Imperial Teen Grows Up And Returns with Feel the Sound


ImperialTeenInterview courtesy of

Imperial Teen has been together since 1996 (their debut, Seasick, was Spin’s number four album that year), but it’s been nearly five years since we last got new music from this beloved San Francisco indie pop band featuring Roddy Bottum and Will Schwartz on guitar and vocals, Lynn (Perko) Truell on drums and Jone Stebbins on bass.

Imperial Teen’s new album, Feel the Sound (Merge Records) was just released, and once again, Spin has shown the quartet some love – calling their SXSW appearance this year “one of the festival’s sheer joys.”

We asked bassist Jone Stebbins to catch us up.

Innocent Words: What have you been doing in the past five years since the last Imperial Teen album?

Jone Stebbins: I have been busy with my business doing hair, and I got really into my hobby of vintage travel trailers. I joined a group of ladies, and we travel around and fix up our old trailers; it’s fun. I also adopted a 13-year-old poodle that takes up a lot of my time. I got together with Imperial Teen as much as our crazy interstate schedules would allow us to write and play together.

IW: What has everyone else been doing?

Stebbins:  Will started a super cool band called Psychic Friend and recorded an as-yet unreleased record. Roddy is scoring the music in the hit kid show and movies called “Fred,” and Lynn is raising a family of loveable fun kids.

IW: Was there something in particular that brought everyone back together?

Stebbins:  We were never apart. It just takes a longer time for us to get stuff finished due to our scheduling challenges and the fact that we don’t live in the same city (or even state).

IW: I know you love doing crafts. What kind is your favorite?

Stebbins:  I love to knit, but I don’t have much time for it at the moment. I also like to sew, decoupage and embroider. Having a trailer gives you an excellent excuse to craft.

IW: Tell me about your salon business.

Stebbins:  I rent a chair in a salon. I have been doing hair on and off for about 24 years. I went to beauty school in my teens.

IW: Have you done any side projects with bands other than Imperial Teen?

Stebbins:  Not really. I play ukulele with a group of enthusiasts, but that doesn’t happen often enough to count.

IW: Which Imperial Teen did you see the most during your hiatus?

Stebbins:  I see everybody about the same. Roddy has family in the Bay Area, where I live, so I get to see him if he’s up visiting sometimes, but usually I see everyone when we all get together.

IW: What’s your touring plan?

Stebbins:  We plan to tour in spurts – the Northwest one weekend, a couple of Midwest dates another weekend, the East Coast over a few days. Unfortunately, due to our individual situations and schedules we don’t have the luxury of getting in a van and driving across the country for a few weeks.

IW: How did you learn to play bass?

Stebbins:  I just jumped in. I’m not that complicated of a player. I play very simple stuff. I took lessons from a cool San Francisco cat named Bill Noertker a couple of years ago to learn a little bit of theory and tricks.

IW: What do you know now that you wish you’d known in the ’90s?

Stebbins:  Maybe some awesome stock tips so I could have invested in companies that are big now – not that I had any money to invest.