Updated: Dec 23, 2021
Leeds own sextet Talkboy have really used the current pandemic to stretch their creativity and to chase their own dreams. Meeting at university and forming the group shortly after the band have only gone from strength to strength with their high-energy EP ‘Over & Under’ bringing playful melodies to the anxieties of ‘life fallin’ apart’; which is exactly the way that most musicians may be feeling with the current advice to retrain, but Talkboy aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
' We don’t really make any money from playing live we just do it because we love it'.
A true desire to make music, even in the face of adversity shone through as I spoke to the band’s guitarist Tim Malkin about how the band had coped with the cancellation of live shows and making new music whilst enduring a national lockdown. Admitting that they ‘don’t really make any money from playing live (they) just do it because (they) love it’, really reflects this bands love for music-making and performing which ultimately manifests in their discography which is writhe with high-energy guitar sections and the unusual but effective choice of dual vocal leads (Katie Heap and Calum Juniper) that intertwine seamlessly to convey the narrative and powerful emotion of each song, all while maintaining a certain light-heartedness.
‘normally when you play a new song live you can see straight away if people liked it or not - even when people clap you can see it in their eyes if they thought it was any good.'
For the band, it’s not just the gigs that they are missing but the whole experience before and after, acknowledging that they had been ‘fortunate to play the kind of gigs that (they) did’ prior to the pandemic, Tim humorously notes that he also misses the ‘extortionately priced Burger King at a service station on the way back from a gig with a belly full of lukewarm rider beer’. The cancellation of live music prevents you from seeing how a live audience receives your new music. Tim explained ‘normally when you play a new song live you can see straight away if people liked it or not - even when people clap you can see it in their eyes if they thought it was any good. But at the moment, because all we have to go off is the online reaction, it’s hard to know if people like it or if they are just saying that they like it’, admitting that this is a pessimistic outlook he’s quick to change the tone, discussing the reaction that their recent release ‘Stupid Luck’ received, suggesting that it was the ‘best online coverage we’ve ever had which is obviously extremely positive’.
The pressures of working from home are challenging for anyone affected, especially a band, as it limits contact and interaction between band members as well as potentially reducing your access to recording equipment. Innovatively Talkboy made this work in their favour. ‘We’ve never really been the kind of band to sit around and just wait for inspiration to strike…you have to take a bit of responsibility for that and find ways to make stuff happen’ and this is exactly what they did establish the ‘Empty Days Club’ a collaborative project, in which Talkboy worked alongside bands such as The Howl & The Hum and Sealegs, creating an EP of songs to raise money for the NHS. With the project key to maintaining the band's sanity during the first few months of lockdown, each of the sextet started a song individually ‘then guitarist Tim and drummer Jake would arrange the bones of the tune, send it off to whoever (one of the other collaborating bands) to add vocals’ the song would then be sent back to Talkboy to mix and master. The band described this process as a ‘very steep learning curve’, the final product obviously pushes the boundaries of Talkboy’s own musical style but is ultimately a beautiful and coherent set of songs.
'I’m not going to pretend that we have it hard - we have done things that so many people will never get to do'.
Inevitably the consequences of the virus will linger for a long time with many companies cutting jobs and the arts industry being hit hard, Talkboy remains positive and thankful if a little frustrated with the governmental neglect of the arts industry. ‘I’m not going to pretend that we have it hard - we have done things that so many people will never get to do but that being said, a constant struggle, particularly as a twenty-something is that nagging thought that you are wasting your time, and to then hear your own government basically tell you to find a proper job, that is pretty devastating’ voicing his concerns Tim continued, ‘I’m not sure when I have ever listened to careers advice from the government… spending any longer thinking about it, that really is a waste of time’. Optimistically Tim questions that ‘after lockdown, making stuff is going to be easy right?’, and I can only agree that this band can only continue on their upward trajectory as they work towards the dream and enjoy their job, their discography is on that manifests their dedication and anxieties but mostly their joy and excitement to continue making music.
Tim concluded that if he had to endure Lockdown again the one thing he would do differently would be to ‘buy more Cointreau, it was like gold dust for the first few months’.
You can listen to Talkboy's new single 'Stupid Luck' here.
Photo credits go to Sam Crowston.