Their moniker didn’t grab me (and what’s with all the all-caps in band names these days?). But 1) TWEENS were from Ohio, which almost always = interesting; and 2) I trusted a good pal of mine who implored me to make sure to check out this Cincinnati trio during the CMJ Music Marathon a few weeks ago. Well not only were they the best band I saw, they seemed to have risen out of the mountain of flesh and musical instruments that is CMJ as one of those consensus “Best of the Fest” deals. A trashy drummer (Jerri Queen), a bass player (Peyton Copes) who jackhammers the neck, and a singer (Bridget Battle) who, while chiming away hard at her echoed, slightly off-kilter garage chords, brings the late ’90s grrrl vox yalping into the 21st century. The tunes can flop between sweet melody and vein-popping desperation, while an utter lack of bullshit fuels it all. Which endeared them to the crowds waiting around for Black Lips when TWEENS opened for them on a brief, just-finished tour.
Alrighty, a quick history of TWEENS please.
Bridget Battle: Tweens started somewhere around April, 2012. We all moved into a house together pretty much for the reason to have shows in the basement since a lot of DIY spaces had closed in Cincinnati. Peyton and Jerry are in another band called Vacation, and I used to play electronics in a noise band called Public Housing. Peyton and Jerry would practice in the basement, and one day I went down there with a Dixie Cups song and we tried to play it. It sounded pretty cool. Jerry taught me how to play some power chords, we learned a few more covers, and then played our first show in May, 2012. Our first release was a cassette of covers called Live @ Mohawk that we recorded at our old practice space.
Compare your very first show to the most recent show you played.
Battle: Well, our first show we played all covers, and I couldn’t really play guitar. The attendance was pretty bleak as well. Compared to our most recent show, which was at the Exit/In with the Black Lips, we’ve come a long way in a short period of time, I think. Our originals have defined us a little more, and we’re more aggressive too. We’ve been touring a lot, so the set has gotten tighter. And the Black Lips shows especially have been fun and interactive sets to play.
Are there some good bands in Cincinnati these days for you guys to play with?
Peyton Copes: Most of the time when we play locally it’s so we can get a show together for friends from out of town. But there are definitely some awesome bands around town right now. Mardou, the Harlequins and PURE Predication to name a few.
What’s the plan for an album or whatever?
Battle: We just finished recording our first record about a month ago. (Recorded at Saltlands Studio in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, with Eli Janney.) It’s supposed to come out around March of next year. All our Bandcamp tracks will be on it for sure, though we re-recorded them. We’re really excited for people to hear it.
How did the Black Lips shows happen? And what are the next touring plans?
Battle: The Black Lips shows happened I guess through word of mouth? We did a total of five—from NYC to Nashville. It’s probably the last tour we are doing for the year. We’ve been busy! We’re going to get the record ready and probably head back out for a long time around SXSW.
I will assume you guys are already tired of the “90s” comparisons you probably get, so tell me TWEENS’ three favorite current bands, and three favorite bands from the 1970s.
Battle: I fully embrace the 90’s comparisons! Tweens definitely were influenced by budget rock bands like the Bobbyteens and the Mummies, among so many other punk bands during that decade. But ok ok, some of my favorite current bands: Gun Outfit, Tyvek, Puro Instinct 1970s: Kleenex/Liliput, the Fall, Young Marble Giants.
Copes: Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of Swearin’, Nude Beach and the Spits. As for stuff from the ’70s: CCR, the Grateful Dead and the Gizmos.
Jerri Queen: New stuff: St. Dad, Tenement and Sick Thoughts. From the ’70s I like the Nerves, the Electric Eels and the Ramones.
What was your favorite thing about playing the CMJ shows, and the worst thing about it?
Battle: Since we had already been in NYC for weeks before the fest to record the record, playing all those shows all at once was refreshing! It reminded me why I loved being in a band, which was to play shows and have fun. I also enjoyed most of the bands we played with this year. The worst thing about it is probably getting from place to place on time.
Copes: Yeah getting around was kind of a pain, but it wasn’t quite as much of a pain as I had anticipated. I felt like there was kind of a funny vibe at the shows, not a normal crowd. My favorite was when we played the Inland Empire showcase, and all of our friends showed up wasted during our first song. They rolled around on the floor and weirded everyone out.
Queen: I felt like a true New Yorker when we took the train with all of our guitar and drum shit, and we were packed in during rush hour on the F train. it was one of those times you feel like a real asshole for being a musician.