It’s been a heavy year for Teleman, but that’s not to say they’ll be kicking back now that summer has arrived, we shared a few words with singer Thomas Sanders in light of their striking debut album ‘Breakfast’.
Your progression seems to have been very natural, how have the last few months been in the lead up to the album?
It’s been the busiest few months of my whole life I think. We’ve just finished a tour and prior to that we were working out how we were going to perform these songs. Each song presented a new challenge in how we were going to perform it live because we were coming from a studio environment into playing in front of people. Some of them were very straight forward and natural while others required a different approach and we had to re-think how we were going to play them. So it’s been lots of intense rehearsing and then lots of travelling and performing.
It must be really exciting to have the new material public and ready to share?
Yes it’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for, we did quite a few support slots for Franz Ferdinand, Maximo Park, Connan Mockasin, and we had a good time doing those but I think the whole time we were thinking, these aren’t our fans, we really want to be playing to people who have now heard us on the radio or online. It’s been such an exciting and amazing experience to actually go to these much smaller venues and play these intimate shows where people have actually paid for you, it’s been really special.
They must have been beneficial in getting your live shows together though?
Oh completely, you realise what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll typically be playing for half an hour and you choose the songs that you play best, you choose the singles because you want to win people over and do a high impact show. Obviously these people don’t know who you are and a lot of them don’t give a shit anyway, so sometimes you feel like you have to play a different show to what you normally would. Now we’re playing all of our songs, the whole album, we’re playing quieter and much more introspective songs and everyone’s listening, you can hear a pin-drop and it’s a completely different experience, much more rewarding.
I know that Paul Smith from Maximo Park is really into picking his support bands, what was it like on the road with them?
It was quite daunting at first because their music is quite far removed from us, it’s much more high-octane, it’s a completely different energy level, he’s a performer, he’s an entertainer and he’s got a great voice. Our music is more introspective and we were quite worried that we would be slightly out of place in their crowd which on a few occasions we were. Generally speaking it was great, they were just really responsive, we met a lot of Maximo Park fans and they really seemed to like it.
You stopped at The Fleece on your headline tour, how did you find that?
It was brilliant, that was actually one of the very early shows that we were doing and it was the first show where we were completely overwhelmed by the audience reaction. I think Bristol is just full of very passionate music fans who aren’t afraid to show their emotions, we felt great after that one.
I don’t know if you’re aware that The Fleece has recently been put in jeopardy by the planning of nearby flats…
Ah what? I mean in these kind of scenarios I think that you have to understand that the venue was there first, it’s been filling an important role in Bristol culture.
The debut album is out now, what was it like working with Bernard Butler in terms of production?
Yeah it was good, he’s amongst his various skills, something he’s good at is understanding how to make someone’s music more accessible and more impactful. So a lot of the demos that I made were brought into the studio, some of them he tidied up a bit and replaced parts and others we started from scratch, he was like this isn’t working and everything was then built from the ground upwards. He has the ability to create a defining feel to a collection of songs and make them stick together well.
Because there is a real consistency within the album, but each song seems to have a new tale behind it?
I guess that I don’t tend to stick to any particular theme when I’m writing on an album or even within a song. It seems that grammatically I’m not very consistent and I think sometimes that’s confusing for people but I don’t really care. When I write lyrics I’m very spontaneous and it doesn’t have to make sense, I like lyrics that told the interest or make you question the meaning, I like the ambiguity.
You say that fiction plays into your writing, has this always been the case?
Yes I’d say that was true, there’s always a healthy mixture of fact and fiction within the lyrics. I think that some songs are completely fictitious and imagined, while others are talking about personal experiences or memories or feelings, some are from a stream of consciousness, just words coming into my head or words that feel like they want to belong to the music I’ve written. Sometimes it feels like the melody is choosing the words rather than I’m choosing the words, I suppose you’d call that a stream of consciousness, but you can write these words down and look back on them and they seem like nonsense, but they sound pretty good.
Teleman have been very striking visually so far especially with the Cristina video, where did that concept come from?
Right from the very outset myself and Jonny were talking about a video for Cristina, we knew that we didn’t want to be in it ourselves and we knew that we wanted it to be really simple and graphical. We just thought of this idea of coloured dots moving around, it was almost stupid, it was like an anti-video. Some people were like that’s not a video, but I found it was very fun and really effective and playful. The artwork we have now on our album cover sort of comes from that initial idea of that video. People have used that design forever, it’s very simple but also gentle and understated, Jonny does most of the design work.
Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to over the summer?
We’re doing Secret Garden Party and that’s one I’m really looking forward to because I’ve never been there as a punter or as a musician. Whenever I tell anybody that we’re playing there they say wow, it’s one of the best festivals, so I hope it lives up to my expectations.
Field Day will be a big one for you also…
That’s a strange one because it’s at the end of the road where I live so I can walk there actually which is quite nice. It’s another great lineup with The Pixies playing.
Do you try to stay aware of new music then?
I’m shamefully unaware actually, I’ve had my head buried in the sand for the past year. I’ve just been trying to get this album done so when I put the radio on it’s always radio four and obviously there’s no music on there. I think this summer I’m going to start discovering new music and fill my head up.
The break paid off though, the album is here…
I think sometimes when you’re working on an album you have to shut yourself away, it can be really distracting when you keep listening to the radio and hear the music that other people are making. Even if you think that it’s not influencing you it can be sub-conciously. Even if you’re thinking, I hate this so much, you might think I never want to make a record like that. So when I’m working on my own music I try to stay isolated.
Is there a particular track that you’re most proud of on the record?
I really like the song ‘Not In Control’, which is like a hidden track, it’s not an official album track but it’s hidden at the end. That was one that we put on at the last minute and it turned out really well, that was probably one of the songs that was quite honest with the lyrics. It’s the live song that goes down really well, part of the reason that we recorded it actually is because we wanted to throw in a live song that added a different dimension to the live set as well.
Check out the infectious ‘Cristina’ right here: