Written by Johnny Papan
FROM GOOGLE'S IMPACT ON THE WORLD TO LIVING AS CANADIAN PEASANTS, VANCOUVER PUNKS SHOOT STRAIGHT
The Shit Talkers have solidified themselves as a mainstay in Vancouver’s punk scene. Their spontaneous sound knows no boundaries, taking elements of various genres and bundling them into their very own shit talkin’ shit mix. From bits of skate punk to sprinkles of grungy grit to catchy melodies, The Shit Talkers can deliver a little something for everybody.
Another thing that has a little something for everybody is the internet. As COVID further twines our reliance on the World Wide Web, you can’t help but ponder what humanity would do if the net was suddenly cut.
Frontwoman Liz Mantle compares our modern relationship with the internet to that of a close relative. Coming from a time pre-cellphones and pre-internet era, Mantle explains that kids are no going to the internet to ask questions we used to ask our parents. This is a key discussion point in the song “Uncle Google”, the final track on the Shit Talkers’ new record True Stories de Nada.
“This song is a reflection of simpler times when you would ask an uncle or ma or pa. In the nineties as an exhibiting contemporary artist, one of my statements was simply ‘the internet is a disease.’ That was my take on it in 2001 and 20 years later the Internet is even
more pervasive,” Mantle explains. “We are losing that person-to-person connection. The internet has inundated our social fabric, changed our culture and our interactions surrounding business and personal communications entirely.”
Mantle believes a consequence of society’s internet reliance is stripping future generations of empathy. That it’s destroying their ability to develop simple social skills like asking a stranger for directions. By opting to “google” an answer you need, you’re missing the opportunity to interact, gather knowledge or even hear an interesting story from another human being. It’s getting to the point where we’d rather not interact with new people at all. In spite of the pandemic, the Shit Talkers safely kept human interaction alive in their circle.
“Reuniting cause of ‘slovid’ shutdowns brought a festive feel for sure,” says Mantle. “Camping out, sitting around the fire, river rafting, recording and living together for a week of summer fun. We were all very excited to hang out and play some music together. We had tents outside and a large room to record in to handle the distancing requirements. Overall the pandemic had a huge influence on this recording.”
Another standout track on True Stories de Nada is the boppy “Canadian Peasant”. A self-identified “Canadian peasant”, Mantle says she has always lived on the brink of poverty.
“The lyrics I wrote some 25 years ago. I was active in grassroots politics in a tiny
remote village of Bell Bella on the Central Coast,” Mante explains. “We lived on a small acreage with a full menagerie and could live very happily and sustainably. The BC government in the nineties was changing the existing rules around homesteading. I was really upset that they were getting rid of this basic right that had been in existence for more than a century. I had been encouraging people to homestead some land up there and get out of the city. They rescinded that right. As well they were sending in map-making crews whose job was to identify every tree, rock, waterways, harvestable species and in doing so, identifying the resources in the area to exploit. This pissed me off even more, so I wrote a politically flavoured poem called ‘Canadian Peasant’.”
It seems though every song on True Stories de Nada, serious or not, has some kind of anecdotal story connected to them. While some come from serious places, others are just funny stories, thoughts or inside jokes. “Boob Sox” and “Makin’ Bay Beez” are examples of the latter.
“Our songs can be pretty weird,” says Mantle. “Illogical events, absurd situations or in
other words, being just plain silly. Lyrical fun with catchy riffage and stellar beats
gets our jam jellying. We cover a lot of topics through these ten songs each one unique, so a very diverse flavour selection. Some of the lyrics came directly from conversations where we found the statements so hilarious or poignant that they became the lyrics. That is usually
how a Shit Talker song gets written. We start by finding something that tickles our
funny bone taking a direct quote that cracks us up and building on that. Our focus is on making art, being original and poke fun at everyday life.”
Mantle concludes: “True Stories de Nada came from the idea of us being storytellers. De Nada was an influence from our time in Spain as saying ‘de nada’ follows ‘gracias’ so it is buzzing around all day and night. ‘De nada, de nada!’ Using the translation ‘of nothing.’ So, like, ‘True Stories of Nothing’ was kinda enigmatic and we like that.”
True Stories de Nada is out now