When you’re born and raised in Middle America, (like the exact middle) in a town whose population hardly exceeds the year we live in, you soon find something to bide your time. That something for Nick and Tyler Talbott was music.
In a place where farming and ranching are the norm for career paths, The Talbott Brothers decided the only thing they’d be harvesting would be singles, records, and ample tour experience. Speaking of, their long anticipated sophomore album, Ghost Talker, was just released this past Friday, October 18th. “Everyone has ghosts, whether they talk about them or not. We wanted to take off the mask and be honest with this record, hoping that what we needed to say is what people needed to hear,” says the duo.
The brothers harness striking harmonies with their tried and true lyrics, perfect for contemplating life while driving down familiar roads. They reel you in with their heartfelt, vulnerable songs one after another with resounding relation, and deliver them with unmistakable feeling.
Amidst their busy fall tour schedule, the brothers took some time to discuss their new album, musical beginnings, songwriting process, and much more.
Music Mecca: What got you guys into playing music, and did one of you start playing first or was it a mutual thing?
Talbott Brothers: We found our dad’s old guitar and vinyl in the basement when we were kids, and grew up playing school dances, church and luncheons with the other kids in our neighborhood through middle school and high school. After we went to college, we started playing in coffee shops, bars and anywhere they’d let us. Tyler is left-handed, so he re-strung guitars until we found him a lefty. We play by ear and are self-taught. It was a lot for us to drive back and forth every weekend for shows, so we decided to book a tour and not go back to class the following semester. We fell in love with playing live, recording and writing and haven’t gone back to class since.
MM: Other than perhaps family, what’s one thing/place/event you think makes Imperial, Nebraska special?
TB: Imperial is a rural town so we always loved being outside, riding dirt bikes and getting into trouble with other kids in the neighborhood. There’s a big appreciation for sports and our family and community taught us the value of hard work.
MM: What made you choose Portland as a home base versus the other big music market cities?
TB: We had a friend introduce us to the Portland music scene and we were able to pursue music full-time and make a living after moving there. Our mom was also born in Portland and moved away when she was really young.
MM: As of me typing this question today, October 18th, your sophomore album Ghost Talker, is officially released. While it may be like picking a favorite child, do you have a song or songs that you’re most excited for the public to hear?
TB: “Run No More”, “Wired”, and “Shadowboxing.”
MM: What are the primary inspirations and influences behind this album?
TB: Everyone has ghosts, whether they talk about them or not. We wanted to take off the mask and be honest with this record, hoping that what we needed to say is what people needed to hear. After our last album was released, we spent the past 2 years on the road, constantly going from one thing to the next without taking much time to slow down and enjoy each moment to the fullest. Hard-hearted and burnt out from the road, the emotions we had suppressed began to re-surface and seep into our daily lives in various forms. Anxiety, self-doubt, worry, loneliness and resentment, combined with ghosts from our past became bad medicine for our bones. It’s a tough thing to face these things on your own, but it’s even more challenging when they begin affecting relationships, work and everything else around you. Ghost Talker is about going to war with oneself, owning up to mistakes and becoming better through the process. In some ways, we are all Ghost Talkers.
MM: What do you think you’ll remember most fondly about the writing/recording process of this album ten years from now?
TB: How much we loosened the reigns on the creative process, letting the songs breathe with space, and giving them room to grow instead of force the process.
MM: How does Ghost Talker differ from your debut album, Gray?
TB: Gray was more acoustic based/stripped down and light-hearted. We wrote it as we started touring coast to coast in the US for the first time and learned a lot about ourselves in the process. Ghost Talker has a lot more layers but still has space. We dove down into the depths for these songs and they carry more weight in terms of experience and emotion. The songs can be played acoustic or with our backing band.
MM: Do you have a specific atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process, or does it usually happen sporadically?
TB: For us, we write two ways. One way is intentionally creating a quiet place without distractions and “going fishing.” Sometimes you catch a fish and other times you don’t. But at least you showed up. That’s one of the best analogies we’ve heard. The other way is a bit sporadic; when ideas come to you in the dead of night, while your driving, cooking dinner or at the gym. It can be hard to stop what you’re doing in those moments and capture the idea or thought. That’s what iPhone Voice Memos and the Notes apps are for.
MM: How do you define success as a musical artist?
TB: When the music impacts people and it puts words to an emotion that may have been difficult to process before hearing the song. Connecting with others, providing for our families, and doing what we love while making a difference in those around us.
MM: What advice would you give to young singer-songwriters trying to establish a musical path such as yours?
TB: Hit the road, write without fear, and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.