Remember Never Before

Remember Never Before

If the creation of July Talk’s fourth album can be summed up in one sentence, it’s this quote from singer/guitarist Peter Dreimanis: “It felt more fun than ever, to be honest.” From the jump, Remember Never Before crackles with a convulsive energy that was largely muted on its 2020 predecessor, Pray for It, an album that was completed before the pandemic, but one whose austere sound, sense of unease, and inward-gazing lyrics seemed to anticipate the next two years of COVID-induced hibernation and contemplation. By contrast, with Remember Never Before, July Talk were laser-focused on the post-pandemic goal of reclaiming their reputation as one of Canada’s most electrifying live rock bands. “After two years of looking back and thinking a lot, it felt so good to just get together with my best friends and just make a record from our guts, and not listen to our heads,” Dreimanis tells Apple Music. “We just really wanted to inject as much energy into the world as possible and make a rock ’n’ roll record.” For July Talk, that reconnection with primal urges by no means constitutes a regression to past behaviors—under the guidance of producers Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck), they’re rocking out in a whole new way. A decade into their tenure, July Talk have moved light-years beyond their blues-punk beginnings, displacing the greasy guitars of old with the sort of alien frequencies Robert Fripp embedded in Bowie’s Scary Monsters. Furthermore, the addition of a second percussionist, Dani Nash, to complement drummer Danny Miles forcefully nudges the group toward the frisky art-funk of Talking Heads. But as ever, July Talk’s restless exploration remains anchored around the repartee of vocalists Dreimanis and Leah Fay, who’ve become ever more adept at packing difficult, messy conversations about patriarchy, trauma, bigotry, and the precarious state of the world into compact, pleasure-seeking rock songs. Here, the singers talk through the album, track by track. “After This” Leah Fay: “This song actually came from a dream, and the words kind of poured out before I could understand them. Living through global trauma made me think a lot about my grandparents’ experience living through war in Europe and never going home again, and what they carried with them. PTSD wasn’t a diagnosis that was talked about back then, but that stuff runs deep, and it gets in your blood. So, I’m reflecting a lot about the things that have touched me and my demons and my darkness, as everyone did during the pandemic, and I thought about what I can take accountability for and ownership over and not pass on in the future as well.” “Certain Father” (feat. Spencer Krug) Peter Dreimanis: “We’ve loved Spencer and Wolf Parade for many years. It felt a lot easier as an artist to make a statement about masculinity in this song with the help of another man that we really admired. This song feels, to me, like that voice on your shoulder—every time you feel like you’re going out on a limb, there’s somebody telling you to play it safe and rely on the archetypes that you were told to be true, and often that forces us against progress in a defensive manner. And so, Spencer’s role on this song was to see things from above, like an omniscient eye in the sky that could see things from all sides.” “Human Side” PD: “One of our favorite things is that people come to our shows as themselves in their most essential way. People may work an office job all week, but then they come to the show, and they’re dressing as they want to dress and really embracing whoever they want to be. So, I wanted to make an anthem for that bravery. When you go to places like Kansas City and Houston—where it can be harder to do that than in Toronto—it’s just so amazing. Like, it’s wildly inspiring to look out at the crowd and see rainbow makeup in Topeka.” “Hold” PD: “There’s a side of July Talk that we always want to honor—like the song ‘Pay for It’ or ‘Strange Habit.’ We’ve always had this cool, Portishead-y softer side. It’s like a member of your family that everyone doesn’t quite understand, but you’ve got to invite them to every party.” “G-d Mother Fire” PD: “My verse is talking about this god character, which is also the Devil, which is also, to me, a very specific hero in our scene named Simone Schmidt [aka Fiver]. The song starts with this character that’s leading me around in dismay and just wants to burn it all down and start again. I often come back to a conversation I had with Simone a few years ago when we were all talking about changing the systems and defunding the police—and then the pandemic hit. And we were, all of a sudden, a bit thankful for our borders and the infrastructure in place and that we were being [financially] supported by the government [during the pandemic]. I think it’s something we all wrestle with: how to tear it down...but keep the good parts!” “When You Stop” PD: “Productivity is a very strange thing—there’s this need to feel like you’re constantly improving. We saw so many people reaching their point of saturation and then the pandemic hit and stopped us all. So, when we were all jamming this song, I just started chanting that [chorus] lyric to myself. There’s a lot of people that are struggling, but there’s a lot of people that are more grounded than they were years ago, and I think these big changes have been pretty paradigm-shifting. So, this song is about that and about running away from the hustle and constant need for productivity.” “Silent Type” LF: “When I sing my verse, I feel like I’m naming people in my life who have harmed me, and I’m exposing them because of specific things that they said or did to me and the ways in which that really affected my life. It’s like removing thorns from your side and then knowing that karma comes to those who do wrong, and everyone’s day of reckoning comes for whatever harm they’ve inflicted.” “Twenty Four Hours” PD: “We just wanted to let loose. We wanted to take the best parts of The Strokes and MGMT and all these party bands that we came up on. It’s hard to get those songs on record sometimes, and it’s hard to make them matter as much, but they are so important to me.” “Repeat” LF: “I was going through depression while on the road, but I hadn’t really identified that there was something chemically going on in my brain. I was so sad that it manifested into illness in my body, and I had to get antibiotics, a steroid to be able to go onstage, and then a sleeping pill to fall asleep at night. And this was in the very early phases of the Trump era—it felt like such a dark time. So, this was a really sad-bastard ballad at first—but when I played it for Pete, he was like, ‘This is a good song—we should play it as a band.’ We ended up recording it like five or six times with different producers, trying to place it on different albums, and it just never worked until now.” “Raw” PD: “I went through a period of time coming into my twenties where I was very unkind to myself, and as a result, I landed myself into some pretty disastrous situations that affected my family and my loved ones. ‘Raw’ was a song where—once I had some pretty necessary and healing conversations with my loved ones—it just all flowed out.” “I Am Water” LF: “Around the time that we were writing it, half the world was flooding, and the other half was on fire. It was a super-eerie time, and it felt good to yell about it, and to zoom out and see ourselves as the tiny specks of dust that we are in the grand scheme of things. I find that stuff kind of calming, when shit is hitting the fan.”

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