Teenage Bottlerocket released a new album several months ago called Freak Out! It’s the band’s fifth full-length overall and their second for Fat Wreck Chords. We spoke with singer/guitarist Kody Templeman and discussed the album’s recording process, as well as the meaning behind some of its songs. We also talked about touring, music videos and more. Pictured above from left to right are bassist Miguel Chen, drummer Brandon Carlisle, Templeman and singer/guitarist Ray Carlisle.
Bill – On your new record, you guys experiment with some different musical styles that you haven’t really explored in the past. Was this something that you intended to do or did it just happen on its own?
Kody – I think we were definitely trying to go for something a bit different. I think all of our records have progressed a little more. Warning Device was a little more different than just the straight up pop punk stuff that we did on Total. They Came from the Shadows went even further and I think this one goes further yet. We’re all fans of different kinds of music, so we just try to do what we want to do and try not to get stuck in one set of rules for writing songs.
Bill – What was it like recording the album with Andrew Berlin at The Blasting Room?
Kody – It’s awesome. We’ve got the best working relationship with him and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. He’s basically one of our good buddies. He’s got a kid now, so we would start working earlier in the day and then get done at about 6:00 PM so he could go home and spend time with his family. He’s so busy all the time that he never really gets to do that. Like I said though, it’s awesome. We’ve worked with him so many times that we have a process down. We do our stuff and he knows how we all work best. I usually sing better right when I wake up, so we’d save all the vocal tracks for morning. Or we’ll do bass tracks and I’ll go take a nap, and then get up and sing.
Bill – “Maverick” is somewhat of a tribute to the movie Top Gun. What made you want to write this song?
Kody – I think it all stems from the fact that we’re always quoting one of the lines from the movie. One of the guys in the movie says something like, “It’s not your flying, it’s your attitude.” When we’re on tour that quote always comes up for all different kinds of stuff. We’ll say stuff like, “It’s not your driving, it’s your attitude.” It pretty much applies to everything and has been used for everything. I think Ray just thought it would be cool to write a song about it. It’s kind of fun and it’s kind of a funny movie. It’s so pop culture.
Bill – “Done with Love” is one of the most personal songs that Teenage Bottlerocket has ever written. What inspired its lyrics?
Kody – I just went through a divorce last year and it’s probably the most personal song that I’ve ever written. It’s just basically about not wanting to rush back into anything and staying away from getting your heart broken and stuff like that, but then taking it to an extreme level to make it more interesting I guess.
Bill – “Summertime” is a classic TBR song and does a great job of capturing the band’s signature sound. What sort of things motivated its creation?
Kody – I’ve had that title for a long time. When we did Warning Device I had that title floating around. I tried doing some stuff with it, but I could never figure out how to work it so that it was a decent song. My ex-wife, when she moved to Wyoming, she used to live in Ohio or I don’t know where she lives now, but she hated the cold weather. I kind of took that aspect of it and it was a pretty rough winter when she was out here too. Like I said, I had the title forever and it just seemed like the perfect time to write something that made sense about it.
Bill – Tell me about the music video that you guys made for “Headbanger.”
Kody – That was just us basically throwing a party at Brandon’s house. We got a bunch of our friends together and just kind of shot it. It’s all tongue-in-cheek, just like the song is. Tony from Municipal Waste is swinging from a tire swing, he’s barely in there, but we were like, “Oh, you have to come and be in our video.” Magic Cyclops is one of our buddies from Fort Collins and he was like, “I’ll do the headbanger part!” It was a bunch of us just fucking off basically. For those that don’t know him, Magic Cyclops was on the tryouts for American Idol. The episode that he was on was hilarious because they kept hinting to him for the whole show and then they finally showed him at the end. People I work with are like, “You know that guy?” I’m like, “Yeah, he’s a super-cool guy. We’ve known him forever.”
Bill – Since joining the Fat Wreck Chords roster, your band has experienced a definite growth in popularity. What do you like best about being on the label?
Kody – I think the best part about it is that all the punk rock bands that all of us really like are on the label. They’re all our buddies. The Banner Pilot dudes are good friends and Dead To Me; we’ve always been friends with all those guys. It’s cool to be on a record label where we can all hang out. The NOFX guys are awesome; we have a blast when we’re out with them and their crew. That’s one part of it, the other part is that it’s a reputable label and they’ve got good distribution and promotion and all that stuff. They’ve definitely helped us out a ton.
Bill – What was it like to play at this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago?
Kody – It was cool, it was one of the bigger shows we’ve played, ever. We had no idea how it was going to turn out because we played so early on in the day, but it was rad. We were really stoked on the turnout. We hung out for the whole weekend and went and checked out other bands. It was just a really, really good time. Alkaline Trio and NOFX were definite highlights. It was cool seeing The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’ve always listened to that band. It was awesome seeing Iggy Pop. I’d never seen him before and I’m a huge, huge Iggy Pop fan. I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting about, but those were definitely some highlights. The Descendents were great. We’ve been around those dudes and stuff; they’re a fuckin’ amazing band. Usually when you go to a festival like that there’s a couple hours to kill here or there, bands you don’t really give a shit about, but there was pretty much something to check out that was good the whole time. I thought it was awesome.
Bill – Given that the band has played Chicago numerous times in the past, what are some of your favorite memories from the various shows you’ve played here?
Kody – I don’t know; they’ve all been good. We love Chicago. Back when Total was out, people used to think we were from Chicago because we played there so much. All the experiences really have been awesome. I can’t pick out one particular show that’s been rad because they’ve all been rad. Chicago is a rad city.
Bill – What else does Teenage Bottlerocket have scheduled this year in terms of touring or other plans?
Kody – We’ve just got a shitload of touring right now. We have a week and a half off and then we go out again with Toys That Kill and Masked Intruder, who are rad dudes. Then Smoke Or Fire joins up with us. Then we play a show with Propagandhi and The Menzingers in Atlanta, which is going to be super rad. Then after that we go out with Dropkick Murphys for three weeks. After that we do another stint with NOFX. We’re playing two shows in Minneapolis to make-up for the ones that we had to cancel. It’s a lot of touring and that’s just what we’ve got booked right now. I’m sure there’s going to be more stuff coming up. We’ve been talking to a promoter in Southeast Asia about going there and we want to go back to Europe probably at the beginning of next year sometime. We just want to get out and play our new songs as much as we can.