The Curious Case Of The Underrated British Psych Band: A Short Conversation With The Telescopes' Stephen Lawrie
A few weeks ago, Will Kapinos, formerly of Jetscreamer and currently of Dim Locator, sent out an email explaining two shows The Telescopes are playing in DFW tonight and tomorrow, and how they came to be:
The Telescopes, back in the daze
"Our friends in the Cush played in the UK last year and met those guys.They asked the Cush if they knew a bass player and a couple guitarists to join them. So, they introduced them to Chad DeAtley, bass player in Dove Hunter, who asked me and Chris Plavidal of Stumptone if we wanted to do it. So you got three Texas bad-asses joining a bona fide UK shoegaze band for a couple of gigs in the Metroplex."
Well, that was enough to pique my interest, but I had to admit to myself that I didn't actually know who the Telescopes were. They did a split with Loop, a band I like, and were on Creation Records, home to My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain. But they were one of those bands that rode the underbelly and, as such, never quite got on the mainstream radar, which isn't the worst fate. They were part of a wave.
A few dives into the YouTube rabbit hole shows a band that was a bit more challenging than those aforementioned acts, but still based in the dreamy pop that was popular in the UK in the late '80s. The group, led by singer and guitarist Stephen Lawrie, got back together in the mid-Aughts, and played these awesome shows in 2010. Now we get the pleasure of seeing them in Dallas, right before they make their way to Austin Psych Fest.
I asked Lawrie a few questions, just after the first practice with Kapinos, Plavidal and DeAtley, which he described as "physical."
Can you give me a sense of the band's early history?
It's difficult to say. The Telescopes are imagined. Sensed. It feels unnatural for me to hold it any other context.
Do you feel like the music you play is psychedelic?
Telescopes are about a revolution in the psyche. Getting beyond the realm of natural vision. Everyone has their own way of seeing things.
What sort of feeling do you get from making noise? Is pulling feedback from pedals or guitars a form of therapy? Catharsis? Terror?
The Telescopes house has many rooms.
Is there a new album in the works? Collaborations?
There's a couple of things out this month. "Black Eyed Dog," a 7-inch EP on the Trensmat label, and "We See Magic and We Are Neutral, Unnecessary," a 7-inch Flexi postcard on the Dream Machine as part of Record Store Day. The format was used as a way of smuggling contraband music through the Eastern bloc. We've also been recording at Anton from the Brian Jonestown Massacre's studio in Berlin, and long-time Telescopes producer Richard Formby's place in Leeds. We have a whole load of things to be released.
The Telescopes play tonight, April 25, at Lola's with True Widow and The Cush, and Thursday, April 26 at the Common Table in Dallas, which is a free show.