Teleman – Interview 2018

London’s Teleman have already set the bar high with the release of three singles so far this year, ‘Submarine Life’, ‘Cactus’, and ‘Song For A Seagull’, from their widely anticipated third studio album Family of Aliens, released via label-home Moshi Moshi. The foursome flaunting their new-found harmonious marriage of beguiling pop sensibility and pulsating electronic undertones, allied to sharp lyricism, buoyant guitars and instantaneous melodies, and coated by Tom Sanders’ remarkable vocals.

Along with his brother Jonny Sanders (synths), Pete Cattermoul (bass) and Hiro Amamiya (drums), Teleman have been a slow-burning outfit with a particularly strong following in the Brighton area. Indeed they performed at this year’s The Great Escape festival, and will be back later in the year for a headline date at Concorde 2. “It was good,” says Tom about that Great Escape show. “There was a lot of crazy energy, and we had a lot of nervous energy within ourselves. We hadn’t done a show for almost a year. People seemed really happy to see us again. It was an intense, but brilliant show. We were flying by the seat of our pants!”

Pre-Teleman, Tom, Jonny and Pete were in a band called Pete and the Pirates, active from 2004 until their dissolution in 2012, and who released a couple of studio albums. “There were two other guys in the band, five all together,” says Tom from his London home-come-studio. “After we toured our last album we just felt like things were moving apart. Not with any animosity, but we wanted to do different things and move in different directions. Me and Pete and Johnny wanted to keep making music in some way or other. We weren’t really sure at the beginning where we were going or what it was going to be. All we knew was that we definitely wanted to keep on doing it, and that turned into Teleman, and then we found Hiro (Amamiya, drums).”

Last year Teleman released a low-key five-track EP, Funf (German for five), which featured five different producers including Oli Bayston, better known as indie-dance artist/producer Boxed In. They liked him and what he did and so enlisted him to produce the new album. “We’ve known him for years actually, through our record label and through mutual friends. We would hang out in the pub and stuff. He produced one of the tracks on the EP. That was such a great experience. We were like ‘wow, I think this is a guy we really want to work with’. It was so spontaneous, so natural, and fun. We had such a good time in the studio. I know people say recording is not supposed to be fun; the more fun you have, the less successful the album will probably be,” he laughs. Is that what they really say, I inquire. “James Ford (producer for the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, and Gorillaz) said that to me the other day. I was telling him how much fun we had, and he was like ‘oh no, you know what they say…'” Tom laughs. Boxed In music always sounds like good fun, I venture. “There’s a great vibe to their stuff; really punchy and danceable,” responds Tom. “And it feels like fun as well!”

Family of Aliens represents the next chapter in the band’s evolution, and looks set to take them further up the ranks of the rich and deep British music scene. Their combination of thoughtful lyricism and upbeat synth-guitar-pop is encapsulated by the title track. “It was a theme that kept coming out in the lyrics,” Tom explains. “There’s a discontent, a questioning about where you belong, and how you fit in with the world. It’s a crazy world, with lots of crazy shit happening. Sometimes you can feel quite alienated. Lots of the lyrics are to do with escaping life, from Planet Earth, but essentially it’s about the strangeness of being a human, and being alive. It sounds quite pretentious, and wanky, and deep, but I sometimes feel that just being alive is weird, as well as beautiful and precious. There are so many different levels as to what ‘family of aliens’ means. As a band we are very much like a family. We spend a lot of time together, and we’ve been through a lot of things together.”

Tom and Jonny have been making music since they were teenagers, and as with many sibling relationships, they have a special bond that extends beyond the personal, and into their work. “We’ve played music together since I was probably 14 and he was 12, just messing around with a four track recorder. We were in a band with our next door neighbour. I definitely didn’t imagine I would still be doing it now,” he laughs. “Strange to think about it really. It was something we did as a laugh. It was a laugh that turned into a living.”

That’s the best way, isn’t it? Do something you enjoy, see what happens? “Definitely. It’s still a laugh now.”

Jeff Hemmings