Teenage Joans on Their Polished and Personal Debut Album ‘The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest’

Teenage Joans
Teenage Joans | Credit: Giulia McGauran

Teenage Joans have released their debut album, The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest. It’s the Adelaide duo’s first body of work since 2021’s Taste of Me EP, which itself followed the pair’s triple j Unearthed High win in 2020.

The duo of Tahlia Borg (vocals/drums) and Cahli Blakers (vocals/guitar) will take The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest on the road throughout November, playing headline shows in all mainland state capitals with support from bella amor, Aleksiah, and Dulcie.

In conjunction with the album’s release, Blakers tells Music Feeds about the journey of personal and creative growth that took them from Taste of Me to The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest.

Teenage Joans – ‘Candy Apple’

Cahli Blakers: For The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest, we really wanted to take a step up production-wise. I think on Taste of Me, we were kind of dipping our toes into what really polished production sounds like on a rock song. Because obviously pop is very polished – that’s the whole point of pop. But historically, rock and punk have always been a lot dirtier in that garage-y, live-sounding way, which is something we had to find a middle ground with, because people love watching us live.

So, we really wanted to play with the production more but still make it feel like a really full rock album, and we definitely learned a lot through that. Our producer, Jarred Nettle, he’s insane. He’s just open to every idea, and whether we put the idea in at the end or not, he just said yes to everything, which was cool.

We worked with him on Taste Of Me as well, and I think this has been a learning process for him too. At the end of the process, he was like, “I’ve never gotten so nitty gritty with a release before.” We were really just hand-in-hand, we both wanted to make every single bar of every song have its own personality to make the song have a real wow factor. I think that’s one of the main differences between our debut EP and debut album: the production is so much bigger.

The writing is a lot more personal on The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest too. We wrote Taste Of Me when we were both teenagers. I think we were 16 or 17 for that one. For the album, we wrote it when we were 18, 19, 20. So, it’s definitely navigating life as a young adult and understanding the world through some heavier and darker themes. It still has lots of our personality in it, just as Taste Of Me did, but it feels like we’re maturing, to be honest.

The whole album talks about this theme of things rotting, sweet things rotting. We were originally playing around with the idea of calling the album “Sweet Things Rot” because I liked the symbolism behind our first EP, which was very bright colours and beautiful, and talked about a lot of sweet food and stuff. I like the idea of us maturing and we’re almost rotting, but rot doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

The album talks about rotting in sort of a positive way. You have things in life that just have to rot, otherwise you’re never going to change, you’re never going to grow. I liked that idea, but we ended up going with The Rot That Grows Inside My Chest – it’s more unique and has that cool, pop-punk, long title thing going on.

“You have things in life that just have to rot, otherwise you’re never going to change, you’re never going to grow”

When it came to outside expectations, we just had tunnel vision. I’m not afraid of what people are going to think, because this is Teenage Jones. People love ‘Three Leaf Clover’ and I get it. I’m also the type of person who will love a band’s first ever big song and be like, “Why don’t you like it?” But it’s not that we don’t like ‘Three Leaf Clover’ – it has a very special place in our hearts – but it just doesn’t reflect us as a band. It had its purpose and it played its part, and we probably wouldn’t be doing a lot of things without it. But at the same time, we’ve grown up, we’ve matured.

This album is so much better than anything we’ve ever done before. People are going to have their own opinions and that’s fine. The people who this album’s meant to find – it’s for them. And if it doesn’t resonate with some people, then that’s okay too. But we’re so happy with this album and so proud of it.

As a person who listens to music all of the time and is constantly studying music just by listening to it, I know that this is a better release than anything we’ve done before. Also, I think our fanbase is pretty supportive with a lot of this kind of stuff too, so they’re growing with us. I think it’s like: everything’s got its own progression for everyone and we’re all just learning and growing together, which is fun.

Teenage Joans 2023 Australian Tour

w/ bella amor, Aleksiah + Dulcie (Perth only)

  • Thursday, 2nd November – The Triffid, Brisbane (Lic/Aa)
  • Saturday, 4th November – Factory Theatre, Sydney (Lic/Aa)
  • Tuesday, 7th November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
  • Thursday, 9th November – The Gov, Adelaide (Lic/Aa)
  • Friday, 10th November – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth (18+)*

Tickets on sale via Teenage Joans

Further Reading

Teenage Joans Announce 2023 National Album Tour

Track By Track: Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers on their Debut LP ‘I Love You’

Track By Track: Holy Holy Give Us the Inside Scoop on ‘Cellophane’

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