The Teenage Bottlerockets are in the process of becoming the next great pop punk overnight success. And, it’s only been eight years in the making.
Formed in 2001 by brothers Ray and Brandon Carlisle, with the help of a couple of friends in the improbable setting of Laramie, Wy., the group took a jones for the Ramones and a knack for writing catchy songs and turned it into one of the most infectious bands to come out of the middle of nowhere.
There have been a couple of lineup changes over the years, but now the group has an established crew and sound, and has just released their fourth full-length (They Came From the Shadows), their first for storied punk label Fat Wreck Chords.
Front man/bassist Ray Carlisle spoke with Innocent Words about the new record, skating and the perception that they came out of nowhere.
Innocent Words: You guys signed to Fat before working on this record. How has it been?
Ray Carlisle: Fat Wreck is great. Everyone over there has worked very hard for us with this release. For that, we are forever grateful. It was always a goal of ours to be on Fat, and now we are. What more can I say? It’s is a very exciting time for the band.
IW: Have you all had a chance to meet (label owner) Fat Mike yet?
Carlisle: We’ve played with NOFX a few times now, and we hung out with Mike at each show. He’s a very charismatic guy, and it’s great being around him. He is the one who called us and let us know Fat Wreck Chords was interested. At one point in the conversation, he said to me, “Let me tell you a little bit about Fat, we’re a record label, we release records.” It was hilarious.
IW: Is everyone still living in Wyoming?
Carlisle: We all still live in Wyoming. Kody (Templeman, guitar) lives in Newcastle, which is close to Rapid City, S.D., while Brandon (drums), Miguel (Chen, guitar) and I live in Laramie.
IW: Seems like you guys have been touring forever. Were you able to take much time off between tours from the last record and work on this one?
Carlisle: We did some of the writing for the new record in Europe during our tour in February of ‘09. Most of the writing was done at home between tours. It’s hard to say the exact time we wrote these tunes. Some of them were written this year, and others have been works in progress for a few years now.
IW: How does They Came From the Shadows compare to Warning Device?
Carlisle: I think it’s better. We have grown as a band, and I think it really shows with They Came From the Shadows. Kody wrote some of the best songs I have ever heard him write for this one. There are some similarities between the two releases though. That is to say, this one isn’t completely off the path we’ve been on songwriting-wise. But, like I mentioned before, we have grown as a band, and They Came From the Shadows really captures that.
IW: You guys have this reputation of coming out of nowhere and becoming this overnight success, but you’ve actually been at it for a while now. Does that ever bother you?
Carlisle: No, it doesn’t bother us at all. Coming from Wyoming is sorta like coming from nowhere. As far as the overnight thing goes, some people are just now becoming familiar with the band, so it might come off that way. We are just stoked on everything we’ve achieved and want to continue to keep doing what we’re doing. We feel lucky.
IW: Being in the same band with your brother, have you guys ever had any Kinks or Oasis-style fights over music?
Carlisle: We fight like brothers, but we tend to get over our fights fast. We will blow up at each other and three minutes later be laughing about something completely different. It does tend to drive other members of the band crazy from time to time. Once in New Jersey, Miguel pulled the van over and just walked off. He had one of his buddies come pick him up. We all laughed about it the next day. We try to keep our fighting to a minimum to avoid driving the rest of the band nuts.
IW: Judging from the song “Skate or Die,” I’m assuming you guys were big skaters? Do you all still skate?
Carlisle: Brandon and I do. We don’t skate as much as we used to, but we definitely go to the local skate park and have a little fun when the weather permits.
IW: You had a chance to work with punk rock royalty on this record. What was it like recording at the Blasting Room?
Carlisle: We love it. Working with Bill (Stevenson), Jason (Livermore), and Andrew (Berlin) is amazing. Those guys really know their shit. It was particularly nice to record this record there. After all these years, we are starting to get what it takes to max out the potential of the studio. Not to sound like we know what we’re doing, but we really got into the production of this record. We knew what we wanted, and they helped us get there. All in all, the Blasting Room rules.