When we sit down with Close Talker, they have only just gotten off the 7 hour plane journey from Canada. Slightly jet lagged, the three piece are getting ready to embark upon a huge European tour in celebration of the release of their stunning sophomore album, Lens.
Hailing from Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Will, Chris and Matthew have been friends for over ten years, deciding to start a band in 2012 after being asked to play at a friend’s wedding. Now, with two albums under their belt, the trio are taking a new direction in their music, moving further from their pop roots and exploring the world of synths. Lens is the beautiful example of this, with the band dealing with change, not only in the musical sense, but also in the lyrics themselves, having experiences several huge personal changes whilst writing.
Currently touring Europe, we caught up with the Canadian collective to chat home towns, new albums and German punk rock t-shirts.
(LEFT) Shirt BARBOUR, jeans BLACK DENIM, shoes VANS.
(CENRE) T-shirt RIVER ISLAND, jeans 7 FOR ALL MANKIND, shoes DR MARTENS.
(RIGHT) Denim shirt VINTAGE LEVI’S, sweater POLO RALPH LAUREN, t-shirt RIVER ISLAND, jeans TOPMAN, shoes DR MARTENS.
You guys are childhood friends. Do you remember how you met?
Will: Well, Chris and I are going on 20 years of friendship now. We haven’t decided how we’ll celebrate yet. We’ve known each other since kindergarten and we used to live next door to each other. So we’ve known each other for ages. Then we both, in our own way, met Will around grade 8. We all went to high school together and played sports and music together.
Had you always wanted to do music?
W: I would say so. We all played music when we were really young. I think we all started on the piano. Chris was really into jazz all throughout high school, he’s a phenomenal alto sax player. Matt was really into acoustic guitar stuff and I was really into blues. So we all had our own music genres, and when we started this band we brought all of those influences in which developed our sound early on.
What’s the music scene in Canada like?
W: It’s vibrant, but also very small. Everyone either knows everyone or there’s like one degree of separation. With that there’s a lot of camaraderie, people are really supportive and kind. We all celebrate one another’s victories. Yeah, it’s great.
Chris: Especially in our own town of Saskatoon, it’s very community based. If you start a band, you’re gonna be able to get local support quite easily just because everyone loves championing local art.
You formed in 2012, what was the catalyst for that?
Matthew: Sort of an inevitability. We’d all played in different projects together growing up. Chris and Will especially, they had a band in high school. Will and I grew up playing in church together. We all really respected each other musically. I think the catalyst that made us start was our mutual friend was getting married and asked us to form a mock wedding band. It went pretty well and we had so much fun that we decided to play on open mic and then it all sort of spiralled from there.
And what was the response like at the wedding?
M: It was really good. It was a dry wedding but there were definitely some people there who were not dry! We ran out of songs pretty quickly so we did “Sweet Home Alabama” probably for about twenty minutes. We just whipped out the hits, which none of us knew how to play but we just went for it.
Did you have a vision of how you wanted the band to sound?
C: I think it’s developing. We were talking about this the other day. We’re constantly morphing and growing as artists. We always have a vision but it’s constantly changing.
W: If you listen to our first record from 2013 [compared] to the one we just put out, you would think they’re two different bands. Now we’re doing more synths and things like that. It’s constantly evolving. We’re not really a slave to one way of making songs, we just do it how we want to do it.
What’s it like working with such close friends?
M: Well one thing we’ve been saying a lot lately, is we’ve had a lot of times. Not all good, but we’ve had a lot of times. I think for the most part we get on really well because there’s such a foundation of friendship we don’t have to worry about stepping on one another’s toes. We can bypass a lot with not being afraid to hurt one another’s feelings.
W: I think we know each other’s tendencies, good and bad. We’ve known each other for like 20 years. If someone pisses someone off, we’ll move on.
W: For this new record, we definitely wrote it as a three. We wrote a lot of it instrumentally before we brought the lyrics in which, melodically, definitely played off our strengths.
C: When we write, we do a lot of call and response. So if someone has an idea, within seconds someone is responding to that. We bounce back until we find something we like.
M: It’s very instinctual. 90% of the songs we write are our first idea.
W: I think even though I’m playing guitar and Matt’s playing guitar and Chris is playing drums, we all still give our ideas on everyone’s parts. We love music and we love listening to all aspects of a song, so even if I’m writing lyrics or melodies both of these guys will give me some constructive criticism. Usually it’s great. I respect them so much and we all value music in a whole sense.
M: There’s a cohesive vision and we all want what’s best for the song. We’re not emotionally attached to anything, we just want what’s best for the song.
You mentioned your new album, Lens. Can you tell me a bit about it?
W: We wrote the majority of it in my home where we have a jam space. Actually, the beginnings of it we wrote in Norfolk! We stayed in this house on the cliffs there which had no power, we’d charge things off of a car battery. We were removed from technology and then we wrote a pretty technical record. And we had a couple of breaks when touring Germany when we wrote some. But most of it was written in the Canadian winters.
Were there any main inspirations for the album?
W: We were all dealing with changes. Matt and I both got married, so that was a big change. We lost our bass player. We started writing more equally as the three of us. Things that happened in our early to mid twenties changed our view towards everything, and that’s kind of echoed in our songs.
M: It’s documenting a season really.
W: Yeah! It’s about becoming more self-aware and looking at how friendships and relationships grow.
C: I think with this record too, more than ever, we talked about how we were feeling in that moment. It wasn’t really a past or future orientated record, it was just presently in the last year this is how we felt.
You’re currently on tour. What are you enjoying about it so far?
C: You get to meet cool people. We’re returning to a couple of places that we’ve been to before so we get to see some friends. Especially in Europe, it’s a very different scene and lifestyle compared to Canada so it’s cool to experience.
Do you find European crowds are different to Canadian crowds?
W: Yeah! I think partially it’s because when we started our band we were definitely more of a poppy, party band, which I think in terms of the fans that we gained, lots of them just wanted to come out and party. Now we’ve changed our sound to more of a listening type of crowd, so we get people, here especially, who just wanna take it in. It’s nice to play for people that are actually just listening to the music.
M: We love both, and a mixed crowd it always best.
C: Yeah, sometimes we play a really laid back show and then the next night it’s a full on mosh pit.
Have you had a wild, memorable tour moment?
W: We were in Cologne and this guy came up to Matt, this 50 year old German guy. Matt was wearing this shirt that he found on the street that day with a cat on it. A cat brushing his teeth.
M: It was the cleanest shirt that I had!
W: This big sweaty German guy came up to the stage and was like “You and me change shirts!” So Matt takes off his shirt in the middle of the set and puts on this sweaty German punk rock shirt. It reeked so bad and we couldn’t wash it until we got home. But Matt still wears the shirt and he’s brought it on tour!
M: I’m gonna wear it in Cologne just in case he shows up.
Well maybe he’ll come wearing your cat shirt and you’ll finally get it back…