Wild Feathers guitarist steps into the spotlight
Warner Brothers recording artists Wild Feathers released their new album, Lonely Is A Lifetime, earlier this spring and the band has been making tracks around the world ever since. For guitarist Taylor Burns, the recent departure of guitarist Preston Wimberly provided a surprise opportunity to put his own sonic imprint on the album on both lead and rhythm using his vintage '65 Epiphone Riviera. Epiphone.com spoke to Taylor about making the new album and the competitive nature of living in Music City U.S.A.
It's good to speak to you again, Taylor. Did you use your Epiphone Riviera on the new album?
Yes, I played my 12-string on quite a few tracks. That's one of the top two favorite guitars in all the ones I have. Live, I mainly play a 335--that's my bread and butter. But those are my two main guitars.
Lonely Is A Lifetime has been getting great press. What was different about making this record? Did you have any specific goals in mind?
We didn't know what to expect. We really tried to evolve as songwriters and push our sound a bit because we didn't want to make the same record twice. So we were kind of apprehensive about how people would receive it; would they be pissed that it was a departure from the first record? But so far everyone has embraced it. You can't make everybody happy and there are always going to be people who say whatever they're going to say. The most important thing is we're all really happy with it and proud of it. That's what most resonates with people when they see us on stage. If we're honest with ourselves and put that into the music, I think that will show.
You had some lineup changes since we last spoke.
We were kind of in a struggle with our old guitar player. He had some things going on in his life where he wasn't all there so I had to take a lead role in this album. But I think I had to approach the new songs with a more melody driven style because that's what I gravitate towards naturally--where I can't just shred and play a bunch of notes. But I think that gave the sound more space, too because there wasn't so much going on. I mean, I guess there's a lot of guitars on this record, too (laughs) but for me, it changed the sound of the band because of my limitations. But the limitations kind of became an asset in the end.
It seems like you're playing bigger venues this time around.
It's about 500-1,000 rooms which is awesome. We didn't want to go to big right off the bat. We wanted to get the buzz going, first.
When we last spoke the band was settling into Nashville. How do you like being here?
I love it. What I love about Nashville is you're surrounded by so many talented people and so many like-minded people that it makes you better. Even if it's subconsciously. Because if you go and see a friend's band you think, 'man, these guys are (expletive) good!' You know? Everyone is so good. I rarely go to a show and think--'what's up with these guys?' So I think that generally just pushes you. There's always someone ready to take your place so you have to keep that edge about you and keep pushing yourself. You have to keep practicing guitar and honing your craft. You can't sit idly by and let it slip away. I think in general, that's the most important thing for me about being in Nashville. Everyone moved here--I came from Dallas, which is a larger city, but I feel like there's not an infrastructure of music there so it's hard to find people who are into what you're into. But in Nashville, it seems like everywhere you look there's a great guitar player.
Did the city influence the new album?
I think what mainly influenced the album is just us playing a ton over the last couple of years. Before, our writing tended to be us sitting around the kitchen table with guitars. And a lot of this album was written and tried out during soundchecks so it has more of an electric vibe. And since we came on stage with all of our effects there, we could experiment more with sounds and effects. So I feel like that kind of influenced it more. The one thing about Nashville is we saw a lot of people doing the singer-songwriter Americana thing and some people are incredible at it but it just felt like it was getting watered down. So we wanted to do something that was apart from that. I mean we love Ryan Adams, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell--you can go on and on, there's so many amazing people, but I feel like a lot of people are just trying to capitalize off of that or--just too many people doing that. And in that regard, we wanted to break away from that sound a little bit. Not that we won't come back to it. But I felt like it was getting a little too saturated.
The band has done a lot of touring. How do you keep that aspect fresh and how is your stage show changing to support the new album?
I think we're just kind of trying to step up everything up a notch as far as what we bring on stage. Now we have our sound person which helps a lot. We also added a keyboard player and another guitar player, Daniel Donato. He's got that youthful energy that's kind of infectious on the stage. He never plays the same lead twice and that makes it more fun and really keeps it exciting and fresh for us instead of hearing the same lead just like the record every single night.
A lot of bands have decided to stay away from labels and produce themselves. But the Wild Feathers have gone in the opposite direction.
It's been great. We feel very fortunate. Even if we parted ways tomorrow, I feel that two or three people there would still be lifelong friends. I think the hard thing for us was that the record was done a year ago. You like to trust them that they know best but we were itching to get back out on the road. But that's part of being impatient on our part.
What have you listening to?
I've been obsessed with George Harrison lately. I love his melodic guitar playing. His solos fit so perfectly. Also Sparklehorse, My Morning Jacket... it's all over the place. But for me personally, I've been on a huge George Harrison kick. And I'm not sure when it's going to stop.
You can read our classic interview with Taylor from 2014 here.