Family Reunion: Catching Up With Teleman

Taking the beaten path to their perfect sound...

Teleman have gloriously returned to the scene with their brilliant new album ‘Family Of Aliens’ which showcases freer and fresher sounds than they've ever conjured before.

Ahead of their UK tour, Clash writer Laura Copley met up with the band to talk their other-worldly new album and continuing along the beaten path to the perfect sound…

– – –

– – –

Congrats on your third album! Are you happy with the response you’ve had over the past few weeks?

Tom: Yeah it's been brilliant. We're in the charts! Well, we were in the charts… so that's a landmark for us.

Pete: It's really good news. We just found out Oval Space [their London show] is sold out so we're pretty happy about that.

Your sound seems very refreshed – was there a sit down discussion surrounding the direction of this album, or was it more of a “been in the game for a while, knowing the ropes” kind of transition?

Tom: More the latter, that's the way we've been heading for the last couple of years. It's like each of our individual styles have grouped together and it's great that that's happened in such a natural way.

Jonny: We didn’t want to make three same-y albums. We never want to keep doing the same thing.

Hiro: Oli [Carey] our producer did an amazing job. He put his own spice into the Teleman sound.

What would you say are the underlining themes and central ideas explored throughout ‘Family Of Aliens’?

Tom: Lyrically, there are quite a few references towards escaping planet earth and leaving everything behind… we're living through strange times right now and there's a real feeling of disconnect, like we don't really belong anywhere in particular. I think the world’s general atmosphere and our emotions towards certain things that are going on definitely played into the album's creation. 

Jonny: I feel like the next album might be about the apocalypse… this one's the beginning of the end, and the next one will just be the end.

The whole record sounds a lot more live friendly than we’ve heard in the past, were any tracks built to specifically be performed at shows?

Tom: No, not at all. When we're in the studio recording or when we're writing or developing songs together I don't think we've ever really thought about how it will translate on stage, that's more a bridge we cross when we come to it.

Up until that point, the process is entirely based on having no creative limitations within the production stages. But sometimes it's good that there are clear differences between recording a song and playing it live, as in that moment you come up with something new and more interesting.

If you forced yourself to get exactly the same sound on record live, or vice versa, you end up shoehorning in this sound which isn’t natural to the environment you’re trying to fit it in. It's best to just find a new approach with the live shows and create along the way.

– – –

– – –

There are songs on the album which sound more emotional than on previous albums. Did you want to change the way you were connecting/identifying with the audience?

Tom: I don’t think that’s something you could ever plan, because from my experience the fans will always identify with you in ways that you didn’t expect and they'll always find meaning in songs that you didn’t necessarily put into them. I find that a really beautiful and interesting thing. I'd find it disingenuous to try and connect in ways we don't understand or feel. Different people will always find different meanings.

Peter: Yeah I don't think the various ways we connect with the crowd is ever a conscious decision. If we did work that way I think we'd be a really different band and probably making really different music.

You’ve mentioned before in interviews about being a “weird family”… furthering that, does the album’s title ‘Family Of Aliens’ have much relevance to the band’s dynamic?

Tom: Yeah, it definitely does. And it also reaches out to anyone who feels like they don't fit in, or fully understands the world we're living in as it is and where it's going. When you're in a band you do very much become a family unit and you have to get on with each other. If you don't, you're gonna split up. You're gonna come off tour, and just split up. You learn to not be dick to each other and to look out for each other.

Jonny: It's like when you have different pets living in the same house… they have to get on…

Peter: Be nice, basically.

Have you incorporated more musical inspirations into this album than previously on either ‘Brilliant Sanity’ or ‘Breakfast’?

Peter: We felt a lot freer on this album to try out different styles and playing with new sounds than on previous albums. I think that’s because in the past we’ve felt like there needed to be a strict unison throughout one body of music.

We've just expanded the sonic palette of our sound – whether that’s little tweaks that sound more like a dance track, or something more electronic which gives off more of a techno beat. We explored so many different areas and I think we'll continue to do that as we go on.

– – –

– – –

Is there method to the tracklisting?

Peter: Probably Dan's [producer] work.

Jonny: Yeah, even if you think you’ve created an order that sounds good he'll come in and make slight changes that will just make so much sense. Sometimes it's better to hand those sorts of things over to a fresh pair of eyes, as you get so caught up in the process it’s hard to separate yourself enough to see it from another point of view.

Peter: There's no wrong order, but there are definitely ones that work more than others.

So obviously fans will have their favourites, but what are your favourite songs to perform live?

Hiro: 'Twisted Heart' is really fun to play. We've actually never played that live yet so we're looking forward to it.

Tom: Mine's 'Repeater' ('Fünf EP') 'cuz it makes me feel insane. In a good way. I just imagine running around a house… on drugs… 

Jonny: I'd say 'Submarine', it's a real challenge but when it comes together it's all worth it.

Peter: Um, I'll say Cactus. Fun to play, heavy bass line.

Are there many tracks that didn’t make it onto the album?

Jonny: This album was actually really neat! Some bands record like 20 songs and have to really try and condense it down but it came together in quite an efficient way. 

Hiro: There are a few songs… 

Jonny: Yeah on a bonus CD called 'Make It Easy' that didn't make it.

Peter: It's on YouTube, someone uploaded it… we've got a fan club, they've got a Facebook page but we tent to stay away…

And finally. As we’ve previously talked about, this new album’s sound feels all round more mature, more progressive. Will you be sticking with this sound for future albums, or is it a question of constantly evolving and bettering yourselves?

Tom: Let's keep going this way I reckon. As long as we always keep pushing ourselves – and I know that's a real cliché – but we do, so we wanna continue trying things we aren't really comfortable with.

Peter: I'm gonna learn the saxophone.

– – –

– – –

Words: Laura Copley

'Family Of Aliens' is out now. Catch Teleman at the following shows:

5 Liverpool Hangar 54
8 Portsmouth The Wedgewood Rooms
9 Brighton Concorde 2
10 London Oval Space
12 Newcastle Riverside
13 Glasgow Oran Mor

For tickets to the latest Teleman shows click HERE.

Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

Buy Clash Magazine

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.