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Indie Rockers Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers On Courtney Barnett And Poisonous Sushi: BUST Interview

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Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers is an indie rock band from Canberra, Australia, taking on the world. Their sound could be described as Siouxsie and the Banshees meets the internet, and their lyrics are an honest portrait of the weirdness of growing up. Although the five girls are still not old enough to attend live shows, they have played a bunch of gigs in Australia and have just released their debut EP, “Creepshow." Here, Anna Ryan (vocalist), Scarlett McKahey (guitar), Jaida Stephenson (bass), Pip Gazard (keyboard), and Neve Van Boxsel (drums), share their inspirations, aspirations and the joy of being in a rock band with your best friends.

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How did you all meet and form the band?

Anna: We all met at our high school. We were already really good friends but the band really brought us together. It all began at a sleepover where we watched School of Rock, which actually motivated us so much we ended up jamming all together in the morning. It became a major passion of ours and we all became really inspired to keep creating music and playing as many gigs as possible.

Is it difficult to juggle school, music and your social lives?

Pip: It has been difficult, particularly with the extra work that we have had to put into organising the EP, but in the end we are really doing what we love, so although it has been stressful at points, it’s been the best journey.

What has your experience of the music industry been like so far?

Neve: So far, there has been zero discrimination and only complete acceptance and encouragement from all the bands we have played with. Being so young has been difficult at times as all the venues we play at are overage and a lot of our friends are, sadly, underage so they have only been able to come to a few gigs. But having all these older bands ask to play with us is so great, and we see most of them as our older siblings. The music scene that we have experienced is so supportive and non-discriminatory, which only encourages us more, and I know that we will just always have a place for the Canberra music scene in our little hearts.

Where do you take your songwriting inspiration from?

Scarlett: Last year Neve and I attended Girls Rock! Canberra which is a program that celebrates women in music and encourages young girls to express themselves through music. One of the guests during the week was songwriting legend Courtney Barnett who gave all the girls a workshop. After that, I really have been trying to take inspiration from anything and everything. Lots of my songs now have been inspired by things like funny stories or things that have happened to us, movies, relationships, or even the weather. There are really no limits as long as it sounds cool!

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What was the first album you owned? Or what are the songs you remember from when you were younger?

Pip: The first album I owned was Louder Than Bombs by the Smiths, but I remember listening to lots of the Beatles and Abba as I was growing up.

Scarlett: I distinctly remember being given a tiny iPod Nano that had nothing on it but the Arctic Monkeys, the Beatles, Elvis, and David Bowie.

Neve: My parents had such a massive impact on my music taste, and I grew up listening to exactly what they listened to. Any band like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and The Cure bring up so many nostalgic childhood memories, and I almost can’t listen to them without getting a bit sad but also very happy.

Anna: When I was growing up, I listened to many different genres, for example I liked a lot of ACDC, Abba and Missy Higgins as a kid because I was influenced by my parents, but as I got older, I realised that I really enjoyed a wider range of artists like the Beatles, Nirvana and The Smith Street Band. My taste in music is constantly changing because there are so many amazing artists out there and I have amazing friends and family that show me all different types of funky music.

Jaida: Shaggy’s song "It Wasn’t Me" and Nelly Furtado were my absolute jams, but apart from '90s pop music I loved The Wall by Pink Floyd (which is still my favorite album to this day), Portishead, the Waifs, and Rage Against the Machine. Even though my style of music has completely changed to stuff like modern '70s-style funk, those bands will always be my favourites.

What has been your funniest moment as a band?

Neve: Probably the funniest thing we remember (but that we would definitely not like to relive) would be when we got food poisoning at one of our gigs. Two hours before we were meant to play we went and got sushi, and I vividly remember I chose a chewy salmon roll which was smothered in creamy, sour sauce. Ten minutes before our set we were all either vomiting, nearly in tears, or freaking out. We played through it and it was the best we had ever played at that time. I definitely could feel that chewy salmon whilst drumming in the 30 degree heat, though.

What are your musical goals, or who would be your dream collaborator?

Jaida: Teen Jesus is the best thing to ever happen to me and it would just be so cool to make this our main lifestyle, like touring and playing festivals around Australia and the world, but honestly the band is already the coolest thing ever. There’s so many flippin' cool bands out there and I would love to play with every one of them, but I reckon playing with The Smith Street Band or King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard would just be the best.

Neve: My ultimate goal with the band is for all of us to continue to grow as musicians, whilst all being best friends in the process. Making music is one of my favourite things in the world and being able to do it alongside my best friends makes it ten times better. Also having so many people responding so well to our recently released EP has been mind-blowing and just has made us so much more motivated! Having people sing the lyrics we wrote in our bedrooms makes me want to explode with happiness, it is hands down the best feeling in the entire world.

Check out the band's new EP Creepshow here

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Molly McLaughin is a writer who likes pizza, politics and poetry. In that order. She tweets at @mollysgmcl. 

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