The last three years have seen The Talks working relentlessly to bring us a smorgasbord of bouncy, big hitting singles with ‘Can Stand The Rain’ featuring Neville Staple and ‘Friday Night’ creating a huge buzz online, replicated by the response of the crowd when the band have performed live. With main stage performances at globally renowned festivals such as ‘This Is Ska’ (DE), ‘Mighty Sounds’ (CZ) and the UK’s ‘Rebellion’, tweets of appraisal and support from new wave big hitters ‘Less Than Jake’, glowing reviews and cover features from Big Cheese and Vive Le Rock Magazines – not to mention appearing in programmes on various UK TV networks the bands reputation has surged from strength to strength. The band took time out of their busy schedule to answer some questions exclusively for XS Noize.
XS – To start things off, You have had a busy few months, how have things been going for the band?
It’s been an awesome time for the band recently, we’ve never been so busy yet so energetic and up for it. We’ve just finished the 2 month European tour and released the new album ‘Commoners, Peers, Drunks and Thieves’. The tour was pretty intense, almost every night with only a few days off, but this has really shaped the bands live performance and taken it to a whole new level. We were lucky enough to visit some really cool places across Europe and take our music to new territories and audiences. Spirits are really high in The Talks camp at the moment.
XS – How did the band form, and how did you decide to work in the Ska genre?
The band was created from a bunch demo tracks recorded by Pat and Jody in Pats tiny bedroom, mainly for experimental purposes and just to see how they turned out. They saw something in it and enlisted the services of Iain on Bass and Titch on drums, wrote more songs and started touring. Ska is style of music that we’ve all had an interest in for quiet a long time – the way the songs are written, the pulsing feel and upbeat drive – but I wouldn’t say that we’re fully set within the genre; a big chunk of our influences come from the English 2-tone Ska bands, but our style is really set within a cross over of a lot of indie, punk, hip hop and more, which is what really fuels what we do. We listen to lots of stuff. We’re always on the search for something new.
XS – If you could name one group or performer who made you think, that’s it, I want to be in a band, who is that performer or group?
For me it would have been when I was about 10 years old, watching ‘Top of the Pops’ and seeing Blur perform ‘Girls and Boys’. I was instantly hooked. I loved the track with that thumping bass line, shrill guitars and Damon Albarn’s cocky fronting. That would have been when I first started listening to proper bands and the catalyst for wanting play and write music myself.
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XS – How do you usually approach song writing?
We approach writing in a few different ways to be honest. One of the most common forms is where a track would usually start life out of a Jam session in the studio. Having messed around with different groves and so on we’d then maybe work on a hook line on guitar or keys, before establishing a loose vocal melody over the top. Lyrics are then normally written after this to tie up the melody and draw things in. But aside from that we do have songs that started out on an acoustic guitar with a vocal, or purely from a lyric or a vocal melody. It’s just whatever seems to be the most effective at the time.
XS – When was your first live performance, and how did it turn out?
The bands first ever gig was at The Sesh at the Linnet and Lark in Hull. The Sesh is an awesome weekly gig night which attracts a lot people so we were all pretty nervous. It was a bit of an experiment really, we said that if we were shit we wouldn’t bother doing any more. We didn’t booed or bottled off stage so we took this as a positive and decided to book some more gigs.
XS – What is the one thing you will never forget from your recent tour?
Ahh there’s a lot more than one thing that we’ll never forget about that tour. Playing at the Dynamite Ska Festival to a packed out room of a few thousand people was pretty special, or supporting Madness at their Big Weekender. One of the most memorable things aside from the actual gigs was visiting a cross section of different countries with different cultures and meeting some great people.
XS – What are your views on the current state of the record industry?
It’s been in a better position, haha. I suppose over the last few years there’s just been a big change and redirection toward the circulation of music and in affect the production of it. It does invariably get harder and harder for bands to continue making music to a professional, high standard when its value seems to be forever decreased by dodgy downloads and hacked MP3’s. Formats such as Vinyl do seem to be having a bit a more of revival though, more and more people do seem to want the tangible, physical product again along with the proper representation of what the band actually sound like, so it looks like there could be another shift on the horizon before too long.
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XS – What advice would give any kid looking to start a band, looking back on your experience to date?
Listen to as much music as you can and keep yourself open to everything. I think it’s pretty hard to say to a young kid ‘practice, practice, practice and do as much as you possibly can’ without them maybe being put off and stripping the fun out of it for them, which is the last thing anybody needs. And after all, not everybody wants to be the worlds next biggest band, some people just want to learn how to play some songs. It might be a cliché, but first and foremost do it for enjoyment.
XS – If you could see any performer or group, living or dead who would that be?
For me personally it would be Bob Dylan back in the 60’s during his acoustic period, probably around ’64 / ’65 time. He’s just got the best way of delivering such poignant songs about subjects like political change in a such a wonderfully simple manner.
XS – What song on the latest release are you most proud of, and why?
I would have to say the track ‘Ceasefire’. This is where we really got a chance to experiment with a bit of a variation on what we do. Bringing elements of dub and drum ‘n’ bass to the album was really cool and something we’d wanted to do for a while. It was hard at first to find the exact groove that we wanted and to make it sit right, but we worked on it until it clicked. We really got a lot out of making this track. Also with the addition of Itch (ex – The King Blues) featuring on it, it really took on a form of its own.
XS – What is next for The Talks, any thoughts on coming across the pond for a tour?
A couple of shows over Christmas but mainly looking to UK and European touring and festivals for next year now. And we’d love to come to Northern Ireland. Maybe we’ll make it over for summer festival season.
XS-Thanks again for your time, wish you all the best in your endeavours.
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