July Talk co-lead vocalist/guitarist Peter Dreimanis can’t relate to a music industry dependant on mega record sales and heavy radio airplay, to him, that’s past tense, a different era. He, along with fellow band mates Leah Fay, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton and drummer Danny Miles have just won the 2015 Juno Award for Best Alternative Album for their debut record to cap off a period where the band has emerged as a major alternative music talent.
Aside from taking Best Alternative Album plaudits during a nationally televised event in Hamilton, Sunday March 15, July Talk were also voted Top Emerging Act in the 2015 Music Express readers poll, their total tally of 3,053 votes topped second place band, Kingston Ontario’s Glorious Sons by 2,368 votes.
“When July Talk emerged in 2012, mega record sales were history by then so it’s something we’ve never dwelt on,” noted Dreimanis. “I wouldn’t want to comment on how things used to be because those things don’t apply to us. But I do think we are better off than bands in the 80’s and 90’s No one is forcing us to record or do things we don’t want to do, we operate on our own time table.”
Case in point is their debut, self-titled record which was released originally in October 2012. It fared well enough to earn July Talk, a Juno nomination for top breakthrough artist, which they didn’t win, but instead of releasing a second record in 2014, the band just added two more songs and re-released the first record again.
“Yes, we’ve been talking and planning to release a second record but what’s the rush,” questioned Dreimanis. “We have just released our debut record in the States, we’re about to launch in Europe so we’d rather give our first record its fullest exposure rather the complicate matters by having two records to promote at the same time.”
Dreimanis’s husky-throated, Tom Waits-ish vocal style matched by Leah Fay’s more ethereal vocal counterpoint has been the band’s unique selling point with songs like `Guns And Ammunition’, `Summer Dress’ and `Paper Girl’ pairing up their distinctive styles.
It was at The Communist Daughter’s pub in Toronto where Dreimanis bumped into Fay. He had just returned from a disastrous tour with his previous band, Mohawk Lodge, which had broken up in the airport terminal upon their return to Toronto. Dreimanis was drawn to the young girl singing and playing acoustic guitar, they struck up a conversation and shortly afterwards were in rehearsal with Docherty, Warburton and Miles to form a new band.
From those early rehearsals, it was obvious that Dreimanis and Fay had a unique vocal chemistry but he says there was nothing contrived about the sound that emerged. “We realized right away there was a drastic difference in our voices but I think we complement each other. And then we have created songs where it’s like we tell opposite sides of a story. It’s a lot of fun to write that way.”
Asked about how the group’s name was derived, Dreimanis said the name evoked summer memories of romances formed and broken and how the Fall period is a time of re-organization but how the band wanted a name that reflected those memories – so July Talk emerged from those discussions.
The band’s energetic live performances earned them gigs with the likes of Billy Talent, Tegan & Sara and Sam Roberts and their 2014 Juno nomination was enough to earn festival gigs across the country in places like Squamish B.C., London Ontario and the Osheaga Festival in Montreal.[quote]We realized right away there was a drastic difference in our voices but I think we complement each other[/quote]
Dreimanis claims the band was puzzled by their 2015 Alternative Album Juno nomination considering the time lapse from its original r2012 release but were none the less gratified by the win. “We had no idea where that came from, there were other nominees as equally deserved and we didn’t think we had a chance, but we are still thankful for the consideration,” Dreimanis noted.
Following their Juno appearance in Hamilton, July Talk headed down to the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas where they again wowed the locals as well as Toronto’s mayor John Tory who was paying a scouting mission to SXSW. “The festival gives the band amazing exposure, we’re like playing 10 shows a day all over the place, Deimanis noted. “There’s no time to prepare in advance. You are just there on stage with a million other bands in town. You push yourself to a completely different place”
Next on the agenda is an extensive club tour of Europe encompassing the likes of Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark and the U.K which will take the band through April.
“I love touring Europe, the venues are so close together you actually have time to work on things like songwriting,” allowed Deimanis as he works towards completing that long-awaited second record.
“Our fans have been patient and that’s great but there is no rush to record a new album if we feel it’s not ready,” Deimanis concluded. “The key think now is to take the band to the next level to appeal to even more people and to achieve this, there is no time limit.”
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