Telstar’s TELSTAR
Posted on:
February 16, 2013
News, Telstar
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Telstar’s TELSTAR

Telstar (the band) was formed in 2011

by Eva Gardner (former bass player for Mars Volta and daughter of Kim Gardner, bass player for The Creation and The Birds), Chris Unck (producer/engineer and multi-instrumentalist) and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Stew Heyduk.


Like their inspiration Joe Meek’s top tunes, their recordings are deceptively light, amiable pop – but underneath the hood are some complex mechanics – dense constructions with gorgeous, sinewy hooks and dark, puckishly playful lyrics sung in perfectly pitched pop vocals (lead and backing).

The band member’s individual talents are extremely well cultured – strong enough to shuck the artificiality that plagues 98% of modern pop and clever enough to wear their influences, not on their sleeve, but in the fabric of their passion for what they do.

We asked Eva & Chris for their thoughts on Joe Meek:


Eva Gardner

Eva: “Joe Meek’s story is so fascinating to me for so many reasons.  What a character, with the musical catalog to match!
After learning about Joe’s life and music, I just could not get enough of him.  There are times when all I want to listen to is his music – over and over again. It happens often actually. To be who he was with the ideas that he had - particularly during that era – creates a real fascination for his genius. He was on a road virtually untraveled and many elements were stacked against him – socially, within the music business, etc. Yet he created his own rules in the industry and invented a distinctive sound in the studio which stands up to this day. Joe created timeless music even though he was tone-deaf and without a good sense of rhythm – that just adds to his intrigue and I find it so inspiring.

When I listen to music that Joe created, it summons a child-like joy within me. There is so much character and charisma in a song like “Dumb Head.” It’s so quirky and lively – I want to cross my eyes and sing along in a ditzy voice. I also think part of that fun has to do with the imagery I get when I hear songs like “Have I the Right?” – knowing that the stomping sounds were created by literally stomping on floorboards. I just want to stomp along! Or jump on the bed. And I love that.”


Chris Unck

Chris: “Joe Meek.
Love is what I hear, I hear a new world… A world of love. 
Joe will inherit the earth when people hear his new world. 
So special is the music we love and how rare is it? It’s as rare as Joe Meek. 
I hear his world in every thing I love… I hear how it directly affected the Beatles 
& the whole British Invasion… I hear his tricks and inventions on Lonnie Donegan’s voice who would sing into Joe’s mics and in a flash this new world of love would flow into the ears of a teenaged Paul McCartney and John Lennon inspiring them to create a whole new world of love… for us all.

As a child, I used to think that tiny people were in the TV sets and radios around the house… I was instantly taking apart everything in the house and also getting into hot water with my dad. Once I got all the screws out and opened the radio — I was astonished that no people were in there (and for that matter it looked like chaos)… My explorations yielded a let-down.. All i wanted to ask them tiny people was how they got their voices so big and punchy! 
My dad sat me down and explained electricity, RF and how we all communicate and people like him were in a studio downtown with cue sheets and speaking into Mics and it was broadcasted all over for everyone to enjoy.

photo©: J. Michael Raby

photo©: J. Michael Raby

I knew then that I would start a journey that would last a lifetime. Microphones, tape and magnetic energy… We are all frequency, we are all magnetic; I am frequency and magnetic. So I started to record everything and anybody who would get in front of a microphone… 
I learned all that I could learn… I learned from classic nobodys all the way to the world’s best engineers… And they all understood this… This thing that Joe knew… In my mind, he implemented this everyday he woke. He knew this… It drove him.. and love prevailed… 
Joe was a pioneering engineer, he made music cool and not stiff and boring.

Not only do I see a new world, I hear a new world… Joe’s sound inspired the British Invasion. His attitude stood as a form of liberation – a revolution for a generation that would take it there.. People became people because Joe did… He was empowering and the youth were transfixed. 
Love could now be heard and shared all over the world! What an amazing moment in human history… To me, Joe knew this… He also knew that it would ultimately swallow him whole… 
When real love has no bounds it can become volatile… Then came punk rock…”



We love this band – unashamedly. We admire their bold, collective appreciation for Joe Meek’s production aesthetic and ethic — including the going-the-distance move of naming their band after Joe Meek’s biggest hit, “Telstar” (1962). Telstar’s “Telstar” video is especially clever in its incorporating references to the “visual” Meek as well with nods to the Scopitone for the Tornado’s “Robot” and even Joe’s personal home movies.

We have the proud pleasure of announcing this band’s plans to eventually record an entire album’s worth of Joe Meek re-imaginings between other projects (like Eva’s stint as touring bassist for Pink’s year-long tour!) — and to prove that this is something to get excited over to the point of anxious despondency, we recommend you take a look at their videos for 2 of Joe’s constructions: “Telstar” (originally recorded by The Tornados, written by Joe and arranged by the band)

and “Heart Full Of Sorrow” (written by Stephen Reading, originally recorded by Heinz).

Enjoy the conversation

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