by Bill Repko
Teenage Bottlerocket formed back in 2001, from the small town of Laramie, Wyoming. They’ve toured throughout the US and Europe, attracting a wide array of punk rockers from various parts of the world. Drawing from the influence of bands like The Hampton Brothers, Ramones, and Pegboy, they have continued to maintain the flippant spirit of punk with their off-kilter lyrics and raucous sound.
I sat down with Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket and asked him a few questions about life on the road and the band’s writing process. Well, I sat down, he paced around the outside of a gas station searching for a phone signal; I had air-conditioning and he had a hot sun. If our roles were reversed, it would have been a fine example of poetic justice, but since they weren’t, I suppose it was just dumb luck.
In tune with the grand scheme of punk’s pejorative thought process, Teenage Bottlerocket uses bacchanalian wit to poke fun at relationships, the party scene, and daily interactions: “I would say we stay away from heavy subjects. Our whole deal is to have fun and enjoy ourselves and I think it kind of comes out in our lyrics as well.”
Most of their music remains whimsical and carefree; songs like “Necrocomicon” – the comic book of the dead – started with wordplay and slowly developed into a full blown anthem: “Kody had written the song and I think he just combined the necronomicon, from the Evil Dead movies, and the comic-con, the gathering of mirrors in San Diego, you know, with the Star Wars enthusiasts and what have you.”
While on the Warped Tour, Teenage Bottlerocket has used their time to further broaden their horizons with the music industry: “It’s been of the more fun tours we’ve done. When we went into it, there weren’t too many punk bands playing the tour, but it’s been great to go see new bands and we keep telling our fans, who don’t know a lot of the bands on the tour and want to come see us, I say they ought to come and see new bands and not be too stubborn about discovering new things[…]There’s this band, Beartooth, who’s on our stage and who’s excellent. And another band called Scare Don’t Fear, I definitely became a big fan.”
Carlisle and I discussed the lineup from some of the previous tours, back when punk was much more of a prominent force: “We grew up going to the tour and saw Bad Religion, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Pennywise; the list goes on. This year there’s a group of them. We had Bowling For Soup. They just left yesterday; great guys, great band. I would definitely say they were punk. Less Than Jake. But yeah, there’s a lot of electronica happening. There’s some DJs and then there’s hip-hop and a lot of screaming bands. I would say it’s a fairly eclectic mix of music going on this year, so it’s actually been fun in that regard and it’s coming inline with the times. It’s an honor to be one of the few punk bands invited out this year. And I think it helps us stand out a little bit.”
Their last album was released back in 2012, entitled Freak Out! and for those patiently awaiting for the arrival of their next release, have no fear, the band has planned to head back into the studio and begin recording sometime in November/December. “We’ve been hammering them out and working on them all the time. So, it’s been a major focus. After the Warped Tour ends on August 3rd I’m sure it’ll be something we turn to. We’ll need a few months to wrap it up. We’re pumped. We’re going to record with Bill Stevenson and hopefully have the record out by next year.”
Despite the awesome stripped down version of “Fall For Me” performed for Punks In Vegas, Carlisle assured me that there would be no acoustical slated for release anytime soon: “The acoustic thing is something that Ray does for fun, but as far as an entire record, that would be a little ambitious. I don’t really see that happening. If there was going to be an acoustic record, something Ray was going to do, that would be something he’d do on his own, but an acoustic record was something we never talked about.”
As the years have progressed, Carlisle vaguely described how the creative process has changed over the years for them. “As you get older, you question more of what’s good enough to cut it lyrically. It’s become a little more refined over the years. With a lot of writers, I’m sure it’s that way as well, but our philosophy has always been the same, I think. We’ve gotten a little more picky over the years. When you’re younger you can write a song and love it so much, but a few years later you’ll ask yourself, ‘What were you think?’. So, maybe some of the stuff we have written in the past wouldn’t cut it now, but we do enjoy our catalog and are happy with the stuff we’d written. Not a lot has changed. It’s always been about writing the best music we can and the same goes for right now.”
Before letting him get back to his tour, I needed to get him with a hard hitting question. Years of training, work, and persistence led up to this moment. All of those other questions paled in comparison. I paused for a moment, deeply exhaled, and threw it at him: Would you rather read a Penthouse magazine in a crowded daycare, or a biography of MLK at a KKK rally? It didn’t phase him.
“MLK. I always like stirring up trouble.” And that, my friends, is punk music in a nutshell.