Wednesday, October 7, 2009
TEEN IDOLS: Back in 2009
(Phillip Hill/left, Jason Fanboy Duarte/middle, Pete Mittler/right)
By Jason Duarte
Growing up as a punk rocker in Tennessee or "redneck central," as Hill explains, was tough - the bullet scar on his leg proves that.
"You'd have about 30-50 people at each show. Once Green Day hit, it got bigger. The biggest we ever had was about 700 people for a Teen Idols show. The last few shows I saw in Nashville were pretty small. Even the bigger bands only have maybe 200 people show up. We haven't played there since I think 2002, but it was packed back then - it sold out," Hill said.
But since he left Tennessee in 2001, Hill has been working as an engineer at Sonic Iguana Studios in Lafayette, Indiana . He moved to Chicago in 2003.
One thing's for sure though - the Teen Idols' new album will be out in 2010. The Teen Idols haven't released an album since 2003's "Nothing To Prove" on Fueled By Ramen Records.
"We're thinking about recording around Christmas time, maybe a little after," Hill said.
The new album will be recorded at Sonic Iguana. The current band he's producing in the studio is the Old Wives from Alberta, Canada.
The Teen Idols' upcoming album has yet to get a title, or songs, for that matter.
"Usually, that's the last thing that happens," Hill said. "I think that when we did 'Pucker Up,' we were just calling it 'The Second Album' until we decided to call it 'Pucker Up' because that's the song that stuck out. And our third album - that title's just a joke. It's a play on the movie, 'Full Metal Jacket.' It was supposed to be funny but people took it the wrong way and said, 'Oh, they think they're so cool with their leather jackets,'" Hill said with a laugh.
The band broke up in 2003 after an argument between the band members. "My hollow body guitar got smashed," Hill reflected of the 2003 fight. "I had gotten in an argument with Heather, she pushed me into a drum kit with my guitar and the neck split down to the seventh fret. It sat in its case for five years. Then, a guy I know who used to play rhythm guitar for The Queers said 'I'd like to try and fix it,' so I sent it to him. He brought it to one of the shows and it was like brand new. He used glue, clamps, epoxy...but there were still battle scars. Two days after the fight, I took a Greyhound bus from California to Chicago. I thought a lot and wrote a long e-mail basically saying how things had gotten fucked up. So I made sort of my 'manifesto' - like 'this is the way it should be run' kinda thing. Everyone was still too upset over the argument and weren't willing to talk about playing together at that time."
Predating that, Hill and Keith Witt didn't speak since late 2000, when Witt was fired after their last tour of Japan.
"Keith kind of became our arch-enemy. There were lots of hard feelings," Hill said. "He moved to Chicago, and I had already been living here. He got a hold of my number somehow, called me and told me he was living here now. We patched things up and we're good friends again. He actually got married last year to a girl from Tennessee and I was the best man at his wedding. So the old wounds have healed." Hill said.
In the past year, Hill has tried to get the original Teen Idols members back together to record and play. Drummer Matt Drastic was originally interested, but his busy schedule wouldn't allow him to commit to the band. Heather was also approached to fill her old position as the band's bassist, but she declined.
Since 1992, the band's been through its problems, trials and tribulations.
"There have been about 13 different band members since we started", Hill said.
But the Teen Idols are back in 2009 with Phillip Hill on guitar, Yvonne Szumski of The Scissors on bass, Keith Witt back on vocals and Nathan Bice of Even In Blackouts/Deadly Sins on drums. Catch the Teen Idols for Riot Fest Saturday at the Metro in Chicago with Anxiety High, Teenage Bottlerocket and the Dead Milkmen.