Macey Taylor has contributed to a wide variety of songs and sounds with his bass over the years. The Birmingham native is currently on tour with Bright Eyes, and consistently works with other musical greats like his sister Maria Taylor, Taylor Hollingsworth, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Veeries, Trio Noir, and more. When he’s not on tour this year, Macey is found between book covers preparing for his UAB courses and trying to find some relaxation time in a pool between it all.
I met with Macey at Little London in Homewood, which he informs me is the area of the Magic City he grew up in. It was easy for the Taylor children to fall in love with music, as their dad was the mastermind behind the famous restaurant jingle “Everybody goes to Milo’s”. “Part of living in my house was playing guitars, pianos, and stuff like that. It was always natural. It was always there,” the bassist remembers, “I actually got a guitar when I was 6 years old.” Taylor learned a few songs on the instrument, but brushed the music bug off until he picked up a bass at 11 years old. “It is kinda easy to play bass. I went for that, for maybe lazy reasons,” he jokes while recalling how easy it is to be invited to play in bands as a bassist since everyone else wants to play the flashier instruments.
By the age of 13 Taylor was playing in bands with friends, and his sound would only develop into a more finely tuned but ever-expanding experience with each new chapter of his life. “I started off liking alternative music and grunge in the early 90s. Before that, I liked Weird Al Yankovic and Simpsons tapes. Later on I get more into hippy shit like Phish and The Grateful Dead. I didn’t do punk rock like a lot of people did. I liked the hardcore scene in the late 90s here, and I used to go to a place called Unity with my friends that was pretty cool,” Macey shares of his musical journey, “I studied music a little while after high school in Atlanta at the Atlanta Institute of Music and got more into academic kind of music like jazz. That didn’t really take shape either - in the end, it was kind of close to that time when all those influences came together and just (combined with) me being able to play fairly well.”
Macey Taylor would then meet Conor Oberst and company through his sister, which would shape his life story for the next twenty years. “That’s how I got involved with all these Bright Eyes and Omaha, Nebraska people,” Macey recalls, “Taylor Hollingsworth (fellow Birmingham resident and Macey’s bandmate in Mystic Valley Band) is now my brother-in-law. It’s all sort of family at this point.” Macey recalls a 2004-era show with Maria and Conor playing at Zydeco that would be a foreshadowing of the success to come for the rising musicians. They knew Maria had a fanbase in the city, but didn’t know the magnitude of that night’s lineup. “They said it was the quickest they ever sold out there, which was weird to us because we didn’t know Conor’s stuff was known like that.”
The enthusiasm is still strong for Bright Eyes in 2022, as the band is currently traversing the country in support of their recently released album Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was. “It’s been great. We traveled with a lot of horns and strings, and they’re all Broadway musicians from New York and LA. It’s been great to mix it up with real pros. It’s a big sound that we have,” Macey shares, “Conor, I think, is one of the better songwriters of my generation easily and it’s great to play bass with him. He’s also my friend which is important. I think we offer a lot musically and introspectively in our show, and that’s powerful. I feel that when I play the gig, so it’s nice.” The band is headed to Europe next for a tour run in August and September.
While he’s mastered his craft to the point of playing international tours, Taylor is still inspired by the Birmingham musicians he shared the stage with. One is Trio Noir bandmate Mark Kimbrell, who is a “local legend. A real naturally talented, very smart jazz musician and guitar player.” Macey goes on to share, “I learn a lot from him because he’s so gifted and approaches music in a weird way from a lot of different angels so anytime I get to play music with him it elevates me.”
The Bham music collective is one of the aspects of Taylor’s music career that he’s most excited about, saying “I like the Birmingham scene. I appreciate playing around town and I want to do it more. I know I’ll continue to do that forever, one way or another.” Innovation and collaboration in the Magic City don’t seem to be falling off the musician’s agenda anytime soon. As for his next step? Taylor has two words:
We can’t wait to see what’s next, and will enjoy the good tunes of the present for now.
Cover image provided by Macey Taylor