This Saturday, Technicolor Teeth will play at Quarters Rock n’ Roll Palace to celebrate the fourth – and probably final – release of 2012’s mind-bending Teenage Pagans, this time on vinyl. It marks the last stop on the record’s journey across multiple formats since it came out last February. Following a lot of well-deserved Internet buzz, Pagans found its way from digital release to cassette (Let’s Pretend Records), then compact disc (Stroll On) and now vinyl, thanks to a small label called Houseplant Records out of Bloomington, Ind.
“The goal the whole time was to put it on vinyl,” says bassist Matt Stranger. He formed Technicolor Teeth with guitarist Zacc Baehman when they moved into the BFG punk house in Appleton soon after graduating high school and plugged in to the city’s rich hardcore/punk scene. They recruited drummer Amos Pitsch from Appleton DIY-vets Tenement and began recording Pagans in 2010, focusing on one song at a time “so that each thing would have its own character,” says Stranger. “Kind of like Beatles’ albums, where each song has a distinct feel.”
The approach paid off. Teenange Pagans covers a lot of ground on its 12 tracks, while still hanging together remarkably well. Whether it’s blown-out pop (“Chrystalline”), jagged grunge (“Is It Warm Enough For You?”) or eerie space rock (“At Home In A Coma”), all the songs seem to be staggering through the same hazy, deserted dream-world. Pagans is a long, heavy record, but Stranger says it’s youthful at heart, having written most of the songs around the time he graduated high school. He admits it’s a little weird for the album to be released again so many years after the songs were originally conceived. “We recorded in ’10-11, but the songs were written in ’09-10,” he says. “We’ve been playing them for three years now.”
Nevertheless, the music sounded fresh to Jeff Grant and Erin Tobey of Houseplant Records. “I'm always amazed at bands that can change it up and maintain a unique identity,” says Grant, “and these guys do that by showing the distance between those catchy heavy-hitter tracks and the ones with more breathing room.” Grant and Tobey were so blown away by Teenage Pagans that they were a bit surprised when the band agreed to do the release with them. “We told the band to think about it and to do what's best for them, to take the better offer that we were pretty sure they'd get,” says Grant. “We didn’t think we’d end up releasing this, but are thrilled that we did.”
Unfortunately, an accident means the records themselves might not be ready in time for Saturday’s show at Quarter’s. A boiler explosion at Palomino Records in Kentucky killed the plant’s operator, Tom Dillander, on the day Pagans was to be pressed there. With the help of other pressing plants, Palomino hoped to have the records ready for Saturday, but now that is unlikely. The record will be available for pre-order via Houseplant’s website the day after the show. Some things get better with time, and Teenage Pagans is worth the (extra) wait.
Technicolor Teeth plays this Saturday, March 9 with Energy Gown and Carbonleak at Quarters Rock ‘n Roll Palace, 10 p.m.