16th Annual Artist Survey: Teleman | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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16th Annual Artist Survey: Teleman

Thomas Sanders on Flossing, #MeToo, Climate Change, Kanye West at the White House, and Good Advice for New Bands

Feb 06, 2019 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar‘s 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Thomas Sanders of Teleman.

Sanders is the singer/guitarist in the British quartet, which also features bassist Peter Cattermoul, keyboardist/synth player Jonny Sanders (Thomas’ brother), and drummer Hiro Amamiya. They released their third album, Family of Aliens, back in September 2018 via Moshi Moshi. It was the follow-up to 2016’s Brilliant Sanity and 2013’s Bernard Butler-produced Breakfast.

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Releasing our album Family of Aliens and then touring it! It’s a great feeling to work hard on something and then get to release it and let if fly. One highlight of the tour was playing in Dusseldorf where we were met by the Dusseldorf tourism board, who brought us gift bags. It pays to write songs about places!

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats’ chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

I don’t know much about politics, but the way anything plays out is no longer a surprise to any of us. It’s quite exciting to think that anything can happen; exciting and terrifying. Recent political events have really shaken our sense of safety, which might be a good thing, and I think there’s a positive outcome from it all, in that nearly everyone has become invigorated and engaged in politics.

Despite compelling testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and sexual assault allegations from other women, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in a Supreme Court Justice and many Republican women didn’t believe Ford’s story. What does this tell you about the general state of the #MeToo movement in 2018?

I think sometimes we all wear blinkers, we don’t want to acknowledge something that reflects badly on our group, whether it’s politics, religion, or music. That’s dangerous and it would be a good idea to keep checking the world outside of our bubbles, in case we’ve accidentally become dicks. There are values that we can all subscribe to whether you’re a 17-year-old Republican or a 91-year-old left-leaning Muslim; values such as “We are all created equal,” and “Treat people like you’d want be treated.” The basic shit we teach our kids but which some people forget, hence the need for movements like #MeToo.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

Yes. I have a five-year-old daughter whose prime means of self expression is dancing. She taught me the Floss, it’s a great move. I’ve almost mastered it.

Are you less of a fan of Kanye West now that he’s visited the White House and has in other ways supported President Trump?

Well… yes. I wasn’t a big fan to start with, but like many other people I think I mostly feel sorry for him as things seem to have clearly got a bit much for him and he doesn’t seem very coherent. We all laughed at the prospect of Trump becoming president, but what about Kanye?

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

Suicide isn’t something peculiar to musicians. People from all walks of life kill themselves. The life of a musician, like many other jobs, can be crazily stressful, particularly the touring side of it. We all just need to have someone to talk to, and we all need to really look out for each other. Look for signs that things aren’t okay. I think humans are just getting more and more isolated. We aren’t designed to spend so much time alone.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

I think it will reach a point of no return before anything happens. The reason being is that most politicians are spineless and short sighted, valuing economic growth over absolutely everything, including the planet that keeps us alive. The most useful thing bands could do is to use their voice to promote action; they are in the privileged position of literally having a platform from which to speak, and their voice is often more respected than any politicians.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from an older or more experienced musician and what’s the best advice you’ve given to a younger or less experienced musician?

You probably won’t make it big as a band. The odds are stacked overwhelmingly against you and very few bands make much money these days. Have a back-up plan. Diversify. And please for the love of God, do it because you enjoy it.


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