The idea for Taproot took life when childhood friends, vocalist Stephen Richards and guitarist Mike DeWolf, joined forces with University of Michigan students Jarrod Montague on drums and Lipscomb on bass. For the past eight years the quartet has toured relentlessly, playing with the likes of Deftones and Incubus, two stints of Ozzfest, garnering critical acclaim and radio airplay along the way. When it came time to create its third release, experimenting with titles wasn’t all that the band tried to do.
The group began recording Blue-Sky with Michael Beinhorn (Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson). Lipscomb recalls, "He was good at a lot of things, but not quite at getting the things out that we needed him to. Working with him caused us to look at different avenues and that’s why we went and worked with Billy Corgan."
Collaboration with the former Smashing Pumpkins frontman proved to be just what the band needed. Corgan inspired with his suggestions that Lipscomb describes as "different ways of approaching what I’m playing. One song, he was like, ‘Play like you’re playing a cello.’ And I was like, ‘What the hell does that mean?’ He showed me and I was like, ‘Oh, longer notes.’ Just different approaches to different things – that’s the main thing I got from him personally."
Upon returning to work with Beinhorn, the group realized that it just wasn’t working and reconnected with Toby Wright who produced 2002’s Welcome. "Once he [Wright] came back into the mix, like after a day, we wrote "Birthday" and it’s definitely one of the highlights of the record. Everything just connected with him there. It just felt good, " states Lipscomb.
The band took a couple of years to complete Blue-Sky – time that enabled them to write and ultimately be able to select from a multitude of tunes. "Basically we went through a lot of phases with this record. We just kind of worked our way through cycles of things. When we did our second record, we kind of felt like we had done our third record because we’d written so much stuff. Now I think we’re on our eighth or ninth record," Lipscomb says with a laugh.
According to Lipscomb, the band has definitely matured through the process: "We don’t need to necessarily write heavy songs all the time to prove that we’re tough. Stephen proves that every day by going out in the mosh pit and beating up a bunch of kids (laughs). You get older, you start listening to different stuff. I even throw on some Norah Jones (laughs). I think we’re more song-oriented rather than riff-oriented is the main thing."
For a group that has always said it wants to achieve success gradually, rather than suddenly blowing-up only to quickly fade away, with Blue-Sky Research – Taproot’s time has come. Lipscomb agrees, "Yeah, we are ready for that now. We’re ready to go platinum now, thank you!"
Blue-Sky Research is currently available. Taproot will play the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino on Nov. 12. For more information, visit www.taprootmusic.com.