Telefone, 2023

Back in 1998, I was working at Spongebath Records in Murfreesboro, TN. If you’re unfamiliar, it was an independent label with a fairly small roster* and some larger partnerships with several major labels – Dreamworks and Elektra most notably. The band Self was signed to both Spongebath and Dreamworks.. and since I worked at Spongebath, I worked with Self.

That’s a longwinded way of saying, because of that job I met the members of Self and, thus, met the bass player, Mac Burrus. I do not recall how our friendship started specifically but I know I’ve watched Mac play with Self more times than I can recall and through some turn of good fortune can call him my friend.

Mac moved to LA, Self was dropped from Dreamworks, Spongebath dissolved but we always stayed in touch. He would send me demos from time to time of tracks he was fleshing out. He sent me a track called “Indigo” in 2011. A track called “Be Careful” in 2012, “Impressionable” in 2020. Another called “Wasted” all the way back in 2010.

Without pestering, I would offer him regularly to release some of these songs in an official fashion. Receiving demos from your friends is a treat but sharing them with the world is a delight on another level.

Mac rekindled a friendship with Texas based brothers Justin and Brandon Tapp. Their respective bands had wound down over the years and they, too, found themselves with a batch of songs that had no formal home. A long distance song writing collaboration was formed; Telefone was an apt name.

Telefone, Vinyl Jacket Cover
Telefone, Vinyl Jacket Back Cover

They crafted and honed the songs through the pandemic and came to yk with a batch of co-written songs that evoke 60’s Pop as much as they do Jon Brion. The demos that Mac had sent me a decade prior – “Indigo”, “Wasted”, “Be Careful” and “Impressionable” – were now evolved into the final tracklisting along with others, maintaining all of their original magic along with a proper polish. The Tapp’s own songwriting contributions are a delightful pairing; unique in their own way but perfectly complimentary.

We were lucky enough to have some notable names involved with finalizing the record, strangely all Grammy nominees! Robbie Lackritz (Feist) mixed two of the tracks, Chris James (Prince, Self) mixed one of them and John Baldwin (Jesus Lizard**) mastered the whole thing – all Grammy nominees.

The band let me conjure up some packaging options for them and I’m rather proud of how it turned out. It’s a bit psychedelic, a bit modern and has an innersleeve with some rather outrageous text layouts!

Telefone, Innersleeve Side A
Telefone, Innersleeve Side B

The record was released in March of 2023. For promotion, the band shot a video for “Indigo” that contains a number of easter eggs for Self fans… some more obvious than others.*** Beyond that, it’s a nice poignant piece that reflects the mood of the song quite well.

Over on the band’s Instagram – @telefonetheband – they posted individual stories behind each song. If you’re a fan of learning more about the creative and collaborative process, they’re a great listen. They’re also short, so you’ve really no excuse not to check them out.

They also shared an influences playlist called Telefone Ring that’s available on Spotify and YouTube Music. I love an influences mix and Telefone offers some surprising contributions.

Mac’s songwriting has always been a compelling experience for me and the Tapp’s contributions captured my attention fully. I’ve listened to this record countless times, my favorite track always changing over time. Hopefully this is just the first of many records. I’ve still got some demos from Mac that need that Telefone touch.


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