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  • Writer's pictureChris Butcher

Cop Talk: The right to remain rocked

by Chris Butcher

Navigating through the music scene in Bellingham is tricky. To find a band that is ferociously loud without being absent of melody is a balance only few succeed at. Cop Talk is an exception. Their incorporation of distorted vocals with chill bass hooks and stoner rock riffs, puts them somewhere in the middle of Bellingham’s heavy metal bands and the indie punk rockers.

It doesn’t matter what others are playing though. For these dudes they would rather stick to recording and writing songs within their own circle. Making music for themselves and friends is the mission. If others show up, added bonus. With a triumphant performance at this year’s BAMF, Cop Talk are quickly turning into more than a side project.

Formed between Tanner Smalls on guitar and vocals, Zach Wheeler on bass, and Zach Sullivan on drums (also drummer of Hello I’m Sorry), these long-time friends didn’t start the band out of thin air. During the summer of 2012, rock ‘n’ roll may have been in minimal supply, but that didn’t stop three eighth graders from picking up instruments as a protest to mainstream music.

Fast forward to 2019, rock and metal are trending topics throughout the internet. Now is the time for a band of this caliber to release an all-time classic rock record.

Earlier this year Cop Talk unleashed their long awaited, self-titled debut through Gross-Out Records. Recorded at Champion ST Sound Studios, the EP is packed with seven gut busting, no filler tracks that will have you complaining there isn’t more available material.

When looking back on the music from our branch of the Pacific Northwest, this album will be recognized as essential listening.

The recording process was a smooth transition. Working with fellow Hello I’m Sorry band mate Nate Kahn as recording engineer and other music buddy Sam Wesner as the mixer, made things real laid back, Sullivan said.

Instead of using an excessive number of overdubs or tracking in separate booths, they remained loyal to the rock ‘n’ roll tradition of recording live. The recreation of an on-stage routine makes for an honest sound.

Recording those songs live was vital. They wanted to tap into the improvised dynamics of the band. Smalls described the chemistry between the three of them as telepathic. Without saying a word, changes from bridges, into solos and back out, swap fluently.

Both Wheeler and Sullivan acknowledge the song “Whip” as a personal favorite on the album. “We literally knocked it out in one take,” Wheeler said.

Every group has their own approach to writing songs. For Cop Talk, Tanner is the main squeeze. Generally, he will develop an outline for a song and bring it to practice so the others can throw in ideas. As they start to jam on one of Tanner’s songs, Wheeler might lay down a bass line that turns into a whole new tune. No time is wasted when it comes to practicing, lucky for us.

Recently they travelled to Seattle to shoot a music video for the song “Sharon.” Lyrically its themes evoke feelings of dark romanticism, instrumentally it falls on the lighter side of their work, and emotionally it is heavier than anything else they have.

The current goal is to play as many shows as possible, record more music, and get a van. With some additional storage on wheels they could finally spread their rock ‘n’ roll gospel from town to town.

Financing musical endeavors isn’t cheap, so at the moment just surviving is their main focus. For most new bands it is an obstacle that not everyone endures. They sat on releasing their EP for nine months until they could afford to work on new songs. Now that they have money saved up, a new album will be released in the near future, Sullivan said.

A promising career is indeed coming for the band if they continue to produce their music. Inspired by seeing other bands within the scene make eclectic music, a reminder that when musicians work for each other instead of against, the scene thrives, not dies.

Check out Cop Talk at

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