Though the indie-rock band Teenagers is only two months old, the members are not new to the Fayetteville music scene. After a few false starts with other bands, the four members of Teenagers have settled into a groove of camaraderie, vision and commitment.
Teenagers is coming out of the gate with an album, “Children of the Sun,” which is in the process of being mixed and mastered. The material on the album was created by Travis Keymer before the Teenagers took full form.
Keymer (vocals/guitar) had been working on the material for over a year when he posted one of his songs on Facebook. After hearing the song, Drew Wallis, formerly of the Memphis Pencils, asked if Keymer needed a drummer for the project.
The answer was yes.
Next on board was bassist Robby Huckabee, with whom Keymer played in Burn Baby Burn. Keymer recruited fellow Harrison resident and Holy Mountain member Dallas Roland on guitar.
Teenagers was born.
“Children of the Sun” is expected to be released in a month, and Keymer hopes the more professional quality will attract attention from record labels. These young veterans of the music scene have learned the importance of proper funding and merchandising the hard way.
As the phrase implies, being a starving artist is sometimes less than glamorous. Laughingly, the band recalls the hazards of being on the road, being broke and being hungry.
Like dealing with the uninvited hobos who climbed into the Burn Baby Burn tour van while it was stopped at a gas station. Or that time Wallis lurked around the back of a pizza restaurant hoping for extra slices. Oh yeah, and the time Huckabee learned the valuable lesson that you’re sometimes expected to pay for the chips and salsa — which he learned as he was being chased by an angry restaurant manager through a field.
But nothing quite captures the pitfalls of being a starving musician like ordering CDs and receiving them blank, which happened to Keymer and Huckabee in Burn Baby Burn.
“If you don’t eat for a week, that’s OK, but blank CDs that you have to pay back … It was like building a house, seeing it burn down the next day and having no insurance to cover it.”
With experience comes wisdom, and often embitterment. Despite all of the pitfalls of their past musical experiences, Teenagers seem to have an overall sunny disposition.
In fact, they seem more committed and more energized than ever before.
The band is currently working to make Keymer’s material a more collaborative project, and while producing a sum of all parts, the band is staying true to the original vision.
Using inspiration from all things ’90s — from music to fashion to children’s television — Keymer has created something simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Keymer describes the heart of the ’90s attitude as a feeling of individuality: “They were doing what they were doing and dressed how they wanted to dress,” he says. The songwriter cites Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth as major influences, but says there are many different styles of music at the core of Teenagers.
It is a certain resilience to cynicism and an upbeat tempo in both music and life that encapsulates the youthful spirit of this band. When boiled down to a single word, Teenagers was the name that seemed to fit the best.
“I kept telling people, ‘This music is fun. This music is youthful,’” says Keymer. The name matched both the tone and intention of the music, and the band members agree, chiming in with their own descriptions of what it feels like to be a teenager.
“When you bought shoes that make you run fast,” says Wallis.
“Life is so cool, everything’s possible,” says Huckabee, who goes on to say that being a teenager isn’t all fun and games. “Teenagers are starting to deal with real issues, but without being jaded by the consequences.”
This Sunday, the band will be opening for El Ten Eleven, and when asked how they feel about it, Roland speaks up. “I love those guys,” he says.
“Dallas is so happy that we’re playing with El Ten Eleven, it sums up the feeling of Teenagers. I remember when I was younger, opening for signed bands, getting excited — that never leaves me,” says Keymer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Listen to Sweet P. here! It’s my favorite Teenagers song — so far.