Photo by: Allison V. Smith
Some songs maybe have more of an Arabic influence, while the others might have more of a hip-hop beat, and other songs may have more of a Jamaican dub sound while we're adding a sitar over the top. You can kind of inter-mix. It's fun to dabble in whatever styles you want to make the sound that you are hearing.
How did you arrive on the central idea of the sound?
Like in our description, it's a re-world sound. It's a conglomeration of a bunch of different influences and mixing those in with the Western influences we have growing up in America. There are common threads running through each song, but I don't think any of the songs sound the same. Some songs maybe have more of an Arabic influence, while the others might have more of a hip-hop beat, and other songs may have more of a Jamaican dub sound while we're adding a sitar over the top. You can kind of inter-mix. It's fun to dabble in whatever styles you want to make the sound that you are hearing. Each song is different, and one may have more influences than another. One might sound straight like a desert caravan while the next track is Jamaican dub. It's kind of like making a soup. You just kind of add a little of this, a little of that and then you have it.
It sounds like one or maybe all of you have been involved with musical projects in the past. What were those, and how have those influenced this project?
Michael played for a short time with Lotus and another band, Afromotive, and another band named Second Sky. Those were kind of three different genres of music. Drummer Mike B actually played in a rockabilly band and a reggae band in Florida. I've played in everything from a reggae band to a jam band to a Grateful Dead cover band. So, as far as influences go, that's somewhat of an influence on me. And that is kind of where all the different influences come from.
Have you noticed your music changing at all as you become more familiar with technology and your sound as a band?
Yeah, Contact was way more focused than our first album. Fire One is touching on a lot of different things while trying to find a Telepath voice. That album was done by our keyboardist before Telepath even got together. He actually put that album together, and then decided he wanted to make a live project out of it. Fire One was kind of his thing. He was finding his voice as a writer. It wasn't a live project so we didn't have the live aspect that we were able to piece back into it. When we got together we started playing songs off of that. We have been constantly upgrading technology and finding better ways to do things.
Contact was intentionally focused more as an album in the Arabic and Indian vein and the Jamaican dub vein. There's not one solo on the album. We really wanted it to be a whole piece. We wanted there to be some kind of melody you could walk away singing that will stick in your head. There was an intention behind Contact. Even the songs we're playing live that aren't on the album are just being focused more into what I believe is the voice of Telepath. Fire One is all over the place as far as styles go, while Contact is more streamlined down into the genres that we want to do. The next album is going to be the same way, too. It's always going to evolve but I think we've found our voice. Now, we're writing in that vain. There is definitely intention behind Contact and the things we do. The electronic aspect has been cool to find new things we can do, too.
Before we discuss Telepath's future, I have one more question about the past. How did you guys arrive on the decision to wear suits when performing? Are you old school ska kids all grown up?
In everything that we do we try to be professional. That's just the professionalism that goes from the way we conduct ourselves to how we handle ourselves on the road to the way that we look every night onstage and on to the production. So, it was more of an overall band decision. We want to portray this image every single night and that is the image we want - classy and professional. This is what were trying to do and it's what's important to us.
I've seen articles mention the Echo Project as a breakout performance for you guys, and I've had friends mention your first performance late night at Camp Bisco VI was what sealed the deal for them. What would you say has been that defining moment for the three of you?
I don't know if I can pick just one. Those two were definitely big, but there have been so many. We've been given so much love from bands that didn't have to do that. We've been really blessed and it means so much to us that bands like Sound Tribe and The Disco Biscuits have taken us under their wing and given us opportunities to play in front of a lot of people. Camp Bisco, Echo Project and Caribbean Holidaze have all been amazing experiences. To go to Jamaica for five days and play with the Biscuits and Umphrey's, Toots and Maytals and to be on a beach is amazing.
What role has the Internet played in gaining popularity for you guys, and how do you utilize the Internet?
The way things seem to be going everything is going digital. It's hard almost to keep up with the curve because it all goes back to the whole situation-specific thing, where each situation is different. I think definitely that MySpace and Facebook are great for marketing through. Forums like The Lowdown and Phantasy Tour are both really good tools to use. The Internet is definitely the main forum, but doing things like this interview are big, too. It's been a learning curve for sure. You learn something new every day and there is no set formula that works. You learn and kind of roll with things until you figure something out different. We're actually going to release Contact on 1320 Records soon, and that's another form of Internet help. Sound Tribe has built up a sizable fan base. With them taking the album on 1320 that is huge. Any of those kinds of things are amazing.
Where do you see Telepath in five years?
In five years, hopefully we're playing theatres and amphitheaters and continuing to bring our positive music to that many more people. In five years, I'd like to be playing as much outside of the United States as we are playing inside the United States now, and I think the style of music we do lends itself to being able to do things in Europe and Japan. Did you know that Contact was released on Buffalo Records in Japan?
I didn't know that.
Yeah it was released in January on Buffalo Records. It sold almost a thousand copies in about a month or so. We're trying to get over to Japan for a tour sometime in the spring or summer. We have a couple things we're working on in Europe as well. In five years though, I'd like to see us doing things that we want to do through music and have the opportunity to benefit people through our music.
Telepath is on tour now, dates available here.
Click here for a FREE 30-minute Telepath mix.
JamBase | Reading Minds
Go See Live Music!