In December, the band Live announced it was back, reuniting guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey with lead singer Ed Kowalczyk.
The childhood friends who started the band while they were students at a York County junior high school had long been at odds, with lawsuits and fighting words aplenty.
It had been eight years since Taylor and Kowalczyk had performed together.
Aside from his work with Live, Taylor is an entrepreneur with a diverse portfolio. He has produced feature films, built a telecommunications company and also owns a land lease and development company, among other ventures.
Taylor will give the keynote presentation at the Millennium Music Conference in Harrisburg and will be ready to discuss the rise of Live, his varied businesses and mending the relationship with his childhood friend.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Jenelle Janci: What can fans expect from your keynote address at Millennium Music Conference?
Chad Taylor: Our goal is to have a fireside chat rather than a speech. I think that one of the things that I can help, especially young artisans and young musicians, with is my lineage and history — not only in the music industry but also as an investor and an owner of other companies. I think I’m also at a unique position where I have ... my oldest daughter (Ruby Lou) is now in college. So, I’m watching as she's formulating her strategy to get an education and to find her position in the world.
I think that musicians, aspiring musicians, want that very same type of advice. I spent the last couple years of my life serving as a mentor to a few colleges, but in particular over at York College, where I’ve had a chance to interact with students and really see up close and personal the pressure on young artists to find a way to justify their passion to either their parents or their peers. I’ve faced those pressures myself.
But you know, I’m hoping to allay some of those concerns, to share stories about being on the road, what that’s like, and also what the real expectations of being a professional musician are.
Janci: Why do you want it to have a more casual feel rather than a formal speech?
Taylor: I’ve been performing onstage for over 30 years of my life. I know that what makes a performance so unique and special is the interactivity with the crowd. So I want to get into an interactive format where we’re having dialogue rather than monologue.
Janci: Do you intend to speak about the future of Live and what the band has coming up in 2017?
Taylor: Sure. That’s the great thing. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, people know that we’ve reunited with (lead singer) Ed (Kowalczyk). Ed’s really been back in the band, and we’ve been working on new music for a little over a year.
We sat quietly on this really exciting news mostly just to give it time for ourselves to enjoy it. It was a deeply personal and intimate relationship to begin with, and one that needed time to incubate without the interference or observation from the public. We allowed ourselves that time, and thankfully, it’s helped to manifest new music but also restore a depth in the friendship and the relationship that's very real and very tangible.
It’s not easy maintaining relationships, let alone a band. It is very hard work. I think now, coming back together, we have a supreme appreciation for: one, the fact that we kept it together for so long; and then, two, the mutual success that we've had, and more important that any of those things combined is, man, it’s a brotherhood and it’s a real friendship and it feels so good to have it back.
Janci: Did you ever expect to patch things up with Ed so that Live would get back together?
Taylor: I literally saw no pathway or no way that we would ever reunite. It was our friends and family. Live wasn’t a group of 20-something-year-old guys that auditioned into being a band. We started when we were 13. We were each other’s best friends, and all of our mutual friends outside of the band and family members all remained even though the working aspect of the band was over.
And every one of those friends and family were in our ear literally over the last eight years saying things like, ‘You’ve got to find a way to forgive. You’ve got to find a way to forget. You have to find a way to get back together.’ Some advice went toward cliche, sayings like, ‘Time heals all wounds.’ I am here to represent that, wow, that is really true. A healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t bad, and then on top of it, it’s just recognizing that we have so much more in common than we do apart.
The Live that we built and the success that we built as a band literally down to whatever it is, it's supposed to be 60 million fans around the world who are Live fans. Those fans have an expectation that we’ll get beyond ourselves. It’s like we did that, we gave into it. Ed and I sat down (a little over a year ago). I always say we had a beer, but the truth is, it was several. We just laughed a lot and we told stories about memories that we had of friends going back to middle school, or just commenting on social media like, ‘Oh, did you see where so-and-so lives?’ We were just so tied together. Denial is a weird thing, and I can tell you for the longest time we tried to deny each other.
The universe wasn’t going to let us do that. I recognize that now, and honestly, I won't ever let that splinter apart.
Janci: Now that the cat is out of the bag, as you say, how was it for you guys to watch the fan reaction to the announcement that the band is back together?
Taylor: All I can tell you is I felt emotional. The emotions ranged from sheer happiness and joy, to also the other end of feeling a little embarrassed that I ever let things get so out of control. It’s a mixed bag. I'm so happy that everyone's overjoyed that we're back together, and I also know that with that comes the new opportunity of having fun together and making new memories and doing new things.
I can’t wait to go out and play more shows with the guys and to tour. We played the Jump Up show on New Years’ Eve; that was lots of fun. I can't wait to go out and play some of these phenomenal stages and create new memories. All of where I put my priority was on the friendship. The professional stuff will come. It's the friendship that matters, re-establishing the kinship among all four of us.
Janci: Is there a set date for an album?
Taylor: We’re going to try to put out some music in 2017. I don't know what that looks like. When we left the band, the music industry was quite a different place. Now there are all these incredible options of how you release music. I know I'm really curious about the sort of instantaneous nature of the internet. We could write a song in a day, record it, and release it that night.
We also know, we’ve done this long enough, that we know it's really important that we get back on a stage and remember the feeling of what it is to really be Live, and then take that experience and bring that back into new songwriting. For the first time in our career, there’s no pressure. There’s no record company executives saying you guys ought to write a single. Those days are gone. We don’t even have to think in those terms.
Janci: If you could give advice to your younger self right before Live hit it big, what would that be?
Taylor: One: Don’t take yourself so seriously. Two: Slow down and enjoy it.