by Geno Thackara
Look through the Teenage Bottlerocket catalogue and the first glance already tells you these guys are consistent. You see a series of covers using the same skull-and-arrows logo with changing colors – Warning Device uses the familiar yellow of hazard symbols, for instance, and the horror-spoofing They Came From the Shadows has a black and slime-green scheme straight out of Tales From the Crypt. Underneath the different shadings they like to stick to the basics. Fun catchy hooks and hard-rocking grooves are the order of the day, mostly at just the speed & volume that mindless headbanging was made for.
They stick to the pattern with the latest offering Tales From Wyoming (due March 31), borrowing the red and blue of their state flag for the cover, but life behind the scenes is a little different this time. This is the band’s first release with Rise Records – a partnership aimed at giving them a further boost and reaching more new audiences to convert.
“Rise has been great!” bassist Miguel Chen enthuses about the newest step. “We’re super-stoked about working with them so far. Bill brought a lot to the table as a producer – he helped push us harder and we were really happy with how the record turned out!”
That would be Bill Stevenson (of Descendents and Black Flag), the first outside producer the band has gotten to fully man the console after at least partly producing every previous recording themselves. That pushing has helped refine their reliable strengths and add the right dose of variety (a small one). “There are a couple curveballs, but nothing too crazy,” Chen says about the newest disc. It’s still a solid half hour of silly fun, whether they’re singing about relationships, werewolves or their favorite pizza place.
Another fun twist in the life of a punk rocker: he’s been developing an interest in Buddhism and yoga in recent years. “I got into meditation and Buddhism to sort of deal with the loss of my mother and sister,” he explains. “I had a lot of sadness for many years because of that, and eventually a friend of mine gave me a copy of Dharma Punx. That book changed my life.”
No, that doesn’t quite mean he’s been adding Asian motifs to the songs or perhaps leading the other guys in morning Zen meditation on the bus (as fun as that may be to imagine). “I think the music hasn’t been affected, but doing yoga definitely helps keep me in shape on the road.”
They’ve got a lot of road ahead of them, currently tearing around the US and Europe straight through the start of summer. “I don’t believe we are going anywhere new this time around,” Chen says, “but it should be a really fun tour! I would like to play one show in South Africa. So far we’ve done shows in North America, South America, Australia, Europe and Asia, so having one show in Africa would be amazing!”
When it comes to other artists they’d love to share that stage with in the future, he simply says Metallica – probably no surprise to anyone who noticed the dozen or so references to that band squeezed into the new single “Nothing Else Matters (When I’m With You)” in the span of three and a half minutes. Still, if they’ve reached the point where legends like Bill Stevenson and NOFX have become colleagues, who’s to say what partnerships are still to come?
Teenage Bottlerocket comes to the Trocadero tonight!