Following the highly anticipated release of Telegram’s debut album, Operator, the lads took off for a successful tour of the States. There they hit up the Austin, Texas music festival, South By Southwest (SXSW), then proceeded to take on the Big Apple. To get the inside scoop on Telegram’s US invasion, Heatwave sat down with the guys for a chat. After some less-than intense grilling, we got them to tell us about playing in New York City, performing for crowds in Japan, DJing parties in London, a possible new release in the autumn and much more!
Heatwave: Telegram just played SXSW. How was playing that festival?
Telegram: The festival was chaotic, but fun nonetheless. Most bands will tell you the same. We also caught sets of Younghusband, Yak, Thee Oh Sees and the Dandy Warhols, who were all great in entirely different ways from each other.
Heatwave: I couldn’t help noticing that when Telegram made the announcement that you were in Austin, you guys put up a meme had a picture of US Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders displaying the Greek Proverb “A Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Are you guys ‘feeling the Bern?’
Telegram: We all are yes, he acts with integrity and speaks with passion on issues we all care about, and we need more of these people than ever, not just in politics.
Heatwave: Referencing the Figure 8 Magazine article published on June 11, 2015, you mention that things have gotten pretty horrible in London, as it has become too hip and expensive. Are there places you’ve come across that have been spared from gentrification?
Telegram: It has, but it’s no different from any other major city in the world. A few places, one being this lovely tavern we visit called the Rochester Castle in Stoke Newington. Everyone from students to pensioners drink in there and the prices are good.
Heatwave: I’ve also read via your Facebook page that you’ve take New York City by storm. How was playing in the Big Apple?
Telegram: New York was great. It was a surreal experience for us, as it was the first time ever playing in New York, and doing so without barely any sleep. We took advantage of the night life there certainly.
Heatwave: Are there any noticeable differences with how you are received from audiences in the US versus those in the UK or even Japan?
Telegram: The US and the UK are culturally more similar, so we find the audiences to generally follow suit. You can see 100 shows every night in London, so the crowd seems to be more sceptical, and there’s a sense of needing to win them over and stand out from all the other bands they could otherwise watch. In Japan a British band playing a show is a rarer occurrence, so the experience is more surreal and the crowds are incredibly passionate and receptive. Jumping around screaming their heads off at one moment, then patiently waiting in motionless silence the next. It’s bizarre in the best way.
Heatwave: Where has been your favourite place to play?
Telegram: We’ve traveled a lot recently and have enjoyed various places, New York was great, but we always have fun shows in Brighton, Bristol and London too of course. We are about to head to Europe, so perhaps we’ll have some new cities to add to the list.
Heatwave: I heard that there were some issues recording and releasing Operator. What happened there?
Telegram: The recording process itself was smooth, as was getting the funding for it. We have been shown incredible support by Help Musicians UK, the PRS momentum fund and most importantly our fans, but it was just your regular label messing the band around story that has been well documented.
Heatwave: Telegram released a several 7-inch records before Operator. Have you thought about re-releasing any of them?
Telegram: There was discussion of re-releasingFollow,but we’ve decided not to go ahead with that now. We’ll be recording new stuff soon so the next physical release should be a brand new single.
Heatwave: Also referencing the interview with Figure8Magazine – you said that you all collect records, are there any cool finds that you’ve been digging lately?
Telegram: We do collect records, not so much recently, sadly. We are all a little strapped for cash. One album I’ve enjoyed recently is Föllakzoid’s III, which is about a year old now and was released through Sacred Bones. Awesome label. Amazing band.
Heatwave: I read on a post on http://nyc.brightestyoungthings.com/ that you like to take over and DJ at house parties in London. Some examples that are listed include Mick Ronson ‘Only After Dark’ and the Stooges ‘Search and Destroy.’ What are your other top choices for spinning at parties?
Telegram: We do DJ. Some others not mentioned from that previous interview are Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll part 2’, Crash Course Science’s ‘It Costs to be Austere’ and Jake Chudnow’s ‘Shona.’
Heatwave: Now that Operator is out what’s next for Telegram? Another idea for a record?Maybe some more singles?
Telegram: No more physical singles for Operator now, but we will have a new single out hopefully in the autumn.
-Nick Kuzmack (Nix Beat)