Tilly and the Wall formed in Omaha, Neb., in 2001, born from the same music scene of acts like Bright Eyes and Cursive. The band’s blend of infectious indie-pop is unique for its use of a tap dancer in lieu of a drummer.
The band was on hiatus for four years, during which members Jamie Williams, tap dancing and percussion, and Derek Pressnall, guitar and vocals, became parents together of two children. Vocalist Kianna Alarid also had a child. Keyboardist Nick White and vocalist and guitarist Neely Jenkins went to Los Angeles, where White toured with another band.
Tilly and the Wall returned earlier this month with a new album “Heavy Mood,” out Oct. 2, and a tour. Tilly and the Wall is playing at the First Unitarian Church tomorrow, Oct. 10.
The Temple News: Everyone isn’t in Omaha anymore. Is it weird now that you’re spread out to write an album?
Neely Jenkins: Yeah, there are definitely different challenges with songs, you know, how to get each other’s song to one another. But it’s actually getting a little bit easier demoing or fixing a demo and sending it obviously to a computer. It’s good. It’s a good change. As far as practice goes, it’s a little harder to do. That’s why we’re all in Omaha right now, to kind of hash everything out and get ready for a big tour. I just sat down and kind of revisited our older songs and sat down and learned new songs. Tomorrow morning we’re getting together to do a photo shoot and after that we’re all [getting] together [to] start practicing.
TTN: Was it a hiatus, a break up or just you all living your lives for four years?
NJ: Oh no, definitely not a breakup. No, no, no. We’ve always, you know, even when we stopped touring we were like, “We should definitely do this again.” I can’t even remember the exact moment when we were like, “We need to do this again.” It just sort of happened and we were like, “Let’s do it.” So we all had all that we’d been, you know, working on the past and started hashing it out here, then went into the studio and hashed even more out there and then next thing you know we’re ready to go back out on the road again.
TTN: Do you miss Omaha and its music scene? Do you like L.A.?
NJ: I am in love with Los Angeles because it is so different from Omaha. You get to be outside all the time and I love that, I love hiking through the mountains, it’s just great people. Omaha is still such a big place in my heart. I love Omaha. Good people, again. Omaha is just easy. I love that about it. There are so many positive things going on here. It’s a smaller city but there are so many different artists, so many different bands.
TTN: What influences are on the new album? Some songs sound very rebellious and young, where did that come from?
NJ: I think just kind of the pain that we’ve gone through. I’ve always felt like even from the first record that we always just wrote what we believe or what we thought or that we’re influenced by art in some certain way and I still think that that’s where it comes from, you know? It comes from your life and what’s bothering you and what you see and how you perceive things. So, for some cool reason, all of us were bought together and we all just admire each other’s music and ideas so much that it just works.
TTN: What do you want to say about the new record?
NJ: I started a Twitter account with Tilly recently. That’s the new thing. That wasn’t so popular four years ago. I just love reading about people who are like, “I’m rocking out to it in my car,” “I’m cleaning to it,” “This is my Monday song, and this is my Tuesday song.” I don’t know why I’m almost crying about it right now, it’s so weird. It’s so cool that you can make people happy, and I think that’s really what this world should be about. It’s an honor to bring something like that to someone’s lives.
TTN: Does it make you happy to see people come to your shows and dance and have a great time?
NJ: Who wants to go to a show and just stand there? You have to have the crazy. We just bring the crazy.
Jacob Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.