Smokin’ Trees

Posted May 27, 2010 in Music

Visit the official MySpace page for local indie-folk duo Taller Than Trees, and you just might go into a sugar coma, listening to the upbeat sounds of songs like “Button,” complete with banjo pickin‘ from Luis Mendoza and some sweet, sweet singing from main vocalist (and girlfriend) Tasha Abbott. Speaking to Mendoza, it’s clear that he knows where to look for inspiration, rattling off names like She & Him and the recently formed Dead Weather (among many others) as acts that have heavily influenced the pair’s full-length debut (which should be available at Taller Than Trees shows as well as via iTunes by the time you read this). However, don’t let his serious indie cred fool you into thinking he’s got a one-track mind; after all, as the old maxim goes, appearances can be deceiving.


“I’m a hardcore kid at heart!” exclaims Mendoza—who impressively used to front NorCal hardcore outfit Eleonora—before reciting an even longer laundry list of his favorite hardcore bands, dropping names like Sky Eats Airplane and A Day to Remember left and right.


This sort of musical diversity is par for the course for the SoCal native, who earnestly posits that “music shouldn’t have any boundaries or set limitations.” Even Taller Than Trees’ very first full-length will feature a veritable cornucopia of musical stylings: “Each song is a different genre, yet they still coincide with one another,” says Mendoza. “We have some folky stuff and we have some slow stuff and we have some dancey stuff. We have some harder blues-type stuff. It’s pretty much like showing everybody that you can still be creative and not have to settle for what society thinks a group should sound like.”


Taller Than Trees (owing their name to a euphemism thought up by Mendoza that means “you’re pretty much on cloud nine”), while sounding for all the world like seasoned veterans, has only been around for a few short years.


In late 2006, Mendoza, who had been balancing his vocal duties in Eleonora with pursuing a double major in creative writing and journalism at Cal State Monterey Bay, got extremely ill. While he would go on to make a full recovery, the sickness was bad enough to where the musician had to return to his home in Chino Hills. Soon enough, he began writing out his thoughts and various musical ideas on paper and, with the help of a friend, recorded what would eventually become the songs “Button” and “I’m Sick” (the two tracks comprising a sort of mini-EP, available to listen to on the Taller Than Trees MySpace page).


Eventually, Tasha Abbott (who worked alongside Mendoza at Urban Outfitters in Rancho Cucamonga’s Victoria Gardens) would be brought into the fold, and before they knew it, the pair was a full-fledged indie-folk act (“I really didn’t think I would form a band out of [this],” admits Mendoza). Fast forward back to present-day, and the two members of Taller Than Trees (who have gone on to become romantically linked) have not only already recorded their full-length album in only nine days at Hollister, California’s Center Earth Sound Studios, they’re also about to kick off a nearly three-week tour, beginning with a show on Tuesday at The Wire in Upland. Coincidentally enough, booking Taller Than Trees’ next tour is where Mendoza’s hardcore past came in handy.


“While I was in Eleonora and we toured and stuff, I made a bunch of contacts,” says Mendoza. “I got familiar with different promoters in different states, different venues and different areas, and I started forming my own little agency. So, for this tour . . . I took care of all of it.”


While tension during the recording process was certainly present for the couple (“The recording process was quite frustrating at times. Sometimes you mess up certain parts, she yells at me, I yell back at her . . .”), the sunshine that nearly radiates from the speakers when their music plays reflects the unique dynamic that Taller Than Trees has going on. “At the end of the day, what I feel we came up with was a good, unique album,” says a content Mendoza. “We make a really good team.” 

Taller Than Trees w/The Broken Column, My Machete at The Wire, 247 N. Second St., Upland, (909) 985-9466;; Tues, June 1. 7PM.


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