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Tellison: Reflection & Speculation

Rachel Kellehar
Rachel Kellehar 18 February 2009 at 19.45

Tellison, international quartet of mystery, (well, quintet of mystery if you include the moustached multi-instrumentalist live musician Matt Roberts) are finally on the home straight. After years of geographical dissonance (involving several educational establishments, two continents, four singles, six record labels, one studio album and a remix compilation), 2009 is the year of ‘the reckoning’…

TELLISON
FEB 12 2009
KCLSU, LONDON

Tellison, international quartet of mystery, (well, quintet of mystery if you include the moustached multi-instrumentalist live musician Matt Roberts) are finally on the home straight. After years of geographical dissonance (involving several educational establishments, two continents, four singles, six record labels, one studio album and a remix compilation), 2009 is the year of ‘the reckoning’. After all, if these boys can manage to get this many records out whilst studying and not being in the same place at the same time, as well as amassing a dedicated following of fans who quite simply adore their music and know every lyric, well, the music industry had better hold on to its socks this year, and that is all we’re saying.


Tellison Before

And so it is, on the eve of Tellison’s biggest independent UK gig to date, ‘Team Journalism’ (that’s snapper Owen Richards and hack Rachel Kellehar to you) track down the band in the KCLSU basement to talk about the how and the why and the what and the maybe…


Stephen Being Interviewed

Apart from a warm-up show in Yeovil last night, you’ve not really played together since October, have you?
Stephen: Well, we haven’t played any live shows but we have been playing with each other a lot!

I assume you’re referring to writing the new record?
Pete: Yes, ha! Amongst other things!
Stephen: We’re bringing the band closer…
Andy: Bonding!


Nervous Hands

Bondage? Interesting… Just joking. So, after years of being geographically dissonant, once Stephen finishes university you’ll finally be able to make the band a full-time venture. Excited?
Stephen: Yeah, well um… That’s what I was hoping.
Pete: Unless he’s got some plan…

A secret plan?
Stephen: It’s going to be the first time in the history of the band that none of us have any other commitments at all. It’s something that we always forget about, you know? Other bands don’t have to take the train for hours, with each different member coming from different parts of the country just to rehearse.

How is the new album going?
Stephen: It’s going really well, I’m really psyched about it. We’re going to play a bunch of new songs tonight, which I think are pretty awesome.

How do you think your sound has changed musically?
Andy: For me personally, when I started off in the band I was still in that kind of punk phase, you know, you’re energetic and everything you’re doing is fresh and new. I’ve been in the band for a while now so I’m settling down and I think as a band we’re finding our feet with a new sound.
Stephen: We started off with that sort of 16 / 17-year-old ethos of, ‘Let’s play as fast as we can, as hard as we can and just go for it!’ But although it’s such a cliché to say it, on this record we’re thinking more about things and we have slowed down a lot. There’s one song called ‘Thebes’ which has got more of a clear groove to it. It sounds quite different to anything we’ve done before, but it’s still recognisably Tellison.


Andy Explaining

What about lyrically; there’s a lot going on right now politically and socially, and obviously you’re older and wiser?
Stephen: I dunno…

Are you older and wiser?
Stephen: I think I felt wiser when I was younger! I’m very wary about dating a band by explicitly referencing things that are going on. I’m always more interested in creating a sense of timelessness. That’s not to say that what I’m writing is not influenced by what’s going on around me. Lyrically I am influenced by that sort of William Burroughs cut-up, fragmentary style of thing, so with a lot of our songs you can’t really read the lyrics and understand the narrative. It’s quite abstract a lot of the time.


Showtime

Have you recorded anything yet?
Stephen: We’re in the process of demoing things and working with a couple of different producers.

Any album titles on the horizon?
Stephen: Oh no, nothing yet. The last one came in quite late and this one will probably be the same…

Who are you releasing it with?
Stephen: We’ve talked to the usual suspects, and we’ve also talked to some bigger people. I think we’d like to work with a slightly bigger label, because we’ve done the DIY thing, released it on a small budget, and I think we’d like to try doing something different and record in a proper studio with producers.
Pete: We’ve never worked with class-A producers. We’ve never been exposed to that kind of external view. I think it’s what we need, a different viewpoint perhaps.

Do you have any specific producers in mind?
Stephen: I really like the sound of the new Sky Larkin record, it was recorded over at Two Sticks Audio which is owned by the drummer from Death Cab. I mean, in an ideal situation, Jacknife Lee would be awesome…
Pete: A couple of people have come to us and said that they’d like to work with us on demos, and that’s really nice. I think it makes a lot of difference when the producer is already into the music. I think if someone really good came along and asked us that would be quite an important factor…


Excited Fans

When do you reckon you’re going to get it out?
Stephen: We want to put it out this year.

This year’s summer?
Stephen: The third quarter of the year would be cool. We’re always much better at operating under deadline. At the moment we’re in the transitory but quite exciting phase of getting a new team sorted and once that happens were basically going to really hit it. We’re also going on tour with The Living End as main support which will be awesome.


Tellison After

And finally, finish this sentence: In 2009 Tellison will…
Andy: Win.
Pete: Learn.
Stephen: Try harder.
Pete: Oh yeah, that’s good, I hate you.
Stephen: Fuck you!

Stephen, you’re the official winner! Now come, on, you’ve got a show to play…

‘Contact! Contact! Remixed’ is out now on Drums Don’t Kill Records. It’s currently sold out, but if you harass the label enough perhaps they’ll reissue it.

Catch Tellison on tour with The Living End in April, see their Myspace for dates.

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