Text And Interview: Alec Coiro
Photos: Joe Denardo
Teen Body exists in the intersection of British-inflected pop and psychedelia played out in DIY venues around New York. Their style sometimes called Dream Pop, a genre which Marcus, the drummer, explained as “a pretty broad umbrella term: psychedelic but poppy. It’s about the effects you put on the mix of a pop song.” And in the case of Teen Body the effect is very dreamy indeed both in terms of the vocals and the music. It’s a four piece band that has transcended the realm of rock and achieved a more ethereal plane. That’s how it sounds on their recorded music. According to the band the more live and the more late their shows are, the more punk they get. But can a band be punk and play Six Pence None the Richer covers? The fact that Teen Body probably wouldn’t care about the answer means that it probably is pretty punk; more punk than kids copying Mohawks from 40 years ago, anyway. Punk in the sense of a band whose integrity demands your respect.
The band was formed two years ago. With their self-released first album Get Home Safe about to come out, they are just reforming around a new guitarist. Their old guitarist, Evander Batson, recently retired. “It was a decent time,” Marcus says, “We were at the apex of finishing things and starting to plan for the future.” There’s no bad blood with the guitarist emeritus. “He’s still a friend,” Marcus continues. “We played a show last night and he was there.” He also got them VIP passes to Moogfest. The new guitarist, Alex Bush, is a photographer by day who was asked to join the band after they worked together on a photo shoot.
When I met up with the Teen Body, the two singers Alexander French and Shannon Lee arrived late after being detained by the police for a moving violation. The two violators are the band’s co-lead singers. “Two voices become one” is how Shannon puts it. They also play bass and guitar.
Shannon is a New York-native from Bayside and former member of The Lilliputians. Shannon recalls, “Everyone tried to market [The Lilliputians] as all girl band from New York City. But we were just a band.
Alex French was a former member of the slightly trippier White Laces http://whitelacesmusic.com/ . He’s also deep into Magic The Gathering, a passion which is surprisingly interconnected with his Teen Body songwriting, “All the fantasy stuff my mind is clogged with has no choice but to escape in the form of lyrical content. [For example,] With the song “Sudden Roots” on the album, I would have never been familiar with the concept of roots suddenly appearing if this clan in MTG didn’t use ‘plant magic’. I mean, just look at the card. Marcus McDonald was in Hoop Dreams, which may be the biggest band ever from Blacksburg, Virginia; it’s my favorite one, anyway. The Teen Body song “Mineral Pool” was inspired by Marcus’s stint living in a luxury apartment building with a “magical hot tub on the roof. We were thinking about what it would be like to fall in love with someone in that hot tub, emotionally, sensationally bubbling.”
Alex Bush, the aforementioned photographer turned new member, came storming up to New York out of the Arkansas and his guitar stylings are credited with supplying the group with a little more edge.
Teen Body is Brooklyn-based, and we walked through their stomping grounds, a part of the borough that abuts Queens, an industrial backdrop that reminded the band of a level of Sonic the Hedgehog characterized by chemical waste. It was just down the block from where they played a show the night before at Aviv. The Aviv show seemed typical of the enthusiasm surrounding Teen Body. It was packed, and according to Alex in the middle of their cover of Lorelie, “A girl took off her bra and threw it on my guitar.” They also tell me about their Valentine’s Day show at something called Makeout Fest. According to Teen Body, Makeout Fest consisted of “dance music bands” and “make out music bands,” and they positioned themselves solidly in the latter category.
Shannon named the band. Marcus explains the choice, “We like the idea of it being kind of ambiguous. If you search teen body online there’s a lot of ‘Teen body’ found dead in the woods. Also the weird sexual thing. And also the nice idea of being young forever.” Sandra continues, ”A fleeting time in your life when you’re in transition.” Have a listen to the psychedelic dreaminess that is Teen Body and transport yourself back to a time when you had a teen body of your own.
The nice idea of being young forever, a fleeting time in your life when you’re in transition.
Saturday 7/9 in Richmond, VA
Sunday 7/10 in Harrisonburg, VA
Monday 7/11 in Charlottesville VA
Tuesday 7/12 in Blacksburg VA
Friday 7/15 in Raleigh NC
Saturday 7/16 in Philly, PA
Wednesday 7/26 @ Shea Stadium w Sam Kogon + Carey