Hopefully you caught the first in our new series of articles running under the title DiSband: Hadouken! fought their corner rather well, earning themselves a newfound respect amongst the DiS editorial team.
Here, we grill Canadian trio Land Of Talk: are the Montreal band a little late to the ‘cross-the-Atlantic indie-rock party, riding a wave started by the Metrics of this world, or does their Applause Cheer Boo Hiss debut – reissued domestically by One Little Indian with bonus tracks – set them apart as ones to watch in entirely their own right? The three-piece – Elizabeth (guitar, vocals), Chris (bass) and Eric (drums) – dropped into the DiSopolis for coffee and chat.
Another indie-rocking Canadian band: do you fear any backlash at all now that we’ve been treated to so many excellent acts of a similar ilk from over there?
Liz: Wasn’t that ‘backlash’ like five years ago? I’d be worried if I didn’t think it was over. I think it’s over. I hope.
Chris: The only time we ever think about it is when we’re in interviews. You don’t really notice it when you are in Montreal – it’s not something you’re thinking about. But it’s funny, too, because you see all your friends, and everyone seems to be on tour now. It’s not something you are aware of.
But you must be wary of following the success over here of the likes of, say, Broken Social Scene? It’s quite noticeable that Canadian indie acts are appreciated in the UK.
Liz: I guess we were like ‘born’ into it – I didn’t realise that the UK had this soft spot for Canada. I assumed that’s how it always was, as when we started we weren’t, “Oh, I hope the UK calls”. We’re just extremely lucky, and I think we’re used to being lucky.
Chris: We have all been in different bands, and have been through that thing where an A&R guy’s coming down to a show… But ever since I’ve joined this band it’s just been boom boom boom BOOM… It just… I dunno, when you’re right in the middle of it I guess you lose perspective.
Many reviews of your material to date has mentioned a certain other Canadian indie act with a female singer…
Liz: I’m not gonna say anything. No comment. Wait, is that worse than actually saying something?
Maybe. Does said comparison stem from laziness alone?
Liz: It is just ‘cause we’re a band with a girl singer from Canada. That, and I get compared, vocally, to Cat Power. I think – if we’re going to get into it – it’s down to physiology, like the way a woman’s body is built. But you can’t even do that though… I always just have to stick to my guns, and so that’s just a lazy comparison, and I’m sure Emily [Haines, Metric singer] would agree. She and I… I like the way Emily sings. She kills it, more than a lot of people do.
Chris: I don’t think you have the same tonal characteristics.
Liz: Yeah, I think it’s just lazy, but there’s a lot of that shit in the world.
But don’t these lazy comparisons play to your advantage sometimes? Metric have plenty of fans here…
Liz: It can be beneficial, but it can also turn a lot of people off. Like, if someone doesn’t like Metric, they’re not going to listen to us. If they don’t enjoy that kind of music it will deter them from checking us out. I think the most beneficial thing for us, to get somewhere without the music being considered, is being from Montreal!
Is there a train of thought: this band from Montreal is good, so this one will be too?
Liz: Not really. It’s all about how many downloads you’ve had on MySpace and stuff. But there’s no relation between bands just ‘cause of where they’re from – that’s like saying a family’s dad is an engineer and assuming the offspring is all smart. It’s stupid.
Chris: Most of the bands in Montreal aren’t even from Montreal.
Liz: Just like all the Brooklyn bands.
Chris: Like, not one member of Arcade Fire is actually from Montreal. When we all moved there in ’99, it was to go to university, and that’s where a lot of bands formed.
Liz: Arcade Fire, they all came to Montreal to go to university.
Do musicians purposefully move to Montreal to ‘make it’?
Eric: I don’t think it works like that – I don’t think anyone moves to Montreal to be a star.
Liz: It’s not like LA yet. Is London like that? Really?
Yeah, pretty much. No-mark bands playing the Barfly night in, night out… all shit.
Eric: That’s crazy. I think people go to Montreal just ‘cause, if you’re a musician, that’s where the music is happening. There are shows every night, and there are other musicians and people playing music you like. There are people you want to play music with. When I moved to Montreal, I just wanted to play music – where I am from there is no music scene, so I didn’t want to live there. Music is everywhere in Montreal, but I didn’t move there to be a star! I didn’t go there to find the right band to tour the UK with.
Liz: Yeah, Eric formed Land of Talk…!
Eric: I dunno, maybe some people do think that way.
Liz: I know that some people do, but they pretend not to.
Eric: The people that arrive with those goals, they’re the ones that don’t make it, though. I think that’s weird – to pursue something like that in the world.
Have you encountered many of these people at hometown shows?
Liz: I used to work at a Montreal venue, and I did used to see some of that. It was fun to watch. With all the A&R people there, and then they’d leave and the proper people would come in. To hear the people talking at the back: “Oh, I like his jeans”. It was so funny. Part the hair to the left, not to the right.
You know there is a way to part your hair if you’re a man: on the left, my dad always told me…
Liz: Oh shit! Is this right? Oh Eric, you have a vagina…
Chris: Just take a picture of him for the article.
Righto: where do you guys see yourselves in five years?
Liz: You’re talking crystal vision? I keep my crystal visions to myself.
Chris: God only knows. It’s hard to even think what’s happening next week.
Liz: It’s scary to think about it. Right now, where I’m feeling kinda stagnant this week, I feel like maybe we’re a bit claustrophobic and get away from each other a bit. Some days it’s an adventure.
You get homesick at all?
Eric: This week I have felt homesick every single day, cause we are not busy. If we are, and we’re loading in and soundchecking…
Liz: You feel busy.
Eric: Driving and seeing things…
You’re staying down in Dulwich though: it’s nice down there.
Liz: Dulwich is beautiful, but it’s been raining everyday and we have no money.
Chris: We feel like useless people right now.
Liz: We feel like useless pieces of shit. We can’t even work the television!
Chris: It has a manual and, like, ten thousand remotes. I’m like… it’s rack-mounted, seriously, filled with things. It’s bigger than that (pointing at the DiSopolis’ arrangement of seperates)… that’s nothing.
Liz: Nothing, that is nothing.
Chris: Back to the question, I guess we’re just not taking anything for granted.
Liz: Maybe we do have a lack of vision right now, but you have to be careful what you wish for, and I do feel exhausted right now. I did want for all this to happen, and now I am like, “Holy shit, what about the music?” Like, no offence, but a lot of our time is taken up by press and publicity, and stuff about what we look like. I guess it doesn’t really matter what the album’s like, sometimes – an article can mean more than the music of a band. We’re a band, and the only thing I’ve ever known to do half right is write a song, and now it’s turned out like we’re these politicians, like we’re ambassadors for Canada or something. Like, would it be better if we were really difficult and didn’t do any press, like Godspeed? What are we aiming for here, what is our aim? I mean it is part of the process, but… But this is like, one in 34 where it’s a good interview and you’re not wasting someone’s time and you’re properly engaging, and you’re not like, “How big are your boobies?”*… not that anyone has ever asked that. You should read Field Music’s blog about this stuff… we toured with them thinking they were gonna break up, but they’re not. It says everything on their MySpace blog. It’s so articulate. I’m gonna tattoo that right here (points at forearm, left), and the Brian Eno interview here (forearm, right).
Last question: please justify your existence in five words.
Liz: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that question! I don’t even know what it means. Wait… I… Don’t… Know… What… Means.
Hadouken! offered: “We Are Not The Fratellis”.
Liz: Who are the Fratellis? What!? I’ve heard the name. Oh gosh…
Chris: What was that band on TV the other day? Oh, The Hives?
Liz: “Here comes another one! Are you ready, baaay-beeee…?!”
Eric: The Fratellis are pretty big aren’t they?
Yeah, but there’s a huge audience for truly fucking shit music in the UK right now.
Liz: Jesus fucking Christ… Here: “Fucking Jesus fucking suck cunt”. That works!
Land Of Talk’s Applause Cheer Boo Hiss was released on Monday through One Little Indian. The band’s MySpace can be found here.
*It should be stressed, here, that despite listening back to the recording a dozen times, this could not be perfectly understood. It sounded, for all the world, like ‘boobies’. We’d like to think it was ‘boobies’, too.