Liz Swain 9:30 a.m., Dec. 13
Taz Taylor Band
Sound description: Knuckle-baring hard rock.
RIYL: Rainbow, the Michael Schenker Group, Steelhouse Lane, Mudpie
Upcoming Local Shows
- Ramona Mainstage Nightclub — Saturday, December 21, 8:30pm
- Ramona Mainstage Nightclub — Saturday, January 11, 8:30pm
- "Straight Up Forgotten" · June 6, 2012
- "Makes Cents" · Feb. 4, 2009
- "Don't Call Him Satch" · May 12, 2005
Inception: San Diego, 2004
Influences: Michael Schenker Group, UFO, Deep Purple
U.K. guitarist Neil Taz Taylor was born in Birmingham, England, the same musically fertile town that bred early versions of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Taylor moved to San Diego in 1997 and released a solo instrumental album Caffeine Racer in 2004.
Taylor teamed up with singer Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group) when he found the fellow Brit rocker living nearby, between San Diego and L.A. Together as the Taz Taylor Band, their album Welcome to America was released in 2008 on the UK label Escape Music, along with a concert DVD entitled Live in Prague - Ultimate Bootleg. This complete unedited performance shows them performing 19 songs, including several hits from Graham Bonnet’s career with Rainbow and Michael Schenker Group, as well as tracks from Taylor’s Caffeine Racer solo album.
After the duo worked together on Welcome to America, a Russian tour was booked, but singer Bonnet quit before departure. Taylor replaced him with another Michael Schenker Group vet, Keith Slack.
“The reason for the cancellation,” according to Bonnet on his website, was “we’d recently performed in Europe and the fees I’d negotiated and expected were not honored. I lost money on the tour, as my modest outgoings were far greater than my final paycheck…. I don’t know of anyone who would work for free or, even more bizarrely, pay to work.”
Taylor responded that “There were no fees ever negotiated by Graham for the recent European tour that he refers to. Graham knew and agreed to participate in the tour for whatever the revenues were, based on ticket sales.… At the end of the tour, Graham and a hired keyboardist received every cent of the revenue, including all the money from our own merchandise sales.”
Says Taylor, “The tour was arranged and booked by a German promoter into some of the most popular rock clubs in Germany, Vienna, Budapest and Prague. While hardcore fans of Graham and our Welcome To America album did turn out and made the shows excellent concert events, their numbers were not enough to cover tour costs, flights, nightliner, hotels, taxes, etc...The Russian shows were a different promoter, with a guarantee of payment before departing from the U.S. Hundreds of tickets were pre-sold for these shows and a strong turnout for both shows was expected.”
“Only hours after flights were paid, Graham changed his mind about performing the [Russian] shows, stating his intention to begin work on other projects.”
Of Bonnet's collaborations with Taylor, the Michael Schenker Group, Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen, Bob Kulick, Steve Vai, Chris Impellitteri, and Danny Johnson, all but one lasted only one album or less.
In March 2009, the Taz Taylor Band released Straight Up, with Slack on vocals and recorded at local Blitz Studios. Slack recorded his parts from his home in Austin, Texas. Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey guests on the album. Issued by British label Escape Music, Taylor says Straight Up was never properly promoted. “It came out just when the economy went in the toilet,” he said. “We abandoned our plans to tour Europe to promote it, though we’d been there the previous two years. It was terrible timing, really. It always kind of bothered us that it was an album that had been forgotten.”
In Autumn 2010, U.K Fireworks Magazine #41 interviewed Taylor and reviewed their new album Big Dumb Rock. The band track “Viper” was on the covermount CD of the issue.
Straight Up was re-released on April 27, 2012, rebuilt from the ground up. “We were never 100 percent happy with the mix,” Taylor says. “Looking back, we felt that we really rushed it. So I spent a bit of time in the studio and remixed the album. It sounds 100 percent better. We changed the running order as well and used new artwork.”
Ironically, the idea for the re-release first arose while demoing new material. “We’re working on some songs for possible future release, but we realized that we also had this album of music that never had a chance to be exposed to people here [in the U.S.]. In fact, we only played those songs onstage twice. So, we decided to do some shows playing the entire album all the way through. And if we’re doing that, it makes sense to make the album available again.”
Their June 15, 2012 set at the County Fait in Del Mar featured the concert debut of new vocalist Mark Alan Arrington and new keyboardist Josh Weinstein. Portions of their March 3, 2013 show at Brick By Brick were filmed in hi-def for a documentary being made about headliner Uli Jon Roth, former guitarist for the Scorpions.