Teenanger's first LP with Southpaw Records, Singles Don't $ell, will release on September 17, but the wait until then might seem remarkably hard to get through. Since we're always doing things to proverbially have your back (digital back, that is), we've got the full album stream from the Toronto punks right here, as well as a short Q+A we did with the band over the world wide web. If you didn't know about Teenanger before, this is the time to get into them—dark and dismal and hard-hitting punk that feels reminiscent of Wire, but birthed from a Canadian rotted-out kindness. The tracks manage to flange and excel past our expectations for a standard punk—or even postpunk—output. They are sharp and crisp, but also remarkably hi-fi; this album feels like what could be done with a record like this one if it were intended to sound as good as it does. It's got hits of rage and discontent but they work to considerably raise your heart rate while keeping to a developed aesthetic. It's one of the first records we've listened to in a while that feels as tight and terse as its tongue-in-cheek title suggest. Teenanger may be aware that Singles Don't $ell, but when you've made a record of all phenomenal singles packed together into a deliberate package, who needs singles anyway?
Stream the full record here, then read some notes on life in Toronto, future plans, and the importance of Rodney Dangerfield.
What's it like to be a band in the Toronto scene? Is there a DIY scene that welcomes grimy punk bands?
Toronto is not a city that likes to be associated with anything “grimy.” I think at some point in the early 90's, a bunch of urban planners met in a remote underground cave and decided they would slowly destroy anything old and awesome in this city and replace it with a vast expanse of brushed aluminum, glass and neon blue lights.
For those who choose to look beyond the low-budget Blade Runner facade of Dundas Square, there are lots of grimy little corners where grimy punk bands and their grimy fans like to congregate. Kremlin and S.H.I.T., two of the most highly regarded new punk bands out there, happen to be from Toronto.
What was the process like of writing and recording this record? It feels remarkably hi-fi with a sharp edge.
We spent two weeks recording, which for us is a seriously long time. The bed tracks were done in a pristine 1980's-era studio that had more in common with Warrant and Whitesnake than anything we're into. Somehow the environment just made sense for us.
After that, we holed up inside Jon and Melissa's apartment and recorded all the overdubs there. That was right around the point where we lost our minds a little bit. It was the middle of a strangely cold winter, and we decided to abandon outside life and focus on the album.
I remember smoking a lot of hash and holding secret grudges against each of my band members.
What were you listening to when writing these songs? Who influenced the tracks?
I'd say that Jon's obsession with (and subsequent hording of) vintage synthesizers had more to do with the direction of this album than any music we were listening to. We're at the point where the essence of our sound has been well-established. The nucleus of these songs isn't all that different from our last record, but having these extra instruments around (and the time to experiment with them) gave us the opportunity to create all these counter-melodies and textural layers that really made things so much more interesting.
The track “Rut” addresses the feeling of being in a rut—how do you guys manage those times? Do you think being in a rut helps/harms your songwriting?
We're actually working on a collaborative cookbook right now, and that has been a welcome distraction from the ennui of daily life. We've selected well-loved recipes from each of our families and added our own modern variations. Chris makes these roasted garlic mashed potatoes that are borderline orgasmic.
What are the big future plans? Tours? Getting out of Canada?
We play in the USA pretty frequently. Our last tour was a quick jaunt south of the border during the Fourth of July weekend, and that was incredible. We swam at a frigid beach on lake Michigan, and watched a bratty child hurl a bucket of sand into his father's face.
We'll be touring again in the fall to promote the new album. The dates haven't been confirmed but it will likely be in October. I can't wait to go back to Chicago and get lost in the craft beer store again.
With the recent influx of adolescence-named bands (Tweens, Teens, Psychic Teens), how do you set yourself apart? What makes Teenanger different?
I'm pretty sure each member of Teenanger owns a copy of Rodney Dangerfield's “Rappin' Rodney” on wax. That definitely sets us apart, not only from bands with similar names, but also the vast majority of sane people in the world.
Who would be on your dream tour?
If Dewey Cox (from the film “Walk Hard”) was an actual person, we'd pick him in a heartbeat. I really like that scene where he says “Goddamnit, this is a dark fucking period!”