Interview: Charlie Pfaff of Tall Friend

Posted: by The Editor

Tall Friend

Tall Friend is a macabre dream-pop group that offers a dissonant, introspective spin on the traditional pop song format. The band has been off to an explosive start, just recently announcing that they’re the newest label addition to Exploding In Sound, (Pile, Washer, Palehound). AJ Boundy recently had the opportunity to talk to Charlie Pfaff of Tall Friend about the process behind the band’s new EP Tawl Friend, the wild reception it has received, and life plans for the new year.

AJ: Could you start by introducing yourself and stating your role in the band?

Charlie Pfaff: I’m Charlie. I’m the lyricist/vocalist for the band and I play both the bass and guitar.

A: What’s the songwriting process like for Tall Friend?

C: I wrote these songs after I had processed a difficult breakup, and I was simultaneously experiencing all these weird epiphanies all at once. I was feeling really morbid and disgusted with myself, but I was also in this place of being inspired by those around me to finally write a structured thing that I could be proud of.

A: I noticed that your EP Tawl Friend is being re-released by Exploding in Sound later this month, which is super exciting! How did that come about?

C: It all happened so fast, and through the internet. We recorded a full length in May 2016 and were kind of toying around with the idea of trying to find a label. I’ve always been comically insecure about my writing but Jesse and Cale were so pumped up that I felt brave enough to really put our stuff out there. Jesse emailed Dan and basically said, “Hey! Check this out,” and Dan really liked it.

A: The leading single from the re-release, “Cockroach,” is a stellar track. NPR had nothing but great things to say and it seems like there’s been a good amount of press surrounding the re-release. How’s the reception been on your end?

C: It’s wild that NPR wrote us up. I was so excited to receive such a thoughtful and articulate review from Maria Sherman. I suppose most of the reception I’m recognizing is coming from my friends, but I’m always so surprised and filled with love when I get emails from strangers saying that they enjoy our music. My parents haven’t heard it and probably won’t.

A: In terms of songwriting and playing style, who were some of your biggest influences on the EP?

C: Whew! Well when I wrote those songs, I was kind of infatuated with the somber and delicate moods surrounding albums like Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens and Lost Wisdom by Mount Eerie. I also loved Yowler’s self-titled. I really admired the way these artists could evoke such strong, quiet feelings in me through imagery of water and childhood and birds.

A: What was the recording process like for Tawl Friend?

C: We decided Jesse should be a drummer a couple days before recording, and then we recorded in his living room, propping the amps up on the pool table and covering windows and doors with heavy blankets. We recorded in several hours, and it was very fun.

A: Are there any up-and-coming bands from your area we should know about?

C: I’d say some Philadelphia projects I love are my dear friends in Microsoft Saint, Boosegumps, and Snake Boy Gang. These guys are all making stuff that’s so cool and innovative, and I’m honored to have them in my life. My friend Tim Woulfe makes really wonderful things too– listening to their music makes me feel so tranquil and still, as if I’m waiting for a storm to come. Also, my partner makes music under the moniker Teen Spaceship– he just recorded a new EP and I’m really proud of him for it.

A: What are your plans for 2017?

C: I’m writing a comic book thing right now, and I finally hope to ride horses again. We’re releasing our album, going on a big tour this summer. I’m publishing a book of writing, and going to Toronto for my birthday. I hope to get a dog. I’m gonna release a solo album. I hope to swim in a huge lake.

AJ Boundy