In the latest instalment of TMMP’s 2000 Trees Interview Overload, Tellison talk gigs on skateramps, DIY challenges, and the side effects of brown liquor consumption…
You’re playing a set at 2000 Trees this year. What thoughts and feelings are going through your heads right now?
Right now we’re juggling a thousand things in our heads. There’s a lot to sort out before releasing an album (our new one comes out this summer) and we’re a pretty DIY band, so we’re the ones doing the sorting. There are videos and singles and artwork and rehearsals and posters and sets and equipment repairs and vans and merchandise and websites and photos and a hundred other small bits to try to line up neatly so everything comes out on time and looking right.
It is exciting though, once you’ve waded through a thousand emails. 2000 Trees has been very good to us over the years, so we’re looking forward to getting in the van and it feeling like summer again. There’s a very specific feeling playing outside that’s a relief after a year of playing in sticky, dark clubs.
How did Tellison come to be? What’s your origin story?
Tellison stumblingly formed when we were just children in the early ’00s. Then we sorted ourselves out properly and added Peter and Andrew in 2005 and went on tour and started making records.
We’ve been doing something roughly similar for ten years whilst everything’s changed around us. I forced Henry to join the band because he was the best drummer I’d ever heard. Peter had a band already and I was jealous of how good they were so I stole him. Andrew used to come and watch a very early version of Tellison play in Kingston and Brixton and he was our friend and the only person willing to play the bass guitar and put up with me. Plus he’s both mega handsome and kind.
I started the band because I heard Nirvana when I was about 10 and totally lost my mind.
What’s the story behind the first gig you ever played?
This is a hard one to answer because it’s hard to say what our first show was. If you take it from that 2005 tour, then the first show we played was a house party near Kingston. We were hilariously terrible. I remember there being a pretty good BBQ though.
Then we went and played a festival in Hampshire and everyone there was on cheap, bad acid and the stage was the side of a skate ramp with the drums on a wooden watchtower in front of us. We’ve doing shows like that ever since.
What’s the most batshit crazy thing that’s ever happened during a Tellison show?
Over the years a lot of weird things have happened on stage. People have been electrocuted, hit by stuff the audience threw, equipment has exploded and broken, there’s been a lot of bleeding and falling over. We’re all tattooed with scars.
I once looked over at the end of a song and saw our guitar player smashing his guitar with a wellington boot – and it sounded surprisingly good. Also we once played a show with Henry dressed as a Hawaiian Hula Girl and Suggs from Madness seemed to approve.
In general, the way to avoid batshit crazy things happening on stage is to forbid brown liquor before stage time. Although this rule doesn’t always work.
Do you ever get stage fright or nerves? If so, how do you work around them?
We’ve been playing shows together for a long time so nerves don’t really seem to come into it. I’ve got a lot of stuff to concentrate on when we play between singing, playing the guitar, sweating, remembering the words and guitar parts and reminding myself to make sure we get paid and figuring out what comes next in the song or set – so I guess I just retreat into my head.
Andy always looks like he’s in a kind of meditative trance when we play; I suspect he’s in some kind of yogic state. Henry channels his rage at how terrible the rest of us are at our instruments by looking ferociously, fearsomely angry, and Peter generally just throws shapes and tries to stop his glasses falling off.
When all this is going on at once it’s a kind of chaotic, imperfect ballet performed by four out-of-shape, usually bearded, sweating men to a soundtrack of mostly upbeat indie rock music with depressing lyrics.
Which other 2000 Trees bands are you looking forward to checking out?
This year the lineup is beyond great. I’m really excited for Alkaline Trio, Idlewild, McCusky, Hannah Lou Clark, Fatherson, Great Cynics, Get Inuit and Lonely Tourist.
Festivals are ideal when you get to see that many bands you genuinely care about. It’s like a year’s worth of great gigs in three days. If the weather holds and the White Russians are as good as they usually are then I can’t think of much better.
Beyond the festival, what does the future hold?
Our new record comes out this summer and then we’ll be back out on tour. Between then and now there will be a single or two more from us and we’re also going to Truck and Y Not Festivals.
I’m thinking about writing another Christmas song as well this year, and I’ve started work on our next release. At the moment it’s a sci-fi EP in my head. We’ll see what happens.
What’s your biggest ambition as a band?
My only real ambition when we started was to play the Astoria in London. But then they knocked it down in 2009 to build a tube station. So I guess now it’s to play the tube station.
Apart from that I’d love to go to the States and Japan to play. And I’d like it if our new record does well. We’re a pretty humble band; we know we don’t deserve anything from anyone.
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