Close Talker are an intriguing band from the province of Saskatchewan, Canada that meld the likes of blues, jazz, and hip-hop into a highly original sound all their own. We were afforded some time, with lead singer Will Quiring, recently to talk about the bands origins, how seriously cool the music scene in Saskatoon is, and their new record Lens out April 21st on Nevado Music.
So you guys were literally in the middle of practicing when I called?
- Will Quiring – “We’ve pretty much since January we’ve been putting everything else on hold, preparing for the album release, and tour and taking care of all those managerial things. It’s been good.”
“Okay Hollywood” is a super funky first single, how is your new record Lens different from your previous records?
- Will Quiring – “I think having producer Marc Peters on we definitely got to do more stuff, and I think having him there we were just like… If we write a song like this, he can make it sound good, lots of his music including bands like Royal Canoe, and stuff like that, it’s dancy and funky.
- We are officially a three piece now and our last record, Flex, was written on acoustic guitars and then brought it to the rest of the band and went from there. Our tendencies were to make it more ambient, more subdued. With this record, Lens , we decided to add more synths, more bass synths which generally made it sound more funky and dancy. I think it’s also the stuff we were listening to; a lot more hip-hop influence, and more bands like Tame Impala, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra with more of a groove to it.”
The video for “Okay Hollywood” is pretty intense as well.
- Will Quiring – “The video was done by our good friend Nathan Boey who has done all of our videos and he’s based out of Vancouver. So we had this simple concept that we told him about a junkyard and we wanted to do it in one shot. So we drove from Saskatoon to Vancouver, it was like 17 hours, and we didn’t really have a plan for where we were going to record. The whole time we were driving Matt was calling different junkyards. During that time the #1 trending news story on Twitter in Vancouver was a junkyard fire. We knew we wanted to do something with explosions. It was a miracle we got a place to do the video.
- We did the song two times the speed. The actual song is 3:40 but we did the whole thing all in one try in 1:40. Then we filmed it in slow motion and did the song twice as fast. All the explosions that you see are real explosions. We broke the mirror in the car, and we had a pyro guy setting off explosions with a remote control. We had no idea what was going to happen when we started filming because the whole time we practiced it without the explosions. So it was a one time thing.
- We’ve never done anything like that… so the expressions on our faces in the video were real. We had to walk through where the explosions were going and there was some technical difficulties setting them up, and one of the explosions semi-went. We were super scared that one of us were going to be hit by a fireball, but it all worked out.”
The band is from Saskatchewan, how do your native Canada affects your music?
- Will Quiring – “It affects us very deeply. One thing that is really cool about the music scene in Saskatchewan in particular is that it is winter here 6 months of the year. There is snow on the ground, it’s -30 degrees out, people just sit inside and write and record music. Because of that, there is so much good music coming from Saskatchewan even though we are a small province. Bigger artists have come out of here in the past 5 years.
- I also think that there aren’t a lot of people in the Province, so everyone kind of knows everyone, especially in the music scene. It’s not competitive, but because we are all friends, we are always trying to make better music, and we are all trying to make music that all of us will enjoy. Everyone feeds off each other to make great music. Everyone is influenced by one another because we are all friends that are also fans of the music. It’s a community of people trying to feed off each other and get inspired by one another.
- We were all born and raised in Saskatchewan… Matt and Chris have known each other since they were 5 years old, and then I met them in grade 8 when we went to high school. So we’ve known each other for a long time and grew up together.”
Is that how Closet Talker formed?
- Will Quiring – “We started the band in 2013, but we all knew each other before that. I was interested in starting a band, and a good friend of all of ours asked us to play at a wedding. I knew that Chris played drums and Matt played guitar so we did some covers, we played “Sweet Home Alabama” for like 20 minutes. I think that was actually filmed. After the wedding band thing, we thought ‘that was fun’ and we should start doing our thing. So we wrote some songs and then started playing around town, and here we are 5 years later.”
Close Talker had a couple of records including one titled Timbers in 2013.
- Will Quiring – “That was our first record, it was like 7 or 8 songs. We really didn’t have the band, at that point we were just playing around and not taking ourselves too seriously. I like to record music and we wanted to have our songs on something. We went to the local studio and recorded it in a week. I would say that even though that is our first official piece of music out there I would say our last record Flux is our first real attempt at making a proper record with a producer, a label, and a real studio.”
Close Talker has come a long way in the 5 years since Timbers, how has your songwriting process and your approach to making an album changed since then?
- Will Quiring – “With Timbers we had those songs written, I had written a few of them on my own, and then we had written a few together, and then we thought we would make a CD because we wanted a CD.
- With Flux we started to incorporate a style of writing where everyone was involved. I write most of the lyrics, but when we would sit down and write the songs, we had some acoustic guitars and Matt and I would feed off each other.
- And then from there, having the three of us now, the songwriting with this album has changed the most. We write with just jams…. For 2-3 minutes, with 30 or 40 of them recorded on our phones, and then we will piece them together like that. Which is really cool, because we all have an equal effort in songwriting. Chris will write his drums around my guitar playing, or what Matt is playing. And, it’s not happening over a week, it’s happening now at the same time as everyone else. It’s been cool to write songs more as a live performance and playing off each other rather than sitting down and working the song structure. We have all taken more ownership of the songs, and they mean more to us I think.”
Was it a conscious decision not to add a bass player? Did it feel natural not to add another member to the band?
- Will Quiring – “I think so, we had Matt playing bass pedals, when we still had a bass player. Essentially what Matt is doing on stage is he’s got a guitar, a keyboard, and the bottom part of an organ, so he’s usually playing all three at once. And we like that aspect of it, and people were really digging it. So when our bass player left, we just unleashed Matt, I got a second keyboard, and Chris got another piece. So we’re definitely playing more stuff on stage than we were before, but in terms of low end – sonically, it’s even more bass than we had before.”
What are the band’s major musical influences?
- Will Quiring – “We all come from different musical backgrounds. Chris plays the sax and he studies in jazz, and he’s a big fan of different jazz artists. Matt started playing guitar on an acoustic guitar and got deep into finger-style, guys like Andy McKee, Don Ross, and different guitar players like that. And I come from a more blues background like Stevie Ray Vaughn and more rock like Hendrix and Clapton, so we all come from those different influences, and I think those influences come out in our music. But in the last couple of years, our influences really gelled together, like The National, Radiohead, Tame Impala, D.D. Dumbo, Jim James, those styles that are a bit more heavy on the drums, and we like the production that those bands bring in their records.”
What was the first concert you ever went to?
- Will Quiring – “It was probably with my parents, and was most likely a Jesse Cook concert. He’s this Canadian flamenco guitar player. I had a classical guitar when I was young and I was obsessed with that style of guitar, like Carlos Santana music and Latin fusion. Matt always makes fun of me cause I went to that concert. If he reads this, he will definitely make fun of me.”
What about your first record?
- “I think it was John Mayer Continuum was one of the first. That record is awesome. That is one where he really unleashed Steve Jordan on the drums, and he really unleashed his guitar playing. He does “Bold As Love” on that record. We spin that record in the van sometimes when there is nothing else to listen to.”
The name Close Talker, I’m going to assume that it’s a reference to Seinfeld, but I don’t want to assume.
- Will Quiring – “It is….. We had written some songs after the wedding dance, and we wanted to play some shows and we didn’t have a name. We did one show where we didn’t have a name, and the open-mic manager called us The Peppershakers, and we were not down with that name.
- So we were thinking of some names on the way to the venue, and Matt had a couple that were catchy. Before the show we decided on Close Talker and it stuck. And even though that name isn’t derived directly from the Seinfeld episode, I think you can link it back to Seinfeld.”
What’s next for Close Talker?
Will Quiring – “We have 39 shows across North America and Europe, and this summer we have a few little festivals in Canada, and we are filming another music video, and Europe again in the fall. 2017 is gonna be a busy year for us. We’re really looking forward to playing new music in front of new people.”