September 3, 2008

Spotlight On: Tally Hall

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Last month, my co-editor Julie Block and I had the opportunity to attend the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. Over the course of one insane weekend, we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of musical offerings.
Maybe the most intriguing band at the festival was Tally Hall, a rock group whose trademark is its matching white button-downs and black slacks (they each where a differently colored tie). That weekend I had a chance to speak with the Michigan five-piece, whose infectious brand of pop-rock has helped land their songs on
The O.C. and The Real World. Check it out:

The Sun: So I wasn’t able to catch the whole set …
Joe Hawley (red tie, guitar and vocals): Oh screw this … nah, just kidding.
Sun: Haha. You guys were really good. I don’t understand why you weren’t on the main stage.
Andrew Horowitz (green tie, keyboard and vocals): I mean, we agree. Is that your first question?
Sun: I’m getting there. How do you guys feel about the success you have been able to enjoy so far? You got a song on The O.C., a song on The Real World. What’s that like?
Zubin Sedghi (blue tie, bass and vocals): I think we’re really fortunate to have gotten where we’ve gotten, and really grateful.
A.H.: I don’t think we’re as excited any more, having gotten our songs on the shows. It was exciting that that happened, but I think while more recent milestones might be bigger, the initial segment of the first show or the first record out — it’ll never get more exciting than that.
J.H.: Everything kind of calibrates to everything else. After a while you adjust to it.
Sun: People get into rock and roll because they want to avoid having to wear suits and ties, but you guys seem to have made the conscious decision to go the other way on that. That’s gotta be a hard decision to live up to on a day like today especially [ed: it was crazy hot outside]. How are you dealing with the heat.
Rob Cantor (yellow tie, guitar and vocals): Actually today was a cooler day. The first day was really hot but today wasn’t so bad. I think …
Z.S.: I think we … Oh sorry, you go.
R.C.: No, please. What were you gonna say?
Z.S.: All I wanted to say was, “I think we …” and then, “Sorry.” That’s all I really wanted to say.
R.C.: Oh, OK… Anyway, wearing them is pretty nice.
J.H.: The thing [with our wardrobe] is if we never wore them, we would have never had the chance, because of the expectations. It was either this or go out on the stage naked.
Sun: That’s a good way to keep cool actually.
Z.S.: That would be pandemonium. We don’t endorse that.
Sun: [laughs] Moving on — you guys have a really unique sound. A lot of it is pretty poppy, but there are Caribbean influences in “Banana Man”; you rap in the song, “Welcome to Tally Hall.” How’d your style come about?
A.H.: It was very organic. I think we all had our own particular influences, and when we got together it just happened. It wasn’t a sound we really consciously created; it’s just the way things naturally worked.
Sun: Is there any genre you wouldn’t be willing to dabble in. Gangsta’ rap maybe? Lil Wayne?
J.H.: I think we’d be up for just about anything.
A.H.: I mean, a genre is just a label that CD stores and record labels use. In the end of the day its all sound.
Sun: You guys came to Cornell a little over a year ago, and I remember you guys doing a cover of “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. What other songs do you cover? What’s your favorite song to cover?
Ross Federman (grey tie, drums): We just retired [a cover of] “Just a Friend” by Biz Markee. That was a lot of fun to do. The audience always enjoyed it.
Sun: When you were at Cornell, I think “Two Wuv” [a song about the band’s love and admiration for the Olsen Twins] was probably your biggest hit with the audience. How’s that going now? You hear anything from Mary Kate and Ashley about that song?
Z.S.: That’s a sore subject …
A.H.: We always try to get in touch with them, and they keep blowing us off.
Sun: So is the song autobiographical?
J.H.: In a weird way it kind of is. But yeah, no comment.
Sun: So you just signed a new contract with Atlantic Records, and they re-released your debut album, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Machine — by the way, I’m pretty impressed I managed to say that all without screwing up.
J.H.: Actually it’s Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum.
Sun: Awww, I thought I got it. My bad.
R.C.: Yeah, this interview’s over … nah, I’m just kidding.
[brief pause]
R.C.: But seriously, you should leave.
Sun: [laughs nervously] Are you guys working on anything new? Do you have anything else in the works.
R.F.: We’re actually working on an Internet show, called Tally Hall’s Internet Show. And we’re going to be releasing it on September 15th. And then next year we’ll be in the studio working on a new album.
Sun: So is this sorta like Yellow Submarine. Are you guys gunnin’ for the Beatles? A major motion picture someday?
J.H.: I think world domination is the real plan, depending on how things pan out.
Sun: OK, so last thing — if you could cast people to play you in a movie, who would they be.
J.H.: I don’t know about me, but Andrew would be Matthew Broderick.
R.C.: Ross would be Howie Mendel.
R.F.: Rob would be Chris Rock
A.H.: Zubin would be Jaleel White [ed: URKLE!]
Z.S.: I think Joe would be Adrian Brody.
Sun: He’s a good actor.
[Blues Traveler begins playing in the background]
J.H.: I know that song!
R.C.: We’re done here. Blues Traveler’s on.

Tally Hall and I then headed over to the Blues Traveler stage to enjoy the music together. Afterwards we shared war stories on their tour bus while drinking brewskis and bro-ing out.
Well, not really, but that would’ve been sweet. These guys were probably the coolest group of musicians I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. Check out their album, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, on sale now.