Teenage Dads On Their Riskiest Release Yet: 'It's Such A Change Of Pace'

3 March 2023 | 1:30 pm | Emma Whines

"It’s exciting to have something different, but at the same time, it’s still nerve-wracking to have such a change of pace."

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Catching the boys on their self-proclaimed ‘band day’, Vincent Kinna (Drums) and Angus Christie (Bass) sit on the couch in their home studio while Jordy Finlay (Vocals/Synth/Guitar) rummages around in the background setting up equipment for their session after this call. Connor McLaughlin (Guitar/Vocals) zooms in from a different location, unable to be with the rest of the band.

“Yes! Friday Band Day!” they all chime in. “We get here, we usually talk shit for a little bit, and then we go on our phones, and then we go to lunch and go home,” they laugh. 

Signing to Chugg Music in 2021, Teenage Dads have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Forming in high school at the tail end of 2015, they started out playing school assemblies and house parties before quickly snagging support spots for Lime Cordiale and Spacy Jane. They've also completed their own sold-out national tour much to their surprise. 

“Our first proper gig was at our local pub, and we got paid $100 to play three hours of music, and we thought that was incredible. Obviously, it wasn’t," they joke.

"Then eventually we got a gig in the city, and kinda just kept getting gigs from playing gigs and eventually recorded music ourselves. Even now, we still record in this very room at Jordy's house. Everything the same, bar a few upgrades.

“It’s really cool. I think a big benefit of that was being able to release music pretty early on and not having to spend too much money on it because a lot of younger artist sort of wait around or save up heaps of coin for just one song, and it just takes too long between releases. I guess you could argue that with us, we always had heaps of music, and we just wanted it out in the world.”

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“I guess that was our focus the whole time, really. Just totally DIY and the idea that you can’t wait forever.”

Their newest E.P, Midnight Driving, out today, features already beloved singles Teddy and Hey Diego!, leaning in a pop direction that sees the band round out their sound for bigger and better stages. They attribute their new direction to finding a sound that each band member is passionate about.  

“When we started, everyone had come from different musical backgrounds, and previous releases had been a bit of a mix of styles. These last two E.P’s especially, we all have found a sound that’s a little more cohesive, that definitely leans more towards pop.”

“It wasn’t by design as such. We just wanna make sure that when we play live, it’s something that the crowd wants to get involved with and sing along.”

A particular favourite from the new E.P is Goodbye, Goodbye Again, which sees Teenage Dads release their first ever melancholy song - quite the fear-filled moment for a band who are known for their upbeat indie-pop vibes. 

“It is really different. It’s exciting to have something different, but at the same time, it’s still nerve-wracking to have such a change of pace.

“We actually decided to stop playing the song until it came out just because it's such a change of pace for our live show. We want people to sing along to this song, and obviously, people haven’t heard it. So we thought we’d just wait till we release it.”

Kinna chimed in, bringing up a different point. “I’m keen for people to see that side of us too. Because we are pretty happy-go-lucky most of the time, and in recent years, people are taking us a bit more seriously. Particularly with this song, I feel like it will emphasise that we are really serious about our art.”

McLaughlin agreed. “I’m pretty excited to play it once it's out. One of the shows that we did play it at was at Riverstage with Lime Cordiale, and a massive chunk of the crowd turned their phone torches on and did the wave thing. So I’m excited for what potential it has when the crowd is waiting for it in a set rather than it just being a surprise.”

This is a year of firsts for Teenage Dads, and on top of releasing music that takes them to a new level of artistry, the band are also jumping on their first-ever UK tour with Lime Cordiale. 

“We did New Zealand last year with Lime Cordiale, and that was the only time we’ve ever been overseas as a band. There’s definitely going to be a difference. I mean, even between states in Australia, audiences act a little differently. In many ways, we don’t really know what to prepare for, but we’ll just try and make sure our set is really fun, and just do our own usual thing.”

While many young bands would view an international tour as one big party, two out of four band members in Teenage Dads are completely sober, with the other two leaning towards sobriety. There is a heavy expectation within the music industry that touring equals a booze fest, but these boys are attempting to change that as casually as they can. 

“There is a connotation of being in a band and playing shows where everyone thinks it’s a massive party. If you mention it, people will be like, ‘oh, going out and getting fucked up?’ and it’s like, not really.”

“I mean, we’re not all massive drinkers, and particularly when we perform, no one gets smashed.”

Kinna, in particular, has found he preferred pairing the industry with sobriety. “Personally, I’ve never been a massive drinker, and Connor just did a year and a bit of sobriety, and I guess that inspired me to just cut it out as well.”

Christie himself isn’t wholly sober but still agrees that the industry's obsession with pairing substances and music is a big issue that affects a lot of bands. 

“There is still a lot of stigma within the industry. You realise it can just be kinda gross, and it just takes its toll. Like when you’re on the road, you’ve gotta get up for an early drive or an early flight, and it’s like, ‘Why are you getting black-out drunk when you’re just gonna feel like shit?' It’s just gonna compromise your performance anyway, and it’s still work. You're not going to go to a shift at the till at Woollies and just get blackout drunk.”

McLaughlin agreed, “It’s a good spot that we’re in, and especially in this industry, there is an abundance of alcohol and potentially other things as well, but we’re pretty fortunate that if we rock up to a gig and don’t feel like a drink, the temptation isn't there. I feel bad for people that have to have a drink before they get onstage.”

It’s a testament to how the band operates that they’re all so in sync and supportive of each other, prioritising the band and making music above all of the nitty-gritty that so many other bands get swept up in. Kinna is adamant that everyone in the band enjoys themselves without substances anyway, delving into one of their favourite nights on tour with no beer in sight. 

“One particular time, we went to an afterparty and stayed up until 4am just playing with lego. Everyone else was having a good time drinking, but we managed to get everyone else involved. For a while, though, people were like, what the fuck are Teenage Dads doing?”

“We built the tallest lego tower we could. It was like four stories tall. And for me, that separates that night from the rest because it’s not like, ‘remember how pissed you got that night?’, but rather, ‘remember when we built that stupid lego structure that was like 40 metres tall.?’ That stands the test of time.”

You can stream Teenage Dads' new E.P, Midnight Driving, here and buy tickets to their upcoming Australian tour here