Miguel ChenRise Records
By Bobby Gorman on March 17th, 2015 at E-Mail
Wyoming’s pop-punk superstars Teenage Bottlerocket have been busy. Constantly touring the world over, this Ramones-core foursome has been delivering constant three chord punk rock for almost fifteen years now. With a recent move to Rise Records, the band is set to release their 6th studio album, Tales from Wyoming, on March 31st.
We exchanged some e-mails with bassist Miguel Chen about the new album, working with Bill Stevenson as producer, professional wrestling and Metallica’s Jason Newstad.
All photos by Johnny and Dawn Wilson.
March 31st is the release of Tales from Wyoming – what can you tell us about the album?
It’s our 6th full length, our first on Rise Records and it’s called Tales From Wyoming! We are super stoked on it and can’t wait for the release on March 31st!
Despite recording at the Blasting Room many, many times in the past – this is the first time you got Bill Stevenson to produce it. How did that happen?
Rise got Bill on board to produce, it was awesome finally working with him.
What did he bring to the table?
Bill has a great ear both for mixes and for song structure. He helped us hash out some details and push us harder than we could have done on our own.
This is also the first time you took the time to work on the songs in the studio instead of coming with them all done and pounding them out. What type of kicks did you work out with the extra days?
Just a couple details, a few changes in key or song structure.
This is also the first album released on Rise Records – what made you make the switch from Fat to Rise?
We just wanted to try something new. Rise has a different audience that might not have heard of our band before. We’re still friends with everyone at Fat and they were really understanding of the move
Red Scare has a pretty distinctive sound. Fat has a pretty distinctive sound. Rise does not. How would you describe Rise Records?
Rise has a great way of keeping in touch with what kids are stoked on. They have a diverse roster because they are in touch with current independent music.
Is it nice now having that variety in label mates?
It’s rad being label mates with our friends Face to Face and Bouncing Souls! It is also nice having the variety because I think it helps us get heard by different people.
Do you think it has the chance to introduce your band to fans of the label that may not always listen to the pop-punk styles of Fat and Red Scare?
That’s what we hope!
The final track, First Time, instantly reminded me of Bad Astronaut. Not only is it way slower than basically all your songs, but the added instrumentation of violin and acoustic guitar- can you tell us the genesis behind that track?
Ray wrote it, and for a little bit we had toyed with the idea of having it be a full band song, but we quickly realized it wasn’t meant to be that, the song was meant to be acoustic so that’s how we left it.
Now if we were to get into a fight with you at a bar, should we be scared that you’ll write a song about us like Nothing Else Matters (When I’m With You)?
No but if you bring us tacos we just might write about you, probably not though.
You have mentioned that Rise reached out to Jason Newsted to appear in a video for the single – what were you going to have him do?
We were just hoping to have him involved in any way at all.
What was your reaction when he replied and complimented the tune?
We were stoked, it didn’t even matter he wasn’t available for the video we were just pumped he heard the song and sad it was good!
Do you think it’s weird having these post and pre member change fans? Like I only like Scott Raynor Blink not Travis Barker Blink, or Cliff Burton versus Jason Newsted or Gallows – Wade Macneil versus Frank Carter or Rollins versus Morris versus Reyes versus Cadena Black Flag. Hell, you’re touring with Pennywise and there was the whole Jim versus Zoli Teglas. Does it all come down to semantics at the end of the day – like is Metallica always Metallica and Pennywise always Pennywise even if a few members change?
I think one of the awesome things about being a band is that there are no real rules. It’s your band and you can do what you want with it. People might not understand or agree, but at the end of the day as long as you’re doing what feels right to you, go for it!
At what point though should a band just call it a day and move on under a new moniker instead of recreating the glory days with new members? IE: Catch 22 pre and post Tomas Kalnoky or Blink with Matt Skiba – or going back in time with Misfits or Dead Kennedys and their current line-up.
Same as the last answer, it’s their lives, their bands, let them do what they want!
With that in mind, how important is it to form a band with friends rather than the best musician?
My thoughts are if you’re not having fun, then what’s the point? You can learn an instrument but you can’t force people to get along.
Is that how you’ve managed to stay a band for almost 15 years now?
That’s probably part of it. I think we’re all just doing what we are drawn to doing, all of the circumstances have worked so beautifully and we feel really lucky to still be doing this.
All your albums always have the same artwork – one colour background and one colour for your logo. Tales from Wyoming expands on that with Red, White and Blue background with the white logo. Why the change in background colour?
We wanted this record to be sort of a culmination of everything we’ve done so far, while still honoring our beginnings, and our home in Wyoming. Doing the Wyoming flag themed cover let us pay tribute, but not stray too far from our usual.
Speaking about your logo, can you tell us about Alex Shelley? The professional wrestler has been wearing your logo on his outfit in the New Japan Wrestling league recently (as you can see in this wonderful picture).
Alex is an awesome guy, always supporting our band. We write back and forth periodically and he is just a genuinely nice, hard working guy.
Are you big wrestling fans?
Kody gets into it some, I don’t know much about it
Who’s your favourite wrestler and why?
Alex Shelley. Also Arik Cannon.
What is your favourite Tale from Wyoming?
Once upon a time…my roommate Goob lived in Wyoming. He still lives there. He rules.
Is the Haunted House a real building back home?
It’s an abandoned house in Colorado. We just kind of showed up and filmed the video there and luckily no one stopped us!