Montreal’s Land of Talk has not only lived up to its name for some time now, with countless interviews online, in print and on video, the three-piece has been a case study for word-of-mouth promotion as fans and journalists blog and talk about their love of the band.
But sometimes life has a way of interrupting conversations, like the one I had arranged with Lizzie Powell, their lead singer and guitarist. Calling at the arranged time to squeeze in an interview under the wire, I heard the voice of bassist Chris McCarron as he answered the phone, which sounded quite frustrated.
Their hotel was kicking them out early and the cell phone they were using while in the States was running out of minutes. I called them back on their hotel line, only to get voice mail. I then talked to the guy at the front desk who said they had checked out already. I took a deep breath and asked would he please just connect me to the room.
Chris answered again, and after convincing him I would just take a few minutes, he handed the phone to Lizzie, who seemed pretty chipper considering the circumstances. After she checked to see if the hotel staff were in fact at the door to push out the band before their official check-out time, we settled in for a quick chat.
Kaffeine Buzz: I’m sorry you’re having kind of a rough morning. It’s not a great way to start the day.
Lizzie Powell: They said they wanted us out early because they didn’t have enough people to clean the rooms.
KB: Well, how is that your problem?
LP: I don’t know. It’s just that you need all the sleep you can get. And even when you leave a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door they’re still knocking on your door and waking you up. And you never really get good sleep after that.
KB: Ugh. Been there. I traveled a lot in a past career, obviously not as much as you guys do, but it’s always something with hotels. You get to know when to be nice and when to be not-so-nice.
LP: Oh, wait. I think they’re at the door. Okay, Chris is going to keep them busy.
KB: Are you sure?
LP: Let’s just keeping rolling. Let’s be spontaneous.
KB: That works. I’ve already started recording.
LP: [laughs] Really? That’s good. Impromptu stuff is more interesting.
KB: Yeah, I try not to be too predictable with people and ask the “what are you influences” kind of questions.
LP: Oh God I know, “So, you’re from Montreal, heh? So, how did you get your name?” After a while I just want to start making things up. There was this one interview where they kept going on about me being a woman in rock.
KB: You should have told them you weren’t really a woman to see what they would say.
LP: This one woman was trying to get me to say some kind of angry, feminist statement or something. So I was trying to change the subject and was joking around and said, “What people don’t know is that I have a penis.” And then I said I was just kidding and not to print that, and of course…
KB: She printed it.
LP: Yeah, it was the bolded, highlighted part of the article. You poke fun at something and try to have fun. Whatever writer it is and whatever agenda they have, they’re going to do whatever they want.
KB: It seems like you’ve done a ton of interviews, so you’re probably a pro at it by now.
LP: Not yet. I’m a slow learner. I just don’t remember things very well.
KB: Welcome to the club. I think it’s because we have so much being crammed into our head at any given moment. The computers, phones, multi-tasking, running around. It’s crazy sometimes.
LP: Not to mention all the internal stuff and the psychological things that you do, how you’re contemplating everything that’s going on. It’s a brain drain, just dealing with your personal things.
KB: Our internal conversations are pretty much non-stop. Speaking of more personal stuff, is Bucky [Wheaton, drummer] still on tour with you guys or is he officially gone from the band?
LP: No, he’s gone. He left when we finished the Menomena tour. It seems like a long time ago but it’s only been a month.
KB: Did you have to make changes fairly quickly? Because it seemed like you were right on tour again.
LP: We had two days.
KB: You had two days? My God.
LP: Yeah, we got back and had to find not only someone who knew what they were doing but could drop what they were doing and come on tour with the band for not that much money…basically no money. That’s a lot to ask of someone. Luckily Eric [Thibodeau]was completely in love with the idea and made himself available. He’s made some sacrifices in his life, he’s driven, he’s a real road warrior and a great drummer. He’s just a little ray of sunshine.
KB: He needs to put a little cape on because he came in to save the day.
LP: He really did. It’s funny, because I found this Superman sticker at the bar and I put it on my guitar. And then I found this little, miniature penny on the sidewalk outside the club. It’s a real penny, but it’s probably four or five millimeters in diameter. Maybe that means we don’t have a lot of luck [laughs] or just a little luck. I have no idea.
KB: No, it’s a good thing.
LP: Yeah, it’s a good thing. Oh, AND we went to the Salvation Army yesterday to find bags for our merch because the boxes take up too much room. As I was going to pay there were all these records, and right on the top was The Roaches, their Three Sisters album that I used to listen to with one of my best friends. It was the album of our friendship.
KB: So things are going good.
LP: Things are actually. I was freaked out there for a while, but it was a blessing in disguise. I could have seen it as something worse, but it’s all in your choice of perspective.
KB: I’m sure playing and getting that feedback from the crowd really helps.
LP: It really does. We had a show right away, and then shot a video with Eric in it but it was Bucky on the recording, so that was slightly awkward for Eric. Then we flew out to the UK for shows there, and he was really well received. So that made me happy. That first show was sold out and he totally nailed all the parts.
KB: You’ve been playing out some of the songs from the new LP, right?
LP: Yes! But we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves, play them too much before the record actually comes out.
KB: I don’t think you’ve played Denver before, have you?
LP: No, I don’t think so. I go through the cities and figure out if we’ve played there before or not, so songs from the EP are new to them, you know?
KB: Well, I’m sure there are a number of folks here that will be excited to hear it all when you get here.
LP: And maybe we can go to the Salvation Army again and go shopping for records. Since we can’t fit that much into the van, it will just have to be window shopping.
Land of Talk plays Tuesday, June 5 at Larimer Lounge and stays on the road with The Rosebuds through June. The band then pops back to the States to play with the Decemberists in Central Park on July 16. The new full-length on The Rebel Group has a tentative release time frame of the fall.