Wildly energetic and ill at ease with holing up in any place for too long, Peter Dreimanis is a restless soul. He’s one half of the songwriting tour de force behind the poetic, whisky-soaked blues reverie that is July Talk. The band is a serendipitous slapdash union of musical souls that, according to Dreimanis, is still slowly unfolding, ever so gracefully coming into its own.
“You know, I feel so much more comfortable on the road,” he says. “I love being able to be artistically evaluated every night. Sometimes, it’s even rewarding,” he chuckles.
“I just find that immediate gratification of a live performance so exciting and fulfilling. I really like that we can just get out there and really fuck up a bar, you know?”
The band is just barely back from a whirlwind tour in support of their eponymous debut album and, already, Dreimanis is feeling the sharp tug of the crowds and house lights. The band’s aforementioned debut is getting a deluxe reissue on the day we talk and Dreimanis is suspiciously lukewarm about the whole affair.
“It’s like, when you’re working on records for months, it’s not the same excitement. It’s done, but then you have to wait for months for all the promotion and marketing and, when the release date finally hits, it’s just not terrible exciting,” he explains.
What he is excited about, however, are the four new songs included in the reissue.
“This is our new voice,” he says of the tracks. “The amount of touring we’ve done over the last year has been, well, extensive. The five of us have gotten really close and gone through some really intense shit. With our debut, the music was made before we really knew who we were as a band, but, through all of that touring, I think we’ve really discovered who we are as a band. But yeah, these songs kind of document that new outlook, that new vibe, and we’re really excited to see how people react.”
The band is a beautifully collaborative melding of minds, with each person playing a key part in the gestation of a song. It’s something Dreimanis finds necessary to facilitate what he likes to call an honest artistic conversation.
“At the beginning, I think it was just survival. You just bring songs in and teach them to the group, you gain comfort and you go on the road, and that’s where you find everyone’s little talent. That’s how you get closer to that honesty. It’s hard for [co-vocalist] Leah [Fay] to embody lyrics that I write when she sings them — it’s just not honest. We all do our own parts, that way it’s a lot easier to honestly present the songs onstage.”
You can plainly see that Dreimanis is much more preoccupied with how the band is evolving than a day dedicated to rehashing and promoting what has already been done. He’s an adrenaline junkie and it’s all of the traipsing around in dingy clubs and blasting mixtapes in the van that give him his fix.
“In Toronto, for most bands, the secret of being a band is just relentless touring. But when you get home, it’s not home anymore. It’s not the same as it was.”
Home is a tricky concept for Dreimanis, because it’s not so much city or a province as it is a state of mind.
“I perceive home as four of the people I absolutely love, in a van, on our way to our show. I feel confident in the art we can put forward. I just feel so great that we found each other. I feel most at home when I’m surrounded by these people.”
After a string of dates in late November and December, the band plans to hole up in a house in a tiny community just outside of Ottawa in January and dig into tracks they’ve been writing for a follow-up.
“I just love the idea of all five of us in a van, heading out on the 401, and we’re not just going to be playing shows with the same old songs, but we get to set up all this gear in a home and just play and experiment and just get into it. I love it,” he says, beaming, and you start to get the feeling that he’ll right at home.
Catch July Talk at the West End Cultural Centre (Winnipeg) on November 4, the Pawn Shop (Edmonton) on November 7 and the SAIT Gateway (Calgary) on November 9.
By Nick Laugher