Press

9 Feet Tall reaches for new musical heights
CD release party tomorrow night at Joy Underground
BY JENNIFER KOHLHEPP, Staff Writer, Sentinel Aug. 12, 2004


PHOTOS BY JENNIFER KOHLHEPP Above, North Brunswick’s Dan Anderson (l), and Tom Pfau at 9 Feet Tall’s band practice. At left, Kathy Anderson and husband, Dan, rehearse. The band (below), based in North Brunswick, will hold its first CD release party at the Joy Underground, Route 130, North Brunswick, tomorrow night.

NORTH BRUNSWICK — They might not be giants in the music industry yet, but they’re 9 Feet Tall and growing with a new album.

After almost 18 months of practicing, recording and mastering their first record, titled "Worn Out Shoe," 9 Feet Tall will host a CD release party from 7:30-10:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Joy Underground, located at 1915 Old Georges Road.

"We are continuously impressed by the outpouring of support for our music, so we decided to invite everyone to share in the celebration of our new CD as a way to say thank you to the community," said Kathy Anderson, 9 Feet Tall’s songwriter and vocalist.

The North Brunswick-based band consists of six artists with a "passion for writing and performing music with a message," Anderson said.

Kathy and her husband, Dan, an acoustic guitarist, of North Brunswick, founded the band in 2000. Keyboardist Rob Hamrick, drummer Gerry Piazza, electric guitarist Tom Pfau, all of North Brunswick, and bass guitarist Pete Scibienski, of Somerset, joined the Andersons on their mission to create music with a positive message in 2001.

Since their formation, the band has played township events such as Heritage Day and Winter Wonderland. 9 Feet Tall has also played the Middlesex and Mercer County fairs, coffeehouses such as Joy Underground, and fund-raisers for the Kingston Volunteer Fire Department and the Community Gospel Church in North Brunswick.

The band formed at the Community Gospel Church, where its members are all part of the worship team, Kathy said.

"It’s not just a good band dynamic because of the great friendships we share, but also because of our goal to leave our listeners fuller, better people because of hearing the messages in our music," Kathy said.

Kathy said the band’s name reflects what the members hope their audience feels when listening to 9 Feet Tall.

"We want to produce music devoted to helping the listener grow as a person on the inside," Kathy said.

She said the name comes from a line in the movie "Hans Christian Andersen."

"The main character in the film, trying to help someone who is discouraged, says, ‘When your heart is full of love, you’re 9 feet tall,’ " Kathy said.

The band’s new album mirrors the same sentiment, Kathy said. She said 9 Feet Tall named its first record "Worn Out Shoe" from a line in the track "Butterfly."

"Just as a caterpillar emerges from a cocoon as a butterfly, we hope our audience mentally and spiritually transforms after listening to the messages of our songs," Kathy said.

The lyrics of "Butterfly" describe a person’s metamorphosis from "lifeless days" of "mounting malaise," like those of "a worn out shoe" into days of "light" and "grace" like those of a "soaring butterfly" with the help of the Lord, Kathy said.

Although all of their music doesn’t directly address religion, Kathy said many of the band’s songs refer to Jesus and Christianity.

"Anyone can listen to our music and enjoy it, but there definitely is a spiritual side to it," Kathy said. "My inspiration for writing lyrics and music comes from my love for people and my love for God."

Other tracts on the record deal with other themes including "Blue Sky," which Kathy wrote about Sept. 11, 2001, and "Slow Down for Love," a song about taking the time to appreciate the little things in life.

"Blue Sky" is a song of hope, in which the songstress sings, "And the smoke stings my eyes, but I will hold my head up high, and sweep away the ash of war. Through the billowing high rise, I will search for bluer skies."

In "Slow Down for Love" Kathy sings, "Don’t go for the gusto, go for the depth and grow. Life is an ocean; I want to dive in and get wet, with no regret that I wasted a single drop I could have tasted."

The band’s music is just as eclectic as the spectrum of experiences, ideas and emotions Kathy draws her lyrics from. An amalgamation of rock, folk, funk, blues, and soul, 9 Feet Tall draws from a wide range of musical influences.

"I come up with the bare bones of the songs — it’s my band mates who breathe life into them," Kathy said.

The musicians said they have fun incorporating the sounds of Neil Young, the Beatles, Dave Brubeck, Michael MacDonald, Harlan Rogers, The E Street Band, Motown, R&B, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Dave Matthews and many others into their music.

To record such a diverse sound, the band commissioned Plink Giglio, a sound engineer at 17th Avenue Productions in Manville.

"Plink helped us hear the greatest potential in all of our music," Kathy said. "The album turned out greater than we ever dreamed it could, and we want to celebrate its completion with everyone who has supported us."

The band expects to perform some of the songs off their new album at the CD release party.

The event will also include performances by Contra Band, Russ and K.T. Wills, Dane Lowrie and FireSeed. In an effort to show their appreciation for the support they have garnered for their music over the last few years, 9 Feet Tall will give away over 50 prizes during the party.

"The local businesses have been so generous and supportive by donating goods and services to us to give away during the event," Kathy said.

Although admission to the event is free, the band would like community members to bring at least one canned good donation for the North Brunswick Food Bank. For more information, visit www.9FeetTall.com or call (732) 745-8280.


Christian band has more of a mission than just making music
By Raviya Ismail, Staff Writer, Home News Tribune May 28 2003

North Brunswick: Their sound is a fusion of rock, folk and blues, but members of the band, 9 Feet Tall, have a much bigger mission in mind than just music.

The six band members met while attending church at the Community Gospel Church in North Brunswick, and found that they had more in common than just a love for music, that is a love of Jesus and Christianity.

“Most of our songs refer to Jesus, but do not blatantly say His name,” said Kathy Anderson, lyricist and songwriter for the band. “Our goal is to help people, not bang them over the head with Christianity. We hope that all people, no matter what their religious affiliation, can benefit from our music and grow on the inside as a result of listening… I feel very deeply about my faith, and I love people. I naturally combine the two when I write.”

Rounding out the band are Kathy’s husband, Dan Anderson, who plays acoustic guitar; Rob Hamrick on keyboards; Gerry Piazza, drums and vocals; Tom Pfau, electric and acoustic guitar, and Pete Scibienski on bass guitar.

Dan Anderson said the essence of the band is not what many people would expect from a Christian band.

“We are not a preachy Christian band,” he said. “We are not going around telling people they have to believe what we believe. Hopefully people will go away sensing that we have a relationship with God and that relationship has made a difference with our lives, and we want to share that with other people… It’s more, ‘see what God’s done for us, and see what He can do for you too.’”

The band’s name comes from a line in a song in the movie biography of the Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson: “When your heart is full of love you’re nine feet tall.”

Audiences “have said that our music is different,” said Kathy. “I’ve had people point out specific songs saying, ‘this song has helped me in a situation.’ Some of our songs, people can really relate to. Our songs can kind of pull on your heart strings.”

“A lot of times, people don’t hear messages like ours,” added drummer Piazza.

The band practices every Tuesday evening for a three-hour session. On a typical night of practice, band members assemble, organize their instruments, and start the rehearsal with sound checks.

“Check, check, check,” began Kathy. “Hello, hello, hello. I can still hear the ringing,” she said to the band members.

Before playing, the band members said a quick prayer. Members decided on songs to practice, including “Blue Sky,” which was inspired by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Blue, blue sky, sang Kathy.
You’ve got your briefcase and coffee
We kiss good-bye
News, near and far
It’s time to pray
Meant to tell you, you looked so fine today…

Although the theme is somber, the music is light and happy.

And the smoke stings my eyes
But I will hold my head up high…
I will search for bluer skies
And I will sing this song of hope…

The band has been together for a little over a year and has played in a mix of community service, fund-raisers and paid engagements. They have played in Borders Books and Music in Bridgewater and Princeton and area coffeehouses. And the band is content with this.

“I think we would like to continue on in the track that we’re taking, doing outreaches, any place that we can help out, to spread the word of God,” said Piazza. “I don’t think we want to play Continental Arena; I don’t think that is our goal. We’re more interested in what God has in store for us than goals of our own.”

Along with this common message of hope, the band is built on extreme respect, trust and loyalty between the members.

“The music is interesting and the way we’re structured, we all contribute to the arrangement of the songs,” said bassist Scibienski of Somerset. “In a lot of situations, you don’t get to do that.”

Scibienski said that after hearing about Kathy’s idea for a band, he jumped at the chance to become involved.

“It’s a different focus in that each of the songs is pointing to another value other than ‘I’m going to jump in my car and take my baby to the Burger King’” he said. “I think that we’re giving (audiences) a good evening’s entertainment with an uplifting message. This is something that we all love doing and very rarely in our society do people get to do what they truly love.”

Keyboarder Rob Hamrick said band members were there for him during a very pivotal point in his life when he needed financial help and support.

“My wife and I felt that these were my family, more than my own family,” he said. “That sort of thing goes a long way in developing relationships.”

Hamrick, who is the self-professed “grouchy band member” said he enjoys being a part of the band.

“If it was just music, I can play on my own,” said Hamrick, who has played professional and semi-professional keyboard. “But what you can’t get on your own is hanging with these people. It keeps the fellowship going… If they decided to build houses, I would do that. About the only time that we find to be together is the process of doing this. It’s a deep connection for us, not only in faith.”

Echoing sentiments of other band members, Hamrick said he was immediately drawn to Kathy’s mission for the band.

“I’ve seen her literally start writing since I’ve known her,” he said. “Listen to the songs. The music stands on it’s own, the words stand on their own, we aren’t trying to proselytize.”

The band will be playing at the Refuge Coffee House at Bridgewater Baptist Church on Friday, May 30th, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Photographer's Talent Honored at Reception
by Jennifer Kohlepp, Sentinel reporter (1/15/2003)

"...Kathy and Dan Anderson of the musical group 9 Feet Tall performed an acoustic set of original folk rock songs to accompany Yankowsk's work."

"The North Brunswick-based band, celebrating its one-year anniversary, will play at Border's bookstore on Route 1 south on Feb. 7th..."


9 Feet Tall and still growing
By Elizabeth Hamilton, VOX reporter

“Ours is music with a message,” said Kathy Anderson, lead guitar and songwriter for 9 Feet Tall.

The five-piece original rock band from the North Brunswick area include: Kathy; Kristin Perkins, vocals; Tom Pfau, rhythm guitar; Pete Scibienski, bass; and Gerry Piazza, drums.

Describing their music as rock with a folk and blues edge, this band bases many of their songs on Christian themes and ideals.

“Actually, the first song I wrote, Tom and I played together for our church,” Kathy said. A parishioner of the church was having a baby about five years ago, and Kathy wrote the song for the baby girl, Rose.

Since then various members of the band have played together on and off in various bands. Finally, coming together two months ago to form 9 Feet Tall.

Even though the band members are firm believers in the Christian faith, they don’t object to playing anywhere or anytime. Whether it’s benefits, fairs, bars or clubs, 9 Feet Tall is ready for action.

“Anytime we can get in front of an audience is good,” Kathy said.

According to Pete, finding places to play is much easier than it was in years past. “There’s not as many bands as there used to be,” he said. “And, there are a lot more open mic nights and things like that.”

However, Pete explained there was one aspect of the music scene that he found lacking. “I wish there were more venues available that are alcohol free.” He said that it would allow for a younger crowed.

One way that 9 Feet Tall can be viewed by younger crowds is on the cable show Local Band Spotlight, Comcast channel 97 on June 10 at 9 p.m. “It’s a great opportunity for bands to get exposure in the community,” Kathy said. “And we can be seen by viewers that wouldn’t normally go to a club.”

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