With Telepathy about to head off for a short tour (dates below), the time seemed ripe to have a quick chat with the band (specifically bassist Teddy-James Driscoll) and get a little insight behind the instrumental technical, post-metal/sludge outfit. You have a ton of respect for bands that are instrumental (why isn’t instrumetal a genre?). These are the guys that don’t want the flashiness of a vocalist leaping around stage (probably shirtless). Bands that are willing to let their music speak for itself. Kind of inspirational. At any rate, enjoy.
How did you first get into playing in music and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve? It seems like you guys are probably more happy producing quality music than gracing the covers of metal and rock magazines.
Even though I play bass guitar with Telepathy I’ve always played 6-string in bands before. During my school days, my brother and I would go to our surrogate grandparent’s house while we were waiting for our dad to finish work. We would watch TV shows and there was a jingle on one of the adverts between the shows that was a guitarist ripping a rad, bluesy solo over the backbeat. I thought to myself, ‘I can do that’, so I asked my grandfather to teach me to play as he had a room full of vintage Fender Strats upstairs. That’s the start of it for me personally.
In terms of the level of success we would like to achieve, if we wanted to be on the covers of magazines we wouldn’t be making instrumental metal. It’s about art and expression for us, plain and simple. Of course we would like to be able to do this even more and have more people experience our music so we work hard to make that a reality. It could be sending out emails, re-stocking the merch, writing music, recording something at home or anything at all; whatever it is we get it done, it’s our passion after all. If that can take us forwards then we’re happy. We obviously have our goals for the future of the band but the bottom line is we’re writing and performing music that moves us, and nothing is more important than that.
That’s not to say that we’re too ‘cool’ to accept recognition for our efforts but recognition or fame is not why we make music. Recognition should always be a by-product of good, credible art and not a pre-requisite for getting into it in the first place. You don’t eat because you want to take a shit later that day, do you?
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get Telepathy onto a show with a band you love or into a magazine, blog or the like?
To tell you the truth we have never, and never will, debase ourselves to further our outreach in any way. That being said we’re not a very cool bunch of lads, so a lot of the time you’ll find us in the van throwing crisps and insults at each other in between singing along (badly) to 80’s pop classics.
Telepathy is an amazingly technical band. The musicianship is actually pretty remarkable. I’ve personally been in instrumental bands before so I must ask, did you guys envision being instrumental or was it more of a choice because you couldn’t find the perfect fit from a vocalist?
Thank you. When the guys first started, the decision to be an instrumental band wasn’t a conscious one initially. It pretty much came out of writing the way that we write and discovering that vocals simply didn’t serve a duty to the music. We’re definitely not opposed to putting vocals in our songs in future as long as they serve a significant purpose.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
We do not insert any political or socio-political content or narrative into our music. Our music is more based around the heart, emotion and the human condition. There are many great bands who do and that’s awesome, we wouldn’t have Fugazi or His Hero is Gone otherwise! However we have been and are still a part of the DIY culture, and hopefully our ethics and the way we conduct ourselves reflect that.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? What’s the first instrument you picked up?
I got into heavy music in the early 2000s after my friend and I borrowed Slipknot’s self-titled record from our school library. I would’ve been about 11. Back then it was all new to me, it didn’t matter what sub-genre the band fell into – if it had loud, distorted guitars I was sold. I got into nu-metal and then later another friend of mine showed me Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne and that is when I really got it.
My dad moved to Ireland around that time so my brother and I would go visit him for weeks on end. He lived in a small village and there wasn’t much to do, so we would take a trip to Galway and hit the music shops. One day I picked up Led Zeppelin II and IV and when we got back I spent the rest of my time glued to the CD player learning Jimmy Page riffs by ear as best as I could. After that I came back a better musician and pursuing and performing music became my purpose in life.
What’s the stickiest you have ever been?
When I was 19. I was pretty thin back then.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I personally think that many of the bedroom-bloggers and small metal webzines do a pretty great job as it is. You’re all very passionate and in many ways we’re all in the same boat when it comes to the want/need to share our respective art forms with people. The best thing any music journalist can do is be passionate, fair, and truthful and make sure their work is stimulating to read. A lot of the time you guys are bridging the gap between artist and potential new fans so it’s important to have something worth saying about it and make people care about what’s being written. What’s also important is that you make use of all technological media to get your stuff out there to as many new readers as possible – there’s no point in the same 20 guys you see at all your hometown shows being your sole readership, that doesn’t benefit anyone. On a sourer note, does anyone need to know about the new “Bong Weed Spider Mammoth” album? We’ve all heard and love Electric Wizard and Kyuss. Let’s at least try and move things forward.
Are you one of the rare musicians who can play music full-time due to independent wealth or do you have to supplement the art form that you love with a corporate gig? What’s your day job and how hard does it make touring? Since we are on the subject, and you guys are about to hit the road, do you have any hobbies or practices that keep you sane while traveling with the same people for such a long time?
Like most lifer metal heads that don’t teach music or play cover songs, Rich and I work in customer service and the Turek brothers restore vintage cars. I’ve never made a penny from music and it’s no secret that doing so by playing metal is almost unheard of nowadays. So yes—we’ve all got day jobs at the moment. Fortunately we’re a very ‘can-do’ band, so getting in the van hasn’t been an issue. It it’s a short of long run of dates here or abroad we make it work. It isn’t easy but our art and passion comes first. The best way to keep sane while on long drives is to make each other laugh, which we do all the time. We all enjoy each other’s company which really helps but we also understand that alone time is important too, so we respect that. We’ve got a good balance.
Finally, when you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of you favorite non-metal albums/things to listen to?
I’m a Fleetwood Mac ultra-fan. ‘Rumors’ is probably my favourite album of all time but we all listen to a lot of different things. My guilty pleasure album is definitely ‘Justified’ by Justin Timberlake – it’s just an absolute banger. My one piece of musical advice to anyone though is listen to Foy Vance. He’s an Irish singer-songwriter from Belfast and I’ve watched him bring grown men to tears at his shows. Amazing.
Thanks to Teddy for his time