Melbourne indie-pop outfit Teenage Dads have released their new EP ‘Club Echo’ today (November 5).
The release marks both their debut on the label Chugg Music and the first time frontman Jordan Finlay had help in the studio. In the past, he’d recorded, mixed and mastered all Teenage Dads music himself; as he tells NME, “We’d spent a lot of time on the DIY facet of the band, and trying to make it as ‘least DIY’ as possible – y’know, trying to give it the ‘oomph’ and the production that these big bands who tour all over the world have, but trying to show that it’s all feasible from home.”
With the help of engineer Steven Schramm, the band were able to conjure up a record more expressive and experimental than any of their previous efforts. Finlay says the ‘Club Echo’ EP “kind of represents a progression in our sound”, with he and his bandmates Vincent Kinna (drums), Angus Christie (bass) and Connor McLaughlin (guitar) trying out “a different approach to the songwriting” in an attempt to “see things from a different angle”.
NME caught Finlay as he took a quick break from the band’s first rehearsal together after months separated by Melbourne’s most recent COVID-19 lockdown, and he explained how ‘Club Echo’ saw Teenage Dads face the future by looking to the past.
How did you endeavour to shake things up this time around?
“Mainly with the songwriting process. Normally it’s just myself doing the bulk of the work – I would write the song myself and send the demo to the guys at four in the morning, or whenever it might be. We tried to make it a bit more collaborative this time around. We’d all work on the songs together in the past anyway, but we felt that having everyone’s voices heard throughout every step of the process helped to shape the EP in a different way.
“For this EP, we were very heavily inspired by the 2000s – bands like The Strokes and Phoenix – and also a lot of DEVO. It’s been a lot of fun putting it all together and watching it all fall into place.”
So is this EP is the best reflection of what Teenage Dads is as a collective?
“Yeah, for sure. Thematically speaking, the EP centres around the last five years of our lives as a band. It’s all spoken from my perspective because I write all the the lyrics, but yeah, we kind of wanted to show what life was like for us when we started, and that process of growing and maturing. It’s like a coming-of-age record, but with a different perspective than a cliche ’90s film.
“It’s all about nostalgia, when you’re kind of looking back on those moments and those feelings through a glass window. It’s like this exclusive club where it’s not like you’re not invited, but you can’t get in, y’know? You’re tapping on that window and looking inside as a humble observer. That’s where the ‘Club Echo’ name came from. That ‘echo’ is synonymous with your memories, and then obviously it relates to sound as well, so we just thought it worked really well together. I hope people like it. I know I like it, which is all that really matters [laughs].”
What are some of those formative moments that shaped this EP?
“A lot of it is based around things like newfound loves and lost loves. One of the songs on the EP, ‘I Believe It’, is based around this idea of like imagination and fixation – that’s something that’s stuck with me since the start of the band. In spite of how the odds might be against you, letting your imagination and creativity shine without consequences is really important, I think.
“And then a song like ‘Cheerleader’, that’s all about having regrets in life. The lockdown is kind of where ‘Cheerleader’ stemmed from – I felt like I was missing out on all of these great opportunities. We all said to ourselves at the start of 2020, ‘This is our year, guys! We’re gonna smash it!’ We’d just done this massive tour at the end of 2019, and we were ready to go even bigger and harder in 2020 – and y’know, obviously that didn’t come to fruition. So we were just in a bit of a slump after that, trying to find some sense of motivation.”
Nostalgia is such a powerful thing. I feel like we often long even for those times in our lives that weren’t so great just because they’re not the times we’re living in right now.
“Yeah, for sure. And that’s kind of what the essence of the EP is – it’s not necessarily, like, ’80s nostalgia and all that clichéd stuff, y’know? It’s more just nostalgia for ourselves, because I think nostalgia is a very healthy thing. The thing that really kept our band going [through the pandemic] was knowing that at the end of all of these lockdowns and all of this panic around who does and doesn’t want to get vaccinated is that one day we’ll be able to jump back onstage and play a show. Because the best thing about being in this band is getting to play this music for people. That’s what we’re all really passionate about.”
There’s a bit of a political slant to ‘Come On, Cowboy. Fire Your Gun!’ – how did that come about?
“I’d seen all the stuff about George Floyd’s death and all the riots that ensued, and also all of the stuff that happens here in Australia with the Indigenous communities around us – the unfair nature in which they’re all treated. That song is me venting my frustration, just wanting to get my feelings out in lyrical form.
“I find that it’s a lot easier to express my thoughts in lyrics, as opposed to actually speaking them out in conversation. And that’s not something I would have done five years ago, y’know? I was a very naïve young lad when this band started, I didn’t care about getting into politics or any of that stuff. But I think it’s healthy to have those conversations and get it all out – especially in a song.”
Teenage Dads’ ‘Club Echo’ is out now via Chugg Music. The band embark on an Australian tour in 2022