Though little has been known about them until recently, TEEN DEATH have been making music and playing shows together for the past two years, and even longer as their pop punk band HOLD TIGHT!, which includes guitarist/vocalist James Goodson, who plays bass in HOLD TIGHT!, and drummer Eric Kelly, who plays guitar. They recruted their friend Zach Marson to round out the trio on bass. The band started as a joke based on a love for THE MISFITS and NIRVANA, but since things have slowed down for HOLD TIGHT! and they have signed to 6131 Records, the band has started to take their music more seriously, and are eager to get out on the road. We spoke with The band regarding their controversial namesake and their regrets due to unfortunate Google searches, touring and their fan base, as well as the dark sound they have created and honed for the release of Crawling.

Where did your band name come from?

James: When we first started out, we sounded a lot THE RIVERDALES, so we wanted a name that was a lot like that. We initially wanted something with the word “teenage” in it. We also have a lot of songs that involve death elements (laughs). And we thought, “What about Teenage Death or Dead Teen?” and then we ended up doing TEEN DEATH. After we started doing more stuff, a lot of people would be like, “Was that ever like a weird band name to have since it’s so dark?” (laughs) We didn’t even think of it like that. I feel like we talked about it on a more serious side — death of youth type stuff — and on a not-so-serious side — the grim reaper riding a skateboard, shooting off fireworks, and being a teenager (laughs). Just like… TEEN DEATH, it’s a cool name.

I searched you guys on Google to try to find more information and nothing came up; it was just a bunch of dead teenagers.

James: Sometimes, every once in a while depending on what in the news, it’s like “Ooh, I regret this name,” (laughs). Not a fun Google.

How was touring up north? Where’s your favorite place to play?

James: It was cool. It was really short — just a weekend. We played New Jersey, Philly, and Alexandria and the last two shows were with SPRAYNARD and TIMESHARES. This band hasn’t really played a ton of places. The other stuff we’re doing — HOLD TIGHT! — has played a lot in the United States. I’ve always liked Philly. We’ve never had a bad show there, and everyone is so nice.

Do you guys think you have a big fan base? Does anyone recognize you when you play shows?

Zach: (laughs) No. We don’t really have any pictures out. People recognize James and Eric because they’re in HOLD TIGHT! — well more than anyone else.

Eric: HOLD TIGHT! was kind of the original thing with James and I. I play guitar in HOLD TIGHT!, and James plays bass. So we did this side thing, and we switched it up. None of us played our main instruments. I’m surprised this band stuck around (laughs). That’s kind of how we made our songs too because we are all just playing instruments that we aren’t good at. (laughs) So the songs are all very like, cut the fat, only the most simplified, get to the point do what you gotta do songs. I feel like it’s been a big learning experience. That was a big reason we didn’t really play a lot of shows when we started out because it was just like a fun whatever thing. But HOLD TIGHT! has been slowing down so we started doing this a lot more.

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What genre would you consider yourselves?

James: Punk-grunge, grunge-punk. I used to think bummer-punk, but then I saw some other bands using that recently. We sorta sound similar to them — it’s kind of the same 90’s poppy bummer-punk.

So would you say your biggest influences are punk bands?

Zach: Yeah. When we first started playing, before TEEN DEATH or anything, we mainly got together to play MISFITS covers (laughs). Pretty much old school punk bands like NIRVANA, WEEZER, and MISFITS. Just kind of trying to blend them. Especially NIRVANA because their songs were super simple and super in-your-face and dynamic. Definitely trying to have lots of different moods in one song, which we do not do. We’re pretty much just in your face the whole time (laughs).

The new EP Crawling comes out September 16. Do you think it differs from the rest of your releases?

James: It differs from the first one we ever did. That was just straight up RIVERDALES, RAMONES, that kind of stuff, and it became more [like the] MISFITS. We were basically just trying to combine old school punk and heavy rock. We’ve been around for like two years, and we’ve probably played 30 shows. Before we even started being serious about it, we played like four or five shows. So just switching over to just a different kind of style wasn’t really like, “Ugh, that band used to sound like THE RAMONES, and now they sound totally different!” They’re just kinda like, “I’ve never heard of this band before!” Everything before we started being serious was self-recorded in a basement. Everyone who didn’t know us back then are really glad we’re doing stuff now. Nobody ever said, “Hey man, that was really cool,” after one of our old shows (laughs).

Is there a meaning of the name Crawling?

Zach: I guess it was just the first song on the EP. When we were deciding on names for it, it was either TEEN DEATH or after a song. The first track is called “I’m Crawling”, and were just like, “Let’s call it Crawling.” It’s a little darker. That song, and pretty much the whole EP is about being a pretty big fuck-up and kinda being pissed at everyone else that you’re such a fuck-up and being pissed at yourself for being a fuck-up. Just kind of feeling stunted and not acting your age. It’s not a happy record (laughs).



How did you guys get signed to 6131 Records?

James: HOLD TIGHT! was originally asked to play ZNels’ benefit show, but Alex was doing something, so TEEN DEATH ended up playing. It was super weird. Most of the people there were from ZNels’ church and not feeling us at all. Apparently Sean was into it though (laughs). And at this point, we were not very serious about the band. We were so shocked; we did not see it coming at all.

Would you say that you started being more serious as a band after you were signed?

James: (laughs) Definitely. Because at that point, other people were depending on us. We slowly started to do more stuff. We started playing more shows and travelled down for SXSW, which was our first real tour, and it was real rough. Right now we’re booking a tour for a week and a half to like Chicago and back.


For more updates on TEEN DEATH, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

Alexis Paschal

Alexis Paschal

Alexis introduced herself to photography when she was around 12 on a camping trip, and since then, it's all she has ever wanted to do. She started taking photos at shows when she was in high school. She is originally from North Carolina, but she is very interested in the local scene and My Chemical Romance, forever.

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