Tallboys, a helter skelter/herky jerky quartet from the back alleys of New York, create their own off-kilter and distinctive art-damaged punk sound in the spirit of old-school Rough Trade bands like The FAll and Kleenex/Liliput . Live, lead singer Shelia Sixteen hypnotizes audiences by her without-fear-or-favor stage presence, her spastic-snarling vocals, and drunken fly-by-night banter while the band plows through their set full of thunderous, sweaty energy. Tallboys can finally be heard in stereo on their debut, five-song EP ‘Scallywag Tag,' recorded at the Junkyard in Brooklyn by Engineer extraordinaire Sean Maffucci, and released through JakAttak Records on February 17th, 2004.
Tallboys are: Sheila Sixteen (Vocals, guitar), Ryan Byzantine (Bass, vocals), Vanessa Van Ness (Guitar), and Aviva Vis a Vis (Drums). Since first taking the stage in the summer of 2002, word of mouth about Tallboys spread like wildfire through the streets of New York. The band has graduated from playing Brooklyn loft parties, and with a new EP in tow, Tallboys recently toured supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
JakAttak Records is a new label run by WFMU DJ's Terre T ("Cherry Blossom Clinic") and OCDJ ("Plug and Play"), and is currently working with a number of well-known indie distributors, including Revolver, Scratch, Surefire, Carrot Top, Choke, and Insound.
The new CD comes out when?
Our first EP, "Scallywag Tag", came out in February of this year. We have a single & other stuff in the works, but anything else won't be coming until at least the fall...We also have a track "Strange Days", on the excellent "U.S. Pop Life Vol. 17" compilation on the Contact label in Japan.
You're just back from a short tour. How'd it go?
We toured the midwest & northeast, playing in ten cities. We booked the tour ourselves, which was a risk, & we didn't quite know what to expect. But we got a really great response, often from people who hadn't really heard much (or anything) about us beforehand. We also played with some great (& diverse) bands like the Acid Mothers Temple, Fat Day, and Magic Markers.
One of our favorite shows was in Akron, Ohio, at this place called the Lime Spider, (run by a guy who used to hang around the active 70's Akron new wave scene) and for some reason the djs for the night didn't show up, so we took all our records we had bought on the road so far, and Tallboys ended up dj-ing the night in addition to playing. It was a weird mix of music between the four of us, and the few records we had just bought...we ended up playing the Small Faces and then Frankie Valli and then Orange Juice and then Hall & Oates. We didn't know if the crowd was confused or what, but when we picked up our instruments & started playing, they got really into it. A woman in the front row who was sort of ecstatically dancing around yelled "don't hurt me!" when took a brief pause, which I think is Akronian for "don't stop rockin'!".
TALLboys? Where does the name come from?
It's an acronym for "Teeming Adolescents Loving Life Because Of You, Silly." If we remember correctly...
How hard is it to get airplay?
Since our CD came out, we've really only had limited college & internet radio airplay. Our label is run by 2 DJs at WFMU, who sent the EP to some stations that they're familiar with and thought would like Tallboys and actually play the CD. It seems like this strategy has worked. Or maybe it hasn't? You tell us.
When can people in the western United States hope to see you guys live?
Soon, we hope! Again, not until the fall at least, but it's a top priority at Tallboys offices.
What do the individual band members listen to when they turn on their CD players?
Aviva: _New York Noise_ compilation, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, the Contortions, the Slits, Les Georges Leningrad, Mazing Vids, Theoretical Girls, Metal Boys, X, Richard Hell & the Voidods, the Plastics, Rammellzee/Death Comet Crew, ESG, the Fugs, the Monks, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood, Nico, the Fall, Weird War, and Measles, Mumps, Rubella.
Ryan (lately): Terry Riley, Love, International Harvester, Faust, Oneida's "Each One Teach One", Lasereye Stingray, Jungle Brothers, Eno, Eddie Kendricks, Dillinger, L. Voag/the Homosexuals, I.Q. Zero, the Fatal Microbes, Manuel Gvttschling's "E2-E4", and anything loft disco.
Sheila (lately): Scritti Politti, "Songs to Remember" LP
Vanessa: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Missy Elliot, Xtina, Otis Redding, the Crystals, Plastic Ono Band, L.A. Drugs, Aa, Rah Bras, Romeo Void, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, the Ssion, Young Marble Giants, Essential Logic, Delta 5, T Rex, Roxy Music, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Dolly Parton & of course the Rolling Stones.
- Damian Mann | 2004-07-20