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INTERVIEW: Teleman on capturing spontaneity over perfection and why smaller festivals are so important

Laura  Barnes
INTERVIEW: Teleman on capturing spontaneity over perfection and why smaller festivals are so important

MI Pro caught up with British indie outfit Teleman at this year’s Standon Calling to find out how the four-piece drastically changed their approach to recording for new album Brilliant Sanity.

Born out of the ashes of former band Pete and the Pirates, Thomas Sanders (vocals, guitar), Jonny Sanders (synths), Pete Cattermoul (bass) and Hiro Amamiya (drums) formed Teleman in London in 2012.

With 2014’s critically acclaimed album Breakfast under their belt, you could forgive the band for sticking with the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mantra in today’s hard-to-crack yet seemingly overcrowded music industry. Once you’re on to a good thing, it’s very easy to stay there.

“The first album was done in an unbelievably informal way,” reveals frontman Thomas Sanders. “When the producer was free, and whenever we were free, we’d just pencil an afternoon in – that went on for months and months. It was good because you could keep going back to stuff and get fresh ears on it and perspective.
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“It was very much a multi-tracked album. Getting the takes right, doing it again if it was wrong, looking for the perfect vocal take.”

For the new album however, the band decided to make quite a drastic change to the recording process. “Brilliant Sanity was recorded in two weeks and mixed in a week. For some people that might have been a long time, but for us it was quick,” reveals Sanders.

The album was recorded live, with the band looking for energy rather than perfection. “After doing the two approaches, the second one is definitely the one we favour and the one we enjoyed a lot more. Everyone was so much more involved and there was a feeling of spontaneity about it, which we loved,” says Sanders. “Hopefully that’s the approach we’ll take for our third album as well.”

According to the frontman that’s probably how you should record if you’re an indie band with a traditional set up, referring to playing live as “the most boiled down elemental of who you are. It’s the kernel of what you are”. And it comes through on the new album, which has a clean, immediate feel and almost stripped back a little from the first album.

“Sometimes it’s just nice to just choose your effects. Like, this is my guitar sound, these are my pedals, and that’s how it’s going to sound on the record,” says Sanders.

Speaking about pedals, the frontman insists he doesn’t have many. “I’ve got a Hotcake distortion and a Memory Man. Those are the two pedals I use the most. I’ve got a Box of Rock distortion pedal as well, which I really love. I’ve got an Electro-Harmonics, a reverb, and a VB-2 Vibrato boss pedal.

“My guitar is a custom Tele, I love that guitar. My amp is a Peavy, which I think are very underrated company. They’re not considered ‘cool’, but it's very reliable and it sounds good. It never lets me down.”

Standon Calling is a relatively small music festival, which actually started out as a birthday BBQ for founder Alex Trenchard in 2001. It became a live music event in 2004 and has since grown in size and attracted bigger names each year.

We asked the band why these smaller festivals are so important. “The more festivals there are the more exposure it gives to the smaller bands. I remember when we were starting out we were playing early in the day on smaller stages thinking ‘no one here knows who we are, but this is such a great experience for us’.”

Teleman reveal they’re playing around 15 festivals throughout the summer and cites Sheffield’s Tramlines as a particularly impressive one. “It was really small scale and it felt very local, but the vibe was so good and positive. Everyone was up for a good time. It was very home-grown and there wasn’t a whiff of commerciality at all,” says Sanders.

As the interview wraps up and the band goes to prepare for their set, Sanders and Teleman bassist Pete Cattermoul discuss their thoughts on the recent Brexit vote.

“I can’t see any positive sides for a touring band at all,” says Sanders. “For example, when we go to Switzerland it’s a real pain in the arse. They look in your van, they want to check all your merchandise. They want to know how much you think you’re going to sell and you have to pay a tax on it.”

Cattermoul adds: “Sometimes it’s very swift, and sometimes it’s not. It happens more if you’re a larger band because they know you’re going to be selling a lot of merchandise.”

Teleman’s frontman concludes: “I can’t think of many sectors or communities that are really going to benefit from this.”

Teleman’s new album Brilliant Sanity is out now on Moshi Moshi Records. The band is touring the album around the UK for the rest of the year. Check out all of their tour dates here, and the band's new music video below.

Tags: Interviews , festivals , standon calling , Teleman , band interview

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