Interview – Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards – Taproot


Taproot’s return to the music scene has been nothing short of triumphant. After an 11-year hiatus, the band has returned with the release of their new single, “VIP (V\CT\M \ PLAY)“, which already has fans buzzing with excitement.

Taproot’s music has always been a unique blend of heavy alternative rock and passionate lyrics. Their music has always had a raw and visceral energy that captivates audiences and makes them stand out from the rest. Their previous hits include songs such as “Poem” and “Calling.” These songs have stood the test of time and are still popular today. The band has always been unafraid to tackle difficult subjects in their music, which has earned them a loyal following of fans who relate to their message.

After taking a break for over a decade, it’s clear that Taproot hasn’t lost their edge. Their new single, “VIP (V\CT\M \ PLAY)“, is a perfect example of the band’s renewed energy. The song is a hard-hitting track that showcases the band’s signature sound while also pushing into new territories.

With shows selling out left and right, it’s clear that Taproot fans are excited to see their favorite band back in action. The band has always been committed to putting on a great show, and it’s clear that they’re still just as dedicated as ever.

Taproot’s return to the music scene is a testament to the power of great music and the enduring appeal of a band that stays true to its roots. With “VIP (V\CT\M \ PLAY)” already creating a buzz and a tour that’s selling out across the country, it’s clear that Taproot is back and better than ever.

I had moment to catch up with Taproot’s Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards about the band hitting the scene again, this is what he had to tell us:

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Congratulations on your sold out tour dates! How will it feel to be back on the road?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Painful? haha (older now, but plan on similar attempts at physicality, don’t know otherwise), slower?.. great to be back out seeing and sharing time with our supporters from all over and getting the chance to share new material to relate with them past/present/future and enjoy the taste of reliving a dream that we’ve been fortunate enough to taste!

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your new album?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): I’m not gonna lie, most of this material was written where I was at mentally a decade ago, but it’s just the normal state of mind at that time which is usually lyrically expressing my mindset and the music obviously just trying to create an orchestrated chaos haha.. the freshest most recent written in the last few years were around my mother’s passing and new family beginning, kind of a cool conundrum.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): What sets your new album apart from your previous work?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): It’s new? (old actually haha). Not much really, they’ve all been a variable in their own ways, but this with a different take like “Gift” and “Plead The 5th“, mostly me on my own. I write like me. I sound (horribly) like me, but it’s kinda odd/funny, when I wrote most of this material was a huge lull with many important bands like  SOAD/Slipknot/Deftones/KoRn/Tool..Taproot haha, I actually took an angle towards writing material that their fans may enjoy to appeal to, although in my style.. and now since it’s been that long, EVERY single one of them have been releasing/touring and current and relevant again hahaha.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating your new album?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): The lack of time to acquire succession.. with the job/family/life etc, I’ve spent 6 years alone for 3 to 5 hours a week at 5am one day off to do everything.. mathematically it actually breaks down almost perfectly to 12 hour days 6x a week for 2 months ugghh.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Which track from your new album are you most excited for fans to hear?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Favourite Song.. even if not all that impressed by it (fans should be), It’s a topic relatable to every human, and very singalong, even if ya don’t know the lyrics, that’s the point!.. and still has heavy riffs, multiple harmonies and an amazing guest vocalist featured as well!

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Can you walk us through your songwriting process?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): No, I can sit and type you through it though (terrible sense of humor sorry).. Honestly it varies, but in general I usually try to write strategic guitar riffs first to drum along with, and then figure out lyrics, usually rhythmically and keyed into the song but the topics are usually venting or expressing feelings on whatever’s on my mind. I don’t tend to write stories, I just complain about myself and surroundings haha, and try to make the point of finding positivity out of scenarios. That’s why I love people. They can have conversations and share their stories with me that are relative. I’m an introverted recluse and these scenarios are where I get to meet people on more than a thanks level. Then I strategically put songs in order, tend to put the (minus blue sky research, kinda out of the care much haha) heavy/trademarked my style heavy riffs as track 1, “single type sounding songs/relatively similar guitar” style as track 2’s, and tend to save a heavy hitter as 5.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): How has your sound evolved since your early days as a band?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Full circle honestly.. our “first” record “Gift” was basically just re-recording an Indie release on our own w/ better equipment and external support/ears. Welcome was the first inclusive of outsiders input and new written material in years, it was awesome. The next couple, obviously growing older (still young then) “thinking” more mature, just tried new avenues and creativity as influences change with the times which is natural and truly organic. But this record is the combo of all, intentional songs to rip your face off, some to sing along with, even introduced guitar solos on an acoustic song with a female country artist guest vocals, covering the whole deal. I’m proud of it (I do not “shred” by any means, but enjoy having fun especially since it’s not amazing, but putting it out there as a Taproot first will baffle people haha)

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Are there any specific artists or bands that have influenced your music?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Yes I suppose haha.. I haven’t listened to modern music in a while focusing on this stuff SLOWLY and Dave & Chuck the Freak comedy radio, but in general it was everything bi-polar as a kid from Duran Duran/Motley Crue/Abba, then later like Slayer/Metallica/Primus, then the KoRn/Deftones/311’s etc..

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): How do you balance staying true to your sound while still keeping things fresh and innovative?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): I’m honestly not concerned about either, I do what I do which usually brings a fresh version of the old style combo, and the supporters interact with the new take on nostalgia. I don’t really do anything different intentionally to fit in with the times or appeal to anyone outside, just hope fresh ears come across and enjoy it as well.. I literally don’t listen to music much at all, just judge these terrible mixes I’m finishing up and comedy radio.. modern music is boring to me, and if I don’t even get to play/watch hockey outside of work/family, no real care for comparison to anything. I must’ve done what I have, and truly just want whoever needs and finds support and relativity with what they can/choose/appeals, that’s what it’s about. I’m not a fan of yours, you’re not a fan of mine, but we are all fans of something and have fans as well (on a personal level as well) so everyone should just be happy in their own way, everything is relative and personal.. that’s my goal honestly.. don’t judge, just share and enjoy what you find appealing! Not much time on this rock, stop worrying about negatives, make the best for you and those around you.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Tough one to answer. Modern times are well out of my understanding w/ technology and modern styles, but apparently just steal/cover a classic song seems to get you on the radio haha.. Just do what makes you happy, share it, let it grow grassroots and promote your best. Don’t expect to be the next big thing, but plan on it I guess is a good way to think about it. Social Media is important for sharing, but if you only have 100 followers, that could lead to 1K with shares/likes while having 1k fans could lead to people randomly just liking pictures of your cats (haha).

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): How have you adapted to the changing music industry over the years?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Getting dropped by a huge international label, failing on an independant release, moderate success signing w/ a supportive quality label, getting dropped and just slowly moving forward independently with hopefully a relatively successful outcome. It’s for our supporters with the potential to reach more, but nowadays nothing is a given w/ everyone fighting over a TikTok viral, this is just music to share from and to.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Can you tell us about any particularly memorable moments from your career thus far?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): First tour for us was with Papa Roach who’s first as well, getting to play NHL arenas with the Deftones, seeing the world and meeting people overall.. AND getting not just to meet Howard Stern (I call my dad as I grew up listening to/relating sense of humor, only child/single mom), but to also visit his studios/crew and get to attend the transitional party from terrestrial radio to Sirius on tour with Staind, got to meet/hang with the whack pack.. and singing on Linkin Park record’s up there too!

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): How do you connect with your fans through your music?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): I would say mostly lyrics personally thus far (as most people have been aware that I’ve also been main writer not knowing I began drums at 4 and write most guitar riffs). getting to chat with people that can relate lyrically has been a great way to meet and stay in touch with people, and for those less inclined for lyrics, just instruments and feel (like myself, as I say in “Favourite Song”, I don’t even know the lyrics to my favourite song), that’s awesome too because the music invokes some sort of feeling and release/pleasure, so that’s fucking sweet.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Which song from your discography means the most to you and why?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Honestly has varied over time where I’m currently at, but right now it’s Lost in the Woods. Haven’t really listened to in forever, but relearning potential songs for live shows coming up, it’s one that I’m even like wow, those lyrics are deep and important.. and Billy Corgan came up with part of the guitar idea, I changed it to our formula, about my mom one of the many close calls years and years before leaving here. Fun to attempt on guitar and singing at the same time, not my forte haha.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence):What can fans expect from your live shows on this tour?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Old performers wondering if mosh pits exist for people our age, or just jamming to a room full of phones hahaha.. Just me being an energetic goofball attempting to hit notes while attempting to go crazy surrounded by amazing players and hanging with supporters as usual. FUN.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence):Are there any upcoming collaborations or projects that you’re particularly excited about?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Two collab’s on this new one which is exciting and polarizing in different ways, I’ve got ideas as “SC\SSRS” (personal new musical identity/why album named as on my own), but that’s down the road. Promoting this Taproot record/shows is what’s up right now.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): What’s next for Taproot after this tour?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): TBD.. this release is as Taproot as I’d written it to be the next, which is why Phil and the guys got behind it, but who knows? Maybe another one more collaborative? More shows probably on/off every once in a while?

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence):
How do you stay motivated and inspired as artists?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): Once shows were booked, I’ve been motivated by the joy of relearning/listening to material after such a period of not hearing. Inspired as well, again I don’t listen to much modern stuff, but I’m sure the guys would answer differently as they’ve been enjoying new gear/playing/listening. They’ll be great! (I just got an amp in my condo a week ago as an early Father’s day present and making sure I can still play guitar after a major surgery years ago and issues feeling my hand, I suck haha).

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): Can you tell us about any causes or charities that you’re passionate about and support?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): I’ve worked my last 8 years in health care as a Home Health Aid with elderly, TBI (brain injuries) and CMH (mental health) clients. People, I suppose, haven’t rescued any animals in awhile, but another passion of mine.

Toney Emmons: (New Transcendence): What message do you hope fans take away from your music?

Stephen “SCI\SSRS” Richards: (Taproot): My bitching and moaning lyrics are always looking towards a light at the end of the tunnel, a positive one. I try to look positively towards the future, not negatively about the past and hope that comes through. Anything that’s relative to anyone, even if just a kick drum pattern or guitar bend, if it’s something that gives you a smile, I’m in, and so appreciative for those who can/do/and share the same.

Afterword from Stephen:

“Thank you for letting me do this, I hope it’s not too boring, but this is like a conversation I enjoy with supporters, helps me remember stuff and think on my toes. Appreciate it!”


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