The Teen Age
By Rick Perez
Too often many bands start off with high hopes and dreams. As time goes on, reality starts to set in and those bands start to grasp that success not only comes from passion and drive, but also staying true to who you are as musicians. Once a band loses sight of that, odds are they end up falling by the wayside. The Teen Age is not one of those bands.
On one of the first warm days of the year, members of The Teen Age, a Brooklyn based band, met at my house for an early afternoon pre-game sesh. Digo, Micah, Bill, and I were about to embark on a one hour journey to Dead Horse Bay, so we needed the proper preparations. This isolated beach is littered with abandoned boats and broken glass, the type of objects that add character to a photo shoot. Down for the adventure, The Teen Age and I headed south.
On our way there, seated in the back of a nearly empty bus, we discussed a few topics like motivations, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and gravestones. When I asked them whether or not they hoped to have an impact on rock culture, they didn’t seem to worry too much about it. “If you think about the the impact you want to have, you immediately take yourself too seriously,” Digo explained. “To us, if we make no impact or no one likes us at all but we feel good about what we are making, that’s what matters.”
Their confidence in themselves shines through in their music. I have been following The Teen Age for almost two years now, and these guys have consistently produced the most catchy and memorable tracks. Their growth is apparent, yet they stay true to their doo wop, garage roots. As an artist, I sometimes find myself attempting to produce work that I think people will like instead of what I truly like. Doing so is always unfulfilling, and at the end of the day, I want to be proud of my work. I feel just like Digo when he says, “I just wanna be stoked on what we’re doing.”
Check out BoC’s interview and photoshoot with The Teen Age, where they talked about their new EP, Bad Seed, who they would be for a day, and the PG moments on tour.
Who are The Teen Age and what is your music all about?
Micah: Our music is a lot of about growing, suspended adolescence, nostalgia, a lot of the lyrics have to do with inner demons.
Digo: They are very in the moment, whatever I’m going through lyrically, and it just manifests itself musically. I wouldn’t say it’s the most thought out thing but it all has a cohesive theme based upon self loathing and self destruction. It’s not planned out but just ends up being the case for better or worse.
Bill: If you look at a band like The Ramones and what they were writing, they were able to take on their personal issues through relationship songs and observations about mundane things but in their own twisted way, which is similar to what we do.
Digo: It’s basically pop music with lyrics that mean something to me at least, or a way of therapeutically dealing with conflicts that I have in my brain. I would never call my friend and say, “Hey man wanna grab a beer and talk about my problems?” But I have no problem singing about it in front of a crowd of people.
Which quote or saying would you want to have on your gravestone?
Digo: Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Bill: “Fuck this guy!”
Micah: What did our friend Ali’s tattoo say? “Fuck this place”?
Bill: Ya he has a picture of a coffin that says “Fuck this place”. Ya, I would do that! Fuck this place.
Micah: Bill was here. We are all gonna have Bill was here.
Digo: I’m claustrophobic so I wouldn’t get buried.
Bill: I don’t think you’ll know if you’re buried, man.
Digo: Nah, but I think I will! I’d want to go out Viking style, where they light you on fire and send you off to the ocean. Tombstones are kind of weird. How are you going to have one saying that encapsulates your life?
If you could wake up in the body of someone else for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
Micah: Maybe like Mick Jagger for a day. 70s Mick Jagger. I would fly his plane around the world. Live that life.
Digo: I want to be like a perfect athletic specimen and just go around town running and jumping and feeling like a superhero just cause you are in a crazy athletic body. Or go to a bar and just bet people that I can outrun them or something. OR I would wake up as the best pool player in the world and just pool shark people all day.
Bill: I would wake up as a Wall Street exec. I would go to the bank, dissolve it, redistribute all their money to every middle class person #feelthebern.
Digo: I use the day for evil and you use it for good.
Bill: Altruistic purposes, man!
Digo: That’s the basis of our band. I also think it would be cool to wake up in Prince’s body, just hanging out in his recording compound. It’s just a bunch of stages and recording studios and he just lives there. He goes on stage by himself and just plays for like 6 hours. He’s like the most brilliant yet saddest man.
If The Teen Age could collaborate with a director and write the score for one of his or her films, who would it be?
Bill: The Blade Runner sequel? We would need more synth though.
Digo: I’m trying to think. There’s so many directors I like but our music wouldn’t fit with them.
Micah: Our sound needs to be in a nostalgic teen comedy or something.
Digo: I would love to do a really poorly done 80’s rom com.
Bill: John Hughes?
Micah: Ya, let’s go with that
You have recently released your EP, Bad Seed. How is it different than your previous EP’s?
Micah: Sound wise I think it’s our best recording yet
Digo: We didn’t want to compromise ‘cause it’s only four songs. We wanted to make sure that we stood behind every song. I think we accomplished that.
Bill: It helps to have a producer to make us sound our best.
Digo: It’s great to find someone you can work with, it makes such a big difference. If someone doesn’t know your band, doesn’t know your personality, then they might push you in a direction you don’t want to go, or let you settle. Jason knows what we have and pushes us in that direction.
Digo: Also, I was in really dark place when we first started (on the EP), and I didn’t really know how to write about that. I originally started writing about not so personal things. They were kinda dark but about other situations. Once everything started getting better, I was able to reflect and put myself back in those darker times. So with this EP, even though I was in one of the better times of my life, I was able to write about some pretty dark periods. When you are outside of something you have a little more of perspective on it and able to connect with it more rather than being in the midst of it.
Do you think writing helped you get out of those dark times?
Digo: It’s a form of therapy. If you talk about it enough it loses its power of you. In that sense it helped.
What’s the story behind your latest single, ‘Backwards’?
Digo: It’s about my ex and I struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. Even though we really cared for each other we came up with prolific ideas when we were shit faced but the next day when we were hungover putting the pieces back together was a lot harder than it seemed at 4am. It’s about being in a relationship where you care about someone but you are also struggling with your own shit. It’s hard to care about someone when you have to deal with your own shit.
How do you keep motivation as a band?
Micah: Setting goals for ourselves. Like ‘We have a show in two weeks. Okay, great, let’s get our set tight. Work on our performance, motivating ourselves in the moment’
Bill: Setting a fire under your ass and say ‘you need to be ready to do this thing’.
Digo: To not think too long term about everything. Just think about the next show coming up and how to prepare for that. It’s like a boxing match. If you get too distracted about meeting certain goals and expectations that are not in your hands it can get a little discouraging. If look at every show or recording as a fresh slate and you give it your all, you can feel good. Positivity will feed itself.
What sort of impact to you want to make on rock culture?
Bill: Everything has kinda been done. I think the idea is to take what we think are the best aspects about rock n’ roll, like the golden era of doo wop and punk rock, and take those influences and put our own stamp on it.
Digo: I don’t know, I think if you think about the the impact you want to have you immediately take yourself too seriously. To us, if we make no impact or no one likes us at all but we feel good about what we are making, that’s what matters. I just wanna be stoked on what we’re doing. If people love it or hate it it’s kinda out of our control. Making an impact doesn’t matter.
What is your most memorable moments on tour?
Bill: Hmmm, what are we allowed to tell?
Micah: Is this a PG interview?
Digo: What happens on tour stays on tour?
Bill: What about the pool incident? It’s not that bad.
Digo: Ya but it’s so cliche rock star. There are better stories.
Bill: We set off fireworks at a lot of different places.
Digo: This one time everyone picked a cassette of a band they fucking hated. We all bonded on the hate for Eric Clapton cassette
Micah: We taped it to the firework
Bill: It ended up being too heavy so the firework shot right back at us and we had to dodge and everything.
What’s next for The Teen Age?
Micah: We have two music videos coming out, one for ‘Backwards and one for ‘Liquor Store’. Our good friends Steven and Dan
Bill: From Nimble Fox Productions
Micah: I don’t want to give too much away, but they had this green screen after effects type of thing that fits with our sound.
Digo: That’s what they told us but we were in front of a green screen so we have no idea haha
Micah: Haha but ya I think it will look amazing. Right after that hopefully record a new single.
Digo: Ya get back in the studio with Jason and get two singles out by the end of summer.
Bill: Ya it will be summer festival season! Northside is coming up
Micah: Color Me Bushwick, too