Todd Pipes

Todd Pipes

Taurus Petals

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Musician and record producer Todd Pipes has an obsession with time. It isn‘t so much an awareness of mortality as it is an amazement over the patterns that repeat from generation to generation, as a befuddlement over how he‘s arrived at responsible adulthood: “Things got crazy in my life. I blinked and I was a grown-up…I got my first record deal in ‘95, I‘ve been producing records since ‘99, and yet it seems like just a few months ago I was 18, living in a college dorm, teaching myself how to play Smiths songs.”

Still, all signs indicated Pipes was destined for a creative life. He grew up in the East Texas college town of Huntsville, which is home both Sam Houston State Univeristy and to eight state penitentiaries. Pipes describes his childhood and adolescence as ”idyllic–like something out of a John Hughes movie.“ Pipes and his younger brother Toby lived in a home ”where my parents were always playing Simon and Garfunkel albums, Neil Diamond, and other singer/songwriter types, as well as a endless amounts of classical music…“

In his pre-Internet teenage years Pipes‘ musical lifeline to the outside world was a little record store called ‘The Ear Doctor’ where he learned about and ordered Indie, New Wave, and Industrial imports. The Pipes brothers played in their share of bands, but when Todd entered graduate school and joined Toby at University of North Texas, everything changed. Inspired by the sheer number of bands in the area, they ditched their synthesizers and formed a new group with drummer John Kirtland.

That band became Deep Blue Something, which after knocking around the Midwest club circuit for a few years, scored an international hit in 1996 with the album Home and its breakthrough single Breakfast at Tiffany‘s, which reached #3 on the US charts, #1 in the UK, and found top five success in almost every country in the world.

In 2000 the Pipes brothers opened Bass Propulsion Laboratories recording studio in Dallas, where such acts as Cat Power, Drowning Pool, Forever the Sickest Kids, and Five Times August have recorded. DJ Shadow used the studio to remix the Rolling Stones‘ “I‘m Free” for a Chase Bank commercial with the Pipes brothers programming synthesizers as well as playing guitar and bass.

For several years Pipes worked as a producer and session musician, but by 2008 he realized he‘d owned the studio for almost a decade, but had yet to record one note of his own music there. And so in early 2008 he started writing. The result is the concept album Taurus Petals, the title being a homonymic reference to the Moog Taurus pedal keyboard. Pipes recorded, mixed, and played all the instruments himself, except for the drums.

Musically the album was inspired by Nick Drake, The Cure, Depeche Mode, and the early solo work of Morrissey, but the ideas behind the album came from a combination of everyday life and his voracious appetite for reading obsucre titles concerning comparative religion and philosophy.

by James Bankston


Track Listing Cut by Cut

1. A River: A 7/8 time signature over a five bar phrase. . .it drove drummer Cooper Heffley half insane–the groove forcing him to wait an extra beat every cycle. The song begins the recurring story line shared by ‘Police Lights’ and ‘Awash:’ A couple in a car where everything changes. The line “I see a river. . .” refers to the couple lying drowned at the bottom of a river looking up at a mirrored shoreline created by the tree canopies and the night time sky.

2. Police Lights: I wrote this driving home late one night–seeing that a cop had pulled someone over, I started singing to myself, “Police Lights in the distance remind me of a song I haven’t heard before…”

3. Hemlock In My IPOD: As I started writing for this record, I knew that I wanted the songs to be personal–which for me was difficult as I had mostly written about characters that I’d created. I kept finding myself limited by my native language and the traditional lyric form. I’ve dismissed rhyme scheme in the past, only to be misunderstood and ridiculed for it, so with this song I chose to create internal patterns with individual lines. (Hemlock being the poison that Socrates willingly ingested. . .like the songs that are littering my playlists.)

4. The List: A couple of years ago I started a list of all the people I know who have died because of drugs. I had to start the list because there were so many that I had trouble remembering them all. Even now, I’m sure there are some that I’ve left off. More frustrating than the ones who’ve left us are the ones who remain–insisting that the drugs had nothing to do with our friends’ demise. I hate getting those phone calls.

5. A Clock That Never Strikes: This is a letter to my son, which I will explain to him when he is ready.

6. Among Private School Children: My son asks so many questions on the way to school that there isn’t time to answer one before he’s on to another. I know that one day he’ll stop. During the writing of the record I was at his school, which was an alien environment to me–I certainly never had an education like that, and I realized that somehow the children know that they won’t have any excuses. . .and that every generation writes with prejudice the history of the one before.

7. The Second Coming: I keep running into people who read those Left Behind books, which of course are not Biblically sound. . . In my opinion, when He comes back it won’t be warm and fuzzy.

8. Awash: Back around to our couple from earlier. Ouspensky wrote that once things happen, they continue to happen. With careful consideration, we can alter the past as it occurs in the present. In this version of the story, the couple don’t crash but find themselves together just as they’ve always been–not understanding how they’ve changed their own paths.

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  • Robert & Marcy Dunaway

    nice mojo Todd. Hope things are great with you and yours.

  • Hi Todd,

    I just had to look you up. You were a teacher of mine for a very short period in my life. I remember you bringing your guitar into class and doing Elvis impersonations, as well as telling us that the only candy that was allowed in class was Altoids, and only if we shared them with you. LOL. I hope all is well with you. One of my favorite songs is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I play it all the time for my kids, and they love it.
    God Bless You!!!!
    Debi Jones (Labout)

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