Herald’s Q&A: July Talk

In the wake of their mammoth sophomore studio album Touch, which recently won the Juno Award for Best Alternative Album, Canadian rockers July Talk return to St. John’s for a performance which promises to tear the roof off of Club One. We caught up with members Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay ahead of their East Coast tour for an in-depth Q&A.


Q: You guys are making a quick turnaround and coming back to St. John’s for a sold out show on April 24th. Excited?

Peter: Of course. I can’t say that it really feels like a tour. I don’t feel stressed about this tour at all.

Leah: I’ve caught myself saying that we’re home for a month and then we leave to go on the road again, But I really mean we’re going to the East Coast. But Canada, East Coast. It’s essentially home.

Q: Firstly, I think congratulations are in order on your Juno win and big performance during the broadcast. Quite a career moment for sure.

Peter: We didn’t know how involved we would be in Juno weekend until quite late in the process. As you know Juno weekend is really just an opportunity for the Canadian music scene to kind of hang out together and enjoy each others company and take two seconds away from the never-ending push that is the music business and take a second to reflect over the past year and pat each other on the back, enjoy each others company for a bit and share stories from the road.

We were expecting that, an opportunity to see our friends. We got a call two or three weeks out saying they would like us to perform on the broadcast. There’s 20,000 people there and millions of people watching at home. It felt like we were a little low on the seniority list to be able to get that call. We just really wanted to knock it out of the part so we immediately started working on a performance … our whole community and camp around us in Toronto came together and were able to pull it off. We were actually in Scandinavia at the time, so the time difference was pretty tough and we were madly trying to have meetings with everyone and pull it off. It was this amazing time. Getting to see everyone the night before the broadcast and being presented the Best Alternative Album of the Year, which is unbelievable.

It was such a positive vibe in the room, a really community based vibe. There were no jabs or anything like that, it really just felt like a bunch of friends in the room … It was such an amazing feeling and all of a sudden all of that pressure we had racked up and the performance of the following day sort of whistled away. It felt as if we were surrounded by friends, among friends and what a feeling it was. I’m not really much for awards or dwelling too much on these sort of things but it felt so incredible to feel accepted by a scene in Canada that has raised us and a room full of our heroes like Feist and Buffy Saint-Marie and that whole tribute of Leonard Cohen’s life. It’s been a pretty forming force for July Talk and it was just this incredible weekend where we were able to take part in a capacity that I don’t think any of us saw coming.

Q: Obviously Juno wins and positive press are great, but when you are writing and piecing together an album, is that something that weighs on the mind? Especially with such a long gap between your debut album and this followup.

Leah: I think that making the second album was kind of like a scary process for us. We obviously weren’t thinking about critics or Junos or anything like that. More than anything we just wanted to make something that we really liked. Because so much time had passed between the first and second album there was just so much questioning going on during every step of the way. We didn’t really think when we were making our first album, everything was intuitive and decision making was easier. With the second you don’t want to let anyone down or lose fans. We just did so much questioning, wrote 60 songs and trashed about 50 of them. It was a really crazy, emotional time and it made touring the record and having people like it all the more sweeter. We’re really excited now to be working on a third album, because making a second album was ok and nothing exploded in our faces and we didn’t die. I think the pressure is off and we’re kind of excited to be able to go back to trusting your instincts and intuition a little bit more and maybe questioning, not less, but in a different way.

Peter: Right when we got the Juno we get backstage and we’re like losing our minds and our manager walked up and he’s like congrats. I looked at him dead in the face and said ‘So now we can make an art-rock record!’ It just pulls off all the pressure. It feels like now there was a sense of acceptance that weekend and now moving forward with the third record all of that pressure and weight you hold on your shoulders for what a second record really is, which is setting the record straight and introducing your project as what you want it to be, it all falls away and it feels like we’re doing it for fun. We’re just feeling really light and we want to have fun and make music that makes us happy and make music in a way that makes us happy. I think that in theory that should speed it up a bit, but no promises.

Q: It feels like you guys have really developed a strong following here on the East Coast, and certainly here in Newfoundland and Labrador. What’s your thoughts on the area and how you’ve really become embraced by this part of Canada?

Peter: It’s a place that we never thought we would be accepted. We showed up and played the Carleton with Mike Campbell and he really brought us in in a way we really could not have asked for, having these close friends and mentors in all of Matt Mays’ boys and Joel Plaskett and Wintersleep and all of these bands that we’ve looked up to. When I first met Leah she had been spending a lot of time out on the East Coast because she had friends out in Halifax and she talked about the ocean and the East Coast in a different way then she’d talk about anywhere else in the world. I think it’s kind of a place we always wanted to go out and write and have a connection with. I don’t have to explain it to you, it’s a place like no other and it feels as if everybody is on the same team. The team isn’t always winning but you’re all on the same team. Newfoundland in particular, it’s the dream.

Q: All that said, July Talk is a band that is best seen, and heard, live. I’d expect an absolutely rocker here in St. John’s on April 24th. How do you see things playing out?

Leah: I think we all say that we’re a band that feeds off the audience in a really intense way and the people who are in the room are just as important as the sound person and the bartenders and the opening band. Every night is its own specific ecosystem. We love the fleetingness of that and the heir of spontaneity to be palpable. Obviously being on the East Coast, those shows are super special because the crowds are wild. They’re wild out there and they slightly differ from place to place. I’d say that we will probably look like were having an excellent time and we wont be lying about that. I don’t think we’ve ever had a show out east where we’ve just felt overjoyed and probably looked overjoyed and when you’re in one of those places where your body feels safe and supportive by a crowd your body does things that it wouldn’t normally do.

Tickets for July Talk with special guests Property are SOLD OUT! For more information on the band visit julytalk.com 

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