Friday, June 18, 2010

[interview] Telekinesis - New Album Progress Report

Interview with Telekinesis (aka Michael Benjamin Lerner)

So things have been pretty crazy here, and posting has been a little slow and sporadic, but I'm very excited to share an interview I recently had with the very humble, very cool Michael Benjamin Lerner - the "man behind the curtain" of local Seattle band Telekinesis. In it, you'll see that Telekinesis is soon to enter the studio to follow-up one of 2009's best albums!

And if you haven't heard, Telekinesis just announced a few Pacific Northwest tour dates scheduled for this October, including an October 14 show at the Showbox (tickets). And get this... Telekinesis will be sharing the stage with Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk! Tour dates are posted below, and are followed by the interview:
Telekinesis w/ Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk
Oct 13 2010 // The Venue Nightclub // BC, Canada
Oct 14 2010 // The Showbox // Seattle, WA
Oct 15 2010 // The Wonder Ballroom // Portland, OR

(Three Colours) So recently Telekinesis has put out a few new songs here and there. In April for Record Store Day, you released "Dirty Thing" b/w "Non-Toxic" and "The Drawback," which I think may be in the running for best cover art yet this year, and then last month you contributed an ELO cover "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" to the lovely Sing Me To Sleep - Indie Lullabies compilation. All of these songs have been solid releases, by the way, and I've enjoyed them thoroughly.

But looking at your touring schedule, I've noticed a break from now until October, which all seams to be suggesting one of two things - either you're soon to be enjoying Seattle's fantastic summer for some much deserved R&R, or you're re-entering the recording studios for a possible new album. Or maybe a little of both? Do you care to comment on this?

(Michael Benjamin Lerner) Well, you would be correct in assuming that the gap in tours is being filled by the recording of LP2! Though, I'll still get to experience the lovely and mild northwest summer. We're going to do this record in Portland, Oregon in July. Last summer we were on a nationwide tour, and I got to experience sticky heat. It was kind of brutal. So, I'm psyched to get to stay in the breezy cool Northwest this summer, and also very excited to get started on this next record.

(TC) Could you share any details or plans?

(MBL) Yes, I'll be recording a new LP. If all goes according to plan, I reckon it'll be out around the new year, but I honestly don't know this for sure yet! And no titles yet! I've had a few floating around, but it's still a ways to go yet!

(TC) When you recorded your debut LP, at the time, you were essentially writing and recording most (if not all) of the material, but obviously you don't have enough hands to play each instrument on the road. When you rocked out the UW campus during Lawnapalooza last year, I was intrigued by your performance in the not-so-common drummer/lead singer combo. Now that you've toured quite extensively with this lineup, are you tired of Phil Collins comparisons?

(MBL) Not even the slightest! I love Phil Collins! And you'd be surprised, I don't even get that comparison so much! But, the singing drummers are few and far between, I know this to be true! There's a funny recent story about it. We were playing at the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge a few weeks ago, and I noticed that the drummer/singer from No Age was in the crowd watching. He does virtually the same thing as me, and much better, so I kind of started freaking out a little bit. They were playing after us, I think. He turned out to be nice, I talked to him afterward. But, it was kind of scary!

I also enjoy the Jellyfish and Don Henley comparisons!

(TC) Do have plans of recording with the "road band"? Or do you think you'll go back to the more solitary, one-song-at-a-time format that seemed to work so well on your first record?

(MBL) It looks to be the solitary thing once again. The road band just isn't yet a full time thing, it's still a bit of a revolving cast of friends. So, it just doesn't make sense at this point. I want to make a full band record, absolutely, but it just doesn't feel like the right thing this go around. No knock to the fellas that have played in the touring versions of Telekinesis, all of which are better at their respective instruments than I am, but it'd be great to record a record knowing that the band that recorded it could be around for at least a full album cycle. That just hasn't worked out yet.

(TC) Will you enlist the help of Chris Walla again?

(MBJ) Enthusiastically, YES! We'll be shacking up at Jackpot! Recording Studios in Portland, Oregon. We are both really looking forward to making a rock and roll record.

(TC) Your song "Tokyo" made it onto so many of my mix tapes last year - it seems you music reminds me of traveling to far off places. I'm curious if touring ever got you out to Tokyo, and if there are any other places do you hope to visit while on tour?

(MBL) It hasn't yet! But, I'm hoping we can license this next record to a Japanese label, and that can be the catalyst to a trip over there. It would really be a dream come true. It's number one on the travel list. Followed by Australia, which I think most bands do at the same time as Japan, so it could be a one two punch of dream fulfillment! Here's to hoping!

I'd also really like to visit Portugal, and more of Switzerland. And I'd love to play New Orleans. We haven't done that yet.

(TC) Are there any memorable moments during your touring that really stand out?

(MBL) There are so many incredible moments. Touring is so fun! But, I think that our first trip to Germany, and playing our first festival experience, was pretty memorable. It just felt so rock and roll. We were on a nationwide US tour, and we parked the van in a parking garage in Chicago, flew to Berlin, toured Germany and Austria for a week or so, flew back to Chicago, and continued on to the east coast and home. It was grueling, and crazy, and exciting at the same time. It just felt so good boarding that airplane in Chicago, with my best friends, knowing that we were going to be in Berlin for the purpose of playing rock shows for people. Pretty incredible. I truly mean it when I say I have the best job in the world. I feel really lucky to be doing this for a living. It's also such a selfish thing because it would be impossible if it weren't for all the people behind the scenes of team TK. The labels, Merge and Morr and Inertia. My management. My booking agents. My lawyer. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I feel bad because they do all this work, and we are the ones that get to hop the planes and see the world and play rock shows for people. I am truly appreciative of everyone that is fighting the good fight on our behalf.

(TC) Do you have any favorite town or city that you look forward to returning to on your next tour now that you've covered a lot of the country?

(MBL) Yeah! I always always love playing San Francisco! It rules. The Great American Music Hall is one of the best venues in the country, and it employs some of the nicest, most helpful people. Kind of great. I also really love/hate playing New York. I'm always stressed to the max, but once we leave I always look back on it with serious excitement. Chicago rules.

But, the smaller cities are super fun too. Chapel Hill is insanely fun. Denton, TX is awesome. Norman, OK is totally rad. Lots of incredible places all around our gigantic country.

(TC) In a perfect world, what one band (alive or dead) would you want to tour with?

(MBL) Honestly? Even though it's just a handful of shows, I feel like we are fulfilling this dream by supporting Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub. I mean, seriously! My career could end now. Totally awesome.

(TC) What's your spirit animal and why?

Raccoon. I don't even know why.