Oliver Ghingold recently conducted a telephone interview with Rob Cantor of Tally Hall for his school’s newspaper, The Voice at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and submitted the audio for transcription & publication on HITS.
Oliver: What should people who don’t know about Tally Hall KNOW about Tally Hall?
Rob: Hmm. It’s a band? That seems like a good place to start.
Oliver: And what should they know about Good & Evil?
Rob: Oh, it’s an album.
Oliver: I kind of suspected that but I wasn’t completely sure. Just wanted to clarify.
Oliver: So did Tally Hall go in a new direction with G&E or will people who listened to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum know what to expect?
Rob: I think it’s a natural progression. I wouldn’t say we went in an entirely new direction but I would also say it’s definitely a step forward in many respects. I think people who are familiar with the whole album will find it a natural progression.
Oliver: So there was sort of a long gestation period between when G&E was recorded and when it’s going to be coming out. What have you been doing in the intervening time?
Rob: Lots of different things and probably it would be a different answer for each of us.
Oliver: Well what about you?
Rob: I’ve been writing a lot of songs for Tally Hall and other projects. And that’s really been it. So it’s been nice to work on Tally Hall and also explore other creative outlets.
Oliver: What other creative outlets, if you don’t mind my asking?
Rob: Well I sort of want to focus on Tally Hall. So I think it would be sort of counter-productive to talk about other stuff.
Oliver: Fair. So why WAS there a gestation period between recording and the release of Good & Evil?
Rob: Oh, uh… the main reason was that… when we signed with Atlantic it was perfectly synchronous with a shift in the music industry and um, due to the obvious state of things, Atlantic Records started to focus most of their money and resources into stuff they thought would uh, result in quick and… uh… I’m trying to phrase things in a way that is not spiteful because I really am not spiteful towards Atlantic Records but the basic gist of it is, when we got signed to them it was a time when the music industry really started to focus on stuff that sounded like stuff that was popular and there’s less room for error in a big, publicly held company like Atlantic Record. There’s just less room for error now-a-days and so they can’t really invest in less mainstream, quirkier, more left-of-center, more creative ventures and they’re sticking to what sounds more radio-friendly or what’s closer to what is currently on the radio. So we recorded the album and turned it in and for awhile it seemed like they were going to release it but in the end they… didn’t… obviously. And they are reacting to a set of circumstances that are beyond all of our control and we don’t blame them for it. We don’t blame them, we’re not spiteful. We understand why things happened the way they did. Unfortunately, we ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time as far as our record deal went. It was held up because they were deciding what they were going to do with us and we were sort of helplessly drifting in their supply closet.
Oliver: If I remember correctly, Atlantic fronted a good deal of money for Tally Hall’s Internet Show, the re-recording of MMMM, and the recording of G&E. How is that account being squared?
Rob: Well, it probably won’t be.
Rob: This is why we’re not, really– That’s why it’s hard to be upset at them. They may have taken a long time between when we turned in G&E and when we got the rights back. It was a long time, but y’know its… it’s hard to be angry or spiteful when they paid for an album that we gained the rights to. The Internet Show and all that stuff… we are still part of Atlantic if there’s still money to be made, but really the record deal and other respects could be like a loan that you don’t have to pay back. And in our case it looks like that.
Oliver: So the copyright to the Internet Show belongs to Atlantic but you do own the rights to G&E?
Rob: I’m not sure if THIS belongs to Atlantic; I think they were 50/50 partners on it. I’m not really sure to be honest, about the business stuff, but yeah… we have the rights to Good & Evil.
Oliver: Do you still have the rights to Marvin’s?
Rob: Yeah, we always owned the rights to Marvin’s, we just licensed it to them.
Oliver: What sort of marketing will you be doing for Good & Evil now that you’re with Quack! Media?
Rob: I don’t know. Al’s [Quack’s President] got a lot of progressive, sort of forward-thinking, internet based ideas. He’s a creative guy and he owns a creative company and so I’m sure his team will come up with some amazing stuff. We’re trying to cook up some stuff and of course we’ll tour and y’know, we always try to come up with some stuff that’s a little out of the norm. We’re thinking about stuff.
Oliver: So how far into the future are you guys currently looking? Is there a 3rd album in the cards?
Rob: We’re not looking that far, we’re just looking at the situation we’re in right now which is that we have an album we’re super excited about and after a long wait it’s finally gonna see the light of day and that’s enough to focus on for the moment.
Oliver: What aspects of Good & Evil are you personally most proud of?
Rob: Well I like it in general. I like how it turned out in general. I think Tony Hoffer [record producer] did an amazing job sculpting a sound that remained consistent and yet allowed for enough variation from track to track to remain exciting. We’ve come a long way as songwriters. I guess I’m excited for people to hear how the recordings turned out because we’ve been playing them live for so long, I think songwriting-wise and recording-wise, we’ve really come a long way and learned a lot from Tony. I think it turned out great.
Oliver: Has your experience with Tally Hall given you any insights that you’d like to share with any aspiring musicians?
Rob: Hmm. There’s any number of things I could say to that. Have confidence in yourself? Whatever I come up with to answer that question would just be a cliché bit of advice. I guess I’ll say… don’t take it too seriously but take it seriously enough.
Oliver: That’s an excellent quote.
Oliver: So it’s been nearly 6 years since Tally Hall left the University of Michigan. Does it still feel like Tally Hall plays for a college crowd or writes college music?
Rob: Oh, I dont know. What is college music?
Oliver: That’s an excellent question.
Rob: I don’t know. We’ve always been generally opposed to assigning some arbitrary label to anything and — hm, that’s kind of a pretentious kind of thing to say, but — I dont even really know what that means; college music. We go and play shows at colleges from time to time and college kids come. But we also go to random rock clubs and street fairs and things like that and there’s younger people and old people too, so… I guess so. At a college you could call it that, but I don’t really know what it means; college music.
Oliver: The tours that you went on where Casey Shea filled in… how much can you tell us about how that situation came about? And will Tally Hall collaborate with Casey in the future?
Rob: Well I can’t really go into too much about that whole situation. But we all love Casey; personally and professionally. We’re all fans. I think we will be touring as a the five [original members] but I do think it’s possible you’ll see Casey pop up in some capacity.
Oliver: I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that. For the record, how did you guys meet Casey?
Rob: When we were planning our very, very, very first tour, we were looking for someone to join us in New Jersey. Andrew was scouring Myspace, y’know this was back in 2005, looking for a singer-songwriter to come out to New Jersey to come out and meet us and play a show with us and Casey was the guy he found and liked the most and he said “How about this guy?” and we all wanted him. So it was just a random opening act hunt and we’ve remained close with him over the years.
Oliver: Are you guys going to be working on any music videos and what will Good & Evil’s first single will be?
Rob: We are working on a couple music videos, however I don’t know if there’s going to be… Well, there are two songs we’re going to be sending out in advance of the record to radio stations and PR companies before we start sending out the album as a whole. Those songs are You And Me and &. The music videos won’t necessarily be for those songs and I think that’ll be something about this album that will be a little atypical in the way we promote. But I don’t know if there will be a single released in the traditional sense.
Oliver: Will the music videos be similar to how you made the videos for Marvin’s?
Rob: I don’t know! Well, the videos for Marvin’s sort of ran the gamut. There were some that were standalone music videos, some that were a little wackier, like the Two Wuv music video. I hope that this album has the same sort of range. Our planning has begun but it’s still taking shape.
Oliver: So what major cities do you hope to hit on your summer tour?
Rob: All of them!
Oliver: Do you know when the tour will be starting?
Rob: We will be announcing something about that very soon. But it should be through July and August, I think. But that will be announced soon. It’s all planned, it’s just in the final stages of confirmation right now.
Oliver: And what about trying to reach a larger audience? What’s the strategy for that?
Rob: Keep doing things we find interesting and compelling and hopefully people will hear them and agree that they’re interesting and/or compelling and show it to a friend or two.
Oliver: OK, well I think that’s as logical a place to stop as any. Thank you very much for your time.
Rob: Oliver, thank you for doing it and for staying with us and I know it’s been a long haul but hopefully we’ll make you happy.
Oliver: I’m almost certain of it, if the concerts I’ve been to are any indication.
Oliver: Oh, who’s idea was the April Fools prank?
Rob: Ah! Cyndi’s! [their manager]
Rob: I know, unexpected right? You didn’t see that one coming! But she’s a bit of a marketing genius. She gets our sensibility and I think she’s able to come along with us and partake, so it’s nice.