Harriet Kaplan

INTERVIEW: Matthew Kopperud of Close Talker

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close talkerThe Canadian indie-rock trio, Close Talker, featuring Will Quiring, Matthew Kopperud and Christopher Morien, has released its third album, Lens, a 10-track collection that “showcases the band’s maturity and poise,” while “entering new realms of pop sensibility.” Lens finds Close Talker building upon its musical abilities and showing more creative growth while still being able to capture the “raw energy, homegrown feel, and vulnerability” of the band’s well-received live shows. SoCaMusicToday recently caught up with Matthew Kopperud find out more about Close Talker. Matt discussed thoughtfully and insightfully how the trio formed because of their long-term friendships going back to childhood, collaborating on the songwriting process, growing up in Canada and its influence on their music, the new LP Lens, and working with Matt Peters and Marcus Paquin on this project and more.

Can you tell me about the journey of being childhood friends that lead to forming a trio?

Chris and I have known each other since we were five and lived one block away from each other. We picked up instruments around the same time and we would take this old gnarly wagon and fill it with our gear and bring things back and forth to each other’s house and jam. We met Will a few years later and all were friends and played music together either in church or in various projects throughout high school. The main catalyst in forming Close Talker was a mutual friend of ours was getting married and asked us all to form a wedding band. We learned some songs and played our one and only wedding gig. It was so much fun that we decided to write some songs and play an open mic a few weeks later and following that, it was all history.

Were you three all musicians to begin with and shared similar influences?

We all come from relatively diverse backgrounds, but our vision for Close Talker is very much in tune with one another and our influences have started to overlap more and more throughout the band’s existence. Chris started with Foo Fighters and then went through a heavy jazz season in high school. Will grew up listening to Boston and Steely Dan and definitely could shred the blues in his teens. I grew up playing acoustic finger style guitar and watching those insane YouTube videos by guys like Andy McKee and Don Ross. All that said, we all share favorite bands these days like The National, Radiohead, and Grizzly Bear.

Do you all collaborate with the songwriting and what is the songwriting process like?

We’re all very involved and typically compose music in a jam orientated sort of way. Typically, we write with a call and response approach. Someone will start an idea, and the other two, respond with their instincts. A lot of the time our initial ideas are the best. Lyrically, Will is the chief writer as he is the one who has to sing these songs, but Chris and I definitely chime in and are involved. We all collaborate on everything and ensure there is unity before we deem a song finished.

Growing up in Canada and its climate seems to inform the music? Can you talk more about its effect on the songs?

Being from Saskatchewan is 99% percent awesome. It does get incredibly cold in the winters, but I think that lends itself to the creative outlets found in art. You can’t really play outside, so you hole up inside with your best pals and write songs. It has its perks. Where we are from, it is very open and vast. I think this influences our music and tone selection.

It seems personally there is a lot going on for the trio and that had direct effect on the new LP? Can you talk more about that and what has changed? There is obviously growth within the music and songs would you agree?

I think we’re simply growing up and trying to navigate that and discern what it is that is going on. Two-thirds of the band is now married, which is a huge and exciting milestone that comes with change. We’ve all seen change in ourselves as a result of the band. Being so busy and traveling can make our social lives a little more hectic than preferred. It is tough to keep up to date and foster so many relationships with people that we care about. We all want to keep everyone happy, but I think a part of growing up is learning that you can’t juggle 100 things and expect to never drop a ball. We’re slow learners though, so we will continue to juggle as many things as we can.

What does it mean that the trio is entering a “new realm of pop sensibility? Can you elaborate on that?

For a long time, I think we wanted to distance ourselves from generic pop songs or song structures, and in some cases, maybe we always will be a little weary of radio hits, as Close Talker isn’t that sort of band. We valued when a song would take an unexpected turn or do something the brain didn’t anticipate. We see that in bands that we admire and we love the songs for it. All that being said, we’re coming around on the satisfaction of a song doing exactly what it is you desire or a melody being dangerously hooky. I think as a band, the songs on Lens are challenging and complex, but still hopefully accessible. I think we’re less afraid of pop music than we were and we’re allowing that to influence us and our song writing a little bit. We still want to create music that is challenging to us so that we don’t get bored or sick of a song, but I think that we are more willing to write songs that aren’t just left brain abstract pieces.

Would you say that “Lens” is the trio’s most ambitious project to date and how do you feel it differs from the last two LPs.

I think Lens is our best foot forward to date. I think it represents a little bit of where we’ve come from, but also where we are going. It is definitely groovier than our previous two albums. It is more expansive and dynamic in my opinion. In short, I think it is just a healthy step forward in the progression and evolution that is Close Talker. Our influences shift and our life experiences shift and as a result, our music continues to shift and be altered. It will be cool to look back on this album in the same way we have the other two, and see where we were at

How did you come to work with Matt Peters and Marcus Paquin on the new LP? Do you enjoy having an outside producer in the studio to work with the trio and what did you get out of the process creatively?

Working with Matt Peters was an absolute joy. He is so invested and talented. He was very involved and knew the songs inside out and backwards during pre-production which proved to help us use our time wisely as we were all on the same page musically and socially already. We had toured together before and were already friends. It was both a comfortable and challenging choice. Comfortable, because he is a prairie boy like us and we love the guy. Challenging because we knew he would push the songs and offer a sober perspective, something we needed and invited and maybe didn’t have within our inner-most circle, as by this point we were in pretty deep.

We met Marcus over the phone, but he didn’t pick up the first try because his phone was buried somewhere in his huge winter coat (Canadian problems). We spoke on the phone about what it is we wanted, and it became very evident that he was our guy, both based on his track record and the fact that we got along so well, so quick. We worked with some incredible people on this album that we’re very thankful to call friends. Another major influencer on Lens was Robby Daze. He’s from Regina, SK and helped immensely with the record as well, specifically with “Waking Up” and mixing “So What”, but we’ve been working with him for years.

Does Close Talker enjoy touring or being in the studio more? What is the trio’s preference and why?

Oh man. They both offer some pretty rad times. Playing live is really special as you get to see how people interact with the songs and if they’re willing to jump on board and join you in a moment. When it clicks, it is hard to top. However, being in the studio you get to see a song take shape and become what it was meant to be, or see it grow from a concept to a song. That is incredibly special. Personally, the creativity of being in the studio is my favorite part of being in a band, but touring can be really special.

What have been the best and strangest experiences you all have had on tour?

We’ve always been keen to use our time off wisely. We don’t really have time off on tour these days, but in the past, we’d pretty consistently find cliffs to jump off of into cold water. Those are some good memories. I am not sure what the best experience we’ve had is. One that comes to mind is when we had a brief break in our tour in the UK so we traveled to northern UK where our friend runs a studio. We wrote a bunch of songs there and stayed in a house on the water with no power. We literally filled hot water bottles to warm the beds and we had candles and nighties to go to the bathroom in the night. It was a pretty special time for the band. A simple time  – hah.

Where do you like to hang out in Canada and what do you do for fun?

Being from the prairies, I am enamored with the mountains. My wife is from a town closer to the mountains, so we both love to snowboard and canoe and be outside, etc. In our hometown, there is a beautiful river that everyone congregates around in the summer times. When the water is low, there is a beach, and if it is a really hot day, it is packed. It is no secret that Canada is beautiful, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a fair bit of it, but there is definitely more to explore.

What are the best clubs there and why?

Canada has some venues that are pretty rad for various reasons. In Saskatoon the long standing spot has been Amigos. I’ve seen a lot of amazing shows there over the years. Vancouver has the Biltmore and the Imperial, both are some of my favorite venues in Canada. Every venue is special for different reasons. It is tough to discern the best. I would recommend just coming up here and checking them out sometime. There are always cool and diverse bands passing through.

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