Meeting in Boca Raton through mutual friends, Velvet Underground fans Brad Hargett (vocals) and JB Townsend (guitar) moved to New York City with no serious plan except to get the hell out of South Florida’s placid doldrums. After settling into Brooklyn’s presently thriving and oft-times peculiar art community, they began fooling around with music, practicing frequently, then recording a formative seven-inch, eight-track single, “Shattering Shine,” under the absurdist moniker, Crystal Stilts. But while a crystal stilt, by definition, is bound to crumble, these independent garage-psych aesthetes, who’ve traveled North for inspiration, managed to stay upright.
“JB would come into the record store I worked at. He had a job across the street at a coffee shop. We’d talk about music and moving to New York. My sister and former girlfriend lived up there. Then we moved at the same time,” Hargett explains prior to the band’s penetrating 40-minute set at hip West Village club, Le Poisson Rouge. He adds, “Besides, there was only a small group of people down there in Boca who had common interests in the bands we liked.”
Upon becoming Big Apple residents, Crystal Stilts’ founding members inevitably hooked up with Boston-bred bassist Andy Adler, a similarly-minded individual who’d solidify the line-up alongside keyboardist Kyle Forrester. By October ’08, their charmingly crude debut, Alight Of Night (Slumberland Records), would surface and garner positive reviews.
Adler, whose melodic chord structures may be informed by cherished ‘60’s icons Lee Hazelwood and Rick Danko, recalls, “I worked in an art library. I knew Brad because he had a job at Rocks In Your Head record shop in Soho. Then I met JB. I had a guitar in high school, but was self-taught. Crystal Stilts always had a rotating cast and I joined the group to play drums for a month. They liked the grooves I laid down, but eventually I was moved to bass.”
Hargett admits he benefited from having a circle of friends who just happened to be in bands. When he saw Adler play, he wasn’t so much impressed with his ability as he was drawn to his compatibility.
“Yeah. We wanted him to come aboard,” Hargett affirms. “I mean, it mainly has to do with being friends. You’re around people a lot in a band so you don’t want some total dick to be the guitarist even if he’s amazing. If you have similar tastes, get along, and have a sense of humor—that’s how we came together.”
Fortuitously, Hamish Kilgour (of respected Australian ‘80s underground band, The Clean), was in the audience during Crystal Stilts’ first show. A friend who has since left the band had hooked them up with an opening slot for Kilgour’s latest meritorious outfit, Mad Scene. Already quite familiar with the beguiling Aussie pop harbinger, as well as many related Flying Nun artists, Crystal Stilts took this as an early blessing for future success. And the live shows only got better.