From clammers to national musicians: the Tall Heights story

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

We thought our schedules were hectic, but then we talked to the electro-folk group, Tall Heights. Before they were signed to Sony Music, guitarist, Tim Harrington, and cellist, Paul Wright used to busk on the streets of Boston. Now, they’re opening for Judah & the Lion and headlining their own shows. Wright took the time to talk to us while driving

Photo via Facebook somewhere in rural Kentucky.

​“It’s been a busy six months. That’s the way we like it,” he said.

This past Fall, the group was opening for Ben Folds’ Paper Airplane Request Tour. You’d think after 34 shows, the duo would want a break, but instead, they signed up for 40 more shows on Judah & the Lion’s Going to Mars Tour. 

“It’s been great,” said Wright. “We feel really lucky. We’ve become good buds with Judah & the Lion and Colony House boys, kind of like one big family now. We’re five weeks in on an eight-week tour. Crowds are awesome. It’s really fun and feels productive for us. “

Wright’s favorite stops so far might surprise you (hint: it’s not a big city). Photo by Brad Heaton

“We just had a great show in Tallahassee,” he said. “I guess Tallahassee doesn’t get a lot of tours that go through there, and the crowd was especially fired up. We played at the Palace Theatre in Minneapolis. That place is amazing, and that was one of my personal favorite shows.”

​If you’ve been to one of their shows, then you’ve heard Tall Height’s killer new single, “Not Like It Was.” Besides being catchy and melodic as hell, this song is SO GOOD. We promise your mom, dad, grandparents, little sister, older brother would dig it. Wright explained the inspiration for the track.

“It’s about our fear of the present and our tendency to look back and think about past experiences through tinted lenses,” he said. “Also, we put pressure on ourselves for the future to be better than the present…This feels like a particularly uncertain time as we were leading up to the election—that’s when we were writing the song—but people no matter what profession someone is in, music or whatever, people feel like the future of their livelihood is uncertain because technology is improving at a rapid pace and industries are changing. Nothing’s quite like it used to be, and maybe it’s always been that way, but it’s addressing both that pressure to improve and the tendency to look back and think the past was so great because the presence is a little bit of a scary place. I wanted to address that.”

Wright and Harrington’s voices harmonize so well with the variety of instruments in the piece. It might surprise you that the group was playing it live while finalizing the sound.

“We actually started playing it before the tour, even before we recorded it, which is a rare move for us” Wright shared. “We usually kind of figure songs out in the studio Photo by Sophie Knight

but, we played ‘Not Like It Was’ on a bunch of European festivals. It really morphed a lot in the studio when we added the vocal stack, and we were thinking about how to present it. So we had to relearn how to play it live. It’s a really fun song to get the crowd involved.”

​The last record the duo released was “Neptune” in 2016. While we’re really grateful for the singles they’ve released in between now and then, I think it’s safe to say we are itching for a full-length record. Wright said they have started mixing, but we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer for an official announcement, which is understandable since they’ve been touring for six months.

 “The recording process demands a real pump of the breaks and time to think,” he said. “We haven’t always had that. What worked for us in the past and I think is working for us with the new music, is dedicating some time to it and then stepping away and reflecting, playing some shows and then get back into it and sort of reviewing what we’ve done and slightly go in a different direction. But, we’ve never just stepped into the studio and cut a whole record at once. Maybe we’re just not prepared enough in advance to do that. Maybe we should do that but we think we’ve benefited from some space and revisiting our recordings.”

​If you’ve followed their career[we have], Tall Heights’ sound has evolved since their first EP, “Rafters.” Our ears love the arrangement experimentation, while still delving into their emotions and experiences.

​“Since our last record, we just opened ourselves up to be more experimental with soundscapes and instrumentation and not so insistent that there be cello on every song that it sounds like two people playing guitar and cello, singing. Ever since we added percussion and synths and other instruments, we had a lot more fun in the studio being open to multiple

Photo via Facebook ways of expressing that raw emotional nugget.”

​ “We were in Nashville the other night and played a really good show. It was a big crowd, but it felt very much like a big industry show. It was very reserved, and people clapped, but not too much. It’s (Massachusetts) always been a fun place to grow our fan base because it’s not like that at all. They’re a very supportive community. I don’t think that it’s been the best place for people to help you grow your career, or at least, we haven’t found those people in Boston. So maybe we should have lived in Brooklyn the whole time, but we love it, and we didn’t want to move so we didn’t.”

Be sure to see if Tall Heights is visiting a city near you. Besides the Going to Mars tour dates, the guys are going to be very present during festival season. Let’s hope that they take some time to finish the third record. Until then, you can catch Wright and Harrington on the north shore of Boston clamming and oystering. You know what they say? You can take the clam out of Massachusetts but you can’t take the clam out of a man. 

Listen to their music here