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July Talk

July Talk

Mona, Little Junior, Bearing Torches

Thu · February 9, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$12.00 - $14.00

This event is 18 and over

July Talk
July Talk
With their sleek yet gritty brand of alt-bluesy garage rock, Toronto-based five-piece July Talk create rock & roll that's both boldly intimate and wildly confrontational. Each track in the band's repertoire is a conversation in song form, with singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay trading lines in a lyrical face-off that's at turns hot-tempered and tender, reckless and poetic. Onstage that conversation warps into beautiful chaos, thanks to the band's joyfully unhinged, spontaneity-fueled live performance. And in their music—including the five songs that grace their Island Records debut EP Guns + Ammunition—July Talk piece together supremely heavy riffs, infectious beats, and snakey grooves in a sound that's savage but seductive.

"With the name of the band, the word 'talk' refers to the whole idea of our songs being a conversation, and 'July' is about that thing that happens in the summertime when you're young—how you can meet someone and fall in love and party your face off and then fall out of love and have the happiest and saddest time in your life, all in about three months," explains Dreimanis, who founded July Talk in 2012 with Fay and fellow guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton, and drummer Danny Miles. And while Dreimanis's initial vision for the project centered on that tag-team vocal exchange, Fay notes that July Talk's emotionally intricate, contradiction-driven dynamic results largely from the band's raw authenticity. "I think it comes naturally from us living out our intention of being an honest rock band, whether it's quiet-loud or male-female, or whatever else comes up as we're expressing what we need to express," she says.

Even July Talk's two lead voices are constantly clashing forces, with Dreimanis's raspy growl scraping up against Fay's graceful sing-song. On Guns + Ammunition July Talk use those vocals to channel their pure and brutal emotionalism into wickedly sharp and sardonic lyrics. On "Paper Girl," for instance, Dreimanis attempts to destroy an ex-love with jabs like "You don't look pretty when you smile/So don't smile at all" before Fay steps in and serenades him with the sweetly devastating chorus ("And if you want money in your coffee/If you want secrets in your tea/Keep your paper heart away from me"). With its swinging rhythm and sludgy guitar, "Summer Dress" touches on the possible futility of looking for love in the city ("The girls are young, a little dumb/And they're going it alone"), while the twangy, tough-talking "Garden" is a close-up glimpse at mental unraveling ("I've got thoughts that ain't my own/I'm talking black souls dressed in red/And things that I never shoulda known"). And on the quietly brooding "I've Rationed Well" (a song about "creating an idealized version of someone and being nostalgic when they're gone—basically missing someone who doesn't exist," according to Dreimanis), Fay's hushed vocals entwine with Dreimanis's stark spoken-word to deliver lines like "We'll survive by telling lies/We've rationed well" to haunting effect.

True to their name, July Talk was born in the summertime, at a Toronto bar lit solely by candlelight in recognition of the anniversary of the 2003 blackout. "There was an acoustic guitar getting passed around and Leah was playing and singing as I came in, and I was just blown away by her," recalls Dreimanis, who'd recently parted ways with his former band and written a batch of songs intended for dual vocalists. Though the two didn't connect that night, Dreimanis soon tracked Fay down and sent her a handful of songs he'd recorded in his bedroom. "We were from such different places and going through such different things, it almost felt like it shouldn't have worked," says Fay, who previously played in a band/performance-art project called Mothers of Brides (who, as she explains, "tried to distract from the sincerity of our songs by doing things like banging on books with hammers and having people play Jenga onstage during our sets"). Rounding out the lineup with Docherty, Warburton, and Miles (all of whom were former bandmates of Dreimanis), July Talk soon began playing together and expanding the songs Dreimanis had newly developed. "The bands I'd played in before had a Replacements-y sort of influence, very loud and high-energy rock & roll mixed with intoxication, so I wanted to take the manic chaos of that and turn it into something more intimate," Dreimanis points out.

After finding a manager and setting to work on their debut (a self-titled album released in Canada in autumn 2012), July Talk quickly threw themselves into a frantic touring schedule that's gone a long way in shaping the sound and soul of the band. "Starting right from when the record came out we were on the road about 90 percent of the time, which we really love," says Dreimanis. "The stage is where this band lives, and we've written our songs in a way that they can change every night and turn into something completely different when we play them live." When it comes to writing, July Talk tend to retreat to remote and quiet spaces (such as a friend's house in the woods, where they set up camp last January) and dedicate entire days to working on songs. "All five of us get together and bring ideas to the table and deconstruct them and fight over them and eventually love them, and then Leah and I will work on the lyrics," says Dreimanis. In that lyric-writing, July Talk aim first and foremost for a certain frankness and uncompromising honesty. "It's really important to us that we fully illustrate the subject we're trying to get at in the song, which a lot of the time has to do with what it's like to be 25 and confused or pissed off or whatever it is that we are," says Dreimanis. "We try to have the guts to say the kinds of things that most people would hold themselves back from saying."

Also intensely devoted to the visual element of the band, July Talk have put out a series of self-produced videos directed by Warburton and shot in black and white to mimic their music's spirit of contrast. According to Fay, that what-you-see-is-what-you-get aesthetic has much to do with "trying to make something people can connect with in a real and direct way." With recent outings including a spring tour of Europe and stops at summer festivals like the Isle of Wight, connection through live performance is also paramount to the band. "It's an amazing thing to experience people through rock & roll," says Fay. "I feel like I'm learning so much by being onstage and getting to look hundreds of different people in the eyes." And in making those connections, the band members endlessly play off the give-and-take dynamic that stands at the heart of July Talk. "We always see how far we can push each other past our boundaries, figuratively and literally," says Dreimanis. "Quite early on we realized the audience was totally on board with that, so now how we measure a show is whether we're able to lose all touch with reality, and create something special that goes way past what anyone's expectations of us might be."
Mona
Mona
Devotion. Faith. Abandonment. The ecstasy of salvation, the salvation of ecstasy…

There's a thin line between rock'n'roll and religion, and nowhere thinner than in the intense, sharp, sweat-drenched, duelling-guitar euphoria of Mona. The four-piece Nashville-based band – or family, or gang, or band of brothers – are young, charismatic punk preachers. They'll testify to the thrill they get from hunkering down in a Nashville, Tennessee basement, writing and recording the best debut album of 2011. They'll hymn the praises of visceral rock with heavenly fireworks in its soul. They want to convert everyone they come across.

This, by the way, isn't the old God-and-the-devil schticky music-biz hyperbole. Three-quarters of Mona did learn their music – how to play, how to perform, how to work a crowd – in church: frontman/guitarist Nick Brown and drummer Vince Gard in a Pentecostal Charismatic congregation, bass player Zach Lindsey in a Southern Baptist congregation. For all three, while they were growing up, secular music was frowned upon, and transporting an audience – the congregation – was paramount. For all four – guitarist Jordan Young completes the line-up – imbuing secular music with honest passion and true grit is what Mona are all about.

Mona keep the faith, "but it's definitely our own brand, We've had to walk away from a lot of the bullshit of church," says Nick, as verbally forthright offstage as he is forcefully charismatic onstage. We're all family people. We're all mamas' boys. We all try to be good brothers, to be good sons. The same thing with the band – we're a family. But obviously with the band we're more like a family in the Mafia sense. We're a fucking gang as well. It's all hugs and kisses on the cheek – but if you fuck with us, we're vicious," adds the singer who dispensed with the services of his previous lead guitarist by "breaking my fist on his face". With in-band fraternalism this zealous little wonder, perhaps, that "Mona's never lost a bar fight."

Mona are Sun Studio's Million Dollar Quartet (Presley, Perkins, Lewis, Cash) rebooted 54 years on. They're rock revivalists, in the sense that they like, as Nick puts it, "the golden age of the United States – the James Dean, Marilyn Monroe type stuff." This iconography and idealism, he says, informed the writing of Listen To Your Love – and the reasons why it became their first single.

"It felt kinda reminiscent of some of the old stuff," he says of the song, released on already-rare and already-pricey seven-inch vinyl only. "Even Roy Orbison-type melodies. But still, a little bit of a punk thing in there. It just felt like a good first introduction, a first impression."

Nick and Vince grew up in Dayton, Ohio. They met via their church musical group. Says Nick, "I needed a drummer and Vince needed an outlet. We didn't even get along as people, as friends, at all, it was more of a musical connection at first. The friendship thing developed much later. But at first, growing up in church and having a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, you want someone that's gonna play aggressively and have fun with it. And both of us were very zealous, even in the church, very passionate people. He beat the shit out of the drums and I used to break pianos."

As musical "support act" to the pastor, they learnt how to improvise, and jam, to follow the flow of the service. "That's kinda how we view rock'n'roll now. I know there's a lot of stuff that's about scheduling – with radio and TV and the market now, they want you to fit in to a thing. But we've always prided ourselves on the timelessness of the experience. Just let it happen. Even when we write we don't book writing sessions or schedule time to write. We just get together and whatever happens, happens."

Zach Lindsey is from Bowling Green, located in a dry (booze-free) country in Kentucky. Whereas for Nick and Vince non-religious music was banned (Vince: "but my mom would play me Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police and tell me not to tell my dad…"), in the bassist's church non-religious music was tolerated. "I was born listening to The Beatles."

With musical options dead in the water in Dayton, Nick and Vince moved to Nashville. Why? Nick: "It was five hours' drive away as opposed to 14 hours to New York or 26 hours to LA. And way cheaper. We're a bunch of poor kids."

Once relocated to America's Music City, they ran into Zach on the local gig scene. He in turn introduced them to Jordan Young, an old Kentucky friend who had grown up in the farm town of Breeding. Having gone through serial line-up upheaval – including the bust-up with the unfortunate guitarist with the broken face – Mona was complete.

"Now we're four horses pulling the carriage," says Nick, who's worked on the "idea" for Mona for years – not least because the band is named after his grandmother. "There's a lot of people that wanted to be in this band. There's a lot of people that locally support this band. But as far as having people that understand their roles, and being happy with their roles, it's chemistry, man. It's just like a relationship. It's a marriage."

Nick's top-to-bottom vision for Mona encompasses everything from the archive pictures picked to feature on the largely monochromatic design of their Myspace; to only making the odd song available, and briefly ("too many people have artistic bulimia," he spits, "eat and puke it up and they're onto the next thing. So we made people saviour it"); to creating their own label Zion Noiz; to hammering out a major record company deal that, unusually, stacks things in the band's favour.

At the end of 2010 a debut TV gold performance on 'Later with Jools ' set things up for 2011 . It ended up being an incredible and whirlwind year for Mona. The bands debut album was released to acclaim in the UK and singles 'Listen To Your Love' , 'Trouble On The Way ',Teenager' and 'Shooting The Moon' proved to be massive fan favourites on the live scene.

From early gigs at 150 capacity venues such as the legendary Flowerpot and Rough Trade East, they went on to headline and sell out a number of shows in the UK including London's premiere music venues The Shephers Bush Empire, Electric Ballroom and Brixton Academy as part of XFM's Winter Wonderland show.

MTV invited Mona to play Koko in London as part of their Brand New For 2011 competition, the band went on to win this beating off competition from artists such as Jessie J and The Vaccines.

In the Summer of 2011 the band joined the Kings Of Leon on the road on their stadium tour, playing some incredible venues such as Ireland's Slane Castle and London's Hyde Park. For all the fans that missed the stand alone shows they had the opportunity to catch the band at some of the worlds biggest Festivals. Mona played to huge crowds at Reading & Leeds Festivals and of course Glastonbury to name just two.

It was not just the UK that were treated to the energy and sheer power of Mona. 2011 saw the band play over 150 shows that covered Germany, Japan, France, Spain, Australia and many more.

Sights now set on conquering home - the US. Mona having already toured with The Airbourne Toxic Event, The Joy Formidable and joint headlined shows with Funeral Party release the album debut with a debut headline tour on February 28th 2012 .

The only thing slick about Mona is their hair. The rest is arm-pumping, vein-throbbing, knee-jittering, raw-throated, singalong rock'n'roll. Thank God they've come.
Little Junior
Little Junior
Little Junior are a punk band that can't help but write pop songs. They met in middle school and still haven't outgrown their teenage angst. Their music is sarcastic and self-deprecating; Little Junior often sound like brats but at least they know it.
Bearing Torches
Bearing Torches
Rumbling, thunderous folk rock, chock full of stories about everyday lives, sung by regular people with a dash of talent and a little extra heart.
Venue Information:
The High Watt
One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
http://thehighwatt.com/