Interview: July Talk
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 11:15:09
Rock 'n' roll gets a double dose of exactly what it needs on July Talk's Guns + Ammunition EP [iTunes link]. It's a fascinating and fiery amalgam of desert rock heat and a one-two vocal punch, combining the stunning harmonies of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. Dreimanis delivers each word with gravelly grit, while Fay's voice sounds simply angelic. The riffs rage hard, the rhythms hypnotize, and the lyrics prove thought-provoking and visceral. To put it simply, you'll be talking about July Talk for a long time to come. They're about to become everybody's favorite band...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Peter Dreimanis of July Talk discusses the EP and so much more.
What ties the Guns + Ammunition EP together for you?
It's the voices. That's the thing we realized when we first started the band together. No matter what we do, it's really about the conversation between Leah [Fay, vocals] and I. The five of us get together and write songs. It's all about the conversation. The band is so important to us because we're grouping it together through that conversation.
When did you first discover that conversation?
We set it as a high priority. It's good for a writing project as a musician. I think this band provided us an opportunity to write together. Leah and I met and, all of a sudden, it became very obvious that this project needed a focus. We write songs in very different ways than we used to. It's so much fun because you're trying to bring something new to the duet. Honestly, we treasure the opportunities we have. It's been so much fun. We always say to each other that if we had to write songs for only one person again—like we were only a solo front-person once more—we would have no fun at all because this band has changed the way we write songs.
What did you and Leah connect or bond over musically?
When we first met, we started bonding over bands like Wilco, Queens of the Stone Age, and desert rock. Leah spent some time in Joshua Tree. We were influenced quite a bit by desert rock 'n' roll when we first made the record. Joshua Tree is this incredible place that influences our music a lot. We're actually going to be there soon just before we play in Los Angeles. We're into spontaneity. That's the bottom line. We love the unexpectedness of live music. Going into these new recordings, we recorded three songs for the international release. We're all about trying to capture the unexpected. We're so excited to play the new songs.
You capture that desert vibe, but you've got your own identity too.
You get a free pass with the fact that we love songwriters like Prince who are so pop-oriented, but we come from very high drive guitars. We're into The Replacements, Nick Cave, and people who are very heavy. At the same time, the band is conversational, and it's about looking up to artists who you wouldn't normally place in that canon of heavy. That's the thing we realized when we started. No matter what genre of music we place ourselves into, it's about taking those influences and allowing the music to come out of the conversation and arise from a much more pop-oriented world. It's like as if Sinéad O'Connor and Prince wrote a song together as opposed to Prince just writing a song for her. All of a sudden when you take that into a very heavy rock 'n' roll-influenced style of music, you realize you can go in any direction you want. There's nobody counting on one side. It's about creating catchy pop-oriented rock 'n' roll. Early on, we realized we can jump around between genres. We enjoy writing because of that.
What's the story behind "I've Rationed Well"?
I'm from a town called Edmonton in Alberta. "I've Rationed Well" is about being in love with someone who doesn't actually exist. I moved to Toronto from Edmonton, and I was in love with a woman when I was younger who I never knew. I think that's very common thing. People fall in love when they're living in the wrong city as someone. You're never actually in love with the human being. You're in love with the idea of the human being. That's what "I've Rationed Well" is about. It's about being in love with the idea of somebody and not having any actual access to who they are.
Where did "Paper Girl" come from?
It's just an angry song. You can do whatever you want as a human being. I heard a Bob Dylan song called "Positively 4th Street". He essentially says the meanest things he can think of. When I heard it, it changed the way I looked at songwriting. I realized that writing songs was this opportunity. When I wrote "Paper Girl", I thought fifteen would hear our band. I had no idea people would hear this song. It's about allowing your anger to come out and allowing yourself to say things you never thought you should. Songwriting is about being brave. Leah and I discuss saying the things you never thought you should say.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
The five of us go away. We essentially go out of the city and write songs together. We look up to songwriters like Jenny Lewis and Jeff Tweedy who tell it like it is. You get to have those moments when you put on your headphones. You get to understand those moments. That's how your favorite songs work. When we started the band, we talked about those moments. Everything cuts, you think the guitars will explode, and they bring it down to the quietest quiet you've ever heard. We try to write songs that have those moments. Lyrically, it's about being visual and putting people into a time and a place that they miss and they're still a part of. It's important. Tell them something they haven't heard in a while. We look forward to having that conversation.
If you were to compare the EP to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Josh [Warburton, bass] and I look up to a lot of directors like Jonathan Glazer. We like tension. He directs all the videos. We've written together since we were in University. We're into filmmakers who use tension. In terms of songwriting, we enjoy people who make you want the chorus like Jonny Greenwood. The tension is quite similar. We're into making an audience really want a chorus and change. I don't want to compare our music to a filmmaker because it's a very different thing, but we look at it the same way.
Have you heard July Talk yet?
If you're in Los Angeles, catch them at King King Monday August 25 for free as part of the School Night series!