Alter The Press!


Interview: Talons

Here at Alter The Press! we like to feature and introduce bands that you may or may not have heard of before. Today we introduce you to Talons who are an instrumental band from Hereford. Originally known as Kites, after a few line-up changes they are now known as Talons, which at times can be a 4-piece or a 6-piece. They have played alongside the likes of Tonight Is Goodbye, Rolo Tomassi and Frank Turner.

Sean recently spoke with Oliver Steels to discuss the bands formation, the decision to be an instrumental band and their future plans.

ATP: First of all, who are you and what is your role in Talons?
Oliver: Hi, I’m Oli, and I play guitar in Talons. I also tend to write most of the music we play, with the others bring their own ideas along to practices where we flesh out the songs until we’re happy with them.

ATP: For those who don’t know you, give us a brief history of the band?
Oliver: Well most of us have all known each other for years, playing in various different bands in and around Hereford. Around about a year ago myself and a few others started playing in a band known as Kites, before several members left to pursue solo projects and various Uni commitments. As a favour, Alex (drums) and Sam (guitar) from another local band called Pencil Toes agreed to play for us for one show, so we didn’t have to cancel it. We seemed to click really well as a unit, and the natural progression from there was to carry on together as an actual band. Completing the line-up is Thom (bass), Reuben (violin) and Sam (violin), who all played in Kites.

ATP: I understand you are 6 piece but on your myspace you state there can be different combinations of Talons. Do you want to clear up the confusion?
Oliver: Yeah we get asked that a lot. Basically most of the writing of songs takes place as a four piece, with just guitars, bass and drums. Once we have a core song structure together, the violinists will come along and add their touch over the top. As a result, when we play live most of our songs work as a four piece, but we prefer playing as a six piece. As you can imagine it’s sometimes just a case of getting everyone in the same place at the same time which defines who plays for us at a particular show.

On top of that a few of our old band mates still occasionally play for us, as and when they are around. So for the record, expect to see anything from a 4 piece, right through to an 8 or 9 piece at a gig!

ATP: Why did you decide to be an instrumental band? Is it a case of actions speaking louder then words?
Oliver: Well all of our previous bands have had vocalists, and the current bands some of the guys play in do too, so it’s not as if we’re against having a singer. I suppose at the time when we formed this band we couldn’t find a decent singer, and none of us are blessed with particularly angelic sets of vocal chords. A lot of it also came down to my time at uni where I spent hours just messing around on my guitar, experimenting with loops. I grew accustomed to writing songs which didn’t depend on a traditional verse/ chorus structure, focusing more around the actual sound and sequences of notes instead, eliminating the need for a vocal line to carry the song in the same way.

Playing live, getting totally lost in the music is something that I had never really experienced before playing with an instrumental band. With Talons the music is allowed to speak for itself, every note is important, every crescendo or lull in the music is given space to convey a particular emotion, which the listener themselves are able to decide upon. The lack of vocals allows the listener a certain freedom to react to the music in their own way without responding to a particular lyric or point of view being broadcast by a frontperson.

ATP: Were there any bands that influenced your decision to be an instrumental band
Oliver: Definitely. When I first discovered Mogwai I was totally blown away, and went out and bought everything they’d ever done. From there I went on to discover bands from the heavier side of the genre, especially Pelican. I guess there were some others such as Russian Circles and Battles, both very different to my initial starting point, but equally interesting in their ideas and influence they have had on my song writing. However, it’s not as if we just listen to instrumental bands, far from it actually! Most of the others barely touch the stuff. Overall we have a pretty eclectic taste, which is why in many of our songs you’ll hear ridiculously heavy sections thrown in next to ludicrous little pop hooks

ATP: You’re from Hereford in the Midlands. What is it like there and how is the local music scene?
Oliver: Hereford is a nice place. Yes, I said it. Nothing much happens there, and at times it can be a little introverted and soul destroying, but I can think of much worse places to be. I think in many ways the lack of stuff going on in the area is actually the reason why we are in this band in the first place, as it offers a relief from what would otherwise be a pretty frustrating place to be.

For a place of its size there are a number of really quite good bands, again I think down to the fact that there is little else to do. At the moment the local music scene is the best I’ve ever known it to be, with bands like Gossamer Albatross and Bayonets beginning to branch out and gain recognition outside of Hereford, along with too many other bands to name here all producing some great music. From an outsiders’ point of view it may appear a little cliquey, but the truth of it is that we are all just good mates, making music that entertains us, and hopefully a few others along the way.

ATP: You’ve played along side many established UK bands like Rolo Tomassi and Tonight Is Goodbye. How has the reaction been from those crowds? as they are more song-driven bands unlike yourselves.
Oliver: Generally speaking, we’ve never really had a terrible response from an audience- some people will like it, some people will find nothing of interest in it at all. No different from any band I guess. Some crowds do seem to ‘get’ it more than others though, but people are normally positive, regardless of the style of band we’re playing alongside. I think the difference is that without a singer people focus on the music, and will single out particular elements such as the drumming or guitar playing, and let that drive them for the duration of the performance. We’re still a song driven band, just not in the traditional sense, and sometimes people just don’t know how to react to it. Quite often people will come up to us after a show and say they didn’t really get it at first, but by the end of the set they were totally enthralled and captivated by it.

ATP: What do Talons have planned in the future? I understand you maybe touring in April.
Oliver: At the moment we’re just sorting ourselves out, and are in the process of writing a bunch of new songs. As a band, with each song we write we feel much more confident, and listening back to our first recordings I certainly feel that we’ve come a long way already. We’ve recently recorded some new songs which we hope to release at some point in the near future, either by ourselves or through a label. Alongside this we plan to go on tour in April and play some of the cities we’ve not managed to get to yet. The main thing at the moment is to get our name out there and play to as many new faces as possible, as feel it offers the best insight into what the band are about.

ATP: Anything else you would like to say?
Oliver: If you haven’t already, check us out on myspace at
Keep an eye out for any upcoming shows, its always nice to see some new faces!

ATP: Thank you for your time.
Oliver: Thank you.

More information about Talons can be found on their myspace.

Talons are supporting The Datsuns at Gloucester Guildhall on February 16th.

Sean Reid

Alter The Press!