(as told by Terry Taylor)
Story by Steve Ruff | Photos courtesy of Todd Zeller
Talking to Terry Taylor… that was cool. I don’t have to tell you who he is or what bands he is a part of. He has 30+ years in the industry, and his main project, Daniel Amos, has covered every style from country to new wave to alternative rock to completely hard to classify. The end of 2008 saw the re-release of the classic Darn Floor Big Bite. The record was re-mastered and had additional unreleased material as well as new artwork and 20 pages of liner notes and photos. It was great to talk to him and ask him questions about Gene Eugene for our upcoming special issue on Gene. When I asked him what projects that he was involved in with Gene that were the most memorable, the story was so cool that we thought it deserved its own write up. I had never heard the story of how The Lost Dogs came together. I always assumed that it was Terry’s idea simply because he seems to always have his hand in so many different projects. He writes music at a rapid pace, he has several different bands, and he has produced countless records that are memorable but are completely diverse in the genres that they represent. Two of my favorite Taylor produced records would be Scaterd Few’s Sin Disease and Saviour Machine’s Mask 1. Seems that whatever he works on is always contrary to his own style, but he has put out many records from the forerunners in the industry. Here was a chance to catch up about some history of one of his current projects, the formation of The Lost Dogs. In his own words…
“I remember him (Gene) calling me up and saying he had this idea for a project. He came by the house and said “I’m thinking we put four guys together and we do some Americana stuff. I’m into that stuff, I know you are… the stuff that we don’t do on our own records. It might be a neat thing to put these guys together and see what happens.” I asked him who else he had in mind? He said one guy was Derri Daughtery, and I thought that was great! Derri and I went back years as I knew Derri & Steve from when they were roadies for Daniel Amos. I asked him who the fourth guy was and he said, “Mike Roe”, and I said Mike Roe?! He said, “Yeah you know Mike” and I said well, I know Mike but I don’t know Mike. I know of Mike… he’s the guy I pass in the airport on the way to our separate gigs. I had never really sat down with Mike and had any kind of conversation with him. So that was the one element that was a little mysterious to me… how that was all going to work out. So a one off recording (Scenic Routes) developed into this ongoing relationship that continues to this day, even after Gene’s passing. I remember for each record the four of us would get together each morning at a local eatery for breakfast. I just remember Gene showing up and how bright and happy he was about doing that music and being involved in the Lost Dogs.”
“I think out of all the projects we worked on, the most memorable were The Lost Dogs. Even though they were just as challenging as any other project, they were probably the best because they made Gene so happy. Gene always had a lot of projects where he was laboring under them and he always gave 100% in any situation. He was there for everything. He couldn’t delegate, he couldn’t detach himself from it and he worked too hard I thought. But I think with Lost Dogs it was different for Gene. You had four guys sharing the load. It was joyous and he delighted in it. He delighted in the higher degree of craftsmanship involved and I think it brought out the best in him and the best in the rest of us. We all challenged each other, we respected each other so deeply and Gene was one of these people that I respected greatly as a musician. I felt if I could impress him than I had really done some good work. I had my reservations about how 4 guys who were pretty strong in their opinions, and who had each guided the ship of their own bands, how we would come together and work together. But to see the pleasure of those four people working together, and the melding of the personalities, and for Gene to have been the center of it was memorable.”
I asked Terry if there was ever the thought of laying the band to rest after Gene passed. His response was, “Well, that’s another story. When I went to Gene’s funeral… first of all, I was floored by the number of people that were there, and the diversity that was represented. All these people saying, either by their presence or verbally, how Gene had affected them and their lives. Gene was a people person, I mean he was just a guy who loved people, loved people’s stories, loved characters, he would seek them out. He’s a guy I wish was on this Route 66 thing we just did because he was the kind of guy that wasn’t intimidated in talking to anybody. He would bring out great things in people. We all had to pool our resources to reach that level that Gene possessed alone. So at the funeral, somehow in this great sea of people we found each other. We tearfully embraced and a couple of us, I think almost simultaneously said “Gene would want us to keep going.” We knew it was going to be a struggle and we have a song called “Three Legged Dog” which is what it became. It limps a little but it gets around and we had to find our legs, our musical legs, without Gene which is not an easy thing to do. I think just in recent years we have found that place. At any point in time we would put a CD on and hear that distinct voice of Gene’s, and tears would come to our eyes. It was a tremendous burden to find ourselves, but I think in that way, we got through it. Now we can recall Gene with smiles, laughs and maybe a tear here or there, but at the time it was an incredible shock and a tremendous loss.”
The Lost Dogs have a pretty amazing catalog, especially considering that they were originally only going to put out one record. They have released nine full length records over their 17 year career, and they are still going strong. Scenic Routes is still my favorite, maybe because the whole idea sounded a bit crazy and in the end worked remarkably well. The variety of styles that they cover is diverse as well, but still somehow falls into that Americana/Alt Country vibe. Back in 2006 Steve Hindalong from The Choir joined the band as a regular member. In addition, 2006 also brought the release of The Lost Cabin and The Mystery Trees, which I believe is one of their strongest works. According to their website, Hindalong was quoted as saying this was possibly the best record he had ever worked on. Not many bands can pull off such a strong release so far into their career, but I have never heard any “filler” on a Lost Dogs release. Check out their website to stay up to date on what they are doing. These guys still tour every year, as well as the usual holiday tour on the West Coast. You can still contribute to the Route 66 project through their website as well. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a more in depth interview with Terry that is coming in a future issue.