Nostalgic rock and roll is alive and well in Music City.
If you’re like me and find yourself discouraged at times that you missed the heyday of our classic rock forefathers of the 60s and 70s, well fret no more, because Sweettalker exists to scratch that itch and shake that discouragement.
Ripe with brass instrumentation and swells of melodic pop rock and roll ecstasy, Sweettalker brings a lively energy reminiscent to that of 70s rockers of yore like ELO, Chicago, and the like. Everything about them looks like they are set up to be the new leaf of Nashville’s prominent rock scene.
The band has put out several singles throughout this, to say the least, tumultuous year, along with some rad music videos. What was supposed to be a single release show for their song, “Goodbye,” at Five Points’ Purple Room on Friday March 13th, transformed into a tornado benefit show, which would then go down as one of the final shows before COVID shutdown. A wild chain of events for Sweettalker, but they did in fact play the show, and you can check out them playing the tune here.
Aside from the live version of “Goodbye,” the band also put out a fun and very East Nashville music video for the track. They also cranked out a psychedelic video for their tune “Far Away,” which hit streaming services earlier this month.
The band is working hard to maintain momentum for their releases, and like every current career artist, they are eager to hit the road, book shows, and get the mighty wheel of live music turning again, which God willing, will happen sooner than later.
We had the chance to shoot some questions to lead singer David Brown, who gave us the lowdown on the new singles, what the future may hold, who’s the loudest and funniest in the band, and much more, so without further adieu…
So how did the current lineup of Sweettalker come together, and was the plan from the get go to have the big expansive sound that you have now?
Ryan Pattengale and I were in metal bands as teenagers when we first met; I was living in Georgia, and Ryan was from Indiana. We were pen-pals, and I found myself in a bind needing another player. I knew it was a long shot, but I asked him to make the 15 hour drive to fill in, and to my surprise he did. The rest is history. We eventually moved to Nashville and formed Sweettalker in ’16. Later, we added Ryan’s brother, Hayden, to the line-up to play bass. Finally, Chris Heaton joined on drums, who had toured with bands such as Peelander Z. When we started to work on our EP, we had been listening to a lot of ELO, Queen, and Beach Boys and began to write songs that we would want to listen to. Matt Goldman (Grammy nominated) signed on to produce the EP who we were already big fans of, and he really helped fine tune the expansive sound you hear in our new songs.
I see y’all had a few recent single releases and music videos within the past few months. How has the reception been given the immense hurdles of both the tornado and the pandemic?
We’ve been getting a really great response from everyone. In lieu of touring, we’ve been creating as much content as we can to stay alive. People need a little distraction from their daily lives, and I think our fans appreciate the ability to tune into something else for a minute or two.
Can you talk about Friday March 13th and what exactly transpired that night in Five Points when y’all were preparing for a tornado benefit/release show?
In the heart of East Nashville stood The Purple Building amongst all the wreckage caused by the tornado that tore through our neighborhood on March 3rd. Volunteers from neighboring cities and states poured in to lend a helping hand in restoring our community. To us, turning our release show into a benefit show was the right thing to do, and we were excited to be a part of the effort to rebuild the neighborhood. March 13th, we were on stage sound checking, getting ready for the “Goodbye” release show that evening when the news broke that the show was canceled. We all looked at each other in disbelief as we began trying to get the word out to everyone about the show canceling. We played a couple songs to the empty room before we packed everything away.
Most recently you released your single, “Far Away.” What’s the inspiration and influence behind this track?
So many things, to be honest. It’s a culmination of new and old influences, but most notably George Harrison and Jeff Lynne. I wanted to take a new approach to the lyrics for this song. I wanted it to feel more like a poem rather than lyrics from a personal diary. I approached it as a different way of describing personal experiences instead of recounting the story in a linear fashion.
Where did y’all film the groovy music video?
We filmed the “Far Away” music video in Nashville at Tournament Studios. Casey Pierce directed and shot the music videos for “Far Away” and “Goodbye”. He’s incredibly talented and amazing to work with.
Can fans expect this and “Goodbye” to be on your upcoming EP Paradise?
They can! They are the the first two offerings from our new EP.
Do you have a tentative release date for the EP?
Paradise is set to release at the end of this summer.
What songs or artists are the band digging on these days that may influence your sound?
Lately, we’ve been listening to Harry Styles’ new record, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Fearless Flyers, and Jellyfish. We’re always looking for new bands/artists to listen to, so we’re constantly rotating something new in.
What Nashville establishments are you most eager to get back to frequenting once it’s deemed safe and acceptable?
I work at Acme Feed & Seed, so I’ll be very happy when they are able to safely reopen. Acme Radio was kind enough to feature Sweettalker as their Local Love Artist of The Week back in April, and we have a performance residency planned for when they can safely host live music again.
Who’s the funniest band member?
We all have our moments, but I think Chris may be the best off the cuff. Hayden is really funny too, he does a few hilarious impressions.
Who’s the loudest?
Ryan. Poor guy, he can’t help it. His laugh is so loud, but you’re always laughing with him.
Who’s the worst driver?
Thankfully, no one is a bad driver. Some of us are more experienced with precarious driving situations. Ryan can back a trailer out of any spot just as good as anybody, he may be the best driver out of all of us, I’d say.
Do you guys have any band rituals before shows or practices?
Nothing out of the ordinary- I like to be alone the 30 minutes before the set to warm up vocally, and to get my mind prepared to play. I sing through a couple major scales, and then I sing the hardest parts of the set and focus on making them sound good in the van before we go on. I’m always nervous before we start, so I try my best to stay calm and being alone really helps. Once we get started, we find the rhythm and the nerves are gone.
What might a dream show entail for Sweettalker?
This may be the cliche Nashville answer, but playing on The Ryman stage would be an absolute dream. Playing any show would honestly be awesome after this long pause! I live near The Basement East, and seeing it be rebuilt is exciting- that’s another spot we’d love to get the chance to play.
What might fans expect from Sweettalker in the latter half of the year?
Despite not being able to play shows, 2020 is going to be a busy year for us. We’re planning on releasing a lot of videos this year, and we’re finding ways to engage our audience outside of the live-music venue space. Releasing regular video content has helped offset some of the lost show opportunities due to the pandemic, but we’re preparing to pivot back to live shows as soon as we can.