From Bare Bones is the latest offering from Bucks County's, burly song-smith, Jeremiah Tall. His second full length LP is indicative of an evolution in sound as his one man band metamorphosed into a fully realized, modern folk, quartet with Jeremiah Tall at the helm.
Grateful Web: Tell us a little bit about why you decided to include the band in the recording of your latest and how they impact the sound of Jeremiah Tall.
Jeremiah Tall: Well, I recorded most of this record myself and I had only a handful of other players perform. At the time “The Lore” wasn’t formed. Since I decided to go with a full band sound on this record, I felt I had to put something together so when I was playing live I could represent what I did during the record.
GW: You were quoted in a press release saying: “From Bare Bones, came from a place of stripped back song writing with the full intention of keeping the recording process low key with limited over dubbing. I fell far off the mark while recording the vocals. With each layered harmony, the songs seem to call out with a howl that is now a signature mark on this album." What inspired the layered vocals on this batch of songs?
JT: I’m not sure if there was one thing. I just felt while I was recording, I could hear those ideas in my head. I didn’t want to leave them on unexplored, so I gave it a go.
GW: You are known to play both the banjo and a resonator guitar, and they have become signature sounds of Jeremiah Tall. What is it about the sounds of those instruments that you are attracted to? How do those sounds serve your songwriting?
JT: I really love their twanginess. The sound they give off when plucked. They also feel loud and heavy when strummed. I’m not sure I think of them as serving my songwriting, but I am drawn into them. I feel that they have an attitude.
GW: You played the Philly Music Fest this year and Philly is having a fantastic musical moment as a lot of great bands are coming out of the city. How does Philadelphia – and specifically, Bucks County -- inspire your songwriting?
JT: Mostly I think the area that I call home brings out a lot of songs that have a blue collar feel.
GW: How does your fascination with folklore and “old time America” influence your songwriting -- specifically with the songs on From Bare Bones?
JT: It's the stories I love and how there usually is a message or lesson to be learned inside the words.
GW: The Philadelphia Inquirer said that you perform “with a robust sound like a train barreling down the tracks” and that certainly conjures up a vision of “old time America.” How do you maintain that vibe and sound while both playing with the band and while performing solo?
JT: That I can’t help. It is what I am. I write with a consistent beat that chugs along with a heavy strumming pattern. I think the band just adds more. They know who I am. We have all been good friends for many years. That goes a long way into our blending without straying from my sound.
GW: The first song on the album is “Cocaine Money” which is almost acapella save for your layered vocals and some percussion. How did that song come about? Had you been performing it before you recorded it? Or the other way around? Do you perform it live with you band and do they provide the additional vocals? What inspired the lyrics and stories for the album opener?
JT: The song started as a joke with a friend. Some songs just come quick. Cocaine Money most definitely did just that. After the two of us had a good laugh stumping, clapping and singing, I went into my studio and recorded it that night. I shared it with him the next morning. It was clear that the song was a bit more than a joke. There was no way I was leaving it off the record. We chose to put it first as a statement piece. It just seems like it’s saying, “listen up”.
GW: “Graves” is the first single off of the album and you’ve performed it on television. What is it about “Graves” that you chose it to be the introduction to From Bare Bones? The last line of the song, “ain’t no grave can hold me down,” is repeated a few times. What about that concept, not being able to be held down, did you want to convey with that lyric?
JT: Never let anything stop you from being you. Life can be super short. Live for the now. I’m am not a saver. I love to enjoy this life no matter what cost on me that is. Try to say yes more.
GW: “The Ballad of Big John and Those Smokey Mountains” is a straightforward song that is a story. Where did the story come from and how did it come to inspire a song on From Bare Bones?
JT: A friend of mine turned me onto an old South African story. I thought it was so cool. Right away I thought it could be an old American story about the Smokey Mountains. So, I did just that.
GW: What’s next for Jeremiah Tall?
JT: I plan on doing a few music videos for this record and playing as much as we can. Then get into the studio to record and release a record with The Lore. It will be my first record with a band working together.
For tour dates and new music, find Jeremiah online: http://jeremiahtall.com