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20 Questions With Austin Taft

The Colorado rocker on Rickie Lee, the power of anger & being lied to about milk.

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Austin Taft is taking indie metal to a whole new level. In more ways than one. Not only is the multi-talented, multi-tasking Colorado rocker an incredible one-man band — he has penned, produced and played every note on all his albums, including his most recent offering Skeletons — but he also refuses to be pigeonholed musically, preferring to mix, match and meld hard rock, metal, prog and more into his own unique sonic and stylistic hybrid. Let’s see if he’s any easier to pin down with my absurd questions:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and any other details you’d care to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
Greetings! My name is Austin Taft. I’m 34 years of age and I reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist focused on making unique and intriguing music — whatever that should entail.

What is your musical origin story?
As a younger lad, I enjoyed beating on the household pots and pans. My parents bought me a drum set, and I was off to the races! When I was 10, I acquired the Foxtrot release by Genesis and discovered the song Supper’s Ready. It was then that I discovered what music can truly do. I ended up learning other instruments as a result of having difficulty finding other musicians who shared similar musical interests, so I started down a path of self-composing, self-performing and self-recording my own albums.

What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
The new album is called Skeletons. It just recently escaped and is available worldwide on various outlets. I’ve been describing it as “Prog-Metal-That-Sometimes-Isn’t.” Musically expansive. Lyrically bitter. Lengthy song structures. Half-sung, half-screamed. Unique, challenging and unpredictable.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
My stunning good looks. But seriously, the new album is the best evidence I’ve got for what hopefully sets me apart from other artists. Taken as a whole, I’ll take a chance and say I don’t think there’s another album out there quite like it.

How will my life improve by listening to your music?
No matter how cool you are now, you will be cooler.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played.
I have been writing and performing since I was single-digit years of age, and in truth, I honestly couldn’t pinpoint either one of these. However, the current live band is called The Austin Taft Soundtrack, and our first gig over a decade ago was the first night of a battle of the bands which we ended up winning. That was a nice way to introduce ourselves to the public.

What is the best / worst performance you have given?
Some of the best live performances tend to occur when something has pissed me off shortly before taking the stage. It’s not intentional, but that anger takes the intensity of the performance to another level. I’ll listen back to the recording of the gig afterward and usually think “Damn. That was really on fire.” Not to be confused with if something makes me angry in the middle of the set. Then there’s a good chance that it falls apart. Fortunately, that is a rare situation. The ones that feel bottom-of-the-barrel worst are usually when our time is cut short because some other band went way over their allotted time slot. That’s a situation where now I’m pissed, but I don’t even have the music as an outlet to vent the immediate frustration. This is another rare circumstance, but it has happened enough to have popped into my head just now.

What is the strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen?
Strangest would be Rickie Lee Jones. Her songwriting and studio recordings are a considerable inspiration to me, and I know what she is capable of live, but I saw her perform several years ago and it was the most unusual performance I’ve ever seen by a Grammy Award-winning artist. There were moments of brilliance for sure, but a lot of it seemed quite unrehearsed. There was no bassist, which resulted in a very thin sound on the “full band” tracks. My personal interpretation is that Rickie is that level of genius where there’s only so much filter she can apply. What you get is what you get. It’s real and it’s spontaneous, and I think she was probably trying to improvise certain things and go with the flow and the band was struggling a bit with the lack of structure. They just weren’t on the same page. All masters of their own craft, I’d expect, but I didn’t really sense the chemistry. Most memorable overall would be Genesis in Chicago, Oct. 3, 2007. The best show I’ve seen to date. Thoroughly impressive.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Björk, but I imagine I would only hold her back in the creative process.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
R&B/Hip Hop Soul/Neo Soul. A lot of that stuff, especially from the ’90s.

What useful (or useless) skills do you have outside of music?
Asking what some would consider to be too many questions.

What do you collect?
Apparently fully written songs that I don’t get around to recording! There are too many!

What’s your idea of perfect happiness / total misery?
Perfect happiness is true freedom. Total misery is true enslavement.

What are you afraid of?
Both failure and success, I should think.

What would the title of your autobiography be?
The Lord of the Rings. Unless that’s taken.

Who should play you in the movie of your life?
Meryl Streep.

What’s your motto?
Mike Tyson Mysteries should have been renewed for a fifth season.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
The shelves.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would be the proud owner of a Playstation 5.

What’s the silliest thing you believed as a child?
A teacher convinced me that adding chocolate to white milk removes the nutrients from the milk.

What’s the best and / or worst advice you were ever given?
I am speaking truthfully when I say that no advice comes to mind. So either I have been given very little advice in my lifetime, or I am unwaveringly stubborn and it did not sink in. I suppose I have picked up on the importance of gratitude, even if this may not have been communicated as direct advice, and it is something that is very important to me. So in that spirit, I would very much like to thank you for your time and for the challenge of playing 20 Questions with Tinnitist! Cheers!

Check out Skeletons above and keep up with Austin Taft on his website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.