Meet Tallies, Toronto's New Shoegaze Maestros
...and the couple that channelled love, life changes and liberation into the band's debut album
Published Jan 31, 2019At the centre of Tallies, the Ontario band that just released their debut self-titled record on Hand Drawn Dracula, are Sarah Cogan and Dylan Frankland: musicians, new Torontonians and future-planning dreamers.
"It's weird," Cogan says, talking to Exclaim! in the couple's west-end Toronto apartment. "I'm excited to be a parent, but I'm in no rush." She's been thinking about parenthood a lot lately, having just left hers in Ottawa as she and Frankland departed for Toronto, but there's been enough change in the Tallies universe lately to satisfy the both of them. Their debut album, Tallies — released in January via Hand Drawn Dracula — dives heavily into self-reflection, examining relationships (parental, social and romantic) and evaluating lessons learned from adapting to a fast-paced environment.
Their move to Toronto was a huge factor in the sound and energy of Tallies. Just a few years ago, Frankland was interning at Toronto's Candle Studios under the wing of Beliefs guitarist Josh Korody. Korody, who's also produced a handful of heavyweights (Dilly Dally, Fucked Up), helped expose Tallies to a more expansive range of musical influence. As Cogan explains, "[Frankland] would kinda come home from a session and play a new band, and like, it would change everything."
Before Toronto, she says, she "didn't even really know what shoegaze was." Since then, the influence of the shoegaze has become vital to Tallies' sound, a jangling, reverb-heavy mix of the Smiths and Cocteau Twins.
Yet their sound wasn't the only thing that changed. Having left the nest, now with more room to breathe, Cogan found a shift in perspective when it came to her relationship to the concept of home. Though she kicked against the idea of moving to Toronto at first, she eventually found her way to the city, a move that feels like freedom now.
"[My parents] were telling me not to move. They would tell me so many things: 'It's not safe, don't go do that.'"
On their song "Mother," the line "It's not safe," is repeated multiple times, accordingly, but in hindsight, Cogan thinks that it's probably more complex than that: "Maybe I was holding myself back."
These things take time to figure out, and making Tallies helped. Cogan's lyrics, often expressed first and analyzed later, helped her map out her thoughts about the big life changes she was experiencing. Frankland helped in that way, too; in some cases, he was the one to decode the meaning in her words, a feat perhaps attributable to his unique role as both bandmate and significant other. When Cogan wrote "Not So Proud," she says, "he explained it better than I did." Writing together has allowed the couple, and the band as a whole, a clearer understanding of one another.
Now that their first album's out, and with all the right pieces in place, Tallies are anxiously waiting to start their next batch of songs. In the meantime, they've even started playing the aforementioned, "Not So Proud," differently, slowly building the song up to make for a more dramatic live experience. It's that kind of never-quite-satisfied attitude and ever-changing dynamism that makes Tallies so exciting.
While they continue exploring their newfound independence, Cogan and Frankland's relationship remains the backbone of Tallies. Smiling at the Frankland, Cogan says "we couldn't do it without each other. It's just kind of how it's supposed to be."
Tallies will play their album release show at Toronto's Drake Underground on February 1, and will be the special guests at Exclaim! and Henderson Brewing's Vinyl Show & Tell in Toronto on February 6.