We were fortunate enough to catch up with Neil Taylor, guitarist of Tears For Fears and Robbie Williams. Neil is currently working on his next solo album which is to be released sometime in 2016. Enjoy the interview!
For The Record…
Can you start us off with a short blurb of how you got to
where you are today?
I fronted my own band ‘Sneak Preview’ when I was 17 in
Bristol. We were asked to play on a local compilation album ‘Avon Calling’. Pete
Byrne [Naked Eyes] heard my track & got in touch with me to play on their
first single ‘Communication Without Sound’ Curt Smith was playing bass who went
on to form Tears For Fears. I was asked to play on a TFF tour, then went on to
play guitar on ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ one of my first ever sessions was the
solo on ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ As word got around I just fell into
doing sessions. More recently I decided
to do something for myself & go back to being an Artist/Performer which I
wish I would’ve done a long time ago.
What was your first guitar and where it is now?
It’s a Black Shaftsbury Les Paul & i still have it under
the bed. I don’t play it at all…It’s feels like a plank of wood but I would
never get rid of it.
If you could create a “dream band” who would be in it?
To be honest I feel as though I have it already with my
band. Chuck Sabo on drums who has played for many well-known artists. I met
Chuck when we played together for Natalie Imbruglia. I’m also lucky to have Gwenael
Damman on bass. Gwen was the head of the record label ‘Earcatcher’ who released
my album No God Like Rock n Roll. We ended up doing a few shows together and it
just clicked. Gwen is also co- producing my new album. They are both a dream to
If you could create the ultimate day, how would it play out?
Go to the gym…Then lunch for a nice meal with all my family…A
knap in the afternoon & my own big show in the evening in an exotic
location & a few drinks after the show….Maybe one or two during the show
too ha ha
What do you think is missing in the music industry today?
It seems that most Musicians/Artists don’t get that much
experience any more. When I was first starting out you had to pay your dues
& work your way up the ladder. These days that seems to have been bypassed
mostly because of Youtube ..Xfactor etc. Everyone’s a star these days. I find
the industry very soulless & lot of todays music has become so computerized
& robotic. DJ’s play to packed houses & have become stars, which I
can’t get my head around. Illegal downloads are killing the industry. Session musicians
don’t get much credit or money anymore. It’s certainly changed for the worse in
the last 25 years.
Who would you say your top favorite bands are today?
If I listen to anything now it’s normally from the bands I
grew up with..Status Quo..T.Rex..Deep Purple etc. I don’t really listen to many
new bands but I’m sure I will think of some once I’ve finished the interview.
What is it like being a touring artist, constantly traveling
from venue to venue?
I love it. As a session player it’s been my life on &
off for the past 25 years. I’ve had an amazing time flying on private jets ..5
star hotels, playing stadiums with the
likes of Tears For Fears & Robbie Williams.It’s great being in this bubble
but as a session musician when the tour ends, it’s back to reality & it
takes a while to adjust. For me now as an artist, it’s not quite as glamorous
ha ha but i love it even more as it’s something I’ve soley created i’m doing it
for myself. The travelling can get to you sometimes& I try not to drink
very much after shows, hangovers would
be impossible to cope with every day!
Reflecting on your career with Tears for Fears, are there
any moments that you're particularly proud of?
Yes my guitar parts on ‘Woman In Chains’ & my solo on
‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’
How does it feel to finally release your own album?
I’m in the process of recording my 5th album. The first
album took 4 years to write & record. I was finding my feet on ‘No Self
Control’ by the time I released ‘No God Like Rock n Roll’ I almost found what I
was looking for. The new album will be the closest yet but I’m in no rush. I
hope to release it sometime in 2016. I am also very lucky to write all my
albums with Steve Torch who is a great songwriter. He has written for Cher, Hall
& Oates, etc. We grew up listening to the same bands. We have a lot in
common musically & as friends.
Your most influential guitarist:
Richie Blackmore…Francis Rossi & Marc Bolan.
Best day of your musical career:
As a guitarist to play 3 nights at Knebworth with Robbie
Williams was certainly a highlight but this was surpassed when as an artist I
was asked to play Euromaidan in Kiev Ukraine with my band on New Years 2014 to
500000 people. This was the most amazing experience of my solo career.
Last night’s dinner:
Fictional character you can best relate yourself to:
I’d like to say James Bond but I think I relate more to
The biggest perk of being a musician:
That’s a tough question. I’ve certainly seen the world &
played some of the biggest shows but as a musician you’re always chasing your
dream, that’s what keeps me going & now as an artist I feel like I’m 16 all
over, striving to get to the next level, so I think the perk of a
musician/artist would be ..A sense of purpose!
Guilty pleasure pop song:
Stars by Simply Red
Can we end off with your one piece of advice for aspiring
It’s not about how many notes you can play. The reason I’ve
had a good career is because most importantly I had my own style, I also had
the ability to come up with interesting guitar parts. Learn your instrument but
this does not mean having to go to a school of music. I learnt mostly from
listening to my favorite guitarists & artists, from this I unknowingly created
my own style. Schools tend to teach everybody the same things & guitarists
especially end up sounding all the same to me. This is not to say I don’t agree
with schools but it wouldn’t have been right for me. It’s also very important
to perform live with other musicians. YouTube videos of yourself playing in
your bedroom is not a real performance. There is no interaction. Everyone makes mistakes while performing… only yesterday I
did a show with my band & I wasn’t happy with my performance. Try not to
beat yourself up about it but being aware about it is another thing. Always be
ready for many disappointments because 9 times out of 10 what ever you’re
promised probably won’t happen.