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Tellison

Tellison
The artsy and anthemic variety of Oxbridge alt-indie underdogs Tellison, makes them one of the UK's most original and best-loved rock groups.

Biography

The idea of the ‘difficult second album' has become something of a cliché nowadays, a stock phrase used by artists and critics alike to explain away disappointment in the face of increasing hype. It's an easy get out of jail free card, an inherent excuse to not try your hardest, a defense against the weight of hype and expectation. It's also bullshit. Sure, some second albums are difficult. Of course they are. But then, so are some first and third and - if the band ever get that far - some ninth and tenth albums. It's all a question of situation and circumstance, the collision of time and space that dictates how things go.


For Tellison, it just so happened that time and space collided and conspired before (and for) their second album. While some bands may use the ‘sophomore slump' as an excuse, for this London-based quartet - comprised of singer/guitarist SH Davidson, guitarist/singer Peter Phillips, bassist Andrew Tickell and drummer Henry Danowski - the term ‘difficult second album' is, if anything, a myopic understatement. Back in 2007, it seemed as if Tellison were on the verge of big things - their London shows were full of people singing along to every word of every song and their debut album ‘Contact! Contact!', released towards the end of that year, was highly acclaimed. 2008 continued in that vein for a while but then, somewhere along the way, the momentum fizzled out.

The band didn't disappear, but they withdrew into the shadows and the clamour that had surrounded them slowly faded away, except when they played the occasional gig. Four years after the release of ‘Contact! Contact!' however, the band are once more emerging into the light. "It's taken a long time," sighs Davidson, "but life just got in the way. ‘Contact!' was a weird one, because we did it whilst everyone was at University. I was in my first year and Pete was finishing up at Oxford. We did as much as we could, but that was managed by playing shows at night then driving back to everyone's halls, dumping them off for the next day's lectures and doing the same thing day after day. It was cool, but it was difficult. We toured quite a bit for that album to push it and see what would happen, but it gradually wrapped up and everybody went back to doing what we'd been doing all along. Then after Uni we suddenly had rent to pay so everyone got jobs and things just got quieter. We'd hoped we'd be free to write a new record, but it took a lot longer than we'd anticipated. We felt frustrated with our situation too, because we found we weren't doing anything we hadn't done before and we didn't want to just cross our fingers and hope for the best again."

In order to avoid that predicament, Tellison changed everything. They left their old label and management with the intention of relaunching the band. Time was moving on, and the pressures of reality were bearing down harder than ever, but they weren't going to be defeated. They were determined to write and record that second album, to move on and out of the rut they'd inadvertently fallen into, to use the time they'd unwillingly taken out to their advantage. It took a while, but the four-piece were finally back on track. "Eventually, we picked ourselves up again," says Davidson. "And I think, in a way, it was good to have such a long break. We took our time a bit more instead of trying to rush and say ‘Let's make a new record now and put it out as soon as we can'. We had to be, and ended up wanting to be, a bit more considered about everything."

The result is ‘The Wages Of Fear'. It's a record that positively thrives as a result of the long and arduous circumstances of its making. In fact, it's fair to say that it wouldn't exist had Tellison not had struggled so much - it was born out of that creative crisis, brought into existence precisely because the four-piece were unable to create. As Davidson sings in the first verse on opening track ‘Get On'- "I'm a writer / I've got a bit of a problem / I picked up some moves in my youth / And I'm scared that I've lost them." The irony, of course, is that nothing has been lost. Although these twelve songs are riddled with the same insecurities and doubts, frustrations and misgivings, fears and worries, that plagued the band, they're stronger as a result. Erudite and literary, emotive and gut-wrenching, ‘The Wages Of Fear' is partly autobiographical, partly fiction, but wholly fuelled by the struggle to make it.
"It's definitely come across on the record," says Davidson. "The frustration of just being stuck is quite tangible and there's an odd sense, for us, of being in a band at the moment, because a lot of our peer group have given up. The Dartz of this world, the Sam Isaacs and the Stapletons - all the bands we used to play shows with broke up. I guess they just felt "This isn't going anywhere" so they quit, got day jobs and went back to Uni and stuff. It's an odd feeling, to be the last ones standing, wondering ‘Are we the idiots here who haven't cottoned on?' or ‘Should we just take a deep breath and actually make a go of it?'

‘The Wages Of Fear', then, is that deep breath - and the long exhale afterwards. It takes its name from a 1953 French film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, in which a group of desperate men trapped in a dead-end South American town are hired by a manipulative and dishonest oil company to complete a near suicidal task in the vain hope of earning their passage out of the situation they find themselves in. It's an apt analogy, and one of many literal, intelligent ideas that shapes and moulds the bewilderment felt by the band. ‘Say Silence (Heaven And Earth)', a song that bursts with a desperate, frenzied urgency, takes a quote from Hamlet as its main refrain, while the plaintive, fragile ‘Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart' turns psychosomatic philosophy into the most tender love song. Likewise, the sinister and ominous riff of ‘Tell it To Thebes' recasts Greek mythology as modern, heartbroken malaise, ‘Edith' is a buoyant ode to love that just happens to be centred around American novelist Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937) and closer ‘My Wife's Grave Is In Paris' ends the album on a solemn, distraught note of regret. Yet the literary, erudite and intellectual references that infuse these songs don't detract from their emotional, visceral impact. And nor should they. There's no reason why music can't be intelligent and emotional - kicking you hard in the stomach while simultaneously stimulating your brain. That's precisely what ‘The Wages Of Fear' does, from its very beginning to its very end. Yes, it was a difficult second album - and genuinely so - but the bruises and the scratches, the physical and emotional trauma, the blood, sweat and wasted years, were all absolutely worth it.

Discography

Contact! Contact! (5th Anniversary Special Edition 2CD)
Contact! Contact! (5th Anniversary Special Edition 2CD) (2012)

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re-issue of the cult debut inc bonus tracks ‘Gibraltar’, ‘Wasps’ Nest’ and C! C! Remixed (BONUS CD)

Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart (7" Single, Ltd #1-300)
Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart (7" Single, Ltd #1-300) (2012)

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in a different gear to previous singles but it's every bit as bittersweet, impassioned and addictive

Edith (7" Single, Ltd #1-300)
Edith (7" Single, Ltd #1-300) (2011)

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'Edith' is the brand new single from West London's alt-indie four piece Tellison.

The Wages Of Fear 180gm LP (with HD Download)
The Wages Of Fear 180gm LP (with HD Download) (2011)

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Tellison's acclaimed sophomore LP comes complete with a download code for the album in HiDef or MP3!

The Wages Of Fear
The Wages Of Fear (2011)

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a sophomore bible of bruises and literary split lips from acclaimed cult alt-indie foursome Tellison

Say Silence (Heaven & Earth) - Digital Single
Say Silence (Heaven & Earth) - Digital Single (2011)

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a Shakespeare-quoting, rip roaring, bitter-sweet soirée single from the alt-indie underdogs

Videography

Reviews | all reviews >>

Tellison in the Blackpool Evening Gazette
"Every track's a must listen"
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Tellison in Room Thirteen Magazine
"enjoyable to listen to... catchy"
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Tellison in Artrocker
"a must for all fans and pop-punkers"
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Tellison in Hit The Floor
"an absolute treat to listen to"
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Tellison in Contact Music
"everything you could want from a pop record... brilliant"
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Tellison in Stereoboard.com
"now aged to perfection... infectious"
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HiFi Choice review Tellison - 'The Wages Of Fear'
5 Stars

"intelligent songwriting that mixes distinct melodies with jangly guitar accompaniments"
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Room Thirteen review Tellison - Edith
“a jolty, punch in the gut type song that will have a listener hooked form the get go!” 11/13
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Alternative Vision review Tellison - Edith
“It’s clear to say that Tellison are a true British band who are proud of their roots and don’t need to put on fake American vocals in the hope of reaching out to a wider audience as they deliver the goods in a positive fashion such as ‘Edith’ proves.” 5/5
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Indie London review Tellison - Edith
“an undeniably catchy offering that drops in one of their best choruses to date” 3.5/5
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AAA Music review Tellison - Edith
“a clever, emotional, powerful and well crafted song”
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Metaphorical Boat review Tellison - Edith
“a powerful piece of Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro-esque mammoth rock track with a Everest-sized chorus oozes both emotion and grace”
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All Gigs review Tellison - Edith
“is near perfect indie pop, laced with a dash of emo and driven by a pogo-tastic drum beat towards an imperious refrain that the Kaiser Chiefs would die for..... It's angst, but with an ironic captivating smile!” 4/5
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Music Broke My Bones review Tellison - Edith
“a tale of young heartbreak, but the sheer positivity of the punchy drum beats and call-and-response harmonies reassure us that in the end, everything’s gonna be okay”
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ARTROCKER review Tellison - Edith
3 Stars

"These hammersmith based laddies seem pretty determined to get fists pumping and hearts swooning, via the not entirely unlikely medium of power rock."
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Music News review Tellison - Edith
“the single really picks up during the chorus and explodes into a big anthem-like chorus that will send most teens into frenzy.”
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Entertainment Focus review Tellison - Edith
“the single really picks up during the chorus and explodes into a big anthem-like chorus that will send most teens into frenzy.”
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Tellison in MOJO
3 Stars

"unabashedly melodic, sensitively anthemic pop-punk...an impressive second statement"
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Tellison on Rock Generation
"This could be the perfect indie rock album of the year.”
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Tellison on Musical Mathematics
"a new Tellison with an enlarged sense of musical self and a heightened penchant for melody"
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Tellison on South Sonic
4 Stars

"packed with memorable moments of dynamic change and air punching infectiousness...The Wages of Fear is a future classic."
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Tellison on Alert the Audience
"with ever-changing, unpredictable musical directions...Tellison has a lot of future potential."
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Tellison in The Surrey Advertiser
"filled to the brim with fun, intelligence, melody, beauty and sadness"
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Tellison on DIY
4 Stars

"without a shadow of a doubt, one of the albums of the year."
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Tellison on Decibel Soup
4 Stars

"coated with promise, fun and intelligence throughout."
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Tellison on One Beat
"brimming from start to finish with catchy songs that could easily soundtrack a summer."
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Tellison in 247
4 Stars

"Tellison's second album is destined for good things..."
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Tellison on The 405
4½ Stars

"Tellison have always been a band close to my heart, and with the songs on The Wages Of Fear, it's actually getting a little dangerous how near they are to piercing it...."
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Tellison on Dead Press
4 Stars

"if you want an album that is full of good, happy and well-written songs, then this is the album for you."
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Tellison on Stereo Board
4 Stars

"the collection of songs the band have presented here are comfortably the best that they have ever produced."
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Tellison on The Skinny
3 Stars

"Factor in Collarbone’s left-field lyrics and medulla-penetrating infectiousness and you’re left with an oddly lovable slice of sunshine and sadness."
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Tellison In Torquay Herald Express
"Bright, intelligent, fresh-faced guitar pop. Good songs aplenty here."
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Tellison in Total Guitar
3 Stars

"slick production,solid song structures and swoony choruses"
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Tellison on Alternative Vision
4½ Stars

"you better be ready to forget everything you thought you knew about pop-music"
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Tellison on Red Hot Velvet
5 Stars

"musical depth that is seldom heard from Britain’s indie bands."
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Tellison in Kerrang!
4 Stars

"it took a long time but the wait is well worth it"
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Tellison TWOF in ArtRocker
3 Stars

"a bustling, anthemic album"
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Tellison in The Fly
"more mature...relentlessly energetic"
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Tellison TWOF on Southsonic
4 Stars

'the concept of the difficult second album has been blown out of the water. The Wages of Fear is a future classic.'
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Tellison in NARC Magazine
"super-catchy, feel good guitar-led anthems...with massive hooks and infectious choruses"
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Tellison TWOF on Subba Cultcha
4 Stars

'Turn up the volume, stick your head out of a moving car window, close your eyes and smile like a cheshire cat'
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Tellison TWOF on Punktastic
5 Stars

'not only one of the best indie-pop albums to arise out of the UK scene in years, it could seriously be one of the best records of 2011'
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Tellison in The Crack
"taut guitar riffs, reflective lyrics and memorable choruses."
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Tellison TWOF on Shakenstir
3½ Stars

'powerful rhythms, strong and clear vocals with instrumental performances that clearly underline the band’s rock credentials'
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Tellison TWOF on Get Ready To Rock
3 Stars

'it's a powerful and accomplished signal of intent that should more than satisfy'
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Tellison TWOF on Alter The Press
4½ Stars

'Oh my. What an album..consistently solid and unleashes track after track of carefully crafted indie-pop song-writing'
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Tellison TWOF on Virgin Music
'instantaneously refreshing for listeners new or old. Anthemic lyrics, killer kick drums and sharp guitar riffs, one of the year’s finest offerings'
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Tellison in Front Mag
3½ Stars

"in the right hands, indie can still rock like a pissed-up angry pirate as these noisy London chimps prove" 3/5
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Tellison in Big Cheese Magazine
4 Stars

"an album which proves Tellison are a band to be reckoned with" 4/5
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Tellison on More Than the Music
“Credit where credit is due, Tellison have made an excellent record here"
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Tellison in Rock Sound Magazine
4½ Stars

"fantastic...the entire album is packed with forthright songwriting and great ideas" 9/10
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Tellison on Room Thirteen
'a thick slice of driving and impassioned indie-rock that'll be swirling round your head for days'
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Tellison in Kerrang! playlist
"There's only one thing that will get this video of the Tellison men dressed in swimming costumes out of your head - this brilliant tune!"
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Tellison TWOF in Q Magazine
"a summery haze of sing-a-long vocals and buoyant drums...magic"
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Tellison in NME Magazine
"With a singalong chorus that grabs through your chest to your heart and gives it a little squeeze, London's Tellison are doing what they do best"
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