Saskatoon’s Close Talker has a lot of tongues wagging
by Craig Silliphant
I finally managed to catch up with Close Talker as they were driving through the U.S., somewhere near the border between Oregon and California. It’s kinda hilarious that I’m talking to a band from Saskatoon, one I could’ve easily met for a beer down the street had they not been on the road.
But the road is where Close Talker lives right now, and they’re definitely not complaining — because it’s a direct reflection of their exploding popularity.
“We’re halfway through our drive for today,” says drummer Chris Morien. “We haven’t had a day off in the last little while; we’ve just been driving. We drove from Montréal to Los Angeles last week, in three days.”
There’s really no such thing as an overnight success, but Close Talker has definitely put together a seriously fast track when it comes to their career arc: they’ve got a lot of critical and industry tongues wagging barely two years into their existence. Close Talker got together in 2012 — in rather hilarious fashion, seeing where they are now — thanks to a mutual friend who was getting married and looking for a band to play the event.
“[Our buddy] wanted a wedding band to do some songs together,” says Morien. “We decided to do it, and we had a crazy weekend in Lloydminster. We’d all played together before, but we had so much fun that weekend that we decided to start working on some [original] material. Oddly enough, our bass player [Jeremy Olson] wasn’t in the band then, but he was at the wedding, ripping the dance floor up. He started playing with us a few months later.”
The fledgling band released an album called Timbers, a record of indie-rock summer anthems that quickly gained attention, as they became finalists in the national CBC Searchlight competition for Canada’s Best New Artist. It was a pretty huge deal right off the start of their career, says Morien, garnering them play on CBC Radio 2 and 3, with the single sitting on the top 10 for a few weeks.
“That helped a lot,” he says. “It was a worthwhile experience. Even to get some exposure and get into the CBC culture and across Canada, it was definitely a stepping stone and we made some good contacts.”
Their new material seems poised to take Close Talker to even greater heights. On their latest album, Flux, they sound like a band that’s settling into themselves and their sound. The new songs are much more textured and layered, digging around in the sand a bit to discover sonic palettes over easy hooks.
“Where we’re headed right now is a lot more atmospheric,” says Morien, “trying to create more intense atmosphere and change throughout each song, looking at different moods and things. [The new songs] might not be as hook-y as our first album, but there’s a little bit more depth there. I think it’s from spending more time writing the songs and battling through different arrangements, structures, and instrumentations.”
The ace in the hole for this new direction is Jace Lasek from The Besnard Lakes — one of the more atmospheric bands in Canada. Close Talker headed to Montréal so that they could record with Lasek, which was not only great for them musically but also a good experience personally.
“He was just awesome,” says Morien. “That was our first time working with a producer, and actually going somewhere else to record. At the start we were all a little bit nervous, and we’re all Besnard Lakes fans as well. We were hoping that he would put his touch on things, and he did that for sure — he had a really good vibe in the studio, he kept everyone happy and was always laughing. He was just so nice and always had cool ideas to share with us.”