I fell in love with Tweens when I first pressed “play” on their Bandcamp page for the track “Be Mean.” It’s snarky, it’s catchy, it’s rambunctious, and just plain fun. The Cincinnati natives take hints from garage-punk bands like the Mummies and classic girl groups to make noisy, trashy punk-pop music. Bridget Battle is the bold, energetic frontwoman of Tweens whose super sassy vocal stylings might remind you of Bay Area rock ‘n’ roller Tina Lucchesi of Trashwomen and Bobbyteens fame. Tweens shows have been getting crazier (and significantly more crowded) lately, and the band’s been opening up for big names like The Breeders and the Murder City Devils. Bridget shared some insight on overlooked girl groups, opening for the great Kim Deal, and antiquing in her good ol’ hometown of Cincinnati.
How was your tour with the Breeders? What was it like to open for such a legendary band and an icon like Kim Deal?
The Breeders tour was amazing and kinda crazy. We were going to new cities playing these incredible venues or revisiting cities where we had been playing basements a few months before. We were also just stoked to play with one of our favorite bands, especially being on a tour where they were supporting a record that’s been so influential to me since high school. So many amazing women in that band, Kim, Kelley, Josephine, and Carrie (love to Jim too though!). One of the biggest things I’ve always loved about Kim Deal was that she’s always just been tagged as herself, by her name, as a great musician. You never hear “Oh! The Breeders! That female-fronted punk band!” They all seem so casual and then go on stage and sound perfect! Lots of Ohio pride on that tour.
How do you feel your hometown of Cincinnati has shaped Tweens’ sound? I know you covered Cincinnati group the Teardrops’ “I’m Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend.” Are they an influential group for you guys?
The Teardrops aren’t an extremely influential group to us specifically. “I’m Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend” is incredible though. I fell in love with it not only because its super catchy, but it’s also kinda raunchy for 1965, coated in attitude. Cincinnati’s cool because it’s super cheap and you kind of have to make everything happen yourself or it just won’t happen, like shows or DIY spaces. I think coming from a smaller midwestern city helps keep bands different and weird. Not many trends going on here, but the internet has changed things a bit I guess.
When did you first start listening to ‘50s and ‘60s girl groups?
I was definitely in this whirlwind of girl power when I was 18/19. Coming off of learning all I could about riot grrrl a few years before, I needed more. I became obsessed with 90’s girl gangy groups like the Donnas, Bobbyteens, etc. I was so excited by how openly “trashy” they were, singing about taking boys home and Nikki Corvette. All of those bands led back to the 50’s and 60’s girl groups. I heard the Shangri-Las’ “Dum Dum Ditty” and instantly fell in love.
Most underappreciated doo-wop girl group?
The Teardrops for sure! “I’m Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend” is the most underrated girl group song of all time!
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re in your hometown of Cincinnati?
I love going to the Comet, a bar in my favorite neighborhood, Northside, and eating burritos and taking drunk pictures with my friends in their photo booth to hang on my fridge (I have like a billion!). I also love going to antique malls and thrift stores, looking for sundresses and boots, and collecting weird knick knacks. I composed the album art completely out of antique mall finds.
You’ve mentioned being influenced by budget bands of the ‘90s. Will the new record still be pretty lo-fi in keeping with that approach?
We really tried to find the perfect medium between clean and dirty. It sounds cleaner than the demos because we recorded in a studio for the first time and we wanted it to sound kinda big. BUT it’s still really distorted and noisy. That was really important to me. I usually prefer recordings that sound like shit, especially when they sound that way on purpose. Maybe the next one will sound like a Times New Viking record. They kill it.
How does playing in a punk band compare with you last project, where you did electronics for Public Housing?
Public Housing was the project that built up my confidence to play in a band, and to create something myself. I was always so intimidated by it, maybe because I valued and loved music so much. It was my first band, and my place in it was short-lived, but it was important to me. Playing electronics was TOTALLY different. What I played on the oscillator or on any pedals was usually different every time. I played what I felt would sound interesting in the moment of a 10+ minute noise jam, unlike in Tweens where I play and sing the same thing every night. I still like to get weird in Tweens sometimes, branch out into bursts of noise every once in awhile.
Most important punk record to you?
The hardest question! Different albums have struck me at different moments in my life. But overall, Kleenex/Liliput comp, Sonic Youth’s Evol, Young Marble Giant’s Colossal Youth.
I know the new record will have some songs that have already been released but what’s your favorite one? Which were you the happiest with after the recording was all done?
I think my favorite song on the record is “Forever”. It’s also the song that turned out the best recorded. It shimmers but it’s also a bitter pill about being afraid to be in love with someone. The last song on the record, “Star Studder,” is my other favorite. I love the intensity of it, it’s one of our longest songs by far, and it’s the first song I’ve written that’s been a little bit outta control and noisy. I feel like it’s a good representation of what we’ll put out in the future.