Collectors of Sound: A Conversation with Good Talk

by Joel Greatbatch

Good Talk

Good Talk are a local Austin band that have had some good things said about them with the release of their self-titled album back in May and have played a number of gigs since then. Singer/guitarist Jake Lauterstein and drummer Erin Teasdale were interviewed over the phone about how they settled on their band name, some highlights from their recent touring, and how dancing is highly recommended at all their future shows.

Joel Greatbatch for Ovrld: Your Facebook band profile says you guys aren’t just bandmates but also best friends. How did you guys meet?

Jake Lauterstein of Good Talk: So me and Erin met in middle school which is a really long time ago it seems now. And we’ve been playing music together since we were 15 and it’s been a blast so far.

Ovrld: Does this mean you guys never disagree and are super friends every moment of the day?

JL: I think it’s important that friends disagree with each other as it only makes the friendship stronger. When you agree on everything that’s kind of superficial. A little disagreement is good for any important relationship!

Ovrld: What led to the band name? Is there a story behind that?

JL: We have a long history of trying to find our sound. We took a lot of different influences so to try and make an amalgamation of all the influences we had to do a lot of discussing as a band. And afterwards we would have these long discussions about what we wanted to and we would say “Okay, cool, man… good talk, good talk.” And that kind of reverberated into a band name. I can come up with a collection of bands names which I’m famously bad at. Horrible band names like The Disestablishmentarianism and The Loud Mountain. So Erin had a little “Aha!” moment during one of our ‘good talks’ and said “Why don’t call the band Good Talk?” And we were like “Uh.. yeah that sounds boss”

Ovrld: That’s cool. I had a feeling that Good Talk was a band name that was the result of you guys having conversation and it suddenly hit you.

JL: There’s a book called The Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group and it talks about how every band needs to have their name come out of thin air. You can’t just write things down on a notepad and then just decide what it’s going to be. It has to come from some kind of inspiration. So I’m glad ours kind of came to us as it were.

Ovrld: I saw you had a five show tour last month, were there any highlights from each gig that you played?

JL: We played at the Hi Tone in Memphis and that club was super cool. I felt right at home. Felt like Austin in a way. Kind of like a weird mix between Beerland and Mohawk which was awesome for me because I love those two venues so much. All the bands we played with were super cool. Made some friends, made some cool connections and yeah that was definitely a highlight. We ended up not having to really sleep on floors very much. We got treated really well. We stayed at our guitarist Santi Dietche’s girlfriend’s parent’s place. There was fun to be had. And our bass player Nick Ehrnstein is a total gym rat. He made us all work out. It was like the most healthy tour I think any band has ever been on! I was pretty sore the whole time. “What are you doing to me! I’m so sore!”

Ovrld: Did he have you get up for some early morning runs?

JL: Oh it wasn’t running, it was more lifting and boxing! But in all, Memphis was definitely the highlight for us.

Ovrld: You’ve had the comparisons with Dinosaur Jr and your page mentions Built to Spill, but are there any other bands you grew up with that had some indirect influence?

JL: I’m really into a lot of new wave music. Like The Cure, that’s definitely a hardcore indirect influence for me. New Order also. I think Modest Mouse is a more direct influence. I think new wave plays a big role in our band. I’m not really seeing a lot of bands doing dance beats and stuff, and for me there’s not enough dancing going on at shows. And so I try and make sure we have two or three minutes of solid dance beats, because I think every time I hear a dance beat for pretty much any band I kind of lose my mind. Like “Yeah, this is what I wanted to hear!” It just allows me to kinda let loose. I dunno. A lot of people might think that’s a commercial style beat but for me it fills my body with good vibrations.

Ovrld: Yeah, I know, it can be a bit of a challenge to get certain crowds to dance along, especially a group of guys like myself sipping my beer as I stand and watch.

JL: Yeah I think the expectation of it is you’re supposed to watch the band and you’re supposed to observe and kind of take note of what is happening. But I don’t think that’s really the organic way that it’s meant to be appreciated. I think that it’s meant to be a collective experience where people are moving and touching each other. It seems they’re either standing perfectly still or there’s a mosh pit and violence. So for me some of best shows we’ve ever been to are where the crowd kind of became a wave or danced all together without violence breaking out.

Ovrld: Those are your two interactive options, aren’t they? Dancing or violence. So what’s your song writing process? Are the songs written by one of you and the others add parts or is it a bigger collaboration?

JL: Basically I usually come up with a verse and hopefully a chorus to go along and we kinda jam it out from there. So it becomes a song when we jam this out and have some lyrics that I’ve recorded and maybe written down. After a time of playing with it and improving it then it becomes a full song.

Erin Teasdale: I always describe how the song writing process works, especially with Jake who’s like monumental with the song writing, as how he draws the picture and we color it in. That’s a good visual for me.

Ovrld: Whereabouts did you record your album?

ET: We recorded it here in Tarrytown which is the neighborhood that my grandama lives in, so that gives you an idea of how nice this neighborhood is. We recorded with Louie Lino who has this really neat studio called Resonate Music Studios. Really nice little spot where he’s done some really cool records with Nada Surf. He recently recorded with Moving Panoramas and we’re huge fans of them. He’s done some cool stuff with that band Jaill as well as John Wesley Coleman who’s like the garage-rock god father of Austin for sure. Louie’s a wonderful guy and excellent recording studio and we really enjoyed it. Fun times.

Ovrld: How long did it take to record?

ET: We got about four songs done per day which was pretty good all things considered. Full days as in like eight hours. So it took us two full days. And then took us maybe two months to get everything done. And then with album art and other things it was maybe a total six months to get the final product ready for sale.

Ovrld: That’s in good time. A good turn around when some people can take about two years, not two months.

JT: Yeah we worked pretty hard, it’s not easy. Nick and Erin worked way harder than I did. I’m the “creative guy” so I didn’t want to do any of the managerial stuff if you know what I mean. They pick up the slack when I’m the total slacker.

Ovrld: Going by your song “Sunny Ray,” is Sunny Ray a real guy? I imagine in my head this really cool surfer guy named Ray.

JT: Yeah, so he’s a jazz musician named Sun Ra. He’s an avant guard musician and he had two stages of development where he was called Sunny Ray, and then had kind of had a cosmic relealisation and he became Sun Ra where he was really obsessed with Egyptian folklore and culture, as well as empowerment of African American culture. So that song’s about Sun Ra and I’m pretty sure it’s the first pop song to be written about an avant guard jazz musician.

Ovrld: Do you have a favorite track on your album?

JL: Man, probably that one “Sunny Ray” for me and “Cold Sweat” is also one of my favorites. I’m also really into bands like Sonic Youth and some of the latest stuff was definitely an influence for us. And that song in particular feels to me to be reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s last album which was a kind of like a bittersweet goodbye to that band.

Ovrld: Jake, your vocals don’t have as an explicit US accent as you might expect. Is there a particular style or accent you have in mind when you sing?

JL: Yeah, I’d agree with that. Over time if you play music long enough you’ll kind of become a collector of sounds, and it becomes a part of you and you just exhibit whatever you’re feeling at that time and at that moment. I think that’s part of our sound, which is having a variation in sound that suddenly takes part of who we are as musicians.

Ovrld: Have you been working on any new songs since the album?

JL: Yeah we’ve got several new songs, some which are a little more reminiscent of Modest Mouse but with a little of a bit of a hard hitting edge. That song in particular is called “Butter” and we’ve been getting a good response from that when we play it at our shows. I just recently wrote a new song that I’m pretty stoked about. We haven’t even played it but I’m hoping to play it in the future and see how that goes. So yeah, we’ve got some new songs in the works, and we’re planning on recording them when the schedule allows in the crazy world we live in. I think we all have the most mad schedules you could imagine. So we’ve just gotta fit it all in man.

Ovrld: Have you noticed any development of your new sound with these new songs? Anything in particular in a direction you might be going?

JL: Well, I played in a band with Erin back in high school called The Diving Captain and it was very straightforward indie pop music and then since then I feel like we’ve pretty much experimented with every kind of music I could possibly play. So I really have no idea where we’re going as a band and I’m really excited about that.

Ovrld: You’ve got the Shake Shack gig on Tues, Oct 4th but do you have any other shows in the future currently booked?

ET: November 4th is at Swan Dive with Birthday Club who are our buddies from Houston, after their record release show. Then October 10th at Mohawk with a cool band called Park Strangers that’s with Food Group and Strange Mother so we’re playing with some really kick ass bands in town.

Ovrld: Beer is also listed as one of your band interests. Do you have a favorite local Austin beer?

ET: I’m actually drinking some Hops and Grain beer right now that I like. Some of my favorite beers of all time for sure. Super good. And a lot of gas stations don’t have it which really makes me frustrated so I hope they’re reading this right now to start stocking Hops and Grain please! What about yourself? Do you have a little favorite?

Ovrld: I’m liking Austin Beer Works a lot at the moment. I dig everything they’re doing right now. Fire Eagle IPA would be my go to.

JL: It was cool to be in Louisiana where as a passenger you can just drink a beer when you’re in the car which to me I felt like such a bad boy.

Ovrld: Any plans in motion for more recordings?

JL: Not yet but we’re looking to release an EP next off so we’re waiting until we compile about six or seven songs. So no plans yet but it’s in the works and it shall be done.

Catch Good Talk next Monday, October 10th at Mohawk with Strange Mother, Food Group and Park Strangers

Joel Greatbatch is a Kiwi but please don’t eat him. Instead, follow him on Twitter at @joelgreatbatch.