The five piece, alt-rock band TALMA is based in London but were formed Formed in Exeter. They blend alt, classic and art rock to channel huge sounds and bold statements with their latest single ‘In Cirles’ a taster for EP ‘About Out To Sea’. We spoke to the band about their beginngings and most recent release.
The music industry is quick to pigeon hole artists, we much prefer to be able to move between the lines.
First up, tell us a bit about yourselves - what first got you into music?
It always sounds a bit superficial when you hear someone say something like this but - truly - in many ways I don’t think any of us remember much else. From my point of view, whether it was listening to Sinatra on family holidays, to discovering Space Oddity at the age of 10 to rummaging through all sorts of different genres in my teens - music has just always been a thing thats just been there and I am not sure I could pinpoint a moment where I thought ‘I am now into music’.
If I were to attach a moment to music, I would probably say when we all started playing together at University which resulted in writing our own songs. We had all dabbled in writing, but when we came together and wrote as a band it gave our music an extra dimension - a process which we really have looked to build upon since.
What got you together?
Jonny (drummer) and I were both playing together in a Jazz band and we were really keen to start up a band to write our own stuff. We had no idea what, or how, but we just knew we wanted to do something a little different and to do our own thing. We then found Pete (bass) and Jack (guitar), then a few years later here we are! We have been through a couple of reshuffles, a name change in 2016 and a considered effort to change the sound to what it is now. We will wait to see whats next on our ‘evolution’ cycle…
Why the name TALMA?
Finding a band name, particularly I think within the Alternative sphere, is really difficult. In the early days when the band had a slightly different outlook, we had a name that, well, was just a bit rubbish. What I find amazing is that when consuming music, audiences are so quick to judge on the name and will use the name as a touch point for the image, the sound and any performance that they may wish to buy a ticket for. With that in mind, we were conscious not to create something too explicit and ensure we had a name that would allow us to continue to have a blank canvas with the music that we write. In essence, the word TALMA comes from a lot of different places, but we were more looking for anonymity rather than a name to represent anything more specific.
Were there any particular names or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style?
I think one of the great things about us, and perhaps also one of the greatest challenges when writing - is that we all bring a lot of different influences to the studio. From David Bowie to Iron Maiden, from Nile Rodgers to Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave to Radiohead, The National to American songbook jazz ( I could go on…) - the greatest challenge is condensing the ideas down into a form that is listenable and engaging.
On this songwriting cycle, we have been far more efficient in our approach as we have taken lot of inspiration from bands who are dominating the alternative sphere at present. Artists such as The National, The War on Drugs, Angel Olsen and others have given us a focal point to work from whilst trying to create our own sound. In addition, releases from favorites like Nick Cave, Radiohead and David Bowie in recent years have given another dimension from recent influences and given us another reference point for the work that we have been doing.
How would you describe your style?
We would describe ourselves as an alternative rock band. Perhaps, you could argue that there are some other elements, in the past we have had ‘prog’, ‘jazz’ ‘shoegaze’ and others all lodged at us. This is something that pleases us to be honest, the music industry is quick to pigeon hole artists, we much prefer to be able to move between the lines.
What drives you to write?
A simplistic reason perhaps but I think the alternative of just driving round pubs playing covers would drive us insane…
However, for a more serious answer, the musicians we have loved growing up have all had something to say whether it be through the virtuosity of their playing or through the impact of the lyrics. These factors have always been something that have captivated us and is always something we are trying to emulate - we like the idea of being a band that has something to say and a medium of saying that ‘thing’ a bit differently to how its been said before. I would say that this is one of the main drivers for our writing.
Tell us about your single ‘In Circles. Whats it about?
A lot of the new EP alludes to feelings of displacement and isolation from the world around us. ‘In Circles’ is reflective of these ideas and in particular considers the apathy that can be attached to a routine lifestyle. Lyrically, the song is influenced by the experiences of a couple of members of the band whilst on their travels, whilst undoubtedly enjoying their new surroundings they had the distorting feeling of being able to take things with a renewed perspective.
Aside from the positive impact that a new outlook can bring, in the same breath, it can make the apathy of ‘everyday’ life become ever more poignant and prevalent. In essence, the song looks to illustrate a resentment of a routine and the emotions attached with trying to escape it.
How does this single fit in on your forthcoming EP ‘Out to Sea’? What are its themes?
‘In Circles’ will open up the EP. Over the four tracks, there is a loose narrative depicting certain experiences and feelings that have hit us in recent years. We all felt that the instrumentation, particularly the intro is a natural starting point and works well to grab the listeners attention.
The EP touches on a number of themes but I think we continually look to draw on themes of isolation and an unease with the world that is around us. From relationships, to elements of life such as the daily routine, we continually come back to this growing unease with the world around us and how people continually change their reactions to it.
What are your hopes for the EP?
Touring is very much on the cards for us, we feel live is where we thrive and so we hope this EP will further provide us with a platform to reach new people and places. Excitement within the band has been growing for a while now and we are really looking forward to getting back out there in front of audiences to showcase the new material that we have been working on.
When and where can we expect one you live next?
Saturday 24th February we are doing our EP launch at Camden Assembly, and then onto The Black Heart in Camden on the 5th April
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead would be really cool. Radiohead are a big influence on us, both as a band and as individuals. For me personally, I am a big fan of film and the work he has done in films like ‘There will be Blood’, ‘Phantom Thread’ and elsewhere is just awesome. There is actually so much more to him then just Radiohead and I think a collaboration with him would take us to some interesting places - with him the music could literally go anywhere.
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band in 2018, what would it be?
I think like all emerging bands - it would be great if by the end of this year we could be doing this full time, without the need for jobs and other commitments. As always, all of us are spread pretty thin - having the support to be on the road and doing what we love is all we could ask for really!
Listen to ‘In Circles’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates go to talmasounds.com.