With its 1996 debut Seasick, Imperial Teen gained a cult-like following. Irresistibly catchy lyrics and saccharine pop-rock ditties had fans prostrate at the band's collective feet. Now, after waiting through multiple record-company-fueled delays, Imperial Teen and its fans are jubilant about the release of a second pop gem, What Is Not to Love.
Having accepted an opening slot on the East Coast leg of the decidedly un-saccharine Hole/Marilyn Manson tour, Imperial Teen has a lot to be excited about. While getting makeovers at a department-store cosmetics counter in their hometown, San Francisco, singer-guitarist Roddy Bottum (Faith No More), singer-guitarist Will Schwartz, drummer Lynn Perko (Sister Double Happiness), and bassist-vocalist Jone Stebbins discussed their recent experiences in the studio, their plans for the big tour, and their undying love for the Teletubbies.
RKCNDY, Friday, March 12
Crocodile, Sunday, March 14
On "Goosing It Up"
Perko: We knew that when we recorded this record, we wanted to spend more time, especially mixing, and perhaps bringing in some different elements, like some drum machines—just kind of goose it up a little on some songs.
Schwartz: Did you just say "goose it up?" Yeah, you did. That kind of gives me the willies. . . .We just heard more textures on these songs than on the last songs. The last record was recorded really quickly, in just a few takes of live performances. In that sense, this one is similar—basically live recordings that are embellished, more layered.
Stebbins: Also, for me, I knew what to expect a little bit more, and I wasn't afraid of the technical element, in a way.
Bottum: This time around we embraced more what we could do. We embraced the chance factor of what would go on in the studio, and it was exciting in a way it wasn't on the first record. On the first record, it was more about just sort of keeping it together.
Zen and the Art of Sitting Through Record Company Delays
Bottum: It's just been such a big drag. How long have we been waiting for this record to come out?
Perko: Six months.
Schwartz: When you have something ready to go, and we were so excited about it, you just want to get going, you know? We are excited now, though.
Perko: It's pretty freeing to know that it's out.
Schwartz: And we get excited by the songs still—it's not like "these old songs. . . ."
On Shock-Rock Tour Transportation
Bottum: We should rent a covered wagon.
Stebbins: With the Beverly Hillbillies.
Bottum: We're going to play as the Teletubbies. We'll get out in our outfits to start loading in for sound check.
Schwartz: I keep having this vision of a broken bottle being thrown and lodging in my head while we're playing.
Perko: Oh, I've already thought of that, but in arenas they only allow plastic cups.
Bottum: We were talking about how funny it would be if we were all in our Teletubbies outfits, and not breaking character, ever.
Perko: La-laaa . . .
Bottum: Like, Marilyn Manson comes into our dressing room, we're all in our outfits, and he goes, "You guys, what the fuck is up?" And we look at each other and go, "La-la, ooh oh! Ohohoh! Trouble!"
On Competing With the Manson/Love Spectacle
Perko: We're working on some stuff to sort of expand on what we already do.
Schwartz: Yeah, choreography. We're spending a couple of weeks with Debbie Allen. We're gonna have those headset mikes. You know, I'm getting ready, I've got my Janet Jackson "Control" outfit on.