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Telekinesis Reveals Which Rock Stars Are Aliens, Performs ‘Dormarion’ Beauties

Telekinesis / Photo by Kyle Johnson

“I love straight-ahead rock records,” Telekinesis mainman Michael Lerner told SPIN, speaking on the phone during a recent interview, “but I also love records that that took a lot of risks.” Those twin affections are in full flower on the band’s third full-length album, Dormarion, due April 2 on Merge. The willfully diverse, irresistibly catch collection sets Mersey Beat jangle rock next to synth-heavy new wave next to power pop.

Lerner, 26, who lives and works in Seattle but recorded Dormarion in Austin with production help from Spoon drummer Jim Eno, Spoke with SPIN about some of his favorite things — and his firm belief that Eddie Vedder is an alien. 

As a bonus, the always amenable Lerner swung by the SPIN offices a few weeks after the interview to play stripped-down versions of some Dormariontracks (“Symphony” and “Lean on Me”) as well as a cover of Teenage Fanclub’s dreamy “The Concept” without his new touring band, which features Erik Walters of the Globes (guitar), Say Hi’s Eric Elbogen (bass), and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag and the Minders (keyboards).

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
For [Dormarion] specifically I was really influenced by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and their album Dazzle Ships. It was a pretty big deal for me. It’s one of those records that doesn’t sound like anything else. Their unabashed love for Kraftwerk is awesome. I think Dazzle Ships is the record that ended their career, like they had a bunch of pop hits —  they wrote that song “Enola Gay.” They were one of those synth pop bands for a while, and then they did this record. It’s basically three song songs that are really poppy and catchy and super cool, and the rest of it is totally weird samples from shortwave radios all over the world. And it’s unbelievable. It’s so cool. And  I was listening to a ton of New Order, which is really a mainstay for me.

Spoon’s Kill the Moonlight
I’m a giant, giant fan of Spoon. And I think the record that really made me a huge fan was Kill the Moonlight. I was pretty young when I heard that, I think 16, so it was a formative part of my musical upbringing. I didn’t have a broad musical taste at that time in my life, and there was something really intriguing about that record. I loved the way it sounded. I’m a drummer, so I absolutely loved the drums on it. Stuff like “Jonathon Fisk,” I was totally obsessed with that song. I think I probably played drums to that song in my room in my parent’s house a hundred times, pretending I was in the band. It was really important record for me.

Old Fashioned Hobbies
Most of the things I really like doing are outdated or completely pre-historic. I love Polaroid photography, and I’m really bummed out that you can’t do that any more without spending your entire savings account. I also love being in a dark room and developing my own photos, which is becoming increasingly difficult to do. That’s my hobby, but I feel like it’s kind of being encroached on. And most of the Polaroid film is totally gone, which is such a bummer. I also love making records on a tape machine, and that’s becoming something you don’t do anymore because it’s really fucking expensive. And no one has a tape machine anymore. So I feel like all of my hobbies are becoming outdated, which is sad.