While every day with a pet is a celebration, the first full week of May is officially National Pet Week, established in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “to honor the many important roles pets have in our lives and to promote responsible pet ownership.” To commemorate the week, we chatted with local musicians about their relationships with their own pets — today, we profile Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis and his tuxedo kitty, Tom Bombadil!
Are we correct that your cat’s name is Tom? Is he named after anyone in particular? Does he have any good nicknames?
Yes! His real name is Tom Bombadil, which is a character from Lord of the Rings. We sometimes call him Tom Tom, Major Tom, Tommy Lee.
How long have you and Tom been together?
We adopted Tom Tom from PAWS October 2013. They suspected him to be 1.5 years old at the time we adopted him. He came home from PAWS incredibly sick, and we had to take him to the emergency room. Our first few days with him were trying, but he bounced back quick and has been healthy ever since.
Does Tom influence your music, or musical choices, in any way?
Sometimes, if I find myself with an acoustic guitar around him, or if he’s in my studio while I’m on the piano, I’ll sing lyric placeholders about him over the melody I’m trying to sort out. So, there’s lots of “Tom Bombadil” demos. Also, lots of cute little meows on the recent demos, as he’s pissed that I’m neglecting him for so long when I’m in my home studio recording. I hope that makes it on the record somehow.
Does Tom respond to any particular music?
I’ve been getting really into synthesizers recently, and those things go pretty high up into the frequency spectrum. I can tell that some of the notes way up there freak him out. His ears start wiggling around like crazy!
Tom appears to be a tuxedo kitty… where is he dressed up to go?
He’s always looking dapper. He likes to get dressed up for his many adventures roaming around the depths of our basement!
Telekinesis is playing July 24th at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC for the Merge 25 Anniversary Shows. His most recent album, Dormarion, came out last year on Merge Records.