Telekinesis interview

I see … I see … a young man. Making music. Splendid guitar pop. Wait! Is that you Grandma?

It’s still the simplest, yet arguably most engaging format rock ‘n’ roll has produced: guitar pop. Three minutes or so of engaging melodies and enough of a beat to make you throw some kind of embarrassing shape on the rug in front of the stereo.

Seattle’s Telekinesis are purveyors of classic American power pop in a Big Star/Posies kind of way. Essentially the work of just one guy, their self-titled debut (out in the UK via Morr Records on 17 August) was simply recorded by Death Cab For Cutie‘s Chris Walla. With most tracks being cut and finalised on a one-per-day basis, the result is one of the freshest debuts of 2009.

As we slide towards the end of yet another disappointing summer, let Telekinesis slip effortlessly into your noggin – and onto your ‘Best Of The Year’ lists come December.

For the benefit of the those who’ve yet to fall under the spell of Telekinesis, introduce yourself and explain what instruments you use to create your gentle pop stylings.

Hello! My name is Michael Benjamin Lerner. I live in Seattle, Washington. I like pistachio nuts, Polaroid cameras, raccoons, and Scandinavian cheese cutters. Right now, I’m listening to a whole lot of Pavement, The Vaselines, and Scott Walker.

Telekinesis on the record is really just myself, trying to sound like a rock and roll band. I started out playing drums but learned the guitar and other instruments in order to start writing songs. In the band Telekinesis you’ll hear electric guitars, acoustic guitars, pianos, and bass.

As denizens of Seattle you must be OK with the rain. British summers are typified by showers broken only by the occasional downpour. How come your music comes out so sunny?

I guess I just can’t write gloomy music. Man, I’ve tried too, believe me. But everything that starts out gloomy ends up summery and poppy. It’s very strange! Maybe it has to do with our weather, but I don’t think it’s because I’m wishing for the sun or anything. I actually much prefer Seattle when it’s raining and cozy and dark and windy, as opposed to when it’s hot and sunny. It’s a bit wonky.

Your album has a photograph of Big Ben on the sleeve. As obvious Anglophiles perhaps you can answer the question: Manchester, what should it answer for?

All the punk and goth kids that hang out by the Urbis museum building on the weekend. It’s absolutely amazing how many of them there are. If you are sitting in the cafe on the weekend, it’s so fun to watch all the super young punk and goth kids running around, kissing each other, and smoking cigarettes and other things. It’s some serious good people watching.

Big Ben is arguably the most famous clock in the world, but is time a thief? How many hours would you need in a day to achieve everything you want to?

No, I like time just fine, I think. It’s good to have the 24 hours… I enjoy waking up around 9am and then I also enjoy looking forward to getting to bed around midnight. It’s really incredible all the things you can accomplish in those hours, especially if you turn your laptop and your phone off. I think time helps tell me to stop when I need to stop. A break is the best thing sometimes.

You’re playing Bumbershoot Festival in September. Tell us Brits a little bit about what we’re missing and what other acts you hope to see yourselves.

Yes! It’s a fun little festival here in Seattle. Lots and lots of people come and your favorite bands are playing. It’ll be nice weather hopefully, and you can eat lots of fun foods like elephant ears (not the animal, but the pastry), corn on the cob, etc., etc. It’s really a lovely time!

And it’s right in the Seattle center where all the stuff for the World’s Fair was built. So it’s a lovely setting. I can’t wait to see Franz Ferdinand, Katy Perry, The Long Winters, No Age, Say Hi, Metric and the Cave Singers. I don’t think I’ll get to see them all, unfortunately!

Do you believe in the reality of telekenisis?

Well, I’m not quite sure. It’s possible, but it’s also pretty far out.

What am I thinking right now?

You are thinking of the roasted red pepper hummus at Marks and Spencer and how good it would taste with some pita bread.

Whoah. How many fingers am I holding up?

Four, of course.

Damn, that’s weird. If you had the power, whose mind would you personally like to probe?

I’d quite like to check out Thom Yorke’s for a little while. Steal some dance moves…

I am sending out subliminal images in order to persuade our readers to pick up a copy of your album. Any particular messages you want to slip in under the mental radar?

I would say “Thanks so much for buying my record. I know it’s so easy to download it for free and all that stuff, so I really appreciate you purchasing a real copy. It really means a whole heap of a lot. Thanks!”

Sirs (and Madam). We will see you in Europe very soon? No?

Yes sir!

Thanks for your time!


Douglas Baptie

Updated: Aug 12, 2009

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