“We don’t have a lot of stories that are safe for work,” the Teen Age’s guitarist Micah Weisberg says. “But we can tell you one about Chattanooga.”
The so-called “doo-wop garage” band has just finished a show at the Studio at Webster Hall, opening for Radkey. It’s one of the few they’ll play in Manhattan. The group is a firmly rooted Brooklyn band, even if its members are from all over: Singer and guitarist Matthew Degorio is a surfer from California; Weisberg comes from Boston; bassist Bill Dvorak hails from Jersey; and drummer Nick Brooks is from Cape Cod. They’ve also got their Brooklyn neighborhoods covered, residing in Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Williamsburg. As Dvorak says, “Generally speaking, there’s not a lot going on in the city.”
But back to Chattanooga. Weisberg is talking about a tour date in the midsize Tennessee town on their recent stint with fellow Brooklynites Lazyeyes. They played a venue called JJ’s Bohemia that had received negative Yelp reviews for putting Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” on the p.a. too many times. That, combined with the Southern-style spiked sweet tea (“We’re a drinking band,” Weisberg says), eventually led to Degorio jumping from a second-story balcony into the closed motel pool — and a casual visit from the police.
It sounds like a pretty typical night on tour with these guys, an anecdote perfect for the deafening, carefree punk rock style of the Teen Age’s live show. The night of the Studio performance, Weisberg’s mom was in attendance, and told her son his music was too loud. “That’s what you want your mom to say,” Dvorak says. “What if she was like, ‘It’s quiet! Turn it up!’?”
Founded in 2013, the Teen Age have released a string of singles, including the recent “Low Cunning” and “Pieces,” which came out six months ago on Old Flame Records. The Teen Age are currently working on turning that “loud” music into a new EP with a projected release date in February, just in time for SXSW. Before then, they’ll play several shows at CMJ, which they’ve played a few times before, and tour again in advance of the new record.
When Weisberg and Dvorak aren’t playing with the Teen Age, they’re making music videos for other local bands as Young Heart Productions. Thus far they’ve worked with more than 30 bands, including Dead Stars and Dreamers, producing inexpensive, high-quality work that gets music out there for a fraction of the cost. “We love it,” Weisberg says. “We see it from both sides. We know bands are strapped for cash, so we try to make it the most creative and efficient we can.”
When asked about what they’re listening to and how they feel about pop music — specifically Top 40 — they end up constructing a veritable Brooklyn Top 40, filled with bands they’ve played with or been in or are friends with. It’s the sound of a band entrenched in its local scene, the kind of band pumped to be playing CMJ with essentially hundreds of their friends.
“The scene here is very supportive, very creative, very collaborative,” Dvorak says. “There’s a lot of people who are in three, four, five bands. Everyone is friends. It’s a communal thing.”
The Teen Age will be playing CMJ shows on October 14 at Pianos (Upstairs) and October 17 at Elvis Guesthouse. For ticket information and more, click here.