First impressions are everything. So when alternative-pop wunderkinds, Hector On Stilts (HOS), show up to their shows, it's always in a limo. Of course, the group's co-founder, Jeb Colwell, will likely be at the wheel, wearing a crash helmet.
If the limo is allegory for the band's style their sophomore release, Same Height Relation is proof. Produced by Grammy-nominee, Andres Levin (Yerba Buena), Same Height Relation is HOS's most definitive body of work. The album wheels through plush anti-epics ("Winterland," "Rhyme Like Me"); salsa-spiced disco ("Annie," "Squares Into Circles"); bittersweet alternative-pop ("Heart In Your Hand," "Tongue-Tied") and bare-bottom acoustic ("Same Height Relation"). At the helm are cousins, Jeb and Clayton Colwell, who split writing and lead vocal turns, and harmonize with the clarity and conviction of a latter-day Simon & Garfunkel.
Jeb and Clayton are continuing their familial musical legacy. Their fathers were co-founders and songwriters for Pepsodent-fresh Up With People. The group performed at Super Bowl halftimes in the 1970s, before Janet Jackson had her first training bra. Jeb's theatrical instincts undoubtedly derive from his grandfather, the late actor Anthony Quinn. However it was the senior Colwells who passed onto their sons a legacy of people-pleasing music and an unending fondness for the sweeter, "poppier" side.
The Colwell cousins, who hail from Tucson, Arizona, began performing together as teenagers at local coffee houses. Mixing what one reviewer labeled as "lullaby pop" with a genetic proclivity for zany performances, the cousins were soon cultivating a following in clubs and colleges from Tucson to Los Angeles and Seattle. In 2001, Jeb and Clayton relocated to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, drawn by the appeal of its proximity to New York City and Boston and the relative still of the majestic Berkshires.
Soon after unpacking, Hector On Stilts added a rhythm section and began performing in more traditional rock venues. Their power pop, vocal harmonies and enigmatic humor quickly earned the group fans, including Men At Work front man, Colin Hay (a "childhood hero," Clayton confesses). After HOS shared a bill with Hay in Pittsfield, the 80's star invited the band back to Los Angeles to co-write and recorded an early version of Same Height Relation opening track, "Taxi."
Hector On Stilts has also shared the stage with an eclectic mix of notables, including Jonathan Richman, Bill Spencer of the Tubes, Mike Davis of MC5, and the Bloodhound Gang. Their collaborations entertained the likes of Diana Ross and former President George H. Bush.
In February 2005, Hector On Stilts played to a crowd of nearly 2,000 as the featured artist for the Rock2Rebuild Tsunami Benefit. Most recently, Same Height Relation track, "Tongue-Tied," was selected by Performing Songwriter Magazine's "Be Heard" Scholarships to this year's Kauai Music Festival. HOS was also invited to showcase at the 2005 North by Northeast Music Conference in Toronto, Canada.
Finally, Hector On Stilts has become the first band to be part of the Storefront Artist Project (www.storefrontartist.org), an artists group intent on turning the once moribund ex-GE company town of Pittsfield into the Brooklyn of the Berkshires.