March 26, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 93  

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Tayles of a singer-songwriter

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

John Tayles isn’t sure if he’s six-foot-three, or six-foot-four. “Put me down for six-three,” he says. “It’s less intimidating.”

Sure, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter towers over his interviewer, who tries to obtain an accurate physical description of the interview subject. But despite having a tall, solid frame you’d expect from an athlete — Tayles also plays intramural hockey — the Chatham-born, second-year honors economics student doesn’t come across as intimidating at all.

In fact, the brown-haired, blue-green-grey-eyed (we couldn’t settle on that one either) Tayles is pleasantly engaging. He’s quite talkative when describing his music career and looks you in the eye when telling you about it. It’s like he’s been doing interviews for years.

“My dad put me into piano lessons when I was six and it was not fun for me at the time,” Tayles explains. “I used to get into arguments with him, saying, ‘I want to quit,’ and he’d say, ‘You can’t make your own decisions until you’re 16!’”

Eventually Tayles picked up both guitar and singing, then began playing recitals, talent shows and high school musicals. “I pretty much tried to do just about anything to get in front of people,” he recalls.

Through Fanshawe College professor Terry McManus, Tayles was introduced to producer and songwriter Stuart Brawley, a former student of McManus’s who has worked with artists like Don Henley, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith and the Foo Fighters.

“I went to [Los Angeles] last year and wrote two really good songs with [Brawley], so I’m hoping to go back down there this summer to do some more,” Tayles says. “If the opportunity even came up and he said, ‘I really want to push this,’ I’d probably leave school and live down there, because if you really want to make it [in the United States], you gotta live there.”

But for now, Tayles is interested in playing local gigs, like the one tomorrow night at The Wave, where he’ll lead his band The John Tayles Band (which includes Craig Stephenson, Chris Wise and Doug Brown) through some versions of other people’s songs.

As for his own music, the five-track CD he uses to shop for gigs is filled with musings on love, longing and relationships. “It’s easier to write when you’re hurt or upset,” Tayles remarks, explaining that the songs on the CD are getting quite dated. “And back then I was upset about girls,” he laughs.

“I’ve gotten positive responses from guys, but they’re less likely to rock out to [my music] in their cars,” Tayles says. “It’s definitely geared more towards girls.”



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