By Rachel Woodward, November 22 2016 —
July Talk is a Toronto-based alternative rock group founded in 2012. The band will perform a sold-out show in MacHall as a part of their tour on Dec. 3. Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay lead the five-person band that just released their sophomore album, Touch, earlier this year. The Gauntlet sat down with Dreimanis and Fay to speak about their newest album and 2016 tour.
The Gauntlet: There was a hiatus between your albums. How did you want Touch to compare to your first album?
Peter Dreimanis: Well, it all happened in a pretty organic way. Our first record [July Talk] came out in Canada and as we toured together, we kind of figured out who we were as a band because the first record was made so early in our development — we’d only really played five or six shows before we made the first record.
Once we started touring Canada, we got signed on and we had to go put the record out in America and then Germany and so it felt like we were putting it out everywhere else. When it came to Touch, it really made sense to try to make it sound like we sounded live — make it sound like the human version of July Talk, the version of our sound [where] you can really hear breathing and the heart beating.
All the time on the road really shaped who we were as a band and how we related to each other musically and lyrically. By the time we got there, it felt like maybe we weren’t adults quite yet. We weren’t children anymore but we were in this teenage phase where we were coming into our own and understanding what we might be able to contribute if we put our mind to it.
Leah Fay: I think we also realized between the first and second album that people are really listening and that the people who liked our band were really into the theory behind July Talk and wanted to delve deep into songs and lyrics. When you realize that, it’s kind of scary because you have to accept a certain amount of responsibility. I think that by having four years between albums, we were able to accept that responsibility, think more critically, write more critically and question the world around us to set the intention of invoking that critical thinking and curiosity within people when they hear what we made.
G: How have audiences received this new body of work?
D: To be honest, I don’t read anything because I don’t think it’s really productive. But at shows, I feel like it’s really strong. Those surrounding us in the community are friends and peers. I always say you can fit the Canadian music industry into a big house together. I feel like we have a certain level of respect that maybe we didn’t before and we really pushed to make the record we wanted to make together. I feel like we were able to have time to do that correctly. We feel like our feet are placed under us.
G: You guys have a pretty eccentric energy when performing live. Where does that stem from?
F: Through a lack of discussion and a lack of thinking about that. I think it’s just kind of how we started playing music together. Our first rehearsals were in this really dingy rehearsal space in downtown Toronto and there was a lot of wine and wall-to-wall amps — no real space to move, [with] Christmas lights being the only lighting. It was a really chaotic and cathartic time for all of us being together and making music together.
In terms of interaction, I think Peter and I saw similarities within each other when we first met — and we saw each other’s respective projects — and I guess the precedent that was set was that we could go anywhere with it and there [weren’t] necessarily boundaries — no rules to play by. We kind of do that improv theatre thing where you don’t say no to each other. We just kind of push each other and we push the audience. It’s rock and roll. It’s spontaneous. It’s way more exciting when you’re watching people who are allowing themselves to be taken away with the music or with the moment.
G: In regards to touring, what were your expectations for this album in compared to the last one?
D: I think it was the first time where we could really try to put together a show, as opposed to the past where we would arrive at a venue, put our stuff on stage and play the venue. This is the first time where it was really important to us to transform the room and turn it into a July Talk space so that when the crowd did come in — they got tickets first and were excited and know the material —they can feel like they’ve been taken away from their home communities and placed into a new world a little bit.
We are travelling and creating the lighting and vibe around us, so that was a big thing for us. A lot of these cities we are going to, we haven’t been able to play except festivals for a while.
There’s something about being in a festival where you’re a little bit on a conveyer belt with the band before you and the band after you, so it’s sometimes difficult to set yourself apart. We have this opportunity to walk into a venue and make it our own and transform peoples’ expectations, because you have full control to turn every light off and direct the eye. It’s the dream.
G: What’s next when this tour is over?
F: Touring seems to never really be over. We’ve been out since the end of August and we go straight from the United Kingdom to Vancouver for our Canadian run for about a month and then a few shows in the States. We will probably take a few weeks off over the holidays. Then everything starts up again in mid-January and we’ve got a U.K. tour booked, we’ve got a United States tour that we cancelled in order to come here. We will be around Europe and the U.S. so far and probably adding to that in the next couple of weeks. We’re very lucky.
Edited for brevity and clarity