Tele­phone ex­plo­sion

NOW Magazine - - CLUBS & CONCERTS - By MICHAEL RANCIC mu­ | @there­was­nosound

A guide to the lo­cal la­bel’s most notable re­leases

Tele­phone ex­plo­sion Year Ten fea­tur­ing odo­nis odo­nis, Freak Heat Waves, New Fries, Teenanger and an­dre Ethier at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Fri­day (June 8), doors 8:30. $10. tick­et­, ro­, sound­scapes­mu­

In 2007, freshly formed garage punk band Teenanger re­lo­cated from Ot­tawa to Toronto, and with the ad­di­tion of bassist Melissa Ball, its mem­bers Chris Swim­mings, Jon Schouten and Steve Si­doli got to mak­ing a record. That self-ti­tled cas­sette de­but would act as an in­tro­duc­tion to one of the city’s most vi­tal bands and a la­bel that would be­come a pil­lar of the mu­sic scene: Tele­phone Ex­plo­sion Records.

The la­bel, run by Schouten and Si­doli, is cel­e­brat­ing its 10th year (though the first tape came out in 2007, the la­bel didn’t so­lid­ify un­til their sec­ond re­lease, Holy Co­bras’ Make Pyra­mids a year later) and are mark­ing the oc­ca­sion with a blowout at Lee’s Palace.

We met up with the two la­bel heads on the pa­tio of Schouten’s Bell­wood­sad­ja­cent pad to re­trace the one-time bed­room la­bel’s mile­stones over the years. Asked to se­lect highlights from their nearly 50-record-long discog­ra­phy, it be­came clear that they be­lieve they’re cur­rently re­leas­ing their best work yet.

TEENANGER, 2007 (TER001)

“I think that if you look back to that tape, there are a lot of el­e­ments that re­main a part of Tele­phone Ex­plo­sion,” says Si­doli.

Ev­ery as­pect of the tape was DIY, right down to the dup­ing, which was done by the band on a dual cas­sette player. There’s also the de­sign aes­thetic: “We went with a clear ac­etate cover in­stead of a tra­di­tional one, so we were al­ready think­ing about dif­fer­ent ways of pack­ag­ing and push­ing the en­ve­lope there.

“Mu­si­cally, the record is raw and fairly am­a­teur­ish, and so was the la­bel. It looks like a la­bel’s first re­lease, but not that [that la­bel] would last 10 years.”


This record marks the la­bel’s first foray into the world of reis­sues, which Schouten says now ac­counts for roughly half of their out­put. As fans of ex­per­i­men­tal elec­tronic artist Haack, they came across the name of Ted Pan­del, who man­ages Haack’s es­tate, in a doc­u­men­tary and reached out. Pan­del had just given the rights to The Electric Lucifer to an Aus­tralian la­bel that would reis­sue the al­bum on CD, so they opted to re­lease The Electric Lucifer Book II first, start­ing a part­ner­ship that would con­tinue with Haack­ula and fi­nally The Electric Lucifer.

At first they didn’t “even know there was a mar­ket,” Schouten ex­plains. “But the la­bel has al­ways been a re­flec­tion of what we’re into and where we go mu­si­cally. And it was what we were lis­ten­ing to.”

NEW FRIES: MORE, 2017 (TER043)

New Fries rep­re­sent a true break from the garage-rock-in­fused mu­sic the la­bel es­tab­lished it­self with in its first few years. Si­doli says it sounded like noth­ing they’d ever done be­fore, but the change was nat­u­ral.

“At some point the goal shifted and we wanted to be a la­bel that was known for putting out good, high-qual­ity mu­sic and not as­so­ci­ated with any kind of genre or style,” he says.

Schouten also re­mem­bers the re­lease fondly be­cause it marked the first time they were able to se­cure On­tario Me­dia De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion fund­ing. “We had a meet­ing with the band planned be­fore we knew we got the grant, so when we found out, we sur­prised them with cham­pagne and got re­ally drunk. It was a nice thing to cel­e­brate.”


Af­ter de­part­ing from Buzz Records, Odo­nis Odo­nis came to the la­bel with a brand-new sound and a brand-new record in hand (2016’s Post Plague).

“They sent it to us and we were just blown away by it. It was such a de­par­ture for them,” Si­doli says of Odo­nis Odo­nis’s syn­thier, less gui­tar-fo­cused di­rec­tion. “It felt like they com­mit­ted to some­thing new, and with No Pop they’ve con­tin­ued that. They had def­i­nitely bro­ken new ground and wanted to dou­ble down on that and keep go­ing.”


“When we started the la­bel, one of the first ideas we had was to do a record with An­dre,” ex­plains Si­doli. As fans of garage rock they loved the Deadly Snakes (Ethier’s for­mer band) and were happy to work with him.

“An­dre said he re­ally wanted to do mu­sic to field record­ings of the [free weekly out­door fes­ti­val] Tam-Tams in Mon­treal. So we dragged every­one out to the Tam-Tams on a re­ally hot day and recorded with the crap­pi­est tape recorder. It sounded aw­ful.”

“So he took an eight-year break be­tween records,” Schouten laughs.

When the tim­ing fi­nally worked out, Ethier sent the la­bel Un­der Grape Leaves, which Schouten says brings things full cir­cle.

“We’ve taken dif­fer­ent paths and now met at the same point again. That record meets up where we are mu­si­cally and son­i­cally.”

Si­doli agrees. “In spirit, there’s a vibe about it that’s hard to de­scribe but makes it feel as though it works along with ev­ery­thing else we’ve done.”


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