Preview: The Fest 16: Telethon

telethon mural

Our third The Fest 16 preview of the weekend comes to you courtesy of Milwaukee rockers Telethon…

The Punk Archive: Hey guys, introduce yourselves to our readers?
Kevin: Hi! We’re Telethon. We’re a five piece outta Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. We just made a brand new record called The Grand Spontanean which comes out on September 29th, and we run a teeny tiny DIY label/recording co-op called Halloween Records.

The Punk Archive: How would you describe your sound? Who or what are your biggest influences?
Kevin: That’s a toughie because we mesh a lot of styles of music together. We don’t necessarily try to, but our brains just crank out music that way. I’d say that we’re best described as power pop, but pop-punk or just rock and roll works too. Influences are aplenty too but a couple that we cite a lot are Thin Lizzy, Weezer, Jeff Rosenstock, Randy Newman, Crowded House, Titus Andronicus, and the E-Street Band. That’s by no means comprehensive, though. This new record we’re gearing up to release at the end of the month, The Grand Spontanean also took a bunch of nods from musical theatre, namely Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Punk Archive: You’re soon to release a concept album featuring a bunch of punk rock royalty. How did the idea come about? How was the writing and recording process?
Kevin: We started writing it a little over a year ago without any aims to make a concept album, but lyrically it was starting to feel stale just musing on anxiety and dread and everyday life. So I started thinking about more big picture questions about death, religion, humankind’s general trajectory, that sort of thing. Somewhere along the way, we were on a Spielberg kick, and decided we had to add a sci-fi/paranormal bend into the story. Our drummer had just watched the 2003 disaster movie The Core and jokingly suggested we base our album’s concept around the idea of if the Earth abruptly stopped spinning. It was so ridiculous that we immediately latched on to it and ran with it. We sketched out a bunch of story beats that we had to hit, and then basically wrote tracks around those story beats. Somewhere in there we also booked studio time with (producer/engineer) Jack Shirley, so we knew we had to be done writing the thing by April 2017. When it was finally all written, it wound up being ninety minutes long. There were a few moments of freaking out and not knowing if we’d be able to pull it off, but once we got to Jack’s studio, our worries were all alleviated because he’s such a pro and cool as a cucumber at all times. Within the first day of recording we realized we were undoubtedly gonna finish the thing in our ten days of studio time, and we ended up doing so with time to spare.

The Punk Archive: Do you have any particular favourite songs from the new record?
Kevin: There’s a ton of songs on the record. We all have different favourites for different reasons.
Jack (Lead Guitar): I think my favourite on the record is Stillwave. I’ve always wanted to do the Jesus of Suburbia/Paradise by the Dashboard Light/A Quick One While He’s Away style multi-parted operetta opus but it was always too daunting. Even up until right before the recording of the record we were sceptical if we could pull it off. But we practiced the fuck out of it and finally did it.
Alex (Bass): On Companionship. It’s musically more restrained than a lot of the rest of the balls-to-the-wall tracks on the record and I think carries the most emotional weight. A lot of brutal honesty about spotting the selfishness and distorted view of the past in relationships. Franz Nicolay adds some quiet but essential keys and hearing Laura Stevenson’s vocals on the song was one of the most exciting moments I’ve had being in a band. She just nails it.
Nate (Keys): Favourite song is Underture. When I was a little boy my favourite album was Tommy and I’d steal the cassette from my dad’s cassette collection, listen to Underture, and then rewind it and listen again. Always wanted to have something like it on one of our records.”
Erik (Drums): Apocalypse When is probably my favourite because it has a ton of energy. It’s a great live song. It also holds a special place in my heart as the first song we all learned together for the record.
Kevin (Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar): I go back and forth but right now I love The Runner’s High because of the monster sax solo by our good buddy Peter Hess, which I know was meticulously composed and executed by him, yet it’s so effortlessly delivered. Plus, goddamn Roger from Less Than Jake sings on it which is a fact that probably would have killed me dead if you’d told me around the 7th grade.

The Punk Archive: You’re playing Fest this year; are you excited?
Kevin: Hell yes, we’re excited. A dream come true! (Also quite excited to hit up Halloween Horror Nights and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter the day after).

The Punk Archive: What can Fest-goers expect from a live Telethon set?
Kevin: We have a few theatrical tricks up our sleeves that we may or may not employ during our Fest set. All we know for sure is that we will aim to melt your face for 30 minutes straight. Please come see us! Durty Nelly’s, Friday Oct. 27th, 10:30pm.

Head here to find out more about this year’s Fest…


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