In October of 2012, July Talk celebrated the release of their self-titled, independently released debut album before a couple hundred bodies crammed into the claustrophobic, low-ceilinged confines of Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Three years later and roughly 20 tours later, they were playing a homecoming date at Ontario’s WayHome Festival for tens of thousands of ecstatic souls shouting the words of their songs back at them. Sure, a lot had changed in the interim: Their debut record had become a staple on modern-rock radio, earning the band a gold record in Canada and a Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, while worldwide deals with Island, Polydor and Universal had spread the good word overseas. But one fundamental quality of July Talk’s performances had remained unchanged: the jugular-seizing power of their confrontational, sensuous rock + roll. Whether you’re experiencing it in the dingiest basement dive or the biggest festival field, a July Talk show makes you feel like you’re part of some secret-society congregation. It’s a gathering of kindred spirits united by a desire to escape the institutional pressures and LED distractions of our daily lives to reconnect with something real—a primal, fiercely physical remedy for mind-numbing, glassy-eyed smartphone addiction.
When it came time to draft the action plan for album number two, July Talk turned to the only focus group that mattered: those sweat-soaked fans slithering up against one another to lose their minds and morals at the band’s electrifying concerts. That’s the space where the blinding contrasts in July Talk’s music—Leah Fay’s crystalline communiqués vs. Peter Dreimanis’ three-cartons-a-day bark; greasy southern blues vs. urbane new-wave cool; sexual tension vs. cathartic release—collide with thundercloud force, and their new record, Touch, represents its perfect, lightning-in-a-bottle distillation.
“It was easy to create a vibe and sound direction for the new record,” says Dreimanis, “because we literally just looked at our live show and what was fun about it, what kind of people came, and what sense of community you felt in the room. We’ve never been about drawing the stage line—that was our mandate from the beginning, and with our live show, we’re really about breaking that down so that we’re in the room as much as our audience. We wanted songs where we can grab people by throat and show them something unique—the kind of songs that feel incredible in a sweaty room.”
“Thematically, Touch has been inspired by our human experience over the past few years, just as much as our time spent as a band on the road.” Fay adds. “Touring constantly provides a strange view of the world because you’re in transit more often than you’re still. We became sensitive to the varying reactions we’d get from any given audience depending on the cultural norms and politics of a place. Because humans love to categorize in an effort to understand, Peter and I were often perceived as these opposing forces, representing “light vs. darkness”, “female vs. male”, “sweet vs. scary” blah blah blah, with each of us just dying to get a word in edgewise. These types of assumptions had a massive influence on the way we wrote the lyrics for this album because we knew we didn’t want to feed into that sort of boring archetype. We became drawn to the idea of what it actually means to be a living breathing human. It’s messy and visceral and unpredictable.”