Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Miguel Chen of Teenage Bottlerocket

Photo by Katie Hovland
By Jason Duarte

Fat Wreck's Teenage Bottlerocket is in the middle of a European tour with NOFX and Old Man Markley. Good buddy, bass player and all-around nice guy Miguel Chen took some time out there to answer some questions for Squid Pro Quo.

Squid Pro Quo: How did you join TBR?

Miguel Chen: "When I was younger, Ray and Brandon used to play in a band called Homeless Wonders. We’d go watch them play and when I started my first band they started to show up and befriend us. I’m 6 years younger than the twins so it was really cool for them to take me under their wing like that. Kody used to play in The Lillingtons, which I really loved. He had become friends with the twins over the years and I met him through them. I started traveling with the band in 2005, driving and selling merch. At that point Joel was still in the band. Shortly after Joel graduated college, moved to California and there was a gap to fill. Since we’d all been close friends for so long and we would jam together anyway, it just kind of made sense. So Ray moved to guitar and I joined the band on bass."

SPQ: Are you involved much in the songwriting process

MC: "Not really, I will write a guitar lead or a bass part here or there, but for the most part I am no very involved."

SPQ: What's your favorite TBR album and why?

MC: "My favorite full length is They Came From The Shadows. It was our first record for Fat Wreck Chords and we knew we really wanted to make this one count. I like to think you can see growth between every TBR record and Shadows is the band at its strongest point yet. We also have a new 7-inch out on Fat Wreck Chords called "Mutilate Me," which we’re all really stoked about. I think the whole 7-inch is great, especially the title track."

SPQ: Are you stoked about touring Europe with NOFX?

MC: "No. Just kidding, of course I am, it’s fucking incredible! We’re in Stuttgart Germany right now, the last 2 nights in Hamburg have been great and the rest of the tour is going to rule as well! The opening act, Old Man Markley is a great band and all really rad people. We’re splitting a bus with them and so far it’s been a party and a half! NOFX and their crew are all really great guys too, it’s always a pleasure to hang out with them and get to see their band."

SPQ: What's it like playing with bands like the Descendents and others who you grew up being totally stoked on? Ever have trouble keeping your cool?

MC: "It’s a dream come true to get to play with so many of these bands and hang out with so many people I looked up to. I’m pretty good at keeping my cool, because you start to figure out pretty quick that most of these people are pretty normal dudes. They’re just guys who loved punk, started bands and toured. Regardless of successful they’ve been most of them are still really down to earth, rad people."

SPQ: Will you be in Chicago the weekend of Weaselfest in May, doing a show somewhere else?

MC: "Nope. We were going to fly in for that one show, so no show unfortunately equates to no plane tickets. We do hope to make it back to Chicago sooner than later though. That city and the people there are wonderful to us and we love it there."

SPQ: What's it like playing with siblings/twins? Is there an unspoken music connection on stage like with the Smoking Popes between those two?

MC: Aren’t three of the Smoking Popes brothers?

SPQ: Thing you're most stoked about in the past?

MC: "That’s a tough one. I’ll say that I’m stoked about being in a band with my best friends, playing music I love and being fortunate enough to travel, play shows and meet so many awesome people."

SPQ: Thing you're most stoked about coming up?

MC: "I’m excited to play Groezrock. It’s a huge festival in Belgium that we’re hitting up toward the end of this tour. Something like 30,000 people show up each year. It’s going to be the biggest show we’ve ever done by miles and I’m excited to see what that’s like. I’m a bit nervous about it, but that adds to the excitement."

SPQ: What kind of bass amp/cab/equipment do you use?

MC: "I use a Fender P-bass run through an Ampeg SVT Classic and an Ampeg 8X10 cabinet."

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