Bone marrow is a soft and spongy substance, yet it’s the innermost element of the human construct, vital to our existence as a sustainable and adaptable species. Without it, our bodies would succumb to even the most innocuous threat.
Likewise, Tallows’ music is so constructed: robust with instrumental depth and conceptual assertion. There’s also a tenderness at its core that’s endearingly boyish in its pop sensibility, standing in stark contrast to the firm guitar riffs and pounding percussion that comprise its outer shell.
This vulnerability has persisted from its conception — just over a year ago — to the present as the Oklahoma City four-piece has prepared for the release of its debut album, Memory Marrow.
“I still don’t know how to read music,” singer/multi-instrumentalist Josh Hogsett said. “A lot of the stuff that I learned musically was through watching YouTube videos. Until the last year, I wouldn’t even put my lips on the microphone. A, because I’m a germ-freak, and B, because I was still kind of nervous.”
Tallows’ current incarnation is decidedly more comfortable than in its nascent stage, a period which saw the release of its first singles, “Soft Water” and “Small Talk,” packaged as a demo just last year. For a demo, the songs were unusually stylized and polished, generating a subsequent buzz both locally and in the blogosphere.
This positive reaction is what fueled the creative process for Hogsett and his bandmates.
“It was definitely the response that made us want to move a lot faster,” he said. “I think if we hadn’t had such a response after putting out that demo, we definitely wouldn’t be releasing this album right now. That support really drove us to write more songs.”
The group’s songwriting workflow is as nonlinear as its music, but not by design. Hogsett and co-guitarist/computer guru Richard Lindsey live in Norman, while drummer Jay Sullivan and bassist Adam Thornbrugh reside in OKC.
The distance between has forced the four to share bits and pieces of their songs through email and the popular file-sharing service Dropbox, resulting in a sound that’s as 21st century as the mediums they utilize.
“The first three or four songs we wrote as a band in a room together,” Hogsett said. “Last year, we were sending ideas and songs through the Internet, so it had a lot more electronic influence to it.”
In a live setting, the quartet employs a variety of digital instrumentation — from electronic drum kits to laptops — to compliment its analog roots. Hogsett said this allows for even more intricacy and experimentation than is present in the band’s recorded material.
“If anything, there’s just more being added on to it; nothing is really being taken away,” he said. “We can always have that sound that we had initially because there’s a computer on there, and computers can do that.”
Even with such a heavy electronic influence in their new material, Tallows’ evolution has remained within the construct of a specific theme and idea, retaining a sound they can call their own while scattering their influences throughout.
This continuity, Hogsett said, was by design.
“A lot of albums that I really love have a central theme to them where all the songs tie together instead of just listening to one song that doesn’t really have anything to do with the next one,” he said. “I wanted [Memory Marrow] to be an album and not just a collection of songs.”
What the future holds for the budding indie-pop act remains to be seen, but this much is certain: While bracing for impact, their forward-thinking approach is, at its core, refreshingly individualized. And that’s about as bare-bones as it gets.