Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Brad Kopplin
The problem with growing older is the older part. Everyone makes so much about the angst of teenagers, but it's that tough plight of the high schooler trying to find his or her identity as the hormones and peer ridicule kick in and cause breakouts that doesn't deserve all that attention.
Those just out of college, moving away from or being moved away from by all their friends, having to pay real bills for the first time, enduring occupational responsibilities and likely working in an environment with others who have had their souls sucked dry years ago - those are the ones who should draw the most sympathy. Those are the ones that should be felt sorry for - everyone mid-20s and up - for they are the ones watching the electricity from their lives evaporate quicker than anyone else.
It's traumatic when the college years complete themselves and the friendships that were developed over half a decade aren't suddenly disposable, but they are oftentimes difficult to maintain from so many different reaches of the country as everyone seeks happiness in good-paying jobs. Friendships are sacrificed and rationalized as necessary victims because money comes first and everything else comes second.
Tilly and the Wall, the Nebraskan group of goodtime purveyors, is more for the salvaging of all those things that make everything else better. A bar is a lonely place if there's only one person sitting at one of its stools. The same goes for a lot of things and so the Tillies provide a shining example of how to continue through life doing everything with all of the friends they've always done things with. They've had their own bicycle gang for years, riding through the quiet neighborhood streets of Omaha, tinkling tiny handlebar bells to alert of their presence and two of them actually did the friendliest thing possible when Jamie Pressnall and Derek Pressnall went off and got married to one another last year.
A case could be made that all bands, in a way, are testaments to maintaining childhood friendships, but there are few bands that actually exude and embrace that friendship like Tilly and the Wall does. It's energizing, the way that the Pressnalls, Kianna Alarid, Nick White and Neely Jenkins, approach the topics of companionship and more with such gusto and poignancy. They don't enter into just matters half-heartedly, but are full of salvos and exclamation points. They make music that is like fertilizer for spirits, perking them up even when the overall intent of the lyrics is to convey a tragic moment or situation.
Without trying to make such statements, Tilly and the Wall are to indie rock and roll what Dylan Thomas was for the pivotal scene in the Rodney Dangerfield film "Back To School" when the exhausted Dangerfield starts quoting "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."
"Do not go gentle into that good night/Old age should burn and rave at close of day/Rage, rage against the dying of the light...Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight/And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way/Do not go gentle into that good night."
It wouldn't be shocking to hear that each member of the band had those very lines tattooed along the inner part of their arm (though the don't) as a mantra to hold onto through all thicks and all thins. They've somehow decided with Wild Like Children and their latest Bottoms of Barrels -- all on Bright Eyes mastermind Conor Oberst's label Team Love - to rage against all of the things that are unceremoniously accepted into life when they don't have to be.
There is still love to be had. There are still things to fuck up. There is still excitement to be felt. There are still things that should make a person light up and explode a bit inside. There should be things that we allow ourselves to indulge in that needn't be frowned upon. No one has to fall victim to the same old song and dance. There's fun to be had as long as you want to acknowledge it. Imagine if life still offered goose bumps. We could always ask the Tillies what that feels like. They'd gladly share their experiences.
*The Daytrotter interview:*
*Did you guys realize that before you put that video of you recording with us up on YouTube, Daytrotter had never been on YouTube? We have you to thank. Did you have fun that day?*
Kianna Alarid: We did not realize that! That is so awesome! We did have so much fun that day! That was the day we drove to the wrong address, the one in Iowa and realized we were in the wrong STATE and freaked out since we didn't know it was so close! Hahaha! Also, that is the first time we played with Mason, our fave touring Tilly!
*Kianna, what are the best stories behind your beautifully tatted arms?*
KA: Well, my favorite of my tattoos is the portrait of my Mother on my left arm that says "Madre" in a banner! It is from a photo of her when she was in her mid 20s and she is so beautiful. In that picture, she is sitting with me and it's Christmas. I love that picture so
* Do you anticipate that your upcoming European tour with CSS is going to be sick and party central-ish?*
KA: Dude, it's gonna be crackin' off the CHAIN! YES!
*Has Omaha changed at all or is it the same old town you've always known?*
KA: Omaha is always changing, but is always still just home. It's becoming more beautiful downtown and there are a ton of people working to make things better everyday. It is a great place to be!
*Have you spent entire afternoons just scoping things out at the Antiquarium with the barefooted proprietor and his cat? That's the first place I go in Omaha.*
KA: We have all spent maaaannny an eternity in the Antiquarium! It's the first place a lot of people go in Omaha! It's legendary.
*Who were some of the first couple of bands that you saw play live that you just fell in love with?*
Neely Jenkins: I had seen a lot of bands play up until this point, but the most amazing band that I have ever seen live was Neutral Milk Hotel at the Bottom of the Hill in San Fran. I still have dreams about that night. It was perfect.
* If you were forced to spend $50 tomorrow, what would you do with it - other than using it for necessities?*
NJ: Since we are in Lisbon, Portugal at the moment, I am planning on spending money on some sweet ass souvenirs for friends and family. I have already bought a cute pair of kitchen mitts and a bunch of colorful tea towels with the Cock of Barcelos on them.
*Do you feel you're way past being considered a novelty? Maybe you never felt the band was considered that, but it seemed to be at least hinted at in most press about you -- the tap instead of drums.*
KA: Having tap dancing in our band has gotten a lot of attention because it is different, but people have really embraced the idea.
*How is the recording process going to differ from the second record to the third? Have you thought about it already?*
KA: We are still discussing this at the moment. We have been throwing around different ideas.
*What's something about each member of the band that is little known?*
KA: Nick loves to drink sports beverages like Propel and Gatorade. Neely exersices/does yoga everyday. Jamie can't sleep in the van/plane/bus without an eye mask, a scarf around her face, earplugs and what we call "Neckerton" which is a serious one of those horseshoe shaped neck pillows. Derek is a sucker for those gas station Honey Buns and Kianna loves jade and the number 33.