Tilly and The Wall
Miss Fliss 05/10/2008
For the uninitiated, Tilly and The Wall's most marked feature is that they tap-dance in lieu of drum beats. The Nebraskan band are also famed for their connection with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, whom some of the members were formerly in a band with and with whom the band share great friendship. Onstage, the largely female quintet look wide-eyed wild and smiley with enjoyment - adorned in passionately colourful clothes that out-do Karen O in the brilliant and unique stakes, they provide much needed refreshment from the drab dull male indie bands that can dominate the UK gig scene. They make me want to tap-dance along to their songs, inspire in me a feeling of giddy silly grin-happy glee.
The band's perfectly realised debut album, Wild Like Children, provided a Technicolour daydream world, of thoughtful child-like state (innocence), and the most beauteous melody I've ever known. Cheerleader chants, grinning cheery singing, swells of choral optimism, romantic worlds, all kinds of hedonistic fairytales: 'Slow dancing to tunes of Billie Holiday' (from Fell Down The Stairs on their debut)… 'We got a bottle of wine, a fresh pack of smokes/ we're gonna end up screaming around some midnight garage sale...oh the push and pull of everything/oh this nightmare of electricity/we are the living dead, the living dead (from the 2006 song Nights Of The Living Dead). The band herald in sheer belonging and meaning: rejoice and welcome. Here is a gang, escapism into a friendly cartoon-fun sphere. Those with a downtrodden spirit, prepare to be uplifted in an instant. From the vehement glory of the delivery of 'I wanna fuck it up/I wanna fuck it up/I wanna fuck it up!' to the life-affirming vigour of shouting out: 'And I feel so alive and I feel so alive and I feel so alive and I feel so alive/and I FEEL!', Tilly's world seems to cure everything, giving us anthems to keep close to the chest; a magical world, a weapon against all misery.
They truly are a band to treasure, and I find it surreal that the pop crossover possibilities they indulge so magnificently in have not been taken up by the populace at large. If the world only knew! I was once told by an NME journalist that though Tilly and The Wall were a hit in parts of the office, they would not be gracing the cover…because they are girls. Shocking.
GIITTV decided to interview Tilly and the Wall's keyboardist Nick, in anticipation of their third album, O…
How do you describe your new songs, compared with your last album, Bottoms of Barrels?
Our goal with the new album in general was to try new things and push ourselves to make a different album than both our previous two.
To me, the new album covers a wider range of emotions and topics, and the sounds are more varied.
The single Pot Kettle Black feels more rocky and guitarry to me.. a bit dirty sounding like The Kills. It doesn't sound like usual Tilly. And you're using drums. How come you've gone in this direction?
That particular song came about really quickly and in a natural way. We had wanted stomp troupe sounds for a while and this seemed like the perfect occasion. The bass line was doubled with the electric guitar, and the drums added the extra something. It's more aggressive than most of our previous songs, but we all liked the way it turned and out and it was really fun to do a song that was a kind of departure.
You've been remixed by CSS, whilst Beat Control sounds very dancey and more hip-hop style - was it a conscious decision to become more dancey, polished and modern sounding to gear towards a more commercial sound fitting in with current trends, or a more personal choice? It's quite a departure to your previous sound.
We've had electronic sounds on all of our albums thanks to our good friend Clark Baechle (sometimes credited as recordist). We didn't hear the CSS remix until it was done, but of course we loved what they did. As far as Beat Control goes, Kianna had an idea to just make a fun song to dance to. We have certain things as artists that we want to accomplish it, and a fun dance song was one of those. We've never approached a song as a single or as something commercially viable, but if one of our songs were particularly appealing to radio we would be happy as well.
It's the Moshi Moshi birthday party soon - are you looking forward to it, and are you all like a musical family? Who do you get along with best?
Yeah we're super excited about the Moshi party. Steven and Michael [label bods] are such close friends of ours, as are many of the bands. I'm mostly excited to see what they've been up to since the last time, and to see how people from London throw a huge party.
Tell us about your adventures on tour. What do you get up to on the road? How do you stay sane with such long tours?
We honestly don't stay that sane on tour, but we have found ways of surviving. We try to eat at least some amount of fresh food, which makes a huge difference. Eating crap is so tiring on our bodies when we're getting up early to drive and staying up late to play. We're pretty good about packing up right when we finish too and getting out to get what sleep we can.
What advice to you give to those wanting to start out with making music?
Allowing myself to be influenced and inspired by every single part of life is so important to the way I make music. Also, I think as a musician, you should be able to execute what you imagine, but if something in particular is bogging you down, move onto something else. You have to be able to let things go and distance yourself from the art.
Tell us about some amazing new artists that we might not have heard about yet…
I'm constantly impressed by the productivity and creativity of the Omaha [Canada] music scene. We were on tour with this local band Capgun Coup, who are awesome and are working on super awesome new songs. Also, our buddies from Kansas City, Ssion, are super cool too. They just put on such an incredible performance.
Thank you for your time, and keep making shiny happy music that lights up our world!
The new Tilly and The Wall album 'O', is out October 6th on Moshi Moshi Records, and the band play a UK tour this Autumn, including the Moshi Moshi party at London O2 Centre (October 18th) and London ULU (October 25th).