Indie rock is that genre of music that anyone can get into. There truly is an indie rock band or artist out there for everyone. Talking Dog plays for the New Yorkers, the melancholy, and the questioning. With five great tracks on SoundCloud right now, those people and more can find these songs and this band: a Brooklyn-based alternative, indie-rock group with a lot of talent to share. So, who are Talking Dog? Noah Ruede, guitarist and vocalist for the band, lets us know.
Your debut EP, Resolution Loops, was released about seven months ago. What have you been up to since then and what can we expect in the upcoming months?
For the most part, we’ve kept our heads down, working on new material. We’re all busy guys with full-time jobs, and most of our material is written collaboratively at practice — which in our experience can take a little longer. But it’s a fun and challenging way to write music, and we usually wind up somewhere unexpected. With any luck, we’ll put out a new EP within the year.
What was your experience like writing and recording your debut EP?
It took us longer than we had anticipated, which is fine. The songs evolved slowly as the band took on new members. Then finding a studio, an engineer, someone to mix the EP, and planning the release all took several months each. The recording session itself was a surreal experience, as we did it live and all in one night. We pulled it off thanks to our engineer Chris Connors, who did a remarkable job. Mixing took another several months, but it always does, and Charles Mueller was a pleasure to work with. If we regret anything, it’s the months we spent shopping around for independent labels and press coverage, which was exhausting (and since we didn’t want to pay for PR or management, mostly fruitless). Next time we’ll probably skip that last part and just release the music once it’s ready.
How did the four of you come together to form Talking Dog?
Our drummer Dan and I were childhood friends in New Jersey, and learned our instruments by playing together when we were 13 or so. We both moved to Brooklyn in 2011 after college, and casually started working on some song ideas I had floating around. Once we felt ready to add new members, I invited Craig to join as a guitarist, whom I knew through his band at the time, Slothbear (perhaps my favorite band to this day). Dan met our bassist Sean at a party, and invited him to practice where he fit right in.
Talking Dog is an awesome name for a band. How did the name come about? Were there any other possible band names that were front runners, but ultimately got canned?
God, endless group texts. We all had different perspectives on the issue, the middle ground being something that doesn’t feel too self-important, while also not sounding trivial or overtly jocular. Talking Dog fit the bill.
There are five songs on your EP. When you perform live shows, which songs do you think you and the crowd get into the most? I would think it’s “Inner Child.”
Yeah, “Inner Child” usually gets a fair amount of love, with “Deathwich” perhaps a close second. “Deathwich” especially is one of those songs that plays better live, I think.
You guys seem to be the epitome of an indie rock band, which is great. Is indie rock your biggest influence?
I guess that depends on your definition of indie rock. I’m probably just being pedantic, but to me it’s a moving target, like “pop” for instance: ask someone in the ‘80s, and they’d point to Michael Jackson. Ask someone today, and they’d probably say Kesha or something. Is indie rock a genre, an aesthetic, or a set of circumstances that evolve alongside culture and the media landscape? In any case, we’re independent, we like to experiment, we don’t take ourselves too seriously or sculpt our work with a particular audience in mind, and we admire artists who do the same. And we play, broadly speaking, rock music. If I had to pick a definition of indie rock, that might be close.
Where do you draw inspiration and influence from?
A friend of mine once joked about us being “a band influenced by bands who were influenced by Fugazi,” and that’s probably the most apt description I’ve heard. I guess it depends on who you ask, though. I grew up on a mix of early ‘90s “indie rock” (ha!) and ‘90s/’00s math and post-rock. Dan loves Meshuggah as much as he loves Cocteau Twins. Sean is also in a funk band. We’re all fairly eclectic in our music backgrounds and influences.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
We’ve always struggled with that. It might be more helpful to describe how we generally approach songwriting: we start with something “catchy,” and then experiment with ways to make it feel a little uncomfortable and unpredictable. Or we’ll start with something a little angular and disorienting, and find a way to make it catchy. If you put Pavement, American Football, Sonic Youth, Don Caballero and Cap’n Jazz on a grid, we’d be probably somewhere in the middle.
Brooklyn, and New York City as a whole are inspiring places to be. The hustle and bustle of the city, the diversity, the culture…there is so much that can be taken away from being there — let alone living there. Do you find that where you are based plays a role in the band and the music that you make?
I suppose so, but maybe not in the way that one might expect. New York is paradoxically both a fantastic and very difficult place to be a band. On one hand, there’s arguably no other city in the world with a richer music history, and there’s no shortage of venues and opportunities to perform. But the quality of those opportunities is generally pretty bad these days, and while it isn’t universal, there’s an element of extreme image-consciousness in the music scene that we find very unappealing. We’ve all dealt with it in some capacity, and while we do love performing and sharing our work, Talking Dog is more than anything a source of personal creative fulfillment. Letting go of everything else can be very freeing both personally and as songwriters, and in that sense, I guess New York does inform who we are as a band.
I love every little aspect in your song “Dazed.” It’s filled with angst and honesty. How did that song and the meaning behind it come about?
Thanks! In the past, I’ve almost resented having to write lyrics, and treated them more as a vessel for the vocal melody than an opportunity to express myself creatively, which in retrospect was sort of cowardly. With these songs I challenged myself to be more honest and reflective. In my early 20’s, I wanted to be in a band for a living. A few years of that was enough; as I mentioned earlier, the sheen of being a Brooklyn band can get old pretty quick. “Dazed” takes a tongue-in-cheek jab, my own young naiveté and explores the growing disillusionment I felt and witnessed around me in the music scene.
As you grow as a band, where do you want to go? Essentially, what are your goals?
We’ve got another EP worth of songs in various stages of completion. Tough to say when they’ll be done, but hopefully by the end of the year. We’ll plan a release show when the time comes.
Where can our readers find your music?
You can find us on Bandcamp: talkdogbrooklyn.bandcamp.com. We’re also on Spotify and Apple Music, and on Facebook at facebook.com/talkingdogbrooklyn.