Each week we bring you a new band and a little bit about who they are and what their style is all about. This week we are sat cross-legged, stroking our imaginary thinking beards and taking in the fantastically different Listener, a duo from Fayetteville, Arkansas who have combined forces to bring us this fresh and honest approach to performing.
Listener are far from any conventional two-man band, they are two incredibly unique and talented individuals that have come together to share their sound with the world. A heady mix of guitar-led melodies and tounge-twisting lyrics that dazzle you with honesty, they have developed a genre of music that has been widely described as ‘Talk Music’. Imagine an aggressive yet eloquent stream of consciousness laid over dreamy compositions and you have these guys.
Vocalist and lyricist Dan Smith weaves his articulate prose around the delicate melodies and music created by Chris Nelson, resulting in an often frenetically beautiful outcome that has led people to describe it as a ‘ranting poetry’. To create and develop a whole new genre is one thing, but to introduce a style that may not adhere to everyone’s ideals and expectations with such grace and abandon is truly commendable. Dan’s unforgettable style and deliverance stays with you for days afterwards; the lyrics echoing with his incessant enthusiasm. The combination of strikingly honest lyrics and gorgeously matched compositions elevates the genre itself to almost a performance piece. The passion flooding through every word hits you with such force that its hard to forget.
Listener first embarked on a ‘Tour of Homes’ which consisted of traveling from home to home around the US in a grassroots style of touring; a movement driven by community and the spontaneous outcomes of pulling together to create something meaningful. They performed at homes, coffee shops warehouses and galleries slowly spreading the spoken word of Listener. They state that their foundation behind their music as,
“It would be not through any filter that society or this world offers, that’s honest and from the heart. Not having any agenda or some kind of ulterior motive or intention, whether it’s to be cool, indie or avant-garde, none of that – and to just do it.”
This radical approach and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude highlights the sincerity of their intentions; to create and share something meaningful and inspiring. After listening to their songs you do feel as if a spark has been ignited by Dan’s loquacious vocabulary and thoughtful prose. They are two people that can address their thoughts and emotions and channel them into something resolutely full of passion. I implore you to watch the video, if only to experience this alternative genre and see what it rouses from within.
Dan took the time to respond to my questions, another attribute to his general awesomeness, so here is a brief window into what the guys are all about…
So firstly, I’d love to ask how you came about performing, what made you decide to share your beautiful words and music? Was it an event, a suggestion, or just always within you?
I was pretty scared of performing, and just made albums and music and didn’t do too many shows.. I’d say the past 7 or 8 years of touring has sort of showed me to be ok with playing live and for the most part I’ve gotten over being nervous about it.
Have you any particular musical influences, whether particular artists or genres?
I like alot of kinds of music. I tend to listen to folk music mostly, I like to hear the words, but I like a lot of stuff, as long as it’s honest and not just to prop up or serve the rules of a genre then I may probably like it.
Do you have a name for your style of performance?
Well, the band is a rock and roll band. We’ve called it talk music too. I say and yell poetry and words and sing sometimes, and we play rock and roll….calling it talk music sort of points towards the vocal style of the band, but we’re a rock and roll band.
What inspires you when you write? Has anything really odd made you put pen to paper?
I think everything odd inspires me to write….just living life and trying to write it down when I have ideas to write things down….I can’t say a certain music or movie or book or night out on the town always produces a song or words from me, but all of it together, the experience of life together inspires me to write a few thoughts.
With a style and energy as raw and honest as yours, have you ever had any emotional responses from the audience?
I usually close my eyes, but I’ve see people saying the words to our song, and crying, and standing still and doing nothing, and we’ve even had a couple mosh pits open up…..but really its up to the individual.
Listener are currently on tour again around the smaller bars and clubs of the US, but if you want to experience it live for yourself then they are playing at the Hevy Festival @ Port Lympne Wild Animal Park on 5th August.