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Though July Talk’s magnificent ‘new’ album Pray For It actually came out in 2020, this is the first time they’ve had a chance to play it live to most of their audience.

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Starting a string of concerts in Boston, where we got them on the phone, the 10-year-old Toronto indie rock band’s tour name actually says it all: Live At Last.

The five-piece plays the Jube Saturday night.

Asked how it felt to have their tour capsized by COVID, singer Leah Faye practically sings, “Twice, you mean?! Yeah, it sucks — but this is the nature of touring in a global pandemic.”

“You kind of have to roll with the punches,” adds her forever partner and Edmonton ex-pat, Peter Dreimanis. (The two live in Toronto.) “We were all excited to play the Jube in December and we woke up one morning and about half our party ended up having COVID.”

The two tease each other that they’re not even sure how many times they’ve each been infected — “I think I’ve had it at least twice,” says Fay, noting they were (and still are) excessively cautious to hold it together on tour.

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“We were told by our booking agents and everyone who works with other artists, ‘No one is taking this as serious as you.’ We were testing sometimes two times a day, not even seeing family if we were in the same city. Our own little bubble.

“And it still broke through.”

“It’s strange, too,” Dreimanis notes, “because when you actually do get to play again, it does feel like a parallel reality where COVID doesn’t exist.

“And whether people in the audience are wearing masks or not, I think that live music really does provide an escape route and you can forget, you know. Just leave it all behind.”

I have paused. “I guess all I have to say is that our new ethos is just forge ahead until you can’t forge ahead. Because something really special happens when we play live and we get to connect with people and see the whites of their eyes. And feel a level of human connection again that we haven’t been able to feel over the pandemic.”

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Fay adds, “Yeah, I think people are ready to feel alive again.”

If you’ve never seen a July Talk show, it’s one of two places (along with the band’s exceptional videos) where their incredible, holistic creative approach as artists doesn’t just shine, it melts the roof off.

Utterly committed to their on-stage personas, Fay and Dreimanis are theatrically ferocious, sexy, hilarious and/or terrifying, crawling all over each other and the stage in a way that makes every one of their songs simply more, as the full band thrashes around them.

And they’re thrilled to finally evolve the songs from Pray For It.

“It’s so strange,” says Dreimanis. “We didn’t recognize how much a part of the process it is. You make a record and it’s a record, but when you go play it live it’s a totally new thing — it undertakes a metamorphosis.”

July Talk clearly went about breaking the mold for Pray For It, going into a lot of new territory from the haunting first song Identical Love, through the heartwrenching Pay For It, and even the beautiful and damning The News, where Fay’s voice is magically cheerful and yet in total pain, simultaneously.

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We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

“Obviously it’s a very different record than the first two,” says Dreimanis. “The first thing you recognize is it’s much more made up of musical compositions, and less so rippin’, garage-y, post-punky tunes. And so it’s been fun to kind of put those on stage and let those dynamics play out.

“We’re still early in the process, but I think being able to do that at the Jubilee and those kinds of beautiful theaters we’ve been playing kind of lends itself to this kind of music.

“We started working on these songs in 2017,” she says. “But I think what the album is about, conceptually, was pretty perfect for a global pandemic and impending doom and a potential nuclear world war.

But Dreimanis says the last thing they wanted to do is get pigeonholed in a too-familiar sound.

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“When we won the Juno for our second record, immediately my brain reaction to having this acceptance from the entire music community, it felt like, ‘Oh — now we gotta go make something weird.”

Recent Polaris-winner and Edmonton ex-pat Cadence Weapon will be opening up the night.

“I remember hearing him years ago when I was in high school,” says Dreimanis, “and when he got signed to Anti it was such a huge deal, so cool to have an example of an artist killing it on an international stage. There’s not many examples of that, you know, like when George Stroumboulopoulos wore a Wednesday Night Heroes shirt.

“And the new record (Parallel World) is arguably his best.”

This segues naturally enough into what they’re looking forward to when they roll into town again.

“The sky!” Purrs Dreimanis. “I just cannot wait to get the vibe in Edmonton and feel the river flowing by.”

“Agreed,” Fay says.

Dreimanis pauses, then laughs. “And my parents. Better say that.”

PREVIEW

July Talk with Cadence Weapon

where Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 87 Ave.

when Saturday, April 30

tickets Starting at $41 at ticketmaster.ca

[email protected]

@fisheyefoto

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