacation" in terms of totally taking in the R&R. You were working during the break… What was everybody up to during his/her free time?]
CS: "We all work a lot of different gigs. I've gotten some calls over the last few winters to sub for a number of country bands in the Denver area (though I don't really consider myself a just country player, per se). I've also done some variety band gigs in the casinos here in Colorado. I've also played some studio sessions. I worked on a really fun record last winter with a local piano player/songwriter named David Cameron. There are just TONS of guitar tracks on that record. We went nuts - I used every guitar and amp I own on that record. It should be available soon, and I hope we'll be able to link to Sally's site when it is ready."
Q: [You were involved touring with the Shangri-La's band for a couple concert dates during the break, what was that like? Any experiences to share?]
CS: "Those were fun gigs. You remember their hits from the mid-60's, right? 'Leader of the Pack,' 'Remember Walking in the Sand,' 'Walk Right up to Him and Give Him a Great Big Kiss.' The Shangri-La's, like a lot of the so-called 'nostalgia' acts, travel pretty light - just the singers and a perhaps a musical director/piano player. They hire musicians in different states to read the charts and be the back-up band. That's what Kenny and I did for their Colorado dates last March. They were a nice bunch of folks, and it was really fun playing all those tunes I'd heard on the radio when I was growing up. They all had excellent New York accents, too!"
Q: [Looking at the band and how it's evolved since 1998, what are the challenges each band member has overcome to get the band where it is today?]
CS: "It hasn't really been a challenge. Sally's a great singer, a good friend, the band is terrific and everyone gets along really well. We have tons of fun on the road. Where's the challenge in that? We get better every tour, and as long a that continues to happen, we're obviously on the right track."
Q: [What are examples of songs that you, with your "old blues" and old country swing/western interests, been the most influential on?]
CS: "Since I've had a hand in writing some chord changes for a few tunes on 'Apt. #6S' and one tune on 'Shotgun,' those are direct contributions. As for other songs that we play, I think that 'twangy' electric guitar part on the band's live version of 'Memorial Day' is pretty 'classic-Soucy.' We didn't record the tune that way, but the acoustic strumming and National Steel guitar slide overdubs on the recorded version are right out of my handy bag of tricks, too. I also love playing the finger-style acoustic part on 'Disaster.' Sally often shows me the chord changes she has in mind and she's really open to having everyone interpret those things and add little pieces of their own personality. If I want to throw in some 9th or flatted 5ths, as long as they work with the melody, it's usually fine."
Q: [What would you say to a child that comes to your show and asks how he/she could be a musician one-day?]
CS: "I think it's really important for young musicians to do a little homework, learn the history of the music they love, understand where it comes from and why. I also think that you have to learn at least the basics of music theory. It's important to understand the language and mathematics of music and in order to be able to communicate with other musicians."
Q: [If you weren't playing music professionally, what would you be doing right now?]
CS: "Sitting on the deck, bird-watching and reading novels. (That IS what I'm doing right now!)"
Q: [Sally has said that the measure of a good show is how much fun you have while performing. How does everyone prepare for a show in his/her own way? What are everyone's particular habits/routines before a show?]
CS: "It seems like wherever we are, I need to use the bathroom about fifteen minutes before show-time. Really. Other than that, I like to relax and warm up playing some scales. We usually all hang out backstage, write out set lists and talk about any changes we need to make to any songs ('Hey, that tune sounded fast last night, lets slow it down a bit tonight,' or 'This is going to be a real listening crowd tonight so lets do more of the acoustic set.') That sort of stuff."
Q: [What is involved in putting a set list together? Who decides what songs are played? Is there a particular order to the songs and if so what is the rhyme/reasoning behind it?]
CS: "Sally puts the set list together, and the songs vary somewhat from night to night and depending on the venue. She'll hand us her list to make our copies from. Sometimes she'll ask if we should play a certain two songs right in a row, or sometimes someone will say, 'Hey, these two are in the same key. Should we move them around?' She comes up with the basic framework, and we make some suggestions sometimes, if we like. We also keep an eye on the crowd and have over time sort of figured out which tunes work best early in the set and which we should save till later."
Q: [What was it like to perform in front of large sports crowds compared to a TV audiences? (Such as at the Denver Nuggets professional basketball and Colorado Avalanche professional hockey playoff game.)]
CS: "Bottom line - they are all gigs and I try to be just as professional in the coffeehouse as I do in the bar or arena. In a smaller venue you can connect with the audience and have them 'in' on what's going on among the band members. We goof around on stage in smaller places more and Sally draws the audience into our running jokes and conversations. You can't do that in a much larger venue, but there's an energy that comes from playing in front of thousands that the band can feed off of, too. It's a different dynamic entirely, but it can be great either way."
Q: [Who else has nicknames? What are they?]
CS: "Kenny like to call me 'Doc' because I sent away for this crappy Ph.D. for twenty bucks over the Internet. Did you know I am a Doctor of Metaphysics? Kenny also likes to call Sally 'Shmoopy.' I don't know why, but it's funny. We sometimes call Chris Delucchi 'The Freak,' but he'll have to tell you that story himself."
Q: [The band truly began to gel while on the road touring behind the release of 'Apt. 6-S' and playing town festivals and various venues. Then, you became a band that had focused for a while on playing bars. Have you moved toward a transition to being a theater band?]
CS: "I think that transition is a natural progression of hard work as the band has gotten better. The more we play, the more people come to our shows, and the bigger places we are able to play. Fingers crossed, may it continue that way for a long while!"
Q: [Sally has said that Club Helsinki is one of her favorite places to perform at. (It's located in Great Barrington, MA.) Are there any other venues that you look forward to as you glance over your performance schedule?]
CS: "I personally love the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. I used to live in the town and it's a little like going home to play there. It's a really nice stage there. For smaller venues, I like The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA. Great supportive crowds there and a great staff. We always have a lot of fun at the House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. We haven't been to Sweetwater in Mill Valley, CA, but that's another really great room."
Q: [Why does the entire band appear to play some shows while other shows feature Sally and Chris only?]
CS: "Sometimes it's just logistics and scheduling. We've also found that there is a portion of our crowd that doesn't always love what I affectionately call, 'The crashing and banging' of the band. I love playing with the band, but we understand that some folks like an acoustic show once in a while."
Q: [What are your favorite songs in concert?]
CS: "I love to get a little funky on 'Wait.' I love blues, so 'Nisa' is often a fun opener. Yes, I wrote the chord changes for that one, so... Also, 'Girl in the Picture' is my favorite from 'Shotgun,' and I think 'Happy Now' is just great fun from 'Tomboy Bride'."
Q: [Does anyone have a plan for his/her career, three years down the line, five years, ten years down the line?]
CS: "Taking it as it comes… I certainly hope to still be playing music, that's for sure."
My sincere thanks to Chris Soucy, and the entire band. It is always a pleasure and an honor so see the Sally Taylor Band perform. Return to Top Page