Talking acid with Teenage Bottlerocket

Wyoming’s pop-punk sensations, Teenage Bottlerocket, are returning to the province of Quebec this week. Touring for their new album, “Stay Rad”, which came out on March 15th on Fat Wreck Chords. Since they’re not stopping in Montreal, we had our very own Samantha Morris call up Ray Carlisle for an old fashion telephone shindig.

When bands release new albums, they generally tour to promote it. That’s how it works. So, with Teenage Bottlerocket dropping a brand new disc on us, it is little wonder that they’re back out on the road again. With Ramona in tow, also with a new record out (… are you catching my drift here?), and since the two groups share an agent with Red Scare, well, the pairing was inevitable. Ray and the lads begin their current tour in Quebec City this week. Will have a stop at the newly branded Montebello Rock (As Rockfest went bankrupt, unfortunately) but won’t be stopping in Montreal. Which sucks. There was tremendous amount of backlash thrown at Rockfest. Allegations made. Harsh words spoken. A lot, and we mean a lot of angry bands and such. For the fans, though, the experience was a dream come true. A rockers weekend of debauchery. A refugee camp for every manner of delinquent imaginable. Three days of being piss drunk and high as, as, as something really high! Yeah. It was like being at camp, as a kid, with no parents. With booze. And sex in tents. There was even once a lake of piss. Ok. So it wasn’t without its issues. But what the hell is more Punk rock than a lake of piss!

Anyway! Teenage Bottlerocket and Ramona were the two first bands announced for Rock. It’s going to take some time to get used to calling it that. Rock. That’s it? Just… rock? Alright. Where were we? oh yeah! With a lot of bands making it public knowledge that Rockfest still owed them money, others were apprehensive and slow to commit. “It’s a smaller one, we were a little sketched out, you hear all these terrible stories about previous problems.” said Carlisle. “but we’ve heard from the promoters. It’s not like they aren’t returning our emails or anything. We’re confident it’s going to be good show, even with the doubts. Here we are ,we’re gonna rock it. You know it’s going to be a party. I’m looking forward to it, though unfortunately, with the radius clause, we
can’t play Montreal.”

A radius clause, for those that may not know, is a contractual obligation that prevents an artist playing within a certain radius of an event. Normally for three months before and three months after the gig. So, if you’ve ever wondered why a certain artist is skipping your city. That could be the reason. Or maybe they just don’t like your stupid backwards town. Although times differ, it seems to be more of a North American thing. Otherwise the great European festivals would be at war with each other. Fighting for talent. Think that’s bad. Coachella forbids the artists it books from playing between the 15th of December to 1st of May anywhere in the continent.

“It sucks ’cause we love playing Montreal” said Carlisle. “We have so many stories and so many fun times being around there. Our bass player Miguel was married there. His wife Lilly is from there. She plays in the band Oh My Snare.” Montreal loves Teenage Bottlerocket, too. One of Carlisle’s favorite tour memories took place here about eight years ago. “We played with Nofx at Metropolis, and there was this older guy in the balcony box seating with this young girl. Fat Mike, called them out by saying ‘hey what did you do to score that upper box seat? Did you suck that old man’s dick?’. Turns out it was the owner of the Metropolis and his daughter. He then proceeded to come back stage and kick the door in. We’re all sitting backstage and all hell broke loose. They were playing two nights at the Metropolis and the mic was almost pulled for the show. That was one crazy night.”

The boys will rocket off on a jet plane tomorrow to kick off their tour in Quebec City. Stop off in Montebello Friday. Toronto on Saturday and back into the United States following that. Tour dates can be found here. One thing is for sure. Teenage Bottlerocket will be keeping an eagle-eye on their van. Their buds in The Penske File had their van and gear stolen in Montreal just a few weeks ago. Something that is all too common of an occurrence. “You know, Montreal has always been famous for that.” commented Carlisle.  “I saw that they had quite a successful GoFundMe to help get all there shit back, which I thought was great. You know, the community comes together to get back things they’ve lost. I love Travis, I love that band. I was really bummed to read that. You gotta look after your shit in Montreal. It’s always been that way, not just at Pouzza It’s every fucking day. That is where Mike Watt got his bass stolen that he’s had forever. He played with the
fucking Minutemen with this bass. It was a Gibson SG or something. A ’78. He had ’til he was on tour with The Stooges. Who knows where the fuck it is now?” We wish we knew

Did we mention there’s a brand new Teenage Bottlerocket record

For the group’s eight studio release, Stay Rad! – the band opted for something of a throwback. Old logo, older sound. A return to Fat Wreck Chords after a short stint on Rise Records. Of course, the new record is more of a retreading of previously stomped ground. It’s progress. Lessons learned. Experiences gained. Blended into the old, surefire recipe – and the result is cake.

One of the many standout tracks on the record, “Anti-Social Media”, seems to speak about Ray and his time away from social media. So since we had him on the phone and all. “I try to stay away from it”, Carlisle said. “I had a break for a bit, but when I’m with the band or on a long drive it’s the easiest way to see what’s going on. Keeping in touch with my kid, and also to let people know we’re playing in canada soon.”

Then there’s a track named “The First Time I Took Acid , Was The Last Time I Took Acid”, which is begging to be asked about. Just asking for it. “We were driving to a show with the band The Nobody’s and I think The Lillingtons too, shoot… who else was there? Might have been a bigger band playing as well. Anyway, Jon Snodgrass was in town and he was leaving to go record some stuff in Tulsa. Someone mentioned something about dropping acid and he said ‘The first time I did acid, was the last time i did acid.’ I thought that was great, so that’s the story of how we got the title.” Now I’m kicking myself for not asking Snodgrass about that when we spoke at Pouzza. L’esprit de l’escalier.

But wait. Lets investigate. Somebody said something about dropping acid. Are these guys on drugs? The shock. The horror. The exclusive scoop. Extra! Extra! Punk band on drugs. “I had ok experiences on acid until i didn’t.” Carlisle joked. “Never again. All my friends we were out camping and the vibe went sour. It was like we’re all gonna die! The evil spirits took over in our heads, and it was like please make this fucking end, and well, you can’t. There’s no stop button. So we were just stuck there. I remember the next day, my old band, Homeless Wonders had a show. I told my mom I didn’t wanna play it. That’s how traumatic this experience was. I was like,I’m not gonna play in my band! and my mom was like, you’re stupid! You’re playing the show! I was like, okay mom, I’ll do it.”

Stay Rad is also their first album of original material since the tragic death of drummer Brandon Carlisle, Ray’s brother, in 2015. A topic we didn’t want to bring up. Nobody wants to talk about the loss of a close friend or family member. Carlisle was eager to talk about his new band mate, however. “Darren’s a great dude. Love him.  It’s fun to have a new dude in the band, especially in other countries. He’s always motivated to go out, walk around and do stuff. When we sorta have the more jaded approach. You know, we’ve been to Rome three times already, or whatever the city may be. He’s really motivated the band to get off our asses to get around and check out different castles whenever were in Germany. He’s bummed out that we like to go to the movies, like were in New York city, and you guys wanna go to the movies?, so it’s not all perfect.”

Lets leave this on a final note. Drugs are bad. But they inspire good music.

Interview conducted and written by Samantha Morris.

 

 

 

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