A different vantage point
Seattle’s Tall Birds attacks rock ‘n’ roll with an other-worldly tone
I was thinking about it this morning. Most record labels (at least indie labels) kind of have a category they fit into. If I pick up a Matador release, I have a basic idea of what the thing is going to sound like. Not so with Sub Pop. I remember in my naive days attending a Rosie Thomas show expecting to hear the next Green River. So when my boss suggested some band I’d never heard of on Sub Pop, I figured, well, it’s rare they put out a bad record.
Tall Birds is all that remains of The Catheters, who we haven’t heard from since 2004’s Howling … It Grows and Grows!!!. The Catheters had found a considerable amount of exposure during their somewhat short life, being produced by John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Blonde Redhead) and playing shows with bands like Murder City Devils and Mudhoney.
I don’t know if we can say Tall Birds is anything like its last incarnation. The sound is a little more spacey and sludgy, but still oozes rock ‘n’ roll. If Screamin’ Jay Hawkins got begrudgingly involved in a band from Portland and did what he could to show his true colors through the forest of indie rock madness, if they were lucky, they would have gotten a sound like this.
It rocks, OK? It’s good goddamn music.
This new project has “no game plan,” explains guitarist/ vocalist Brian Standeford who, along with bassist-turned-guitarist Leo Gebhardt and drummer Davey Brozowsky, are the three former Catheters that now make up Tall Birds.
“More than anything else I’ve done, we’re all uninhibited with this one,” says Standeford.
That could explain the band’s strange, almost otherworldly tone. I have trouble listening to the same song twice and explaining it the same way both times. Cool!
The band’s first release on Sup Pop, a 7-inch called Internalize b/w The Sky is Falling, is an exciting first look into what will surely be a stunning catalog.
Tall Birds is also out on its first tour, which will take the band down the West Coast, and they’ve decided to hit up Chico.
“We played in Chico before [with The Catheters] and we always have a lot of fun,” Standeford says. “Plus, it’s on the way. It’s nice to break up drives between big cities.”
I wrap up the interview by asking Standeford what makes music special to him. He notes the complicated nature of the question.
“I don’t know. The force of it. It’s a great way to expel energy. It’s also good for working with others.”
I guess I could have asked Standeford some more profound questions. I could have really delved into his philosophy and soaked up the innermost of his being, but it seemed like we both understood that the gist of it was, simply, that Tall Birds is a cool band.