Tall Horse is a project fronted by Portland’s Nick Poulin. Poulin was already known to Portland’s music fans and musicians for [dog] and [pony], a video production team with a focus on music videos. He’ll be recording his first full length album with band members Dominic Grosso , Dustin Saucier, Kris Rodgers, and others. The band will be appearing at Slainte on Wednesday, September 25th for a limited edition EP release event, and again on October 18th with Caro Khan. Tall Horse can be found on Soundcloud and Facebook.
Where were you born?
What brought you to Portland?
I had just finished school in Boston, MA and Los Angeles, CA for film. I moved back to Maine to be close to the family (and I absolutely hated LA. At the time it was a no-brainer) and moved to Portland after getting a job at Channel 13 as an editor. Portland’s music scene, food, amazing beaches, and creative people keep me here. Portland is home.
Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have a little one man business taking pictures of cars for dealerships. I work around my own schedule, so my main focus is music.
What was your most memorable gig?
The first time I ever played in front of people, at Slainte in May. I was playing with Ashley Brewer and Ryan Havey after rehearsing for over four months. I was so nervous my hands were trembling and sweating uncontrollably for hours. The funny thing is we were only scheduled to play three songs. Just three. I don’t know what was going on with the sound that night, but I couldn’t even hear my guitar over the crowd. Luckily, I had been playing those songs for over a year, so I just went from muscle memory. We played a song that I wrote called “Mud”, and about halfway through Ashley and I looked at each other because the whole crowd had gone quiet. I honestly thought something was wrong, but I guess they liked it.
What was your worst gig?
Ha ha, this set was at Slainte too. Everyone was huddled around the bar watching the Red Sox game. I was feeling pretty good about my set that night, but most of the people interested in listening to the music had left after a few musicians sang “Fuck The Taliban”, a parody of “Rock the Casbah” (I still have the lyric sheet if you’d like to take a look). After my first song, when only two or three people clapped, I got on the mic and said “Thank you, all two of you” and played the rest of my set without stopping. I admit I was cranky, and sick, and it was pouring outside, but I ended up playing a set I was really happy with anyway.
After the set, a guy came up to me and told me I have a great voice. And that made up for all the frustration.
What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
“It’s a Wonderful Life” by Sparklehorse and “Huggable Dust” by Okay. Both of these albums are pop albums turned on their head. It’s what I’m working toward as a musician. I’m not there yet, but I’m having fun trying to get there.
What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My guitar. If I go on a weekend trip I have to bring it with me. I can’t go a day without playing.
Any advice for a musician starting out?
I should be seeking advice, not giving it, because I’m still a rookie. But, I can definitely say that if you’re that person writing songs every single day, keep doing it. Just keep writing, and playing, and singing. I played and recorded my own material for three years before I had the guts to share it with anybody. Play, record, share. Ride the wave. It’s fun. People need to hear your perspective.
What’s the origin behind your band name?
A girl once told me to get off my high horse. It was one of those moments where you’re so frustrated and emotions are getting the best of you and you wish that you could rewind about fifteen minutes back to when everything was fine. That was a big moment for me. I had just lost my job and my girlfriend, so the shit was really hitting the fan. It’s the moment I decided to take charge of my own life and push forward as a mostly solo musician. There already is a band called High Horse, so I changed it to Tall Horse.
What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
It is and always will be Prince.
Stephen has exhibited his photography in California and throughout New England and served as Associate Director of a Boston-based non-profit overseeing the organization's technology, visual design, social networking, and event planning.
He lives outside of Portland with his wife and two children.