Convo With Forty Feet Tall

Forty Feet Tall is a Portland, Oregon-based rock band. They continuously leave it all out on stage as they prepare for the following tracks and video releases in the coming months, diving headfirst into a new post-punk bent with splashes of psychedelic rock.

Cole Gann on guitar and vocals, Brett Marquette on bass, Jack Sehres on guitar, and Ian Kelley on drums are all from Los Angeles.

The new video and music are released ahead of the band’s new EP, BOIL, which continues to drive the band forward, starting up where their previous record, A Good Distraction, left off. 

Conceptually, the album centers on the band’s reactions to the epidemic and political situation, utilizing the energy and anguish that accrued during months of confinement.

You can read the entire interview with the band below.

1- Where did you come from, where are you based now, and why?

Our two founding members are originally from LA where the band started, but we’ve been a Portland group now for about 5 years. We were able to release some music and play some shows during college, but once Cole graduated up in Portland, we nabbed Brett from SF and Ian who’d just moved up, and decided to really go for it in the PNW.

2- When did you start performing music?

Around 2011. Jack and Cole with a few friends were trying to put together a benefit concert for the rainforest and we needed music. We kinda looked at each other and said, “Ok, let’s start this band.”

3- Describe your music scene in Portland.

It took a hit, like everything during the pandemic, but it’s coming back in full stride. Portland got lucky and didn’t lose too many venues or bands. After everything we’ve gone through it feels like Portland’s music community is stronger and looks out for the people within it a lot more and really feels like there’s something special buzzing in this city.

4- What is your creative process like?

Someone will either bring in an idea or sometimes an almost fully fledged song, but often we’ll just be jamming and start to sculpt something together. There’s always a moment where we look at each other, smile, and someone will take out a phone and start recording the idea. That’s when we know we’ve got something.

5- What is the message behind On & On & On?

It doesn’t have a central message, but I guess it takes a lot of slices of emotion and patches them together to create this feeling of manic glee. The character in the center of the song is definitely joyous and I think the instruments around the lyrics help convey that, but it all feels like it could go off the rails at any second. During these times I think it’s a state a lot of us find ourselves in.

6- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

Ahhh, where to begin. There’s obviously an unending list with the usual suspects such as racism, sexism, classism, etc., but something that has been at the forefront of our minds lately is the takeover of massive tech companies. 

Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram are now the gatekeepers and it creates this extremely unfair dynamic where nothing can break and no one takes a chance on a group unless they have the numbers. 

Obviously labels previously always looked at numbers, but now it’s dictated by something that is even more removed from the art. All of these musicians are not only supposed to be mastering their craft, but also having to constantly create content to get a glimpse at some type of success. So yeah, get rid of social media?! 

Or at the very least, we want people who can make or break artists to realize that a viral video is a quickly passing trend and none of those numbers translate to long-term success.

7- How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

Well this dovetails nicely. The internet has done some incredible things to get music to people. We now have access to more or less all music. But it definitely comes with a price and I think we often find ourselves feeling nostalgic for the pre-streaming, pre-social media days. It’s easy to get caught up in your online presence and lose sense of what is most important, which is to us, our live performance, building relationships and the crafting of these songs.

8- Which musician would you like to collaborate with next?

He’s much more of a producer than a musician, but one we’ve definitely talked about before is Kenny Beats. I think he blew people away when he seamlessly pivoted from such incredible hip-hop and RnB to producing the Idles record. His range is wild and we love someone who can pull from all types of music to create a record.

9-If you had one message to give to your fans, what would it be?

FUCKIN’ THANK YOUUUUUU. Y’all are the best. Let’s get drinks.

10-What is next for Forty Feet Tall?

Well now that things have been open for a bit (knock on wood), we’re just trying to get our live music out to as many people as possible; AKA hittin’ the open road. We’ve also been able to release two singles along with videos and we have an EP that we did with Cameron Spies coming out on September 23rd that we’re very, very excited for!

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