Saskatoon-based alternative rock trio Close Talker – comprised of Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud, and Chris Morien – released their sophomore album, titled Lens, at the end of April. The collection is robust, a well-produced 10 song feat that captivates from the very first line of “All Of Us” to the very last note of “Seasonal Friends”. Stream Lens in its entirety below, and then check out the interview we were all to happy to conduct with Close Talkers’s Matthew Kopperud.
What was the first song or album you remember listening to, and who introduced it to you?
I (Matt) remember listening to Big Shiny Tunes 5 which is this compilation disc with pop-rock hits. I think I got it for my 10th birthday or something. It was mostly rad! That being said, the first song I really got into sonically was “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.
Will liked Relient K and Jimmy Eat World as those were his jams for his early years. Following that he got into the blues pretty heavy or anything guitar driven.
Chris really dug Foo Fighters as there were really influential for him, among others. In high school Chris was a full on jazz nut. He is super knowledgable and a great saxophone player too.
Does that song or album have any bearing on your sound now?
I don’t think these songs have influenced us in our songwriting or style – but definitely in the production side of things. The fat bass in that Fleetwood Mac song and how everything is separated in the mix is so nice. It is spacious and allows the song to breathe. I think that is something we’re learning slowly to appreciate in our arrangements as songwriters.
Was there a defining moment when you realized you wanted to pursue music in your life?
Music has always been a huge part of all our lives. We all picked up instruments as kids and have since picked up different instruments and expanded. For me personally, I picked up guitar when I was thirteen or fourteen and got pretty deep into it. I am not sure if there was ever a “ah hah” moment where I decided that I wanted to pursue music, but I’ve always thought that if I could do this full time, that would be simply matchless. As a band, we all decided that we wanted to pursue this project more seriously when we were sitting in my parents hot tub on their acreage late one night. We were sort of at a cross-roads or at a point with the band where a serious conversation was necessary. We all collectively decided that we felt this project was life giving enough and something special that we needed to pursue. Since that moment, we’ve been committed to chasing the best songs we’re able to write and perform.
What is the official origin story of Close Talker?
We were all friends growing up and in many ways Close Talker was an inevitability. We all respected what one another was up to musically and had overlapped with some projects growing up, but the catalyst for Close Talker was actually a friend’s wedding. Our pal asked us to form a makeshift wedding band, we got together and learned some covers and played his wedding dance. It was so much fun that we decided to write some songs and play an open mic night later that summer. It just kept getting more and more fun, so we kept playing and now we find ourselves here, in a van, writing this.
You guys have a very fun sound. Even in a track like “Waking Up,” when you’re singing “I’m about ready to quit,” there’s almost this silver lining sound to it all. Is this something you went into the project intending to create, or is it something that just kind of happened naturally?
We’re all positive guys and typically assume the best in a situation until proven otherwise, as opposed to the opposite approach of being guarded and skeptical. I think this maybe oozes out in our music, not lyrically necessarily, but I hope that at least in our live show, people can see that we’re happy guys from the prairies of Canada who enjoy meeting people and learning their names. I don’t think we approach a song with too many motives, but things just progress and happen naturally. Maybe sometime we will write a song where we we want to convey a specific emotion, but most of our writing is just initial instincts and where the song takes us, if that makes any sense.
Speaking of, “Waking Up” has some interesting guitar work, and it’s super catchy. What inspired that track, specifically?
We all had recently watched the show Stranger Things, so I think that played a role in some of the keyboard tones, be it intentional or not. The guitar parts started as a noodle as we were procrastinating practicing for a show. Will and I were noodling and Chris was increasingly frustrated as he waited patiently behind his drum set, but finally decided to join in. An hour or so later the song was pretty well done. It was a very natural jam based arrangement that evolved into the finished product on the record. This song was an addition to the album even after the record was finished and mastered. We wrote it, recorded an iPhone version, and decided over breakfast the next day that we should record it and add it to the record. The whole ordeal was very spontaneous.
Do you think being from Saskatoon has influenced your sound or your musical persona at all?
I hope so. We love Saskatoon and the prairies. I think sonically, most people wouldn’t assume we’re a prairie band necessarily, but I think the spacious landscape of our home and simply the fact that it is so cold in the winters has driven us to be more creative and hole up inside and write songs. The people in Saskatchewan are typically so supportive and especially in the arts scene there seems to be a real camaraderie and mutual respect for what everyone is up to. There isn’t that competitive edge for attention that you can sort of feel in some bigger urban centers. Everyone is stoked on what everyone is doing and I think that is a result of the character of the people. We’re proud to be from Saskatchewan. It is home. The music is surprisingly diverse, and we’re happy to be taking part in such a vibrant scene.
Lens – your third studio album – is out in May. So soon. What are you most excited about with this release?
We’re so excited to finally have these songs out in the world. To share them, for better or worse. We’ve sat on these songs for a while so there is a sense of relief, anxiety, but mostly just excitement. Thus far, people have been so kind. Our best gage is our live show and seeing the crowd vibe to the songs. Playing the songs live has been a true joy. I think as a band that is always a highlight. Taking part in this immaterial transaction found in music where everyone can just press pause on life for a minute and just be. Although we’re focused on playing and performing, I think on stage is where my mind is the most calm. It’s nice and I think if people are willing, a really cool thing.
Any fun anecdotes from the production process?
We recorded a large portion of the record in my living room and other parts in the fanciest studio we’ve ever worked in. We get pretty creative with effects and chasing sounds. This record we had our pal Dale Bailey film a lot of the process which is both cool and hilarious looking back on. We laugh a lot, bicker, but we all know when we land on the right sound or have discovered something special. One quirky thing comes to mind that I still to this day don’t fully understand. We decided that for the entire month we tracked the majority of Lens, we wouldn’t take a left turn in our van. We achieved this goal, although it was surprisingly hard. Our route back and forth from the studio to the house we rented was down to a science, but when we had to get groceries or run an errand we had to do a ton of improvising. One night we took a cab and obnoxiously insisted that the cab driver also didn’t take any left turns. He abided, but was definitely weirded out. There is no hidden meaning or superstition behind it all. It was just a dumb joke that went way too far, but we’re secretly proud that no left turns were made during the recording process. Call it coincidence, but following the first left turn we did take after the record, our alternator went in the van. Spooky.
Do you guys have a favorite track to perform live? (We all have favorites…)
Will’s favorite track to play live is “Seasonal Friends”. It is a vibey one that grows and grows. Super fun to play. Both Chris and myself (Matt) really like to play “Okay Hollywood” live. It has a pretty gnarly drum beat and complicated arrangement where we’re all busy and playing at capacity, but I think that is also what makes it so fun; it is challenging.
Who is your favorite super villain, and why?
Gru from Despicable Me. He’s really just a softy who was misguided. Aren’t we all?
You’re headed out to Europe in May to tour a little bit… what are you most looking forward to about that?
Europe is always a pleasure to tour as we’re always in all of the changing landscapes and architecture. It is so cool meeting people and seeing all the relationships that develop simply because of music. We’re definitely thankful to be able to travel, even if we only get to see certain things through a van window, it is pretty special. We’re excited to meet more people and engage with the songs more and hopefully see people connect with them too.
Do you have any road essentials for when you’re out on tour?
Vitamin C, Tums, spits, and fisherman’s friends are always in supply. Apart from that we always have an auxiliary cord and some tunes going. We’re typically pretty reflective and quiet in the mornings as that is the closest we get to any introvert or retreat time on the road. We also always have our baseball gloves with us and try to huck the ball around as much as possible.
What would be on your ultimate rider list?
Our wives. They rule. Everything else seems menial in comparison, so I don’t know how to answer this one.
Do you like green eggs and ham?
What else is down the funnel for you in 2017?
We’re touring pretty hard this year. Hoping to enter some new markets, but apart from that we are always writing and recording. Hoping to get ideas on paper while they’re fresh in our minds. We’re writing and filming some music videos as that is another passion that has surfaced for us. We’re pretty excited about what we have in mind. Hoping to get some canoeing in this summer too.
Hoping you all are doing well and hopefully we can cross paths soon!
Lens is available now.