There’s something familiar about Terrance and the Tall Boys

by Ryan Snyder

There’s something familiar about Terrance and the Tall Boys

Their name evokes summer nights with big cans of cheap beer in a paper bags, but the etymology of Terrance and the Tall Boys ( tallboys) is a little more innocent than that. Jacob Myrick, a former punkrock stylist, says it’s just an alliterative nod to the fact that he’s just a short dude in a tall world, but he’s also the band’s unassuming lead singer with a big voice. With his trademark V-neck cotton T-shirt, paroxysmal stage swagger and expressive pipes, he fronts the six-piece Tall Boys, a soulful bunch of throwbacks with a vintage sound and a shared love of vinyl that shows on their debut album Got It All.

After 14 months of performing in and around Winston-Salem and two demo releases, Myrick and the band set out to imprint their idiosyncratic brand of white boy indie-soul into a medium that most closely resembled their own artistic ethos. After the band’s sixth member, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fritz, recorded the 10-song release on a one-inch, 16-track tape player, Myrick said they wanted to take that analog sound a step further. Each release will be in vinyl with original, silk-screened art created by the band, though each of those records will be packaged with its own compact disc.

“We’re all collectors of vinyl and prefer to hear music there rather than CDs,” Myrick said, “so we just decided to go all out with this and now I have 300 black 12-inch albums sitting in my living room.”

As if by chance, there’s an instant native connection to be made from the final product. Myrick says that Fritz’s neighbor, Garage sound engineer Brian Doub, heard the album and formed that association right away. “That sounds like Winston-Salem,” he said, referring to the vintage pop sound of classic local acts like the dBs and Mitch Easter. Indeed, the Winston-

Salem blood does run deep in Got It All. There arrangement is slightly more complex than the four-piece power pop that was prevalent in the ’70s and ’80s, but the same strong sense of melody is ever-present. Much of that comes from guitarist Drew Taylor, whose chirpy licks on songs like “Eleanor” and “Poor Poor Me” lend the same kind of infectious quality that drove Easter’s numerous acts.

“Drew’s an amazing guitarist, but he really takes the time to hold himself back,” Myrick said. “There are lots of complexities happening everywhere else that we try not to overdo.”

Not just Taylor — those complexities happen all over the band. Myrick croons like a grungy lounge singer over spacey synths, while subtle key changes accent the heavy emotion in “In The Trunk.” Like any good soul band, the rhythm is where it’s at, however. The chemistry between drummer Ezra Noble and bassist Alex Smith propels the album forward, though Myrick says it will take a little digging through the layers to understand its importance.

“The bass player Alex is amazing. If you just pop it in and listen to it, you might not notice some of the crazy things happening with the bass right away,” Myrick said. “But if you put some headphones on and tune it to that you’ll hear it really blowing up underneath everything else.”

That’s the album in a nutshell; melodic and virulent, yet replete with controlled complexity and an unmistakable, though unplanned nod to the ubiquitous local sound. It’s picks up where the Easters and the Stameys of the world left off, even if it might be a little easier to find the Tall Boys in vinyl.

Terrance and the Tall Boys will play their album release show at the Werehouse in Winston-Salem on Saturday, November 21.

Terrance and the Tall Boys release their debut album at the Werehouse on November 21. (photo by Will Parham)