On a chilly and moonless October night in Boston, Tall Boys arrived at my apartment for their interview. As I went down the stairs to let them in, I could see the lead vocalist and guitarist, Charley Binkow, grinning ear-to-ear while peering through my tiny front-door window. Just like when I saw them last in August, the band’s charisma was contagious—with good vibes that encompass any room they’re in before they can even utter a word (or note). As the group crammed together on my grey couch, cracking jokes and sarcastic banter while waiting for the interview to begin, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. Watching them togethernot only as a band, but also as close-knit friends who share chaotically brilliant personalities and an impregnable bondmakes it clear as to why their musicality is so strong. They trust each other and support each other, understanding what it takes to create art together. “We have healthy tension,” Binkow acknowledges. “Diamonds are made under pressure.”

Tall Boys—which consists of Binkow on vocals, Ryan Shaver on the drums, and Josh Star and Peter Fuoco both on backing vocals and guitar—are realistic and honest musicians. According to Binkow, they’ve always loved music, so they figured that the natural vessel for that love was playing it. They first played at Somerville’s PorchFest two years ago—where Binkow recalls the moment when the band decided to pursue Tall Boys as a continuous act. 

 

“There aren’t many things that send endorphins rushing through your body, you know, that “kid” feeling anymore,” Shaver says, “but playing shows, whether for people or not, gives me that. I hope that everyone feels like they can go and chase that on their own and find what does that for them after leaving our shows.” The band believes that whether you play together or alone, you should allow yourself to get lost in the music. “Music makes the normal extra-normal. It’s a universal language,” Binkow says. 

Tall Boys’ sound is an infectious fusion of hazy, ethereal indie tones akin to The Beach Boys, The Vaccines and Vampire Weekend. Their tracks are packed with raw, emotion-evoking vocals, catchy hooks, mellow guitar licks and hypnotic melodies. Their lyricism consists of narratives that touch upon poignant topics with a hint of comedy and sarcasm. Maturing sonically from their first EP, We Are Tall Boys, the Somervillian band now better integrates Shaver’s drumming into their sound, adding more abstract lyricism and stronger mixing–which is showcased on the band’s later and most popular songs, Step Along” and “Blue Towels.” Fuoco explained how he and Binkow collaborated and built a catalogue of singles, which would become Homes in Boston, their debut LP. Binkow’s cousin, Sam, created the strikingly quirky album artwork for the record; it fits with the endearing eccentricism the band encompasses in their ability to incorporate comedy in their lyricism and stage persona. “That record captures the emotional spectrum of my three years of living in Boston so far, and my two years of being in a band,” Binkow says. “I wrote a lot of the songs during oral exams in graduate school, where there was a mandatory need to decompress.”

When asked about the challenges they have faced as a band, Binkow said, “It’s just—it’s the stress of music. It’s so important—but so toxic at the same time. Writing is hard. It’s incredibly hard. With something so abstract as music, you have to write something that people can relate to.” Their next challenge, they say, is leveling up—playing bigger venues and bigger gigs, like The Sinclair. “Our show at the Middle East was a level up,” Fuoco says. “We were really excited about that.” 

The boys reflected on how they fit into the Boston music scene. “We’re still learning,” Star says. “We have our circles of bands that we’ve played shows with and we’re trying to meet more bands and find others that sound like us.” The search for venues is also a learning process—some of the band’s favorite venues are Thunder Road in Somerville and The Sinclair in Cambridge. 

Recounting their band sessions, they laugh about rehearsals, describing “the anatomy of a jam.” Tall Boys do all of their own recording in their apartments. It all depends; if a show is coming up, they rehearse with a set-list; if not, who knows what will happen? “That’s when things get really weird—in a good way,” Star laughs. “We’ll open it up and go into a jam session with no real destination or direction and end up creating some of the coolest stuff that I wish I could remember how to play.”

What’s next for Tall Boys? The band is currently recording a new LP, which will include their first instrumental track and a catalogue of diverse songs, including a sequel to a track on Homes in Boston. “Being part of this band—it’s being part of a team,” Fuoco says. “We’re playing because we love it. We’re playing for ourselves. We’re so happy playing as we are, right now.”

You can catch Tall Boys jamming at The Lilypad on Saturday, November 23rd at 9:30pm.

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