If you are yet to hear the authentic musical energy of Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, I’m sure it won’t be long. An Australian independent all-girl outfit – from writing songs at high school to touring nationally – these talented musicians are ascending virtuosos. On the phone before a recent Sydney gig on their Desk Chair Tour, I had an insightful conversation with proud guitarist Scarlett McKahey. It didn’t take long until I realised how humble and ultra cool Scarlett was – talent is obvious and upbeat personality shining through.
How did you decide on the band name (I did not know this story)?
SMc – Actually a kind of disappointing story unfortunately. Although with that name, it seems like it should be really interesting. Years ago before we even had the band, I was in the car with my dad and his mates as they were all discussing some of the dumbest random band names. One of them yelled out Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers; I didn’t think about it at the time until years later when trying to come up with our name. A memory returned so it stuck. I’ll take no credit other than remembering.
Have you a personal favourite song you’ve released so far?
SMc – It’s nice to be at a point that we actually like all the songs we play. We continuously add to setlist we enjoy. At the moment our favourite as a collective is ‘Desk Chair’. Newly released but we’ve sat on it for quite while after I wrote it in Year 11. To have it out is a sigh of relief and responses to it, nice and definite favourite of mine.
Terrific song! How do you write: take notes of lyrics first or another way?
SMc – I wish I came up with words straight off the top of my head. I guess it depends. If I’m out and about when an idea happens or I hear something, I’ll write it down on my phone. Honestly I barely do that, it starts with an idea like mind maps. Write the idea in the middle and whatever comes to mind around it until they form together for a song.
What an excellent idea.
SMC – Not being a person who can write poetry or putting creative writing to music, that system works for me to develop lyrics.
Do you prefer recording in studio or playing live gigs?
SMc – On stage for sure. We have an amazing producer Jon Grace (Homesurgery Recordings), so much fun recording with him. However nothing compares playing live, continues to be surreal for us…audiences knowing our songs. Even just wanting to watch us is a dream so we give it everything when playing live.
Are you rushed for autographs or selfies after the shows?
SMc – A few, although a couple are our friends who as a joke want us to sign shirts and stuff (laughs). We get asked for a lot of photos, especially at festivals. For instance at Falls (Festival Byron Bay), we got stuck in the middle of the field because we were lost. We had so many approach us for photos. But, most of them didn’t even know what band we are – just passing by requesting pics (laughs).
Have you a favourite instrument to play, what is it about music you love?
SMc – Playing cello for like nine years, I’d say that. It is the reason why I picked up the feel of guitar quickly. It’s easier than cello actually, you can play it in a million different ways. There’s various types of guitars, it being so diverse for what it can do for you, prevents being stuck in a musical rut. It’s nice to have so much freedom in an instrument. I love guitars, musical discoveries are why I like music and being in our band.
Billie Eilish recently admitted on television that she did not know who Van Halen are. Please tell me you know who Van Halen are.
SMc – (laughs) Yes we do. So funny you asked because on way to the venue (Manning Bar, Sydney) was an awful Uber driver judging us so hard. You could tell he was one of those guys that think: these girls don’t know music, I’ll tell them! He roasted our drummer who didn’t know one Van Halen song he mentioned. We just wanted to get out, that was complete rock bottom but you have put me in a better mood talking about it. No shame to Billie though for not knowing.
Do you or the band have retro or modern artist inspirations?
SMc – We have a huge space in our heart for current bands, especially in our level and across the same scenes as us because they are who we are exposed with touring with the most, or catching at festivals. However, the grunge era, Bikini Kill, L7 and Hole all play a part in where we are now. Also, Spice Girls (laughs) are so cool, pretty much anything 90s inspire our sound.
When the band makes the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, what would you pick to wear?
SMc – I’d like to think we would do a Spice Girls theme (laughs), but might take some convincing the other girls to agree. We are presently into colour coordinating. Right now we are all wearing red. Maybe something like that, or stranger than that for visual effect. The only thing I can guarantee we would all be wearing, Dr (Doc) Martens.
Do people mistake Teen Jesus…. for a Christian band?
SMc – Yes! Another question our horrible Uber driver asked us actually. It happens quite a lot until people talk to us or see us play, it becomes obvious not (laugh).
What is the ultimate thing you want audiences to experience at a gig?
SMc – Everyone to feel comfortable and have a really nice time. Most of the feedback from our shows are that they’re wholesome. Even though we play rock and roll music, we try really hard to include everyone. The whole point of this for us is that we love playing with us gal-pals, at the same time wanting to make sure the audience is all comfortable, feel space and respected while having a bop as we do our thing is amazing. That’s all we ask for.
Check out Teen Jesus & The Jean Teasers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tour dates, news and music. Live music and videos also featured on YouTube.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.