Teleman: “We’re influenced by things we don’t like”

Every now and then, a band comes along that makes you sit down and think about what you’ve just listened to. For some bands, this is a good thing, yet for some it’s bad. For London quartet Teleman, it’s a bit of both. Although their silky smooth indie pop is fresh and exuberant, it still does give off a huge sense of “I’ve heard this before, surely.” On Monday we spoke to frontman Thomas Sanders and (reluctant) bassist Pete Cattermoul just after their support set with Metronomy at the TivoliVredenburg in Utrecht.

From the moment we start, something doesn’t quite feel right. At the request of the pair, we’re taken out of the crowd by a security guard, before being told that Teleman want to do the interview at that exact moment, which is roughly halfway through Metronomy. As we meet the stripy-shirted Thomas and Will from the Inbetweeners-lookalike Pete we sit ourselves down in the foyer, right next to a large TV. At this point, my “telly man” joke didn’t go down too well with Pete, laughing sarcastically as he quickly shuffled next to Thomas on the benches. We soon get down to business, my first question concerning their former pursuits in indie rock group Pete & the Pirates. Pete tells us that Teleman basically started out as a means of trying something new and playing new songs in an altogether different style, albeit he says this so unenthusiastically that it seems almost as if he doesn’t want to talk anymore. Thomas, the more enthusiastic and interested of the pair, continues by telling us how they got their name. “It came from a classical composer called [Georg Philipp] Telemann, so we basically stole it”. The fact that we’re sitting right in front of a massive television makes it slightly ironic, as Thomas and Pete basically look like large “telly men” from where I’m sitting. The TV isn’t even switched on, much like Pete himself.

As I approach them regarding their musical influences, Cattermoul instantly chuckles and jokes that their main influence is, in fact, Georg Philipp Telemann. “You can’t not be influenced by music. I think we’re equally influenced by things we don’t like and try to avoid, as it’s an equally powerful force going against the things you do like” muses Sanders as it’s very clear that we’re not going to get a serious answer out of them tonight. This interview, which was originally supposed to take place pre-show, is very clearly becoming some sort of trainwreck. I ask Cattermoul how they’re managing to pull of the songs in a live setting and he looks at me as if I’m thick. “Well, you did just see us play, didn’t you?” he awkwardly asks as I remind him that this interview is intended for readers at home who may not have seen Teleman live. He then reshuffles his seated position and talks about how hard the arrangements were and that it took them quite a while to get where they were today. He rounds off what was a somewhat serious answer with a very bold statement – “in this day and age, technology does everything for you”. We then shift attention to the song Steam Train Girl, which Sanders tell us came into existence thanks to a repetitive guitar riff he liked the idea of using. This was his second answer, though. He first chose to tell us that it came into existence because “he wrote it”…

On the subject of playing song lives, Sanders tells us that debut album cuts Christina and Steam Train Girl get the best reactions, whereas Cattermoul enjoys playing 23 Floors Up the most. Tonight’s show was their 2nd on the Metronomy tour, with Pete most looking forward to the German run of shows. This tour follows on from a busy year for Teleman, a year in which they pinpoint Glastonbury Festival as the highlight of it. Our interview ends a brief five minutes later as they tell us that 2015 will be a year which sees them release no album, but merely two singles and “maybe an EP”. Cattermoul is quick to get up and inform us he’s off to watch Metronomy, leaving his complimentary flyer on the table in front of him as he subsequently gets lost finding the venue.

Teleman are a good band with an exciting live show, yet it’s just such a shame that this doesn’t translate into their interviews. It may have just been a one off, but it was definitely not easy.