Published on February 14th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
LIVE’s Chad Taylor On Think Loud Studios & Living In Pennsylvania
Formed in 1989 in York, Pennsylvania, the quartet known as LIVE has sold over 20 million albums worldwide. Hits like “Lightning Crashes,” “I Alone,” “All Over You,” “Selling The Drama” and “The Dolphin’s Cry” remain staples on rock radio over 20 years after their release, and LIVE continues to play big venues around the world. Original lead singer Ed Kowalczyk had parted ways with his bandmates — guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey, who were all friends since childhood — in 2011, yet Kowalczyk rejoined the band in late 2016.
Also newsworthy about LIVE is that Taylor, Dahlheimer and Gracey opened their recording studio to the public last month. Known as Think Loud Studios, the York studio has not only been the site of recordings by LIVE, but also tracks by Candlebox and Everclear; producer Jerry Harrison and mixer Tom Lord-Alge have also utilized the studio. Said Candlebox frontman Kevin Martin of Think Loud: “Hands down the greatest and most welcoming studio I have EVER had the opportunity to work in!”
To learn more about Think Loud and the future of LIVE, I had the pleasure of chatting with Chad Taylor. More on Taylor and LIVE can be found at www.freaks4live.com, while Think Loud keeps up a website at www.thinkloudstudios.com.
Chad Taylor: I’ve been producing records for artists since 1993, right before Throwing Copper was released. I was fortunate to work with amazing recording engineers and producers in our early career and was highly-intrigued to learn the art of music production and arrangement. Obviously, Jerry Harrison is a major influence, just like Brian Eno was to him; these guys are a part of my musical and engineering heritage. Owning a studio is an integral part of that creative process.
Did anyone try and talk the band out of having a full-scale studio?
Chad Taylor: Since I’m the primary producer and engineer, it was really my call. We’ve been very fortunate to have each other as partners since the age of 13. You can’t imagine how many people chuckled when we said we were going to be in a rock band. Same deal with a studio. The only difference is that we also laugh at ourselves now.
What makes Think Loud different from other studios? Any exclusive elements to your studio?
Chad Taylor: It’s rare to have professional musicians and songwriters involved in the design of a commercial facility like ours. I was focused on workflow. I wanted the studio to help lubricate the transition from song creation to recording and documenting with very little interruption. The residential bedrooms are within earshot of the studio, so an artist might have a lyrical or melodic inspiration and, within minutes, document the idea. I happen to be a sonic nerd when it comes to room sounds, so I wanted it to be tight and punchy but also have enough life that the rooms were musical, too. That’s an extremely difficult equation, and our designer Horacio Malvicino nailed it. Thankfully, he’s a drummer, and our percussion sounds have been unreal.
Aside from your band, who was the first band to record at Think Loud?
Chad Taylor: Art Alexakis from Everclear tracked his latest album at the studio. We became friends, and, of course, everyone can sing along to many of his songs. It was a great fit with Grammy Award-nominated engineer Carson Slovak at the helm.
What is it that keeps you based in Pennsylvania? You and your bandmates never moved to New York or Los Angeles at any point, right?
Chad Taylor: Like many teenagers, I literally couldn’t wait to get out of our hometown of York. I never experienced the town as an adult because LIVE was already touring the globe. When I returned, I was surprised how comfortable I felt around my blue-collar peers. It’s where I grew up, and the people are supportive of our efforts to revitalize our corner of the city. he studio is only a small part of our investment to help bring new jobs and technology to LIVE’s hometown. What’s a trip is seeing rock stars like Kevin Martin of Candlebox walking around our cool downtown and people’s heads spinning!
Chad Taylor: Any residential artist who utilizes Think Loud Studios will have access to our private gym. This is good news considering how many new restaurants are opening in downtown York on a monthly basis. Our magazine, YRK, is filled with great culinary choices, and there is a massive farmers’ market within walking distance of the studio.
What is coming up for LIVE in the near-future? Are there plans for a new studio album?
Chad Taylor: LIVE is going to hit the road this summer, but first we’ll be completing our second leg of our Australian reunion tour. Attendance has been insane! I still can’t believe how many LIVE fans are still rockin’ out to our music. And yes, Ed and I have been busy writing new material, and we’ve even presented some ideas to the entire band. The process has been very similar to how we wrote in the early days. It’s been refreshing and, frankly, some people are about to get their eardrums bleeding with these rockers. I think the incredible turn out of fans in 2017 inspired us to push ourselves into a higher gear.
Is there a LIVE accomplishment that you are proudest of?
Chad Taylor: Without question, having the strength to forgive ourselves and reform the band. We were all doing very well on our own, but let me tell you, had I known reuniting would feel this good, we would have done it sooner. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming joy fans have expressed. And having Ed back in my life is not only about music — he’s also my childhood friend, and I’m so lucky that bond is better than ever.
Are you working on any music projects beyond LIVE and Think Loud? Anything with Zoe LaBelle? More from The Gracious Few?
Chad Taylor: I mix records on nearly a daily basis for both independent artists and major-label musicians. I enjoy helping producers and artists put that final punch into their songs. I rely heavily on my songwriting skills to make sure the hooks are featured and to provide that final set of ears. I love my SSL console, only second to my old Marshall JMP’s.
The Gracious Few was such a fun record to make. I wish more people would have seen us perform. We were really on fire many nights, and I think we also learned new musical tricks performing more aggressive music with new talents like Kevin and Sean. We often remark to each other that we should just play a show for fun or record some new material, but let’s face it, we’re kinda busy with LIVE at the moment. Dana Alexandra — a.k.a. Zoe LaBelle — had a baby, and she’s taking time enjoying being a new mother. The project is on hold, but we have some amazing tracks from it that could be turned into hit songs for the right artist. I’m sure they can be turned into hit songs for the right artist.
Chad Taylor: I cherish my bride, and we have three teenage daughters who are the epicenter of our world. I love being their dad! Whenever I have a free day, these ladies are at the top of my priority list. I also have this insanely-cool dog named Thor, a Bernese Mountain Dog who travels to the studio with me each day. I’m pretty sure he’s more popular than me on social media.
I read that you produced a yoga DVD that your wife was involved with. Are you yourself into yoga? Have you ever tried DDP YOGA?
Chad Taylor: My wife Lisa owns Evolution Power Yoga and operates four studios, in addition to leading teacher trainings globally. She the real rock star, and I try to support her classes. No, I haven’t tried DDP.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Chad Taylor: I flew my wife and I up to Boston to watch U2 at TD Garden. In fact, it was during that concert that I made up my mind I needed to reconnect with Ed. There is something magical about a big show, and I knew the only pathway for me to get back there was with my brother in LIVE.
Finally, Chad, any last words for the kids?
Chad Taylor: Choose your words carefully and trust your dreams even when everyone else tells you you’re crazy. Get your ass out to see LIVE. We’re better than ever. And if you want a killer-sounding musical project, Think Loud is your place.