Tall Dwarfs

Tall Dwarfs are a New Zealand rock band formed in 1981 by Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate, who helped pioneer the lo-fi style of rock music.[1] The duo were former members of Toy Love.[1]

Tall Dwarfs
OriginNew Zealand
GenresLo-fi, indie rock, experimental rock
Years active1981–present
Associated actsToy Love, The Enemy
MembersChris Knox
Alec Bathgate

The band lacked a drummer, but would use household objects and hand claps to act as percussion.[2] Both members can play guitar, with 12 strings and bass guitar often heard on their records. Both can play organ as well, which has been utilised on some of their songs. The Casiotone is frequently used too, especially on live concerts.

Their debut was the EP Three Songs (1981), and for many years they released EPs only. The album Weeville (1990) was their first full-length album.[1] They did, however, release a number of full-length compilations of their EPs, like Hello Cruel World and The Short and Sick of It.

In the liner notes to their album 3 EPs (1994) (released as a single CD, or as three vinyl EPs collected in one box), they asked for listeners' rhythm tracks: "Send us your idea of a great T.D. throb."[3][4] The responses came from many different countries and were used for the next album, Stumpy (1997). This album was therefore officially credited to "International Tall Dwarfs."[5]

Bands who have claimed to be influenced by the Tall Dwarfs include Elf Power[citation needed], Neutral Milk Hotel[6] and Olivia Tremor Control.[7][6] In 2005, they did a small number of concerts in the USA, playing with the Olivia Tremor Control.[8]


Date of Release Title Label
1981 Three Songs Furtive Records
1982 Louis Likes His Daily Dip Flying Nun Records
1983 Canned Music Flying Nun Records
1984 Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster Flying Nun Records
1985 That's the Short and Long of It Flying Nun Records
1986 Throw a Sickie Flying Nun Records
1987 Dogma Flying Nun Records
1998 Gluey, Gluey and The Ear Friend Flying Nun Records
1990 Weeville Flying Nun Records
1991 Fork Songs Flying Nun Records
1994 3 EPs Flying Nun Records
1996 Stumpy (as the International Tall Dwarfs) Flying Nun Records
1998 Fifty Flavours of Glue Flying Nun Records
2002 The Sky Above the Mud Below Flying Nun Records
Compilation Albums
1988 Hello Cruel World Flying Nun Records
1992 The Short and Sick of It Flying Nun Records

Featured appearances

The following is a list of compilation albums that have featured tracks by the Tall Dwarfs.

  • 1987 – Tuatara (Flying Nun Records) – "The Brain That Wouldn't Die"
  • 1988 – Great Jewish Music: Marc Bolan (Tzadik) – "Ride a White Swan"
  • 1988 – It's Bigger Than Both of Us (Propeller Records) – "Nothing's Gonna Happen"
  • 1988 – Human Music (Homestead Records) – "Gravity" (previously unreleased)
  • 1991 – Getting Older (Flying Nun Records) – "Crush"
  • 1995 – Abbasalutely (Flying Nun Records) – "On And on And On" (previously unreleased cover of the ABBA song)
  • 2002 – Under the Influence - 21 Years of Flying Nun Records (Flying Nun Records) – "If I Were You"
  • 2006 – Flying Nun 25th Anniversary Boxset (Flying Nun Records) – "Crush"
  • 2009 – Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox (benefit compilation album with covers of Tall Dwarfs songs)


  1. Ankeny, Jason (11 February 1997). "Tall Dwarfs – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  2. "Tall Dwarfs". thebigcity. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  3. Album notes for 3 EPs (1994). Flying Nun Records.
  4. "International Tall Dwarfs* – Stumpy (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  5. Album notes for Stumpy (1997). Flying Nun Records.
  6. "Nerd Alert: We'll Take Any Excuse to Say Tall Dwarfs Are Awesome - Flavorwire". Flavorwire. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  7. "Album Review: Tall Dwarfs – Weeville". Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  8. "Tall Dwarfs To Tour USA". Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2015.