Not that kind of Teen Mom. Who has a sick fetish like that? Freak. Anyway, Teen Mom! I threw questions at Chris Kelly, member of the band, and he took to them with aplomb. Or a plum. Either way, here’s what I asked and here’s how he answered and that’s that.
Whenever I search your band’s name, I get a lot of shit about Teen Mom, the godawful television show about entitled brats with kids. When you picked Teen Mom as a name, did you think about that at all? Since starting, have you been mistaken for pregnant 16-year-olds?
We mainly decided on calling ourselves Teen Mom because we thought it was kind of funny. We never watched the show, though. One time – which is kind of funny – The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had a piece on Sept. 11 about how the day isn’t this sacred event anymore. We happened to be playing a show that night and he called us out to make his argument (my god, even a band called “Teen Mom” is playing a ROCK SHOW on Sept. 11! Oh, what a world!) so we’ve got beef with him, but it’s all cool because, as you mentioned, The Post also called us DC’s greatest living [fuzz] trio.
Right. The Post did call you the “district’s greatest living fuzz trio.” How excited were you about that? Were many high-fives and retweets exchanged?
Well, when something like The Post gives you a shout out it’s really exciting – although I’m not sure how many fuzz trios there are in this town. Not many, for sure. But it was nice, definitely. I clipped the article. Something to show one’s grandparents.
I bet they’ll be proud. Now, tell me about the video for “I Wanna Go Out”. I mean, it’s great. It’s really adorable and nostalgia-tinged. How did the idea for that come about? Is it based off old experiences popping headphones on pretty girls and dancing slowly in frenzied lights?
Yeah, the video turned out pretty well. We didn’t have anything to do with it, though. Matt Carr, who runs the Analog Edition label that put out the Mean Tom EP, made it himself*. We had all been talking about making a video someday, but I love to talk and not do anything, so he took the initiative and did it. Thank goodness for that – people seem to like videos.
Especially when they’re lovely. DefaultMag says I shouldn’t ask you about Ireland. Now I really really want to. Can I? I think I will. What’s the deal with Ireland? We have an Irish writer on board (somewhere) so you’re safe if you want to blast it.
Ha ha, there isn’t any deal with Ireland. I think it’s just a joke among my friends because they all (Tom and Sean, the people they live with, our group of friends) went to William and Mary together and so have this shared history and friendship narrative from like 2005 . . . so college was when they all became close and stuff. I met them post-that, and while I don’t refuse to talk about my time at school, it just never seemed relevant or interesting. I find talking about my life very boring, but if something seems appropriate or interesting, I’ll say it.
Speaking of interesting, In Your Speakers said something goes “terribly wrong” with ‘Say My Name’. How do you fare with criticism? When you set out with songs, what’s your process as a trio? Do some of you take the lead on certain things, or is it a collaborative effort from start to finish? Are there many arguments?
It was a nice change, because [I think] that was the first time we had real criticism. You get to thinking that there’s some conspiracy (how can all these different people have such similar opinions? Perhaps they’re all the same person!) so I enjoyed reading the bad news from In Your Speakers (a website I had never heard of before). I mean “terribly wrong” is kind of hyperbolic, right? It’s a song, y’all, not the Titanic or something. But maybe they’re right – maybe I could’ve done something differently, maybe it is a bit lazy.
Then again, pop music is very formulaic and follows and builds upon rules from circa-1950 so what’s a man to do? I just wrote it. Our songwriting process is pretty simple. I write the song by myself and then introduce it to the guys (either by making a home demo on Garage Band or just playing during a practice) and they write their own parts and sometimes the song changes a bit (tempo, parts get moved around) and my home demos sound very different from the final product, but it’s a pretty easy process.
There aren’t many arguments. Sometimes we’ll disagree about what sounds good but usually things work out in the end. Time fixes everything.
* The footage from the music video for “I Wanna Go Out” is taken from 1980 French comedy La Boum – when guys still did cute things like pop headphones on a cute girl’s head.
[Mean Tom EP.]