Behind the Beat: Cliff Hangers

There’s a scene in the 1993 action film Cliffhanger in which mountain climber/ rescue ranger Gabe Walker (played by Sylvester Stallone) watches a fellow climber slip through his fingers and plummet to the ground below.

It’s an intense scene, and one that sets up the plot for the rest of the film. Fortunately for music fans in the Pioneer Valley, a similar tragedy didn’t befall the Amherst trio Chalk Talk when its members found themselves in a similar situation.

“One time we were walking around in the woods, we got separated, and Bryce [Pulaski—guitar, vocals] fell off a cliff,” says Andy Kapinos (drums, vocals). “[He] was hanging by one hand and asked Brian [Bartus—bass] to pull him up, and Brian said, ‘Chalk talk.'”

While “chalk” and “talk” aren’t the two most reassuring words to hear when one is dangling precariously from a ledge, such an unassuming moniker seems fitting for a band responsible for penning songs with lines like “If we had to choose, we’d still be in high school,” and “You’re either floating or addicted to porn.”

“We have all been in some really bad bands throughout middle school and high school,” says Pulaski, “but we hope that we have progressed somewhat, and we try hard.”

Bartus elaborates, “We officially started playing as Chalk Talk in 2009, when we released a six-track demo entitled Killing Spree. We did a week-long tour down to Maryland and back. Bryce met Andy at a show where they met up and realized that they had similar interests and decided a year after that to start making music when Bryce’s other band broke up. It was love at first sight, and Andy was wearing a green tank top.”

With a sound they describe as “if the Beach Boys sucked, with punk influence and only two singers,” Chalk Talk hasn’t been too prolific. In fact, only a little over a dozen songs make up the band’s entire back catalogue. Then again, the group’s songwriting process doesn’t exactly sound very organized or rigorous.

“We usually yell at Andy for a while for being late to practice, then Bryce usually brings a guitar riff to the table and we jam off of that,” says Bartus. “We write our lyrics about day-to-day encounters and thoughts.”

However, Chalk Talk’s discography looks to be growing soon with the release of a six-track EP entitled Bad Influences, coming out this August via Sex Cave Records, with pre-orders available now at

Pulaski says, “We will be having the Bad Influences EP release show on August 4 at the American Legion in East Longmeadow. All are welcome to attend. We are also leaving for a month-long European tour in support of the new record from August 6 to September 10.”

Chalk Talk performs Aug. 4, American Legion, 3 Legion Court, East Longmeadow, (413) 525-2058. For more information on Chalk Talk, visit and

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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