When I connect to my zoom chat with the four-piece band Teenage Dads, the energy is already high, everyone seems to be in a great mood. I start doing the rounds to put names to faces...
“I’m Vince, and I play the drums.”
“I’m Angus and I play bass, not the drums.”
“I’m Jordan, the singer... not the drummer.”
“I’m Connor, I definitely don’t play the drums, I play the guitar instead.”
The four of them chuckle to themselves, I’m almost waiting for them to say “and we are... Teenage Dads!”
The band of four met in high school, but not until they were about 17. Before this, only a few of them knew one another through mutual friends. Vince starts to laugh, telling me that Jordy and Connor were jamming in the music room with a few other students, but it wasn’t really gelling. They knew about Angus, who Vince says was one of the very few people that just played bass to play bass – so they invited him up to join them. Vince tells me the same thing happened to him too, he hadn’t played drums before but he was interested in it, and Connor encouraged him to come to the music room to “just give it a go.” The four would play in the music rooms at lunch or in free periods. The guys tell me how there were only a couple of music rooms, “There was a good one and a crap one. We would make so much of an effort to beat the other students in there.” he says excitedly. Before I could get a word in, Vince yells out “We want it mate!”, the others start laughing around him. “The strings instrumental teacher hated us so much!” Connor chimes in, keeping the chuckles going for a moment longer.
The guys started playing covers, picking up some hype around their name would get them booked for everyone’s 18th birthday parties. “It kind of became a novelty, like your party wasn’t good unless you had the band play sort of thing. Everyone was trying to get us to play, which was really cool!” The following year when they finished high school was when they began to write their own music. Rather than racing to the music rooms and playing at parties, they quickly scored a couple of gigs up in the city. These gigs in the city provided a new stomping ground for the four, who can put on a hell of a live show. After continuous spectacular shows, they scored a well-deserved supporting spot for Lime Cordiale’ Australian Tour. Their newfound friends passed their music onto their management.
While they are a Melbourne based band, the guys never really felt like a part of the scene. “I feel like we were never really in it” Connor admits, the guys nodding around him. None of them had ever been in another band before, Teenage Dads was formed through a bit of fun and truly stuck without a scene to explore. “We live like an hour or so away, it’s hard when you can’t just go to all the gigs on the week nights and mingle with those crowds.” Despite this however, Teenage Dads fit right in among the greats, fueled by their own excitement and giving us a sound that is very much their own.
Today, Teenage Dads release their latest EP, ‘Club Echo’. It explores the four band member’s perspectives on life from the past five years, not just focused on stories of the band, but touches on the concept of change and how life continues to move in spite of everything that may be going on around you. ‘Club Echo’ is a coming-of-age capsule full of unique insight, polished off with the band’s own goofy personalities and the electrifying chemistry that they have become known for.
"It's a really euphoric feeling when you have a whole crowd that resonates with what you do."
Tell me a little about Club Echo!
Jordy: The EP kind of delves into our lives over the last five years, not necessarily as the band but as individuals and the experiences we’ve gone through in life, it's kind of looking at those moments of nostalgia through a glass window, a club you weren't invited to. That’s where club came from, and echo honestly being reminiscent of memories and sound as well, we thought it worked really well together. We were trying to write a coming-of-age project from a different perspective so it wasn’t cliché.
What was the most exciting part of making this EP?
Jordy: Finishing it! That was the best part, this was easily the most challenging project to put together just with lockdown and being distant for a long time. The timeframe we had between being out of lockdown and being told we were going back into lockdown was very slim. So, we had to be really efficient and smash this out as quick as possible. The feeling of actually finishing it, we were all together and we filmed a little celebration video, it was very triumphant to finish it all despite lockdowns.
Vince: The moment we all heard the mix from Steve on the lead single ‘Cheerleader’, that was a “fuck yeah!” moment for sure. I know for me a really exciting part of it was working with the label to prepare the vinyl release, it's something we have wanted to do for a long time, we really can't wait until we have our hands on one. Having looked at old vinyl collections that my mum and dad have, then being able to hold one of mine... that will be so cool.
What makes you as a band so different from the rest?
Vince: Umm... we stink!
Jordy: None of us use deodorant...
Angus: Yeah, really against it...
Connor: I’m all about the micro-biomes forming under my armpits.
Jordy: I think one of the big differences with band is the live shows we put on! We give off a vibe like we are taking the piss almost... we understand that some of our music is goofy and we don’t want to try play it up like we are these amazing songwriters or anything, we are just trying to have a bit of fun with it. We all did wear white pants at one point too which we thought made us different... but it just sucked.
Vince: We went to Byron Bay and we realised that everybody wears white pants there...
Angus: With our live set we kind of wanted to feel inclusive, we want everyone to participate and we want everyone to come along and dance. There's no exclusivity to it.
What is the best part about not really sticking to the rules?
Connor: I think it's just so much fun being in a band, the live performance aspect is just awesome to share with these guys and hopefully rooms full of people eventually. I think live performance is what makes it special for me.
Vince: It is its own sort of high when you play to a good crowd, its nothing like anything else – particularly when you get to do it with your best friends, see the country, hopefully the world... and to just hang out.
What keeps you moving forward?
Jordy: Getting out of lockdown! Knowing there are gigs on the horizon is nuts, we have been pushing our tour back too much and it's been pretty rough to look at. Knowing we can do some of those shows soon is really hopeful and inspiring for us to get out there and do it again. It's a really euphoric feeling when you have a whole crowd that resonates with what you do.
Listen to Teenage Dads' latest EP, 'Club Echo' on Spotify below:
Words by Oli Spencer
Photography by Oli Spencer, shot over FaceTime