Local band makes a dent in the American market

But it’s not all private jets and gold-plated Jacuzzis for Tele quite yet

Tele is, left to right: Maverick (bass), Goose (keyboards), Iceman (drums) and Viper (vocals/guitars). David Lewis

For Canadian bands, charting on American radio and having their music appear on television shows are but mere fantasies right next to private jets and gold plated Jacuzzis. For Winnipeg’s Tele, cracking the American market is becoming a reality – but their journey hasn’t been easy.

Since their inception in 2004, Tele have worked tirelessly to perfect their driving, epic and original alternative rock. Countless tours across Canada, American radio play and spots on prime-time TV have made Tele ­­one of Winnipeg’s ­­­brightest up-and-coming bands. Yet despite all of their success, they remain unsigned to any record label.

“We’ve basically created our own label…the only thing that we’re lacking is the money,” frontman Matt Worobec said with a laugh, adding that he hopes to see Tele’s unsigned status change with the release of their forthcoming record.

The four-piece, rounded out by Zack Antel, Brendan Berg and Derek Allard, has been in and out of Private Ear Studios since January, recording new material with increasingly popular engineer John Paul Peters. Worobec described the new material as much more stripped down and organic than the songs on their 2007 debut.

Tele plans to release a series of digital EPs before releasing all of the material on a single record. By doing so, Worobec hopes Tele will stay on people’s radar much longer.

We all thrive under pressure, so I’m pretty excited to see what we can do under the gun.

Matt Worobec

Staying on the radar is certainly on Tele’s agenda. In August, the band appeared on CMJ magazine’s Top 20 Adds chart and began rotation on American radio.

For an unsigned Canadian band, charting on CMJ is a considerable accomplishment because it’s usually home to big-name indie acts like Metric and Animal Collective.

Tele has also licensed some of their music to television networks like MTV and NBC. Far from a fame-obsessed, money-grubbing rock star, Worobec’s aspirations for the band remain humble.

“I want to play music for the rest of my life. It can be the greatest job in the world, but the bottom line is you gotta make money doing it to survive – you have to figure out your own way to make money and do it. I just want to live comfortably and travel the world, and comfortably could be $16,000 a year, below the poverty line, that’s cool with me.”

Worobec said that while radio play, licensing and Internet publicity has helped expose their music to larger audiences, touring remains fundamental.

“For us, touring is the major vehicle to get our name out there because we can’t afford $100,000 of marketing and radio tracking and all that stuff.”

With their music appearing on radio and television across the continent and with more than enough talent to go around, Tele appear to be on the cusp of catching their big break. Indeed, it appears that all eyes and ears will be on Tele when their new material is released, a fact not lost on Worobec.

“We all thrive under pressure, so I’m pretty excited to see what we can do under the gun.”

Published in Volume 63, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 12, 2009)

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