Finding the balance between making money and making music is a challenge for many musicians, a challenge local multi-instrumentalist McKinley Devilbiss, 24, knows all too well. His mostly covers act, Below the Bassline, has been finding steady work for a few years in area clubs, but "we fell into that trap," he said when "we’d book a Below the Bassline cover show, and make some money, then a Below the Bassline original show, and it got confusing." That’s where Incredibly Tall People came to the rescue.
Incredibly Tall People is not a random group of people who happen to be above average in height. It’s the original music alter ego of Below the Bassline. The now five-piece act is planning its debut CD release party at a Surf Dreams Foundation fundraiser Nov. 8 at the Boathouse Waterway Bar and Grill. Paperwork and The Wicked Gift, are also slated to perform.
"Incredibly Tall People is our all original act, with same line-up as Below the Bassline," said Devilbiss, who, most will agree, has one of the cooler names in local rock ‘n’ roll. "We’ve just recently added one new guy, guitarist Pablo Viafara. This is our attempt to make a career out of [original] music, see if we can get it to work."
Recorded at Brian McKenzie’s Music Factory in January of this year, the band’s 10-song recording, entitled "Sleep Outside," is now available on iTunes and on other popular music download sites, and will be available in CD format at the Boathouse show.
With the exception of newly added Viafara, the recording line-up includes: Devilbiss (lead guitar), Andrew McDermott (bass), Sam Goodwin (lead vocals), and Austin Perry (drums). Sample the tracks on iTunes for a taste of the $9.99 complete album download.
From track one, "Guru," you’ll hear the exceptionally clean, polished production of McKenzie, allowing the band’s original flavors to shine through without the distractions of production problems, of which there are none. Heavily split stereo tracks, offer spacious funk, reggae, and rock, within syncopated, difficult-to-play musical parts backing up Goodwin’s Jason Mraz-ish, spot-on lead vocals. Within the first 20 seconds of listening, you’ll know this is not an average indie demo. The Tall People, incredibly, may be on to something.
Track two, a single sharing a name with the band, showcases a straight-ahead rock track with a They Might Be Giants-esque approach.
On the rest of the project, the band has delivered well-produced, interesting songs showcasing deft musicianship, and clever lyrics, with a polish and maturity beyond expectation, given the average age (24) of the band members. The project, like the band, is a bit all over the board, but in a good way, and could find an audience, especially among guitarists. Devilbiss, a junior and bass guitar performance major at Coastal Carolina University, shines on this one, but all the players deliver. High marks should also be given to Goodwin, as sub-par lead vocals are often the first thing to sabotage an otherwise decent band. He delivers as well, and is the band’s primary lyricist, though Devilbiss contends the final songs come from a truly collaborative effort.
"There’s rock, jam stuff, reggae, and a lot of other [styles]," confirmed Devilbiss. "Each song is very different, because we just like to let it happen, in the best way we can, to mix everyone’s ideas together. We’re not trying to sound like any certain thing; it’s just how it happens."