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Taproot bassist Phil Lipscomb talks band longevity, The Episodes and more
Taproot took the rock-flavored youth of 2000 by storm with
the band's major label debut, Gift. Children of the Ozzfest
generation were moshing to "Smile" and singing along to the
anthem of "I" ("I need forgiveness from the people I truly care
about/I need support behind my back to help me spit it out/I'm
gonna win, I can't afford to blow this one.")
Although it's been twelve years since the Michigan-based
band's first release and almost fifteen years since forming,
the band continues to record, tour and evolve.
Earlier this year the four-piece band released it's sixth album
The Episodes (Victory) with a completely new approach:
conceptual. Taproot will give Columbus a taste of the album
tonight at Alrosa Villa.
Taking a time-out from the 26-date tour, bassist Phil
Lipscomb discussed writing The Episodes, band longevity,
inspiration, his early bass playing days and more.
Taproot performing at Alrosa Villa in 2011.
You guys wrote The Episodes quite awhile ago, but you were able to finally record it
after touring. Can you explain the storyline behind?
Yeah, it was written about 5 or 6 years ago. It’s basically three stories, the same story told
on a Sunday morning from three different perspectives and it all ties together at the end. It’s
a concept record, but not so much in that it’s fully developed enough that you can make a
great movie out of it, but there’s definitely a story there, definitely an idea and it’s something
really cool and we’re very happy with it and the way it turned out.
Is a concept album something you wanted to do for a long time or was it
It was semi-spontaneous. It was just like, let's try something different, let’s not go the same
route--like write a riff, write a song around it, tie things together and then write the lyrics on
top of the music. This was let's have the concept down, let's write the lyrics first, so we
know where we’re going with it, so we’d know what the vibe of each song was gonna be.
Then from there, writing the song was quite a bit easier because we knew what we were
looking for. It’s not just like "write something cool, write something heavy." It was more like,
well this song is supposed to be a chase scene, so let’s write something frantic and this
song is a little darker, so let's write a song with a darker vibe. It was basically writing a
soundtrack for the story, which is a lot easier because you knew what direction you were
What has been the biggest struggle you’ve faced in the music industry over the
years? You started out independent in '97 with different projects and worked with
Fred Durst, well at least tried to I guess, and System Of A Down kind of helped...
Yeah, there’s been a lot of ups and downs man. It’s been a long career. The music industry
has changed dramatically over the years and for us it’s more, you gotta stay with it, stick
with the times and try to follow the changing industry. And the main thing is to do what we
love and that’s why we’ve been able to keep doing it. A lot of bands have come and gone in
the time that we’ve been around. And we’re still doing it, we still enjoy it, we still love making
music, we still love playing to our fans. It’s really cool to have the fans that have just stuck
with us or brand new fans. I think we have something for everybody.
Have you had a moment when you've wanted to give up and if so, what inspired you
to continue as a band.
We’ve had our little differences within the band, we’ve had our little fights, yelling matches,
that kind of thing, but at the end of day none of us want to do anything else. It’s almost like
you’re stuck (laughs), not in a bad a way, but there’s nothing else I wanna do. I’ve been
doing this for too long. I love where I’m at, I love the band, I love the music we make. We’ll
have our differences, but at the end of the day we know this is our life and our family, so we
stick with it.
What has been the biggest personal sacrifice you've made?
I know personally for me, I’m not married, I don’t have any kids. And
that’s because this band is my life and I don’t want a child that I don’t get to see. That’s not
something I want yet, I want that when I’m at home and able to be there for my child’s life. It’
s not that stable of a life being a musician.
Can you share a fan-inspired story?
Just had a guy come up to me and he was talking about how our music has helped him. He
was a drug addict, going through a rough time and tyring to go through rehab. And listening
to our music helped him get through it, helped him keep his head up. And now he’s got a 6-
year-old son, he’s got his life straight and he’s got a good business. A very heartfelt thank
you from him. I love that about music, I love how much of an impact it can have on
somebody, it was very cool to hear something like that.
When did you start playing bass and what else do you play?
I started a little bit late. At 19 my brother had a bass and I bought it from him and started
playing. I lived with our first drummer Jarrod [Montague], I lived in the house with him and
two other guitarists. So at the beginning I was just having fun and learning songs--no
guitarist wants to play bass and a guitarist just wants to play guitar, so I was able to sit in
and learn the songs. I loved it, I was self-taught, but taught by the people around. I play
acoustic guitar. I’m trying to learn to play piano, but two hands going is just a nightmare! I’ve
been practicing a lot more bass lately, learning more techniques and trying to expand my
How do you decide on a set list with a large catalog and satisfying both old fans and
It’s tough man, we have six albums out and each album has at least one single if not two,
sometimes three. We don’t even get to play all of our singles. For us, we play what we feel
are the favorites, the songs the fans like to hear. From each album we just pick like two,
maybe three songs. You try to do songs from each album and make sure each album is
What’s next for you guys after this tour with Nonpoint?
We're really pushing the new single “The Everlasting." We had that video come out too.
We'll take a little break in November and regroup a little bit and come right back out right
after Thanksgiving, it looks like. Possibly something with 12 Stones, we’re talking with those
guys about doing something together, so hopefully that works out.
Over the years you've played Columbus quite a bit, what can concert-goers look
forward to at this Alrosa stop?
Columbus is off the hook! That place gets crazy, I’m looking forward to a really good show.
Nonpoint is great live every time we see them. I’m gonna be hanging out in the crowd, I
might even start moshing, who knows.
Taproot takes the stage tonight at Alrosa Villa in Columbus with Nonpoint, One Pretty
Minute, Noise Auction and Evadell Drive. Tickets are $15.
Taproot bassist Philip Lipscomb.
Taproot bassist Philip Lipscomb.