Interview by Scott Preston
Photo by Michael Spencer
Buckle Up Music Festival
Tall Heights performs at 7:15pm on 7/19
In the summer of 2010, Tim Harrington and Paul Wright were playing for spare change in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace. In a few short years since, Tall Heights has headlined packed listening rooms across the country, toured down to Austin, TX to showcase at South By Southwest Music Festival, and performed alongside national acts like Laura Marling, Ryan Montbleau, and Andrew Belle.
For the duo’s debut full-length effort, Man of Stone (May, 2013), Tall Heights hits the home studio, sinking deeper into the vast world they’ve meticulously built for two. The title track and first single, Man of Stone, recalls a time when cavemen documented day-to-day existence on the walls of their stone-sheltered dwellings. “Emblems of cavemen they taught me / the importance of typing in bold,” contextualizes the rest of the record and challenges a careful listener to view each song as a vital documentation of what is both banal and extraordinary. The record exists in a fire-lit, shadowy space for their growing army of fans to inhabit. After two powerful EPs, there has been a growing cry for more from these young artists, and Tall Heights delivers with an LP of grand vision and scale. (from Tallheights.com)
Cincy Groove: How did you and Paul first start playing together?
Tim Harrington: We started playing on the streets in Boston at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which is tourist attraction. Before that we have known each other for a long time, pretty much grew up together. We went to the same elementary school, same high school, and college. I am a bit younger than Paul and he was always closer to my older brother. While we were both going to college we would learn some cover songs and play at restaurants. That was really way before Tall Heights was created. In summer 2010 we started playing 4-6 hours on the streets everyday for that whole summer.
Cincy Groove: Was it intentional to keep Tall Heights in a duo format?
Tim Harrington: Actually before summer 2010 we were messing around with a rock band format with bass and drums. It was once of those things where we practiced during soundcheck and then the band would go their separate ways until showtime. It wasn’t a recipe for success. Once we became a duo things started clicking. We accredit a lot of that to all those hours we spent street performing. So it wasn’t intentional, it was just the way things worked out. We aren’t against the idea of becoming more than a duo in the future. But for now things are working out as a duo.
Cincy Groove: Are you and Paul working on any new projects?
Tim Harrington: We are in the demo stage for our next full length record. We have most of the songs written. We are trying to figure out how and where we want to record it. Our last record “Man of Stone” was recorded in my apartment. We wrote 10 songs, recorded 10 songs. The process seemed to be fueled by the necessity to make the next record. Our tour schedule was starting to pick up, so we kind of felt under the gun to finish it. We are going to try and take our time with the next one. Right now we have about 100 different conversations going on with different producers and recording demos for a lot of them. We were just in a studio yesterday and will be in another one next week.
Cincy Groove: Are you going to bring in any extra players for this next record?
Tim Harrington: For these demos, we have been allowing ourselves the liberty to use some session musicians to get some extra sound. Its really a big question for us, not so much because we are afraid to become more than a duo, but we aren’t completely sure on what we would want to add. The obvious choice would be to add some upright bass and maybe a violin. We have been messing around with some electronic drum sounds. I don’t know what the next record is going to sound like yet, but I do know its going to sound fucking sweet.
Cincy Groove: I know you two have been playing for quite a while, but you seem to have attracted a lot of attention in a short period of time. Why do you think that is?
Tim Harrington: It’s been a lot of things. Our last record, Man of Stone, went pretty well. We also had a video debut on Conan O’Brien’s website. In the last year we have even noticed our older EP’s picking up some steam. I think we have just been knocking at the door for a while and its starting to open a little. Our Spotify page has been doing great and the song that has been doing better than any other is the single off our first EP. There hasn’t been one big thing, we have just been playing our asses off.
Cincy Groove: Spending so much time being a street performer, what has been one of the stranger things you have seen?
Tim Harrington: There was this really sweet old man that came up to us on the street and shook our hands with so much respect and joy in his eyes. He was telling us how he was a veteran and how our music was bringing him some much needed serenity. He was watching us play and clapping in between songs, It almost seemed like he was going to cry from listening to the music. He came up and put a tip in the bucket and nodded to thank him. It didn’t look like he had a lot of money, so I thought it was a nice gesture. Then he came up a second and third time. I noticed on the third time he flips us a five and grabs the twenty. We realized he had been stealing from us for the last 15 minutes. He starts to walk away and I put my guitar down and walk up to him and explain to him that he has been made. He gave the money back.