It's been awhile since we've heard from Taylor Young. Outside of a few one-off shows with his long-running folk-rock band The O's, Young has been laying low, running a small mortgage company through First United Bank Mortgage and writing songs that he just couldn't find a home for.
"I had all these songs, right," he says on the phone. "They weren't really for The O's, and I was thinking of a way that the songs could be presented a different way."
Young had always wanted to have a full band. As much fun as his time in The O's was, the two-man acoustic string band left him craving a bigger sound.
"I've always wanted to have a drummer," he explains. "I was a touring drummer for 15 years, you know, prior to The O's."
So, Young set to work calling some of his favorite North Texas musicians in order to bring these songs to life.
"If there was any goal about putting this band together," he says, "it was about putting together a band of guys that have known each other for a long time. When I was 18 or 19 years old and in Hi-Fi Drowning, [Calhoun's] Joshua [Hoover] was always the other drummer in town. I trusted him. He's a brother, so he was the first person that I reached out to on drums, and thank goodness he said yes."
Young ended up choosing Hoover, Leon Bridges' guitarist Kenny Wayne and Toby Pipes from Deep Blue Something as his new bandmates.
"The whole concept of who was going to be in the band didn't really come up till halfway through the record," Pipes says, after being conferenced in from his home in College Station, where most of the new album Mercury Transit was recorded.
"I've never played bass in a band before, but somehow I ended up playing bass on the record. That happens a lot when you record records, and you end up playing live because you played on the record."
The Taylor Young Band has played a handful of shows since its inception in anticipation of the group's album release show at Club Dada on Feb. 28, where fans will have an opportunity to purchase the album before its March 6 release.
"We were just the trio for a while. It was definitely a power pop thing then, but it kind of had a little punk in it as well. We were just loud and proud right at the beginning there." — Taylor Young
"We were just the trio for a while," Young says. "It was definitely a power pop thing then, but it kind of had a little punk in it as well. We were just loud and proud right at the beginning there."
When Kenny Wayne joined the band to play the lead guitar parts, the band's live shows slowed down to match the power pop that dominates Mercury Transit.
"Once we had the songs kinda fleshed out, they had more of that sound," Pipes says. "Once we can pass the songs around and everyone knows exactly what the parts are and how it's going to go, then we could play it like the record."
"We were just in discovery mode," Young adds. "What are we doing? What is this going to sound like, and what's going to happen next? And that's kinda fun!"
Part of the fun for Young, aside from establishing a new home for his songwriting, was challenging himself to take up a new way of playing.
"I've never played electric guitar in my fricking life," Young says. "I went straight from drums to acoustic guitar, and for some reason, I didn't look up for 10 years. I didn't think about amps or anything. It's going to be really hard for me to go back and play acoustic guitar ever because I freaking love the electric guitar."
With a new album, new songs and a new instrument in his hands, it makes sense that Young would want to be surrounded by his Dallas music family. All the more reason to keep the album's release show in that same family.
"I have known Josh Florence, the owner of Club Dada, since he was on [MTV reality show] Road Rules about two decades ago," Young says. "It all comes back to kind of keeping it in the family at the initial launch of this project. I want the people to be involved that have known me the longest to kind of understand what I'm trying to do at the front of this adventure."
As for what lies in wait in the back of this adventure?
"Oh, man," Young says, "the entire world."