Interview With Stephen Lawrie, The Telescopes

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-11-13

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Interview I did with The Telescopes

Cork has had several music “scenes” come and go over the years, and there has been a lot of chatter in recent years about the trio of Altered Hours, Grave Lanterns and The Vincent(s) breaking through in a manner of The Frank & Walters and The Sultans of Ping in the early 1990s. While those bands do not sound specifically the same they do share a dark, psychedelic/skewed pop music element in their music, one of the key bands in keeping psych music vibrant in the last 20/25 years has been The Telescopes.

Stephen Lawrie, their vocalist, guitarist, main songwriter and only remaining founding member of the band, has also noticed that sound appearing in newer acts, “I’d agree there has been a revival of Psych music recently, we’ve certainly played a lot of psych festivals this year.”

While the perceived wisdom is that certain types of music have come back to a large listening public due to it being shared on social media, Stephen doesn’t think the online world should get all the credit, “to a certain extent it can be attributed to social media helping little pockets of fans scattered around the world become one bigger group, but there is some good music coming out as well, that is the most important thing.”

Some of that good music coming out is coming from The Vincent(s), a band they selected to be their opening act for their current UK & Irish tour, “Ola’s Kool Kitchen (a radio show presented by DJ Ola, who is highly regarded for bring attention to up and coming, often unsigned musicians) introduced me to their music, good energy. I’m excited to see them play.”

There is a mutual appreciation between the two bands as Marcus, the lead singer of The Vincent(s), explained “it is a huge honour to get to go and open up for then every night for two weeks. It’s a sick feeling to get to this. They are masters of the psych scene and have years of experience under their belts so it’s will be amazing to learn from them how to maintain this circus we live in.”

The years of experience that Marcus refers features a milestone this year with the 25th anniversary of the release of their debut album ‘Taste’ which contained ‘The Perfect Needle’ perhaps their most well known song. While the band had released a series of singles beforehand, the full-length record was what really put them on the musical landscape, Stephen makes it clear that the current tour won’t just focus on that album, “I only realised very recently that it was the 25th anniversary of ‘Taste’. I doubt we’ll milk it anyway. I do old stuff as and when it inspires, we’re not really governed by tense.”


In fact he finds it perplexing why someone would go into a gig expecting a specific set of songs, “I get asked about this a lot. Personally I would not attend a show that guaranteed me anything, life isn’t like that. It can go anyway, it’s what you make of it. When we play hope to make the best of things and really try and take things somewhere, beyond the realm.”

While ‘Taste’ was successful the label they were signed to, What Goes On Records, ended up folding which led to them joining the Creation Records roster, home at the time to My Bloody Valentine, Jesus And The Mary Chain and Primal Scream. Stephen reflects on that time as a great time in The Telescopes history but going on to form their own label as been more empowering for the band, “our time on Creation was very much as exciting on the inside as it was for those following it from afar but starting Antenna Records has been a totally freeing experience and an enlightening one. Knowledge is freedom.”

One of the virtues for a band being in charge of your own work is that you can pick exactly the circumstances in which it is made, and for their upcoming record, they chose to spend time recording in the Brian Jonestown Massacre studios in Berlin, the same studio founded by Anton Newcombe, with whom the Altered Hours have been recording their next release with.
Stephen’s connection to that studio goes right back to day one, “we were the first in there. They had no equipment, but we were soon up and running. Fabien (Leseure, who is currently working on a new album featuring Cillian Murphy and his brother Padraig Murphy and Nina Hynes) is an amazing engineer, and a real joy to work with. You can always trust his opinion.”
To hear the band’s music go to www.thetelescopes.bandcamp.com

The Telescopes and The Vincents(s) play free gigs in The Crane Lane Theatre on Sat 15 November at 9pm and Pine Lodge on Sunday 16 at 6pm

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