In My Words with Craig Tallent

Jan. 24, 2009

Subscribe to Commodore Nation Magazine / View Archived Issues

>>> Archive: Read More Features, Columns and Blogs

An accomplished golfer and musician who can play the piano, guitar and cello -- you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has a more fitting surname than junior Craig Tallent. The Haverford, Pa., native not only is a member of Vanderbilt's golf team, he also is a member of the band Sleeping Naked, which even has an album on iTunes. On the golf course, Tallent played six rounds last fall for the Commodores and earned a career-best finish of 17th at the Coca-Cola Individual Collegiate in Durham, N.C.

On how he became interested in playing music
"My dad (Mike) is from Kentucky, and he plays a lot of bluegrass. I guess I got into guitar that way. I didn't know anything besides country music existed until I was about 14 and that is when I was first exposed to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan."

On how he learned to play
"I took classical piano lessons for seven or eight years, and it was through that that I got a music foundation. I enjoyed it, but I couldn't play any of the songs that I heard on the radio and liked. I guess I just naturally took to guitar, and I picked it up pretty quickly. My dad (Mike) taught me a couple of chords, but I've taught myself everything. I've never had any formal guitar lessons."

On his band
"There are just two of us -- me and a buddy named Holden Seguso, who is on the tennis team at UCLA. I went to high school at the David Ledbetter Golf Academy, which is in Bradenton, Fla., and he went to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which are both run by IMG."

On how they write music together despite the distance
"We will work on songs through iChat or Skype four or five times a week. We'll instant message each other lyrics and tilt the screen down to show our finger positions. We record songs on Garage Band and send files to each other. It is not the same as being in the same room, but it works. That is how we wrote most of the songs for our latest album. The first album, we did it all together in high school. The second one, we might have written one or two songs when we were actually together, and the rest was when we were thousands of miles away."

On playing live
"We don't because I'm (in Nashville) and he's in California. We were thinking about transferring to the same school, but I'm plenty happy here and he's happy there. It does put a strain on us because we'd like to be playing live and promoting our music, but it is kind of hard."

On what the process of recording an album was like
"It was fun. You go to iTunes or to the store and see the finished product in the form of a CD, but what you don't see is the whole song writing process, the 13-hour days in a small studio with five other people. There is a lot of tension, but there is a lot of love at the same time. You are all trying for the same goal, but a lot of times it just gets tiring. The music part was the easiest. We were in the studio for a month and then after that, the artwork and how we were going to promote it was the hard stuff."

On where he plays
"I practice in my dorm. I have a little amp and an acoustic guitar and electric guitar. Given how much homework I have, I'll play anywhere from 30 minutes a day to six hours, but it's not practice. I love to play."

On golf
"My main two sports growing up were golf and baseball. My dad is a three handicap, and he has certainly been my biggest influence in golf because he's the one who got me into it. It is a lifelong sport, and it is also really good for business. He told me it was huge in the corporate world if you were personable and could play golf at a high level. I didn't understand it at the time, but I'm starting to see that now."

On the strongest part of his game
"I'd say my ball striking. I'm a good ball striker. My short game, Coach (Shaw) will tell you that it is not where it should be and it definitely needs a lot of work. From a ball-striking and shot-making standpoint, I feel like I'm one of the best on the team. My chipping is coming along, but my putting is real streaky. If I have a good putting day, I'll go pretty low, but if I don't have a good putting day, who knows."

On majoring in Chinese
"I wouldn't say I'm fluent in Chinese. I can have a basic conversation, but the speed that native Chinese people talk, I'm still not used to. I think the only way to truly become fluent is to fully immerse yourself in it and live with a family that spoke no English, so you force yourself to do it. Studying Chinese at Vanderbilt is awesome, but to actually become fluent, you have to live over there."

On traveling to China for the 2008 Beijing Olympics
"It was awesome. I was in Shanghai, I checked out the Chengdu Panda Breeding Facility, which is phenomenal. I also saw the Terra Cotta Warriors and saw the Great Wall of China. I started a couple of conversations with random strangers, and I think it was a little bit of a culture shock for them to see an American speaking Chinese."



Proud Sponsors of Commodore Athletics