There’s this belief that all rock stars want to be comedians, and all comedians want to be rock stars. Well, like the little girl in the hard vs. soft taco shell commercial once declared, why not both? Which is exactly what Tall Boy Special decided to do. This trio have found a way to blend their hilarious ways with their musical abilities, and we talked with them not only about their latest release, ‘19 Total Feet,’ but comedy scenes out west vs. out east, and discovered that they may just head down a holiday music route in the future…or will they? You’ll have to keep on reading to find out that answer to that one, and more!
Kendra: It’s been said forever that all comedians want to be rockstars and all rockstars want to be comedians. When did you three decide that you were going to be like Hannah Montana and have the best of both worlds and fuse the two?
John: For me, I’d been doing comedy raps since high school. I enjoyed the music side a little bit I guess, but mostly just enjoyed writing comedy. Even when I was in a hardcore metal band in high school, I didn’t really write lyrics, I would just say “blah blah blah blah.” But I enjoyed performing and would try and do jokes in between. Then the FUSING you mention happened when I came to Zack with an idea for a rap, and he instead said we should write it on the guitar as a folk-type song. That song is Open Mic Night at the Chuckle Barn. We did a couple shows, closing with songs and once COVID hit we just dropped all the other stuff and focused on writing comedy songs. Hannah Montana is a dream feature, BTW.
Zack: Music has always had a special place in my life. I did musical theatre throughout middle and highschool and my family has a whole mess of instruments specifically for when we have campfires. We hand out instruments to everyone that comes over and just make up silly songs all night. Being able to combine that part of my life with my love for comedy has been the absolute best, and it’s clear with all three of our musical backgrounds that it was inevitable.
Alex: I studied Music Industry at Northeastern University intending to graduate as a rock star. In my Sophomore year I discovered the comedy theater where I would eventually meet John and Zack and I went ahead and put all my eggs in that basket. I learned that the music and comedy industries are structurally very similar so I focused on comedy. The music never left me I guess, cause here we are!
Kendra: Your latest album, ‘19 Total Feet,’ is out now. So if you had to compare the music to one place and the humor to another, what spots in LA would you compare those two aspects to and why?
Tall Boy Special: What a fantastic question! The music is like Del Taco. It’s good, simple, kind of flies under the radar. It’s very accessible. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. The comedy is like the LA River. You’re like, “What is this? What purpose does it serve? They said it’s a river but there’s, like, no water or anything. People sometimes FISH in this?!” But it’s also comforting in its juxtaposition and it’ll be around long after we all die.
Kendra: Before the album dropped you had some very viral moments. I’ve only had a tweet get a good amount of likes a few times but nothing like your videos. When you go viral, do you take notes on what you did for future reference?
John: I have no idea what’s going on in that area. My favorite viral moment however was when Cedric said “Don’t quit your day job, fellas.” Like…that’s one of my comedy heroes giving me the business.
Zack: We probably should have taken notes!
Alex: I didn’t take notes.
Kendra: What do you think TikTok has done in terms of elevating comedy?
John: See the beginning of the above answer.
Zack: I think much like every social media it’s created a platform for people to just throw their wildest, silliest shit at the wall and see what sticks. I also think like every social media platform, it’s a nightmare.
Alex: TikTok has exposed very creative people to the masses, HOWEVER it does very little in terms of intellectual property protection. So you might be really digging someone else’s idea in another person’s TikTok.
Kendra: I do have to ask, how do you feel the comedy scenes in Boston compare to LA?
John: Oh man, I wish I had a better answer. We moved to LA and then the pandemic happened so we didn’t get to see many shows. And I moved back to Boston to have a baby and haven’t been back. If I had to GUESS the difference I’d say that the LA comedy scene has far less performers and audience members in Red Sox hats.
Zack: Less jokes about Revere Beach out here.
Alex: LA is far more performative. Every comedian (improv/stand-up/etc) is also an actor/model/musician. That really shows in performances. In Boston you get more self-deprecating “normal people” who stumbled into comedy and use it as therapy. I think both scenes are very charming!
Kendra: Time for a side note…With the holidays coming up, I want to know what classic holiday song would you like to give a makeover in your style?
John: Another great question! We have a song about a snowman on the new album. We want that made into a holiday movie. But as far as classics go, I’d love to do that Mariah Carey song. You know the one. That one. Let’s do that one. Or “Jingle Bell Rock!” That guitar intro is pretty cool. I wonder if Kagy can play it.
Zack: What’s fun about Christmas songs is a lot of them are kind of like Tall Boy songs. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer?” “Dominic the Donkey?” “Frosty the Snowman???” Man…maybe we should pivot to Christmas Music. We do have a Halloween album called ‘Monster Music!’
Alex: “Holiday Road” – Lindsey Buckingham
Kendra: Okay, back to the music – with 2021 almost being over, what can people be on the lookout from you as we head into the start of 2022?
John: Hopefully we will get our TV show made, and start doing live shows again so people can see the full concept of what Tall Boy Special is.
Zack: Everything John said, also children’s books. I think all our songs would make great children’s books that are fun for adults to read!
Alex: Music videos!