TELETHON Interview


Due to it’s amazing length, only part of my interview with Matt Kamm of TELETHON was featured in the print version of Sundae Magazine. So, in all it’s absurdist glory, here is the full complete interview:

Sundae Magazine: For those who aren’t in the know, why don’t we start by having you give the folks at home a 2-sentence synopsis of who you and the band are, and try to included the word quixotically.

Matt Kamm: TELETHON is an experiential experiment in which we try to meet the visually fantastic worlds of Jim Henson and the raucous rock-punk of David Bowie, quixotically. Even though that has already been done in the film The Labryinth we do it differently – OUR WAY.

SM: Thank you. Now, you have a number of releases out to date, and almost every one of them features a different moniker. I know that many of those were solo albums, but more recently you’ve been recording with a number of other people in the band. Tell us a little about the origins of TELETHON, your first couple of releases, and the significance of those various nom de plumes.

MK: In it’s inception, the project began as a world that takes place in a different realm than ours. It started out as the story of a regular boy, “Tele,” (full birthname: Telethon Veginald Cheeseburger) who was possessed by a ghost of the past, present, & future, who he named “The Ghost of Our Lord,” or T-GOOL. TGOOL forced Tele into a trance in which he finished his debut album, Tele & The Ghost Of Our Lord’s “Beach Party Blast/Quasi Immaculate Deception,” [2007] in a period of 24 hours and released it online for free. Even though Tele was pissed about his masterpiece being released for free, he understood that T-GOOL did most of the raddest work on the record and gave Tele the credit, so he was thankful and bit his tongue… off.
The second record, released as Tele & Big Tie Moldies’ “Future Frontier,” [2008] is an album set in a post WWIII 2015, looking back at a simpler, more naive way of life. Tonally, it depicts a savage world in which children carry weapons to “schools” in which they are trained to constantly run for their lives and kill to survive. It also reflects on living without luxuries in a world where water and food, possibly even air, are commodities. It was recorded at gut-wrenching volumes through the shittiest equipment possible and as a result, is the loudest album on Earth and elsewhere to date. The third release, Tele V. Cheeseburger’s “Hydrophonia,” [2008] is a lot less complicated. I was experimenting with tribalism, the Beach Boys as synth-pop, and songs that were a little bit closer to dealing with our present world than on the previous works. An expose based on the present , as opposed to other realms, while still showing that our world does contain a layer of magic that we are unable to see that rests in the back of our minds, beckoning us to answer its call. It was around this point that the full character, Telethon Veginald (or “Veggie”) Cheeseburger was born.

SM: Wowzers. So, how did the band get to the point it’s at now?

MK: Since those releases, I have shed a few of the delusions I was carrying with me – the desire to save the world spiritually, for example – because I realized I too am extremely flawed. Every perspective is flawed. So what do we do with that? We party, organize, dance like a jerk, throw bricks into windows, escape reality as much as possible while still loving the personal differences that make living on Earth beautiful and worthwhile. And how does that fit into this weird ass story of a possessed ghost boy, you ask? Simplicity. Humans. Organization. Thought. Rock & Roll. Evil. Good. TELETHON.
As I started to form a band to help me re-create my albums live, the perfect scenario happened for me… A gang of some of the chillest dudes I’ve ever known in my life wanted to help turn my musical masturbation into a full-on orgy. The band was so steadfast that I knew I could no longer go “solo.” The concoction was too strong… we had to be a full unit. So simplicity came around and I stopped changing the name. As I have been reborn as a bastard, so has the band. We are now and forevermore simply TELETHON.

SM: That’s quite the harrowing tale. Now, what does the phrase “butter my mustache” mean to you?

MK: Whatever you want it to, baby.

SM: I would have loved to see a two paragraph answer for that one. Oh well. As many of our readers know, you used to front indie-pop darlings Dodger before mutating into Tele V. Cheeseburger. How much of that group exists in what you do know? Do you find that you’re free to explore and experiment more with TELETHON?

MK: Do people know that? I try to mask the past with illusions/allusions. The spirit of Dodger lives on although no members play with me in TELETHON. Although, Philtholomew “Jenius” Pizza, Dodger’s bassist, did play with me for my first tour. The focus of my music still lies in weirdo-pop inspired by what I consider to be the greats… The Kinks, Prince, T. Rex, Gary Numan, David Bowie, Wendy Carlos, R. Stevie Moore, the list goes on. Music, to me, IS exploration and experimentation. Always has been. Jazz didn’t have a name when it first started – at the height of it’s existence and exploration. I believe artists (musicians) should be called to affect and change their world – help it evolve. Am I free to explore and experiment MORE with TELETHON? No. Today’s the same as yesterday, only awesomer. So in a way, today’s also awesomer than yesterday. Never stop. Don’t you ever stop. I know I won’t.

SM: Yes, everyone who is anyone knows who Dodger is (was). Speaking of Dodger, I interviewed you during your tenure in that outfit several years ago for KillerPOP. Do you think that contributed to the demise of the band? Do you think the same will happen this time around?

MK: HAHA! I love it. You can’t kill a band that’s already dead. Especially a ghost band. In fact, I think you might resurrect me.

SM: Speaking of resurrection, I dug up a question from that very interview, and would like to pose it to you now and see how your response has changed in the past 5 years: Would you rather have buck teeth or a baby arm?

MK: HAHA (x2)! I will give you the first response that comes to mind because I don’t recall how I answered. I would rather have a baby buck.

SM: You said “buck teeth in a glass case by our collective bed.” You attended and participated in SXSW this year, if I recall my memories correctly. What was that experience like? Have you ever been there before in either a performance or audience capacity? Were you chased by any monsters hungry for your blood?

MK: Yes we did. It was an amazing experience. I had never been for sport or as spectator. The only monsters we ran into were the cops, a lady of Austin who now lives with the band, and Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow – he tried to proposition me for solicited sex… I declined.

SM: I don’t know what I’m more incredulous about, the fact that you had such a unique experience with such an amazing artist, or the fact that you turned down a once in a lifetime opportunity! Anywho, there’s been a lot of controversy lately surrounding the oil spill in the gulf. How would you address those that claim the disaster is a direct result of your music? Are there any other natural disasters you’d like to take credit for? And by natural disasters, I mean totally avoidable human error resulting in large-scale travesties.

MK: We had nothing to do with that shithe! The only natural disaster we take part in is full scale annihilation of corporate evil on this United Earth. Totally natural, totally warranted, and totally inevitable.

SM: Fine, fine. So, if you could have any dinosaur as a pet, what would it be?

MK: Denver, the last Dinosaur… maybe he’d teach me how to actually rock.

SM: One can only hope. Finally, what’s one word you’d like to end this interview with?

MK: Abstinence… It keeps the world spinnin’ roun’.

There you have it. Check out the band here and here. Or else.

Christian BC

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