Lowtalker is made up of Stu Ross (vocalist/guitarist), Matt Keil (vocalist/bassist), Casey Hjelmberg (guitarist), and Branden Morgan (drummer). The band is made up of former members of such bands as Misery Signals, Living with Lions, and Comeback Kid (but if you’re assuming you know what they sound like from their resume, think again my friends).
I got the chance to catch up with bandmember Stu Ross, who was kind enough to answer my questions. Enjoy, and be sure to check out their upcoming release, Marathon EP, out September 18.
Vinyl Mag: First off, how old is everyone?
Stu Ross: I am 30 years old; Casey and Matt are both 27 and Brian, well, I’m not exactly sure. Judging by his moustache I’d say somewhere in his mid 40’s.
VM: Can I get a brief history of the band? How did you come together after your previous projects?
SR: Lowtalker started in 2008 with Casey and I trading “pop punk” demos. We both love the sound of bands like Saves The Day, Face To Face, and Lifetime. The first few demos that were traded were much poppier than the current sound of the band.
Misery Signals and Comeback Kid were on tour together when I was first introduced to Matt. He and I instantly got along really well; he and Casey were already great friends. So we had the three of us on board. We asked Branden from Misery Signals to drum for us; he accepted the position. From there we recorded People Worry About Everything and did some scattered touring in 2010.
When I left Misery Signals in 2010, I joined Vancouver punk band Living With Lions. My time in LWL put Lowtalker on the back burner. In late 2011 I left LWL. It opened up a lot more time for us all to work on Lowtalker. Later in 2011, Casey left CBK, then in 2012, oddly enough, I took on Casey’s old position playing guitar in CBK.
When it came time to start writing new Lowtalker material, we were up in the air about who we wanted to drum in the band. Casey and Matt’s good friend Brian Moen- who had played drums in their old band, Regret, and is currently drums for indie rockers, Peter Wolf Crier- jumped on board for the Marathon EP. Brian played a huge part in the project, not only playing drums, but also engineering the EP.
VM: Your music as Lowtalker is a big break away from that of each of your previous bands. Was that intentional/how did you end up with this sound?
SR: We wanted Lowtalker to be an outlet for us to play a style of music we all grew up on and still love to this day. Punk/pop punk/post hardcore- whatever you want to call it. We all listen to a wide array of music. Our influences are pretty obvious- all the 90’s punk and alternative bands you’d expect.
VM: I read that you do a lot of the artwork for the band, as well as a lot of songwriting (along with Matt). What other creative outlets/contributions does each member have/make?
SR: I do my best to do all the art-related things for the band. We all share a pretty similar idea of how we want the band to be aesthetically represented, so it’s pretty easy to agree on most things. Brian Moen, our new drummer, did the layout for the new EP. Everyone has a pretty equal hand in writing the music for the band. Matt also writes a good majority of the lyrics. All around, we all contribute pretty equally.
VM: What is your favorite song off of the Marathon EP? Why?
SR: My favorite song on the EP would either be “Tension” or “Barstow”. I say “Tension” because, in the demo version, Matt was the main vocalist; when we recorded it for the EP, I ended up singing the lead for the song. I was super stoked to do it, because I love the song, and I like it even more because I get to sing it [laughs].
My other choice is “Barstow”. It’s a really cool song. It’s much darker than any other material on the EP. Matt wrote the music and the lyrics. I think it has a really cool vibe to it. Definitely stands out from the rest of the songs in a cool way.
VM: Is there an overall theme for this album? If so, what is it? What is the song Prescriptions about?
SR: There isn’t really a re-occurring theme on the EP. 100% of the lyrics stem from personal experience. So I guess that would be it. The song “Prescriptions” is written about a family member of mine who has dealt with prescription drug abuse for the better part of the last 20 years. It’s a struggle to watch someone you love miss out on regular day-to-day experiences because of drug abuse. I feel like they have given up and fallen into a routine that will continue ‘til the end of their life. It’s a bummer. However, I feel like it’s something a lot of people can relate to these days.
VM: If you were a salesman, how would you sell your EP to someone who hasn’t heard you?
SR: Hmm, I guess I could say, ‘if you like rocking tunes, you’ll like this EP’ [laughs]. That’s all I got.
VM: What can people expect from your live shows?
SR: Well, you can expect to hear the majority of the songs from our two EPs. You can expect me to talk too much and for Matt to do his best to stop me from talking too much. You can also expect Casey to rock hard and look good, and also Brian will play the drums- he’s the drummer.
VM: What is next for the band?
SR: Ideally we’d like to do more touring in 2013. We’d also like to record our first full-length record in 2013. A lot of our productivity depends on our other band’s schedule. So, fingers crossed we’ll reach those goals next year.
Emily is an over-enthusiastic lover of music, books, movies, fashion, and culture in general. Her love of music spans across all genres (what is a genre anymore? she waxes poetic to herself), though she was nursed on true punk and will never understand “redneck country” music – tractors are not and cannot be sexy. Emily currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and considers herself to be a great wit, though she is still waiting on validation from a credible source.