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Purple Sneakers NYE: The Teenagers

Written by Thomas Mitchell on December 12, 2008

As I approach twenty, I can understand The Teenagers need to hang onto these precious years. Drinking heavily, the ‘where did it all go wrong’ nod from parents, not caring about interest rates, all magical aspects of teenagehood.

Three Frenchmen on a rainy Christmas night decided to make a stand, and some music, entrenching themselves forever in their best years.

“Well basically it was Christmas night, the three of us, were avoiding the typical family dinner, and we had a meal of cold pizza and vodka, and we were like ‘hey lets make some music, write some lyrics, then chuck it on Myspace for our friends’. We didn’t care. Then people started listening to it and labels started contacting us, and it was like ‘ooh that’s weird’. Then we were called by a record company so we decided ‘let’s do it’.”

The blasé attitude isn’t to appear humble; the Teenagers are so French they don’t even get excited by their own success.

“Oh we didn’t expect anything, it was just for fun, we made it, put it out there and we were like ‘oh ok’. We couldn’t give a fuck about it and then people got interested. We started thinking maybe we could release a single or a 7inch, then it became ‘oh maybe we could do a record’, suddenly it is ‘oh we are going to tour everywhere’.”

The sudden interest can be credited to their down right naughty lyrics, with one song explicitly detailing sex with an American cheerleader, and another discussing the ‘oh so beautiful’ Scarlet Johansson. The band never expected such a reaction to their words.

“People say a lot worse things in songs. On the street and at parties people are talking like this, so we thought ‘ok they are using it, why not us?’ We are innocent, naïve; we didn’t know that these words were so offensive and so rude.”

As they say, any publicity is good publicity, although try telling that to Milton Orkopoulos, but the band did enough to score a coveted support slot with Vampire Weekend.

“Yeah, it is exciting. The first time we met them was at a gig in New York, after one of their sets, and they were with so many people, we didn’t want to bother them so we just said ‘hi!’ But then at a festival in England we really liked them, spoke to them and then thought ‘lets tour’.”

After The Teenagers finish the Vampire duties, they’re heading to Australia for Purple Sneakers NYE. They may not seem like a festival band but like normal teenagers they’re willing to experiment.

“Ah I like the smaller gigs when it’s really packed and sweaty, and people are just jumping on each other, kissing doing whatever. But at a festival it is such a different crowd, so many people, the crowd is moving. It’s amazing. I don’t know; I like them both.”

Producing catchy lyrics and beats dirtier then your dad’s secret stash, the Teenagers could’ve named themselves anything and still found success, but they chose their name carefully.

“When you’re a teenager you don’t realize how cool life is, you don’t have a lot of responsibilities, you’re just having some fun. You’re doing your homework, or not doing it, depending on how much of a rebel you are. You just realise that after you leave those years behind. We were not the coolest guys in high school, so it is cool to go back and rewrite it.”

The Teenagers have been doing a different type of writing lately, wrapping up their debut album Reality Check, which was composed of old demos. The reaction has been split with critics hailing it as both revolutionary and comical.

“Oh like any band, you know, good and bad reactions. We didn’t expect to please everyone, otherwise we would’ve been U2, and then that may have been bad.”

Turning into U2 is every band’s worst nightmare, except Coldplay, but The Teenagers aren’t in danger of that. Although popular overseas, they struggle in their homeland.

“I think the biggest problem is that we are singing in English, like a French pride kind of thing. Also there is a law on the radio that you have to play like 40 or 50 percent of French speaking songs, so even if we are French, we aren’t part of this percentage.”
“Then on top of that there is not a big indie pop rock scene in France.”

Aware of this, the band gave France the international symbol for screw you by uprooting to the UK, where they fell in love with the style, scene and slappers.

“When we moved to London, for the publicity and the label, we started becoming familiar with that scene. England is really good for motivation and it has a good dynamic, because you play with other bands, you see music. You have to play really hard because English bands are really good.”

“If we stayed in France I think we would be lazy.”

After chatting about Kylie Minogue and her wonderful ass-ets, Michael is summoned to do a live TV interview, but he tells me he won’t go until he’s finished watching ‘How I Met Your Mother.’

You can never get those damn Teenagers away from the TV.

Catch the band at Purple Sneakers NYE Party at The Manning Bar, 31st December, obviously.

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