Cubicle Concerts: Five Feet

The Manchester indie rock band plays three of their gentle, ethereal songs and discusses how music can be both hushed and expansive in the same breath

Left to right: Megan Simon, Alanah Tintle, Tyler Seiders. Photo courtesy Five Feet

Hearing Five Feet live is the most gentle of revelations. I first happened across them on the intimate, softly-illuminated Button Factory Stage at WSCA Radio in Portsmouth, a perfect backdrop for their delicate presence. When lead singer and guitarist Alanah Tintle began their song “Fool Me,” singing, “I never asked to be alive / Never thought I’d live past 25 / But since I’m stuck seeing tomorrow, maybe you could let me borrow some pride,” it felt like I could hear the blood coursing through my veins. She had complete control over the room, hypnotizing the crowd into a melancholic dream-state. Her nearly-whispered poetics carry a certain ship-in-a-bottle quality within them: Entire worlds burst from the seams of carefully-delivered words, fragile and small in their presentation but containing multitudes of emotion. Backed by drummer Tyler Seiders and bassist Megan Simon, the three-piece band incandesces a haunting, ethereal aura, utterly captivating in their quietude. Tintle ends the first verse of “Fool Me” with, “Cause my head never lets me settle / Plucking off the flower petals to hide,” and, leaning in, hanging on every word, you believe her: Five Feet could very well hide behind a flower petal, mystical and fragrant and gone, before you know it. As Tintle says, “We make people cry a little bit. Be a ghost.”

The Manchester indie rock band got their start when Tintle and Seiders met in 2017, forming the now-defunct Lockmouth. Shapeshifting through the years with a rotating cast of bandmates, they started Five Feet a year later and picked up Simon in 2019 after meeting at a show and bonding over nearly-identical Fender Mustang guitars (one green, one pink). All exceedingly-motivated musicians as kindhearted as their music suggests, they hit it off from the jump and went on to play in a number of bands together. Simon’s band, Megan From Work, features Seiders on drums, Tintle singing harmonies and an additional bassist blasting out reformed punk vibes. Five Feet, on the other hand, is Tintle’s brainchild; Seiders jokes that it’s “depression-core” music, and Simon explains it’s made “for the soft times.” Which all makes sense, talking to Tintle. Poignant and whimsical, eloquent and affable, she’s as quick to flash a warm smile as she is to break down the existential dread echoing through one of her diaphanous songs. She comes across wonderfully authentic, both in her music and in conversation. It appears there isn’t much of a barrier between the two. “Music has been there for me in a way that nothing and no one else ever has,” Tintle says. “I turn to certain songs that make me feel not alone, or that make me feel not weird, not wrong for existing. It gives me hope and it gives me happiness and I’d love for people to hear our music and relate to it in a way that brings them that same kind of peace. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay.”

Five Feet stopped by New Hampshire Magazine’s office in late February to perform three songs for our Cubicle Concerts series. Watch their performance below, stream their latest EP, “Forgotten Almosts,” on Bandcamp, Apple Music and Spotify, and follow them on Instagram (@fivefeetmusic) for updates on where to catch them live. Video created by Alex Kumph (@akumph) and Michael Dowst; sound engineering by Ben LeBeau.

New Hampshire Magazine: If we can imagine your style as a reanimated Frankenstein monster made up of the body parts of your influences, who would be the arms?
Megan Simon: Our brand of neurodivergent is like, “But how can you say what the arms are? And who are the feet?” And just getting way too literal about assigning what the body parts mean. Like, it doesn’t matter what the fingers are! You’re just asking what we’re built out of! Chill out! I’ll try.
Alanah Tintle: But, like, a head would be important because that’s where the brain is! And the fingers are what play the guitar!
MS: But, okay, think about it this way: The body is one living unit, it can’t exist without all the cells and stuff going on in it. So your arm is affected by your knee.

NHM: It is interconnected — that’s the rub.
MS: I can do this! I can do it, I promise…How important are the arms?
AT: Here’s the thing: My biggest influence, personally, of all the influences that I could have, is Andy Hull, as a musician. Andy Hull has several projects. To be honest with you, I’m just going to start naming different Andy Hull projects for each limb without you guys (laughs). So I’d say the arms are Bad Books. That’s Andy and Kevin Devine’s quiet project, the one where you could hear a pin drop.
MS: They get loud sometimes.
AT: They do get loud on some of them. Like us. They have their little moments.
MS: Andy Hull is the nervous system, just touching everything. He’s the spaghetti monster inside us (laughs).

NHM: The legs?
Tyler Seiders: I’ll take the legs since I’m the drums — that sounds like a back-beat kind of thing. I’d say Ben Folds Five’s drum parts really influenced what holds up Five Feet. Definitely Ben Folds Five.
MS: Maybe the feet are Death Cab for Cutie, because for both of us, I know Death Cab is a big influence.
TS: Definitely. Ben Gibbard in general. There’s definitely Five Feet songs I ripped off The Postal Service’s key sounds. It’s fitting.

NHM: Torso?
AT: That’s where the heart is…Manchester Orchestra. Manchester Orchestra. It’s so hard for me to elaborate; this will just turn into an interview about Manchester Orchestra. They’ve got that harmony, they’ve got those dynamics, they have the drums that make you feel like you’re gonna run up a mountain.
MS: Very emotive.
AT: Manchester Orchestra is a genius band that’s my favorite band — has been for a long time. Andy Hull is the singer, leader, he also has a couple of other projects. Manchester Orchestra is their big full band, beautiful, cinematic, I can’t…I could talk about Manchester Orchestra forever. There’s something so dark in their music but it’s without being heavy but they do get bigger in some parts but it’s not weighed down by a crunch or a grit — it’s a beautiful, ethereal anger and I love that. Have you ever seen the movie “Swiss Army Man”? You should watch that movie. It’s a very strange one, but Andy Hull and Robert (McDowell) did the whole soundtrack for that movie and it’s beautiful. So there’s a cinematic feel, but they use that in their music, too. They’re a band I’ve been a fan of for a long time now. It’s just one of those, “I know every single song by heart, this is what I want to sound like, this is what I want to do, too.” They have such a good capture of quiet and big without sacrificing anything. I think that’s something we’re always trying to aim for because I love quiet, but it’s fun to be like, “Tada!” sometimes, too. I don’t even know how to describe Manchester Orchestra. The best sounds of all the sounds come together into one sound. They’re fantastic. That’s my biggest influence, by far, and it’s just such a special sound, it’s such a magical thing he has there. I like to try and find my own version of that, but it’s hard because I want to be him (laughs). So that’s Manchester Orchestra…I really shouldn’t talk too much about them. I will. It’ll be a seven-page paragraph.

NHM: Well, thank you for nerding out about your favorite band, that was lovely. The brain?
TS: I think it’s cringe to say The Beatles, but you (Alanah) literally only listened to The Beatles the first four years I knew you. All I heard was The Beatles and Andy Hull.
AT: Well that’s because I didn’t have a thing in my car. I could only play CDs and I had all The Beatles CDs. I didn’t have an aux cord or anything.
MS: You do have a Beatles tattoo.
AT: I do have a Beatles tattoo (laughs).
MS: “Oh, good point!” You can’t downplay that you do like The Beatles a lot!
AT: “I don’t even like The Beatles!”
MS: “I just have all their CDs!”
AT: That’s why you heard it so much; specifically, that was the year of The Beatles’ CDs in the car. I did not play anything else. But I also have a lot of their stuff on my phone and on vinyl, too. Yeah…they’ve got some interesting, weird little chords, weird little dissonance in there, and we use that kind of thing, too. And harmonies.
MS: And that one intro drum part that you were like, “It’s like this Beatles song except I’ve made it better!”
TS: You can’t get better than Ringo.
AT: Well…we’re gonna try! Yeah, the brain is probably The Beatles. That’s what I grew up listening to. That’s just, like, deeply ingrained into my body and brain.
TS: Like, the constant harmonies through some of our entire songs — I feel like a lot of that comes from listening to The Beatles so much.
AT: Definitely. And adding my own harmonies. The Beatles are the brain.

NHM: We’re down to the eyeballs, the last body part I’ll ask about.
AT: I feel like we gotta go Fleet Foxes. What do you guys think? Any other pitches?
MS: So these eyeballs have heterochromia: one is Fleet Foxes, the other’s Fleetwood Mac.
AT: They’re both Fleet. One Mac, one Foxes. We’ve got one blue and one green eye.
TS: I like that.
AT: I said today, “Who isn’t influenced by Fleetwood Mac?” You (Megan) were like, “My band’s not” (laughs).
MS: I mean, they’re sick! Who doesn’t wanna be Stevie, I mean, c’mon?
AT: But Fleet Foxes for the harmonies, again, of course. Just those big swells of dissonant notes. It’s gotta be one eye.
MS: The folk aspect of both of those bands makes a lot of sense. The Fleets. Eye Fleets.

NHM: Oh yeah, I almost forgot to ask: Where’s the name Five Feet come from?
AT: I’m exactly 5 feet tall. Five nothing (laughs). You know when you’re a kid and you don’t wanna be the shortest one around and you’re always like, “Yeah, I’m 5-foot-2.” I did dance for a little part of my life and I’d always be like, “I’m 5-foot-1, 5-foot-2,” and now, in this part of my life, I’m embracing being 5 feet tall and I’m happy about it. It’s fun to be down here. So I went the other way and just named the whole band for it. Five feet. No more.

Categories: Cubicle Concerts, Music & Movies, Q&A