Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Harmony unites young local rock band Foreign Talks

By Ashley Swanson, Columbian Features News Coordinator



For a young band, releasing its first album would be a huge milestone to savor. For Marcus Fischer of the Vancouver band Foreign Talks, he’s already prepped to make a second.

“We have over 100 songs, just albums on albums, since we make two or three songs each time we practice.” Foreign Talks is comprised of 19-year-old Fischer (vocals, guitar, bass), his 17-year-old brother Madison Fischer (percussion, vocals), friends Tanner Steinmetz (guitar, bass) and Kevin Downes (guitar, percussion).

The group began playing in 2009 at Pop Culture and in friends’ garages before winning Union High School’s Battle of the Bands in 2011. They signed with Portland-based Expunged Records last year, moving up in venues to performing at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, and in February at Roseland Theater’s Wicked Winterfest band showcase. Their self-titled debut will be available April 16 on iTunes, Amazon and other digital music sellers.

Marcus Fischer said most of the tracks on their album are ones they wrote back in 2011, with a focus on songs that showcase the band’s signature vocals.

“We picked the catchy ones that we wanted to get straight out into the world, for the fans.”

Fischer can rattle off the musical influences that inspired him, musical styles like jazz, hip-hop and Frank Sinatra along with indie bands Bombay Bicycle Club and Local Natives.

“Local Natives, they are the ones that made me decide I wanted to make a band.”

He was fascinated by the California-based band’s use of three-part harmonies.

“My little brother and I have been harmonizing ever since we were young,” Fischer said.

He wanted his band to have every member sing, though lead vocals are split between the two brothers.

“When I’m playing, I’m not hearing me; I’m listening to all the other guys. I’m looking at music like an orchestra teacher, making sure they sound good. Because we all play keyboard, guitar, we can all kind of help each out,” he said.

Harmony best describes Foreign Talks, their music is driven by their skills with both acoustic and electric guitars while using four-part vocal harmonies. The band’s school-kids-gone-bad-look obscures their mature sound, pushed by a shared passion.

“It’s not music, I feel like it’s expression. Whatever we feel like at that point, we use instruments to capture it, like the way people use a camera,” Fischer said.

“We’ve come a long way from meeting up after school in my friend’s garage with guitars and bongos.”

This summer Foreign Talks will be touring around Washington and Oregon to introduce the band to a wider world.

“I hope the world loves (the album),” Fischer said. “I just want to do this as long as I possibly can.”

— Ashley Swanson

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email