Saturday, April 25, 2009

Taproot vocalist Stephen Richards on latest album

Ann Arbor-based Taproot is best known for early-'00 singles such as "Poem" and "Mine." The band has tons of local support and keeps putting out new material. Here's my interview with vocalist Stephen Richards! Thanks for checking it out! (Courtesy photo)

Ann Arbor alt-rock band went back to basics on latest (Originally published on

By Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ

Taproot lead vocalist Stephen Richards always wanted to be a musician.

"When I was 4, my Mom got me my first drum kit because she noticed me air drumming and realized that even though I didn't know what I was doing, I could keep time," Richards said from his Ann Arbor-area home.

Now, of course, Richards is the part of the Taproot legacy. CD sales in the millions and recording sessions with Billy Corgan make up the Ann Arbor group's back-story. And the guys' sound has matured from nĂ¼-metal to more tight, melodic hard rock.

On its latest album, Our Long Road Home, the band serves up a complex combination of trashy riffs and moody vocals, with a mix of hard-hitters and weighty ballads.

We caught up with Richards to talk.

Anne: People know the name Taproot from your 2002 modern rock hit, "Poem." That song was huge.

Richards: Yes, it's funny because our biggest single was "Poem," and that was a song I wrote in four minutes. It either happens or doesn't. We just try to be creative and see what comes out. And hopefully a single or some success will follow.

-Your new album is called, "Our Long Road Home." There's obviously significance to the title.

-Definitely. Our last albums were released through Atlantic Records, and when we parted ways, we knew that to record or next CD cost effectively, we had to do it close to home. So we moved back to Ann Arbor from L.A. and we approached the recording like we did our old demos. So doing it at home was like our welcome back home and trying to re-find ourselves.

-A few songs on your last album were co-written by Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Is he nice?

-He is! For being a guy that is so incredibly successful for all the stories of him not being the most approachable guy, I was quite shocked. He was very supportive. He obviously didn't have to work with us, but he told us from the get-go that he respected our talent but thought we had some bad habits. So he tried to help us with the way we make songs.

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