Their new album ‘Birthmarks’ sees Teen Creeps team up with king-of-fuzz Rory Atwell, recording their lo-fi racket on his floating studio, Lightship 95. It was just as fun as it sounds, says singer-bass player Bert Vliegen.
Hey Bert, how’s it going?
We’re doing fine! The release of ‘Birthmarks” is coming up, and we’re really excited and a little nervous for that, but everything’s looking good!
Congrats on your debut album – does it feel to have been a long time in the works?
We recorded it in December 2016, and we had been playing the songs on it for a while, so it’s certainly nice to finally release them. But when we were recording, we didn’t have a label or booker, so it took some time to find the right people to work with and to give this record the release it deserves. And we couldn’t be happier about our team now. It was definitely worth the wait.
How did the album develop while you were making it, did your initial ideas evolve much?
The songs were written and played a lot while being on the road, and we prepared meticulously for the studio beforehand, since we only planned to record for five days and do all of it live. So once we were recording, it was about getting the performance and energy across, and to capture that “live”-feeling. By the end of the recordings, we started experimenting with the guitar overdubs and backing vocals, but more in the way of giving some extra colour to the record.
Did you come up against any unexpected challenges during the record’s creation?
We recorded on a boat, so the occasional big wave hitting the studio throwing everyone off balance took some time getting used to, but other than that it was a really nice, productive recording session.
What was it like working with Rory Atwell? It sounds like you’ve known him for a while.
We met him when we were playing a show with Die! Die! Die! in Belgium. We started talking about studios, and it turned out that he had recorded a lot of records we liked, so we kept in touch. He always was our first option to record with, and it turned out great. He’s a great engineer and a nice, down to earth guy and knows how to record loud guitar music, so it was a great match: we just worked hard every day, no long breaks, trying to get the most out of it.
Does it feel like you’re recording on a boat at Lightship 95, or is it just like a normal studio but with watery views?
There’s the occasional turbulence, and small doorways (which weren’t a problem for the others, but I kept hitting my head). But the funny thing is that, due to the tides, the boat drops and rises about 20 feet over the course of a day. Not that you really notice it when you’re inside.
Are all the songs on the album rooted in events from your lives?
All my lyrics are autobiographical in a way, but can’t be traced back to a certain event. On these songs, I try to encapsulate a certain period or feeling in one song, but I’ll keep some of the characters and actions deliberately vague, so you can attack the song from different angles, and have different perspectives on it. I like it that you can listen to the record, and it will tell you a lot about what I’ve been through, or you can listen to it from your own perspective, or that of one of the ‘characters’ in the songs, and it’ll tell you something different.
What else have you guys got coming up this summer?
We’ll be playing a lot of shows in the spring and the summer, including a trip to the UK that we’re working on. And we’ve already written a big chunk of our next album, so we’ll be finishing those songs over the summer, maybe start recording.
Who are you looking forward to seeing at festivals this year?
We’re doing a show with METZ in Belgium, and I’m pretty excited about seeing them. Haven’t exactly planned the summer in terms of festivals, but I’m going to Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands, and they have Waxahatchee, Spoon, Deerhunter, Slowdive and John Maus playing, so that should be good.
Taken from the May 2018 issue of Upset – order your copy below. Teen Creeps’ album ‘Birthmarks’ is out now.