Taylor Cole kept telling himself that he’d never stay in Tennessee. But life had other plans. With a new song called “Like a Dog,” the Tayls frontman bottles up his vagabond spirit to express daily angst about keeping still. “I’m not in Tullahoma, where I grew up, but I’m still here,” he says.
“I found amazing friends, bandmates, partners, memories, and art─the makings of an amazing place to live, but I still want more. I hold so tight to this notion that all I have to do is write the best songs I can with my band, and I’ll be able to go wherever I want or do whatever I want,” the Nashville-based singer/songwriter tells American Songwriter, “which, ultimately, is just recording and playing music with the band. Maybe I’m already there, and I’m unaware of what ‘paradise’ really is for me. Either way, I have this little ball of anxious energy inside me that wants to get the hell outta here.”
Don’t wanna go insane or stay in my own lane, howls Cole, unleashing his emotions with a rabid dog’s snarl. Each day a repeat; it’s just over and over / I may live here, but I will not die here / I refuse to live my life like a dog rolling over.
Tayls is rounded out with a slew of musicians—Greg Dorris, Atticus Swartwood and Mo Balsam from pop-punk band Molly Rocket, Jessey Dee Clark (bass), Jo Cleary (violin), Andy Heath (guitar), and Michael Taylor (synth). With such an immovable foundation, Cole declares a resolve to “achieve our dreams of musical success” and “live the lives we see in our mind,” he says, “and elevate each other and those around us. Create the paradise. Greg and Mo really helped shape and create the lyrics and vibe with me. I remember all the days spent explaining what I wanted the song to feel like and be about. I use grand arm gestures and wild visual content to help explain my intent, and they pick up when i’m feeling really well.”
“Like a Dog” anchors Tayls’ forthcoming debut record, Have You Ever? I’ve Always, produced by Jake Ingalls (The Flaming Lips, Spaceface) and mixed/engineered by Calvin Lauber (Julien Baker) in August 2019 at Young Avenue Sound in Memphis, Tennessee. “I think it’s very important to create the space and vibe you want the band to be in for the best recordings. In our case, that means not recording in Nashville. When you record where you live, your mind is always thinking about that dog you gotta let out,” muses Cole, “or your girlfriend who wants to have dinner, or the job you have tomorrow. All that shit.”
Instead, Cole and company rented out an Airbnb with a heart shaped pool down the street from the studio. “It created such an amazing atmosphere, so when it came time for me to ask a lot of them, it didn’t feel like a lot was being asked. Just fun music time with friends. What you hear is true magic and love in the air.”
I’m living in a state I can afford and I’ve been thinking / It’s probably more than I can bear, but there’s nothing I can do, Cole later confides on the second verse. My life is halfway over / I don’t wanna get any older.
It’s through such confessional songwriting, often pulling from Cole’s favorite songwriter of all time Conor Oberst, that Tayls pleads to be “truly seen,” he offers. “I want the band to be seen. I want people to take us seriously, like ‘damn they are really going for it ─ because we are! I’m giving it my all and wont stop, ever. And I hope fans enjoy my wordiness and honesty. I’m also a huge fan of Oasis and Britpop, especially songs like ‘Rock and Roll Star’ or Suede’s ‘Animal Nitrate.’ I think I tried to channel their intense and awesome way of singing.”
In the accompanying lyric video, shot and edited by Be Shootin, Cole confronts his youth, setting many trinkets and various memorabilia ablaze. I won’t accept that shame / We’ll drip the southern vein, he bellows, watching the flames consume the past. We’ll take them all together / We know that we’re what matters.
Over three years, Tayls have continued etching proverbial notches in their belts. Beginning with a self-titled EP (2018), Taylor Cole and his bandmates have proven time and again how determined they are to their craft, issuing standout cuts like “Change Your Mind,” “Scarlet Letter” and now “Like a Dog.”
Inspired by such other artists as Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, Those Darlins, and Madonna, Cole writes his best work in collaboration. “I write poems and lines to songs all the time. Everyday. But they really come to something special when I let my walls down and collaborate with people. I know that I’m not the best songwriter, but together we are a great team, and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”