by Mandy McGee
Long time friends Nick Krill and Joe Hobson (members of Spinto Band) along with Albert Birney (filmmaker) and Catharine Maloney, (photographer) make up the indie-pop Delaware band Teen Men. With their vibrant guitar riffs, soothing synthesizers and calming vocals backed with electronic rhythms, Teen Men found a way to marry visuals to their music.
I have been a fan of the Spinto Band for years, so I was very excited to chat with them before they head off on tour for the summer with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Each member contributes a different aspect of artistry and all have fond memories of music growing up. I asked them what their earliest memory of music was and I love the sentimental answers I received.
“Jumping on the bed with an old marching band drum while my dad played Beatles records or classical music,” says Krill. “Also, swinging on a swing when I was in day care trying to kick the clouds with my feet, and singing ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ by the Rolling Stones.”
Maloney recalls, “My dad teaching my brother and I the 7th Cavalry March and playing his bugle while we marched around the living room.”
“My earliest memories of music are my mom singing her old camp songs to me as I fell asleep as a baby, and my dad playing his guitar and me touching his strings to mess him up. My earliest memories of recorded music are The Beatles, Michael Jackson (specifically Thriller) and the Phil Collins song ‘One More Night’,” says Birney.
Hobson remembers, “My first memory of music is my dad playing me ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ on his guitar.”
Teen Men was a gradual evolution with no real plan or goal in mind, just ideas thrown around to see what worked and what felt natural. What started off as a spontaneous one-off project with Krill, Hobson and Birney became something bigger and better than they could have dreamed. Soon after, Maloney came into the mix to offer more visual guidance to the process.
They put a lot of work into combining visuals and music , but it wasn’t always easy, so if something wasn’t working they would try a new approach and stay on a positive path about it. There was a lot of learning and communication to understand where individually they were coming from. Sometimes they start with an idea and build a tune up around that and sometimes they try and make the video and song simultaneously. Either way, they always have discussions about what visuals make sense for the song.
As for the recording process, the band wanted the main recording to be spontaneous and quick. Over a few days in the summer of 2013 they tracked a majority of the songs and began mixing in spring of 2014. A lot of the tracking was loose where different instruments were brought in and recorded as well as samples and loops to see what would mix and match. This was a breath of fresh air for each of the members because they had all previously came from doing more intense projects.
Since 2013, I have seen this project grow and their live shows are a real treat. They constructed the videos specifically for each song and sometimes the band as well as the audience interacts with them. If you are able to catch one of their shows you definitely should. The tour with Clap your Hands Say Yeah starts May 26th in Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s and ends August 2nd in NYC at Bowery Ballroom. Teen Men’s self-titled debut LP comes out on June 9th on CD / iTunes / cassette tape / etc. and the vinyl will be released on July 14th. To Pre-Order the record, or check out the tour dates, you can visit their web page.