Interview with Ray Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket
Interview by Shahab Zargari
Photo by Dawn Wilson
Over the past 11 years, Teenage Bottlerocket have grown from a small-town band based out of Laramie, Wyoming, to become a prolific, constantly touring, internationally-loved pop-punk force. After releasing several EPs and a couple full-length albums via Red Scare Records, the boys leaped to Fat Wreck Chords in 2009. Their third release (and second full-length) for Fat Wreck Chords, Freak Out!, is out now. Ray Carlisle and I sat down for a quick Q&A to catch up for the first time in more than half a decade.
It’s been a long time since the last time I interviewed you guys for Razorcake — six years, to be exact. Miguel had just joined the band on tour, and Total had just been released. What has transpired since then? What have been your favorite moments or achievements?
Wow, it has been a long time! Since then, we’ve been lucky enough to sign to Fat Wreck Chords and continue playing shows. I would have to say that touring Europe and Australia with NOFX and Frenzal Rhomb has been some of our favorite moments. I mean, we are from Wyoming, and heading overseas with some of our favorite bands was beyond our wildest dreams. We feel fortunate with all of our accomplishments.
In regards to your newest album, Freak Out!, one of you has been quoted as saying “Overall, this record is us taking what we’ve always done, and adding in some tricks we’ve learned over the years.” Care to elaborate? What sorts of trickery is involved in creating this sweet pop-punk magic?
We’ve been at it for a little while now. When we first started writing songs, we had a fairly strict “keep it simple” philosophy. Over the years, that got boring. Now, we haven’t become Rush or anything like that, but with this record we didn’t hold back when it came to trying to make things interesting. We took what we’ve liked about our older songs, and tossed in some new ideas that we thought the older tunes may have lacked. Some examples might be backing more verses with guitar leads, more dynamics on the drums, more backing vocals; you know, nothing too crazy. But enough to keep things fun for us.
Did you re-record the songs from the Mutilate Me seven-inch, or is Freak Out! from the same recording session?
We didn’t re-record — it’s the same sesh. But we remastered them in order to match the EQs on the remaining tunes on the record.
A lot of bands with small-town roots eventually leave for larger cities, but you guys have maintained your base in Wyoming throughout your career as a band. What is it that keeps you coming back to your hometown at the end of each tour? And what advice would you give to any other small-town bands trying to break out onto a national scene?
My kid Milo lives here in Laramie, Wyoming, and my job is based out of Laramie as well. I would just tell people in smaller bands to enjoy themselves. I’ve noticed that if you’re looking forward to a local show, or heading out on a big national tour, excitement is excitement. Don’t focus so much on where the band can be — focus more on enjoying yourselves. Write tunes that you love, and you can’t go wrong. Oh yeah, and get the fuck out of town.
What are your touring plans for the rest of 2012?
We are going out in July with The Dopamines and Elway. That tour is mostly the West Coast. We are going out with Nothington and Masked Intruder in August. That one is the East Coast stint. We are doing Riot Fest Chicago and Riot Fest Dallas, with some dates with NOFX in between. Then we’re going back to Gainesville for the Fest! We are also in the process of booking a Midwest loop that will take us into Texas, and then heading to Southeast Asia in November. We are really looking forward to getting out there and playing.
Is it too early to ask, or are you guys already at work on material for your next full-length or EP?
We’ve talked about what color we want the next record to be. We are due for blue.
What’s in store for Teenage Bottlerocket over the next six years (when we’ll no doubt do another interview)?
That’s a weird question. Teenage Bottlerocket has always recorded, toured, then repeated. So if we’re lucky in six years, we will have more tours and more records under our belt. We can only hope. Thanks!
Shahab Zargari runs Geykido Comet Records with his wife, Heela Naqshband, and is a frequent contributor to VerbicideMagazine.com.
Teenage Bottlerocket Summer Tour
7/17 Steamboat Springs, CO @ Tugboat Bar and Saloon w/ Redbush
7/18 Ft. Collins, CO @ Aggie Theater RECORD RELEASE! w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/20 Edmonton, AB Canada @ Avenue Theatre w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/21 Calgary, AB Canada @ The Gateway w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/22 Vancouver, BC Canada @ Venue w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/23 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/24 Portland, OR @ Backspace w/ Dopamines, Elway
7/25 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/26 West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour w/ The Dopamines, Elway
7/27 San Diego, CA @ Shakedown Bar w/ The Dopamines, Elway, The Bombpops, Tiltwheel
7/28 Scottsdale, AZ Chasers w/ Dopamines, Elway, Look Out Look
7/29 Albuquerque, NM Amped w/ The Dopamines, Elway, Stabbed in the Back
8/17 Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/18 London, ON Canada @ Call The Office w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/19 Toronto, ON @ Canada Horseshoe w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/20 Montreal, QC, Canada @ Les Foufounes Electriques w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/21 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/22 New York, NY @ Santo’s Party House w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/23 Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/24 Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
8/25 Baltimore, MD @ Otto Bar w/ Nothington, Marked Intruder
8/26 Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks w/ Nothington, Masked Intruder
9/14 Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze w/ NOFX, Dilliner Four, Arms Aloft
9/15 Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest w/ Rise Against, Descendents, Dropkick Murphys, Slapstick, The Gaslight Anthem, Less Than Jake and more
9/18 Indianapolis, IN @ Deluxe w/ NOFX
9/19 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts w/ NOFX
9/22 Dallas, TX @ Riot Fest w/ Rise Against, NOFX, Descendents, The Gaslight Anthem, Less Than Jake, Andrew W.K. and more