We recently had the opportunity, and pleasure, of interviewing Tim Harrington and Paul Wright from Tall Heights a young up-and-coming duo out of Boston. They were playing a show at Harmony Presents at the Hawley Silk Mill in Hawley, PA which is just up past Lake Wallenpaupack. If you haven’t been there yet, I’d definitely recommend putting it on your checklist of places to visit this summer and catch some music or a comedy show. If you have not heard of Tall Heights, take a moment to check them out and listen to some of their music, we’re certain you’ll become a fan.
The aesthetics of the unique venue provided the perfect backdrop and added to the performance which seemed to set the tone for both listeners and the musicians alike. When they first got on stage, Tim took a glance out the window overlooking the waterfalls out back and said jokingly “Is this even real now? There’s a waterfall right outside the window, this can’t be real life”. He continued on asking the crowd how many people were local or if they were on vacation to which one person piped up, “Both. We’re always on vacation!” It definitely was a beautiful location and the music was outstanding.
Prior to the show, we grabbed some time with Tim and Paul backstage as they were preparing for the show. I think most of us would be scrambling around a little bit anxious and maybe even flustered in those last moments prior to going on stage, but they both sat calmly grabbing a quick bite to eat while working on finalizing their set list order.
My immediate impression of them was that they were so relaxed, they both have such a calm demeanor, not in an uncaring way, but rather the exact opposite. They are so very present and very intelligent, you can tell they truly live life for each moment and don’t allow their hectic and busy lives to affect their personalities.
The personas really carry over into their music, they’re humble, honest, creative and humorous and all those features blend together throughout their songs to make for music that’s not just great to listen to, but that really can speak to you emotionally as well. Amazingly, Tall Heights is only 4 years young, which you would never would have guessed from how seamlessly they play together.
What got you guys into music in the first place? Cello and guitar aren’t exactly the most common combination, so what was the process like to figure that out?
Paul: Well we grew up together but we had started doing music independently, I was playing cello classically and he started Guitar in high school and so we eventually started playing music together. What first brought us together was singing as we sang together in high school. Eventually we had been playing with other instruments too, and we started street performing in 2010 in Boston, and we started doing the guitar and cello thing and people seem to really be responding to it.
You guys seem really laid back and that writing and performing music comes so naturally to you. Do you need to set deadlines to get things done or is it more a “when it happens, it does” sort of thing?
Paul: Unfortunately yes (laughs), we are doing a lot of writing right now, we spend the first couple of hours each day writing and right now we’re working on our next record and we’d like to have a pretty big number of song ideas to choose from to make that record.
Our last record we wrote 10 songs and they all went on the record. This time we’d like to be able to go about that differently. So yeah, we just did a recording last week on a different project and we are constantly writing.
So where do you guys get most of your inspiration from, is it people or experiences?
Paul: Inspiration comes most easily from specific experiences that were powerful in some way. It can come from a simple conversation, something that someone says, that strikes us momentarily. I get a lot of inspiration from reading, I try to keep reading fiction all of the time so I’m rooted in the story world. And I’ve really found out when I stop reading I stop thinking creatively, so I try to keep doing it. And right now I’m reading a lousy book so…
You guys have a real upbeat relationship towards each other, I’m sure that helps on the road as it probably gets tense being together all of the time, how do you guys work out any conflicts?
Paul: We’re pretty good about it, we’ve learned what the other person needs and we’re good at reading each other for the most part. And it’s good that we’re pretty compatible in terms of what helps us prepare for a gig, we both enjoy exercise and eating decent food. So we get into the rhythm of doing those things and then we can go to a gig not get at each other’s throats.
When we first heard your music there were 2 things that immediately struck us, an odd familiarity and that you’re bound to be hugely successful. I feel like with timing and exposure you guys will blow up, do you feel that same confidence as well?
Paul: If you had asked us if we wanted to be song writers and performers when we were in in high school we would have been all starry eyed like “yeah we just want to get out on the road”. In reality it’s definitely grueling, it’s challenging, but we’ve seen people around us take off and it happens differently every time but what’s always there is a lot of hard work and passion and an ability to inspire people. And we feel like we have those things, and there’s a certain amount of it that you have to trust that it will work out, but timing is huge too.
We have both specific goals as to where we’d want to be in a year as well as loftier goals as to where we’d like to see our career go. And the thing that helps us the most is that hard work is the clearest path to getting there.
What can you tell us about you that people don’t already know or can’t find in your bio?
Paul: What people seem to respond that isn’t on our bio is our chemistry, for lack of a better word. We’re childhood friends which sounds kind of corny but he was my best friend’s kid brother. I think a lot of people actually mistake us for brothers as well.
It’s really hard to convey to people who haven’t heard it [our music] to give an elevator pitch. But what can be difficult to describe in words, we just show through honesty and real emotion on stage and that’s the part of the connection I think that gets people.
People sometimes pigeonhole your music into a certain genre, does that ever bother you?
Paul: We use folk as a genre a lot, but I think that it’s more on the more ambient side of folk that we associate ourselves with. As long as people listen to it before they talk about it, and as long as we’re not getting set up for a gig that is totally inappropriate based on the description then we’re ok with it.
What do you think of today’s mainstream music?
Paul: To a certain extent we respect the artistry behind it, but it’s such a super narrow part of the spectrum. And things that artists need to do to get into that radio groove, they have to compromise themselves a bit but it’s the nature of the game.
What do you guys miss the most when you’re on tour from home?
Tim: I miss my bed, a lot. Things like space, your drawers.
Paul: Just being grounded. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you know where you’re sleeping, your bag is over there (wherever that is), whether you’re sleeping on floor or the couch you’re kind of setup and able to get up in the morning and go to your job you can just go. Whereas a lot of the time on tour, everything is in the car or in bags, it can just get to you a bit. And just being able to spend time outside, too, we’re in the car a lot.
Tim: Yeah, I agree, spending time outside, or just like laying on the couch and watching TV is like the best thing in the world. When you get home from a tour to have a night where you can just turn the TV on and relax on the couch. Family Guy, that’s my favorite show where my mind turns off, the intro song turns on and my mind is just done thinking. That’s like my Zen, family guy.
After the interview we grabbed our seats and settled in for the show. Watching them play live they not only sounded great, but they have this amazing way of drawing the crowd in and making themselves totally relatable. They are both enchanting and witty, taking time to add in a bit of humor along with insight behind the meaning of each upcoming song. As they transitioned from song to song they weaved stories along an intriguing path through a variety of topics from cavemen to global warming. They touched on topics such as explaining to your new lover about your old lover, to a friend they had lost and unlikely inspirations like a broken furnace. If you’re confused, you should be, but it’s a good excuse to go see them. Take it from us here at Pocono Talk, if you have the chance to see them live you will not leave disappointed what so ever.
Although their lyrics are not exactly direct, at least at first glance, they are not just words thrown together. Their songs are each intelligently and artistically structured and have definite meaning and inspiration behind each one.
I was amazed at how their sound is so filled out, and I think most people listening to them for the first time, and not seeing them, would think that it’s definitely more than just the two of them playing. The lows and highs of their voices and instruments all seem to balance out perfectly creating this full sound, it’s a sound that is extremely hard to put into words, it’s just one of those things you just have to hear for yourself.
Tall Heights definitely deserve every “like”, “share” and bit of exposure they get. Whether you’re a fan already or not, we hope you’ll take a moment to listen to them, catch a show and support them by spreading the word through friends and social media.
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