The Telescopes are one of the few bands that have proved themselves immune to time and more importantly the cold ignorance of mainstream music in bands that can actually make music themselves.

Originally formed in 1988 by vocalist Stephen Lawrie, guitarist Joanna Doran, guitarist David Fitzgerald, bassist Robert Brooks and drummer Dominic Dillon they became an essential part of the English music scene in the early 90’s. After releasing a few singles and a live album ‘Trade Mark Of Quality’ (part of a series that also included Spacemen 3 and Pooh Sticks) on Fierce Records in 1990, they signed to Creation Records. The single ‘Flying’ became a minor UK hit in 1992, and their second album, 'Untitled', which came out in the same year, gained a cult following. Unfortunately it took them another 10 years to release a follow up to that. Their psychedelic, and it could be said, three dimensional music finally re-emerged when their next album ‘Third Wave’ came out on Double Agent Records. That album features all the original members, but today’s Telescopes' line-up for gigs consists only of Stephen Lawrie and Joanna Doran. It should be also said that the Telescopes' live appearances are musically much different then their studio recordings which are much more clearer and more lyrically based. Live, the Telescopes come across as very droney and revert back to their shoegazer origins.

This year the Telescopes released their latest album ‘Altered Perception’, a compilation on Space Age Records. The album besides all the original members also features various session musicians. One of those is Ed Ball (who worked for Creation) on piano.

Pennyblackmusic spoke to Lawrie about the changes the band have been through in the last decade. He also updated us on the group's latest news and talked to us about their next album.

PB: What were you doing after the Telescopes split up? It took about 10 years for you to reform. Were you still making music during that time?

SL : We never actually split. We just didn't create anything for six years. I sang and worked on a few recordings but wrote very little music during that time.

PB: Why did you decide to reform the band again and how did it all happen?

SW: I had been hanging out improvising with Randall Nieman who is füxa. We spent a week in a small room tripping each other out with sound.  Randall's joy of mind expansion reminded me who I was and what I should be doing. Working with him made me feel okay about opening up channels again to receive Telescopes music.

PB: You have recently released ‘Altered Perception’ (Space Age Records), which consisted of your previously unreleased and unavailable material, and another studio album ‘Third Wave’ (Double Agent records) . Was it difficult for you to get in touch with record labels to release the 2 albums?

SL : I was already working with Double Agent. Peter Green, the director, had a fanzine before he started the label, named after one of the songs from our second album. I knew he'd love a Telescopes record, but he and I both knew it should never be forced. The day I told him there was new Telescopes material he was totally shocked and eager to hear it. But he would never have released it if he hadn't loved what he heard.

The Space Age record happened after I suggested the idea to Steve Kalidoski at the label. Steve was enthusiastic and liked what we sent him.

PB: You live approach is very different to the music on your albums? On stage you are almost completely instrumental. I read another interview where you explained that it’s pretty much a matter of taste and that some people love it and some don’t. Why do you, however, play your music on stage so differently? Would you consider releasing live album?

SL : Our live sound is always where we are currently as a group. The records seem to come out in all kinds of strange orders. Our new 'Winter' EP has come out, for example, this week on Hungry Audio. We developed it in Chiasso in the winter of 2003, when there were four of us. ‘Third Wave’ was recorded in 2001 when there were about twelve of us.

We’re planning to record our fifth album totally live. The live set you witnessed is based around a track that will be on the fourth album.

PB: I would imagine that dealing with Space Age Records and Double Agent Records was a totally different experience to working with Creation Records. Is that right and can you describe those differences and what it was like being on Creation?

SL: Every label we work with is totally different to the next.. They all have their own way of operating. And rightly so. Alan McGee and Ed Ball at Creation had a real enthusiasm for great music.  And they took a lot of chances on some great recordings. We connect with most people we work with for the same reasons. You’ll never find the Telescopes recording on an uninspiring label.

PB: Do you keep in touch with other Creation artists?

SL: Joe Foster from Slaughter just put out a record of ours on his Revola label. We played his club in Brighton and have always kept in touch. His record, 'I'll Follow You Down', is a storming recording!

PB: I heard you are working on a new album at the moment. Could you tell me more about what it will sound like?

SL : Yeah our fourth album will be out on Atenna in the New Year. It’s full of sonic treats and sounds like nothing you've heard before.

PB: You are also a member of Unisex? Could you tell me more about the band and how you became involved with them ?

SL : Nick Hemming started playing guitar with us when Dave left the Telescopes. Nick was writing music for Shane Meadow's short films. When I put the Telescopes on hold, Nick Jo and I continued playing together. The idea was for all three of us to write… but for a long time Nick was coming up with most of the music. Around the time we made Unisex's 'Stratosfear' album, I had begun working with füxa and composing music again, so the album was 50/50 and sounded more like the Telescopes. The last thing we did together was a remix EP for füxa's mind expansion label called 'Re:konstructions'. Nick and I are hoping to work together again soon, but under a different name. We’re talking about making sitar music this time.

PB: What are your plans for the near future with the Telescopes and your own plans?

SL : The release of the Telescopes fourth album is next. We're planning an acoustic EP that will be available at Double Agent Records, and are preparing to record the fifth album.

PB : Thank you

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