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Tellison Interview

Tellison are finally back with their new second album ‘The Wages Of Fear’ – released June 13 – after having seemingly fell off the musical world’s end after brutally touring their debut album ‘Contact! Contact!’, which was released four years ago. AAAmusic learns that rather than having taking a well-earned rest, the indie quartet set about finishing degrees, writing and recording, as well as taking back complete control of their band….

Fans have had to wait four years for your sophomore album ‘The Wages Of Fear’ – why the lengthy gap between your new album and your debut, and what have you been doing?

We never intended for there to be such a long gap between the two records but unfortunately things just turned out that way. There were quite a few factors involved that slowed us down. We started work on the new record back in 2009 but at that time Stephen our singer was in his final year at University and the rest of us were having to work full time in order to pay rent and live etc. This made it hard to find time and have the money for all of us to be together in order to actually write it and make it happen.

At the same time as that, we were also changing the team we had working with us, which took a lot longer than we hoped which subsequently made it harder to get things done. As well as all that it also proved very difficult for us to find anyone who wanted to back us and put the record out. So it wasn’t until 2010 that we had our shit together and decided to stop messing around and finance the record ourselves. We finished off writing it this time last year and then recorded it last June/July. But it wasn’t until early this year that we found a label (Naim Edge) to put it out.

Tell us a little about the writing process for Tellison: is it a solely collaborative process between all members, or do you pen songs individually?

Most of the songs originate from either Stephen or Peter, who will bring a basic song to a rehearsal and then as a group we bash them around working out what the individual parts should be. Andrew and I are the shitometers I guess – we tell them whether or not the song is any good and worth pursuing. With this record – as we weren’t all living near to each other – we would send each other rough demos of the songs which we would then all work on individually. This proved to be quite an interesting way of working, because when left to our own devices we would each interpret the song in our own way, which gave birth to some interesting results.

But at practice the arranging of parts and the song is very much a collaborative exercise. Often we will mess around playing ridiculous parts as a joke, but then say “shit, hold up, that actually sounds sweet!’ and it becomes part of the song. Our song writing techniques aren’t the most orthodox…

What about the recording process: how did recording ‘The Wages Of Fear’ differ compared to recording your early demos and ‘Contact! Contact!’? And what was it like working with producer Peter Miles?

The way we recorded Contact was very fractured. We did it over a 9-month period in a few different places. So going into this record we wanted the process to be much more succinct. But in true Tellison fashion, it ended up be pretty much the same – which we realised is how recording best suits us.

The album was recorded at two locations. Most of the tracking we did up in the Scottish Borders at Stephen’s parents house, over a three-week period. We then had to take some time off for work and reconvened in my basement in Hammersmith to finish things off. Working with Peter Miles was a great experience. Without his hard work and insight we wouldn’t have been able to make the record we wanted to. He is very good at making you reassess your songs and justify each part. He can also cook up some kick ass vegan chilli!

Taking into account the writing and recording of your new album, was it fun to make, and did you feel any degree of pressure in following up your well-received debut?

There’s always going to be pressure when it comes to making your second album. Especially when there has been such a large gap between the two. Which in a certain way is a good thing.  As it makes you consider everything more and work harder. Throughout the whole process we had moments of self-doubt and fear. But after making this record I think we all feel much more confident as a band.

Recording the record was an exciting process but also hard work. After taking such along time to get it started it was quite a cathartic experience. We had a lot of fun experimenting with different recording techniques. I particularly enjoyed using a plethora of different drums. We often used two kits for each song. A small dry sounding kit for the verses and a huge open sounding kit for the choruses.

Peter Phillips sings on three tracks on this debut, while he only sang on one on your debut. How do Stephen and Peter decide who sings which songs, and was it a conscious decision to have Peter sing more this time around?

There was definitely a conscious decision made to include more of Pistol’s songs on this album and to have him sing lead on them. Peter writes great pop songs and his style of writing and singing works very well as a counterpoint to Stephen’s. It just felt like the natural thing to do and I think over the last couple of years Pete’s confidence has grown which has allowed him to step up and do his thing.

Tellison’s first release was a split EP with Seven Years – were you sad to hear of their demise and are you still in contact with the band members?

Over the last few years a lot of friends bands have had to throw in the towel due certain things. Which is sad to see and somewhat worrying as it shows how hard it is for bands to survive in the industry at the moment. Touring is the easiest way of seeing and keeping in touch with friends from bands. And we are always grateful when old friends come to see us and show support.

What have been your favourite albums of 2011 so far? And can you recommend any new bands for us to check out (ones that we may not have heard of)?

I have been quite bad at getting hold of new music this year. But there are a few new albums I have been digging. Gill Scott-Heron and Jamie XX is a great record as well as The English Riviera by Metronomy. Another record you should check out is the 2nd LP from 13 And God, which is a collaboration between Notwist and Anticon’s Themselves.

At the beginning of the year I was playing with a great new band called ALPINES who sound a bit like early Massive Attack mixed with Burial and Le Roux. You should definitely check them out.  Also Turbogeist are a great new band that have an amazing live show.

Tellison are known for their rather lengthy tours – how do you feel about touring these days compared to when you first starting out?

I don’t think we get as excited as we used to by the initial prospect of tours these days. But we definitely enjoy them more now than when we first started. We know how things work on the road and are much better at playing shows and having a good time! As Britain isn’t that big I tend to only really feel like we are “on tour” once we get up north or really far west. I find it’s only when you are far enough away from home that the tour gets into a real groove, and that’s when the fun and strange things start to happen.

You have a big tour coming up next month, but any other tours planned for the rest of the year? Any big support slots, or do you not feel the need to support anyone anymore?

There’s talk of some dates in the US and Europe in the autumn. But nothing has been set in stone as yet. I’m sure we will be out around the UK before the end of the year to, hopefully some more headline shows and some supports. We still definitely need to do support slots. We want to play our music to as many new people as possible and supports are the best way to do that. The best thing about being the support band is there’s hardly any pressure. Plus it’s always good to be the underdog and try and win over crowd.

Are there plans to hit any of the UK festivals this summer, and if so, can you tell us which ones?

At the moment we only have a few festival dates and the tour is only venue shows. We are booked to play 2000 Trees on the 15th July, Why Not Festival on the 5th August and Boardmasters on the 12th August. Hopefully some more dates will come in.

Originally published by AAA Music here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on May 24, 2011.

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