"Rude, cute, tough": Meet Minneapolis' Teenage Moods
Today, the label MJMJ released Best 'Tudes, a 29-track best-of compilation of the Minneapolis fun-punk band Teenage Moods' early work. You can download it for $4.20 or buy a two-cassette box/zine combo. I was pretty smitten by their video for "Rock Man," embedded somewhere below, and this bizarre commercial for the release, so I Skyped up two-thirds of the band, Gordon and Jillian, for a chat. For the hell of it, every question was free-associated based on track titles of the first cassette, so listen to 15 songs below and read the Teenage Moods' thoughts on Dungeons & Dragons, Kurt Russell's charm and being in a little band that's a lot of fun.
The title “Bright Looms” reminds me of the moon. What’re your astrological signs and do they say anything about you? GORDON: We're both Aquarius, big time. I don't know exactly what that means, but I believe. JILLIAN: Cold? I'm just thinking of keywords. GORDON: We're both weird and awkward. We're like the creative, reclusive types, but… we still like to have fun?
There’s a typo in this track title. How'd that get by? GORDON: Whoops. JILLIAN: Sound it out: B-O-Q… GORDON: I think I caught the typo before anyone pointed it out to me, so I'm glad we're not hearing it for the first time now.
What has been the biggest change in the band since the early songs on this cassette? JILLIAN: When we wrote "Grow," we actually grew two more members in the band, so it was kind of reflective in that way. GORDON: Well, it started out as a boyfriend-girlfriend band for the first three years, and we've survived a couple years of being productive after that. So there's definitely some growth in being the good friends we were before anything got complicated. JILLIAN: It actually wasn't too bad. GORDON: We had so many friends around that it was like, we'd spend productive, good time together without having to dwell on that stuff, and eventually kind of worked through it.
Do you have any tattoos? Why's it called "Tulip Tattoo"? GORDON: I've got three tattoos. JILLIAN: I don't have any. Boooring! GORDON: We put our favorite words—or words we thought are funny—in a hat and would draw them out randomly. There's been a couple song titles that popped up that just seemed to work with music we were working on, and so the song wrote itself.
"She was like a runaway teen, and these people had destroyed her village and killed her parents, but she managed to escape”
What animal best represents the band? JILLIAN: A cat/bunny hybrid. GORDON: Indoor/outdoor. JILLIAN: Love for strangers, love for moms and dads. Like the fluffiest animal ever, but their paws and legs are really dirty. Rude, cute, tough.
Which famous person could you write a heartfelt song about? JILLIAN: Kurt Russell. He's like, so beefy and hilarious. He's the best of both worlds. I guess I'm really just thinking of Big Trouble in Little China, where he's trying to get his goddamn pork-chop express truck back and get out of Chinatown. GORDON: I'd say Kim Gordon. I'll never be done thinking about how badass she is.
"Rock Man"—what are you live shows like? GORDON: Hopefully people are getting more goofy than we are. There's usually people shouting at us, and throwing empty beer cans at us in the name of love. JILLIAN: There's really funny crowd-surfing that happens. But I'm very calm and collected, I'm very focused. GORDON: I'm pretty occupied trying to sing, play guitar and see through the sweat pouring in my eyes. It's enough to make it a pretty constant blur.
Snake eyes are bad right? What’s the last bad thing that happened to you? JILLIAN: Yesterday I was cleaning the basement and a 1970s 50-pound metal fire extinguisher fell on my foot. But luckily there was a punching bag right next to it, so…
"Goldon Lasso" reminds me of country music, Wonder Woman… Where's this title come from? GORDON: This song is loosely based on Jillian's last Dungeons & Dragons character. JILLIAN: Lasso, her name was Lasso. She was a Halfling Rogue. She was awesome. She was like a runaway teen, and these people had destroyed her village and killed her parents, but she managed to escape. She was borderline evil sometimes, but she was really cool, and she loved her friends. GORDON: She was really sneaky. JILLIAN: She had a stealth cape. She was really cool. I don't know if you were expecting that.
"Maybe I should dream something else up in case that happens too”
What even is a grunge bird? GORDON: That one came out of the hat. My last name is Byrd, spelled like the ’60s Byrds, so it's pretty much about just me being a mess.
Please gossip politely about each other. JILLIAN: Uh, when Gordon brushes his teeth he swallows. GORDON: Not true. There's aluminum in there or something.
If you had a mood ring, what color would it be right now? JILLIAN: We're outside, and it's a gloomy day, so my mood is orange in the center, then it fades into pink, then the outside is the smallest ring of gray. GORDON: My mood would be also orange, but with blue along the edge and, even though it's gray out, I'm not letting crappy-looking days bring me down.
I couldn't think of a question for "Yellow War," so I asked Andy Todryk, co-owner of MJMJ, and he suggested: If you could see two celebrities fight, who would they be? GORDON: Modern-day Sylvester Stallone and modern-day Dolf Lundgren. JILLIAN: Hulk Hogan and a clone. They have to slam a glass of their own blood first.
What dream has come true with the band? GORDON: I wasn't ever expecting anybody to even pay to put our records out. We've had three different things come out on vinyl, and that was a young dream. We kind of had to figure out like, oh, maybe I should dream something else up in case that happens too. JILLIAN: Just like, being in a band. This was the first band I've ever been in. And realizing that all of our friends loved our band, or like people you see all the time but don't necessarily hang out with giving me positive feedback. GORDON: We got to open to some bands who we'd have liked to just be at the shows anyways.
What dream didn’t happen? JILLIAN: Going on extensive tour. GORDON: We thought for a little bit that we'd end up in Europe about this time, but it didn't happen, and probably shouldn't have happened. We would have had to have used all of our resources, and now we've got money to record again, and there are plenty of places we haven't been to here yet. JILLIAN: So that's still a positive dream.