By Zach Collier
Last Friday, Provo Space rock group Telesomniac released their debut album, Thirty One Flashes In The Dark. We got a chance to speak with drummer Michael Ahern before the band has their official album release concert this Friday, August 12th, at Gezzo Hall. See what he has to say about the meaning of the album, Gandalfo’s sandwiches, and what it means to be a Telesomniac.
Before we begin, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from, and what is your role in Telesomniac?
I’m Michael Ahern and I’m from New York. I play drums for the most part, although we have fluid roles in the band.
In a sentence or two, describe Telesomniac. What do you sound like? What’s your aesthetic?
We were told once that we sound the way dreams feel. It ranges from ambient spacey sounds to really angry, intense music. We like to combine warm acoustic and cold electronic sounds in our music.
How did you guys arrive at that sound? Did it happen organically or was it something you all worked hard to reach?
I think we just sorta fell into it. I don’t think we ever actually sat down and said “Hey, let’s make THIS sound.” You can tell that from the way the tone of the album changes throughout it. We write based on a certain way we’re feeling and run with it regardless of the genre of music.
How did Telesomniac get started as a band? How did you all meet?
I’ve known Dave and Ben for years. They’ve always made music together. Dave met Brad and Hayden through work. It’s funny because I actually came into the band to just fill in on drums while they found a permanent drummer, but here we are now.
[Laughter] The permanent fill-in. Classic. So how did you come up with the name? It’s brilliant.
Our name actually just fell into Ben’s head. Aparently that word doesn’t exist except for this one Urban Dictionary entry. It’s someone that can’t make it through a film without falling asleep. Back when Dave brought that name to me, the way he described it, I thought it meant it was someone that NEEDED some visual and audio stimulation to fall asleep. I related to that twisted definition because growing up I dealt with pretty severe depression and without that stimulation I would just lay in bed for hours not being able to sleep. I think a lot of people can connect with that feeling. I still sorta refer to a telesomniac under my own interpretation.
Tell us a little bit about the upcoming album. What is Thirty One Flashes in the Dark about? How did you come up with the name and why is it significant?
It starts from a very lonely, confused, and angry place to where it shifts half way through into this enlightenment. It takes thirty one flashes in morse code to spell out “Hello Friend.” It’s the lighthouse at the end of the album on the verge of all this darkness that is shouting, “You can make it through this. I’m your friend and I will guide you.” That’s my interpretation, but Dave was the one who wrote the core of “The Lighthouse,” so I feel like his original vision should be shared too. When he wrote it he felt like things he had plans for in music and in life were finally coming into fruition, but he realized how alone he felt. So, the actual lighthouse is this stage that he can send these signals out that hopefully someone will see (or hear) him in this tower.
Describe the songwriting process for Thirty One Flashes. How does it compare to work you’ve done in the past? Are you satisfied with the way things have turned out?
A member will bring a core structure of a song to the band, and then we all put our own signatures on the track and morph it into a sometimes almost entirely different song. We were listening to the original demos of the album the other day and couldn’t help but laugh at how different it turned out.
Where was the album recorded, mixed, and mastered?
Hayden Manwaring, our bassist, recorded the album at his studio Do Tell Studio. Chris Graham mastered it for us.
Do you have a favorite track?
I feel like because of the way we’ve written the album it’d almost be like reading just one chapter out of a book. Although, if I had to pick, it’d be a toss up of “Dear Brother” or “Alive, Lucid.” Lyrically and the general emotion of those two tracks I really connect with.
What’s something interesting you learned about one of your band members during the recording process?
Well, apparently Hayden used to be a manager at a Gandalfo’s! If the band had known that sooner we would’ve been eating their sandwiches on the daily.
If you could be any musician – switch lives and careers with them – who would you be?
I don’t think I want to switch lives with anyone. I just don’t think I’ll connect with other musicians the way I have with Ben, Hayden, Brad, and Dave. I’d love to perform with Sigur Ros or Thrice, though. Or Stephen Cope. I’d love to help him perform an Officer Jenny song.
Solid answer. Final question. What role do you think Telesomniac plays in the Provo music scene? How are you doing your part to shape and improve the scene? What do you hope to accomplish?
There’s a monotony in the current Provo music scene. I’d like to think we’re a different sound. We’re trying to introduce a style of music that the Provo music scene hasn’t seen very much of.
Thirty One Flashes In The Dark is available on all digital distribution outlets. For a limited time only, the album is available at a discounted price of $6.93 at Telesomniac.com. Make sure to like Telesomniac on Facebook and stream our favorite track, “Shift,” from Spotify below. Tickets to their album release concert at Gezzo Hall are available for $5 online. Doors open this Friday at 7PM.