Laura Bruneau | Thursday, 15 October 2009
On a cold, wintry afternoon in London's Shoreditch, we find the five members of Australian band Teenagersintokyo, wrapped up warm and giggling merrily in the courtyard of Brick Lane's Vibe Bar.
Stories range from bizarre aqua massages in Brent Cross, to the antics of their imagined, Russian, alter-ego of Millhouse from The Simpsons, whom they call Milosh. This cheery attitude sparkles all the more when we get down to the serious business of discussing music…
As your bio states, you guys are neither teenagers, nor from Tokyo so where did the name of the band originally come from?
LINDA – It started off as a joke that we came up with one day flipping through magazines.
SAM – Back when Linda and I used to DJ, we needed to put a name on the flyer so we just thought, hey we'll put that!
LINDA – We put it on the flyer and it just stuck...
MISKA – We've tried to change it but it just didn't work. Maybe we should change the name of the band to Milosh. [chuckling]
How's the touring been going? Is Rudy coping alright being surrounded by so much oestrogen?
RUDY – We haven't been touring much lately but we do all live together. The oestrogen's fine but they do this annoying thing where they leave the toilet seat down all the time.
MISKA – Yeah and we leave clean surfaces everywhere too.
SAM – We do all get along pretty well. There's always lots of singing going on in our house. [SAM and MISKA promptly burst into bouts of operatic call and response about household chores and prompt more smiles from their band mates. Perhaps it is this ability to play off one another that makes their living situation work so well.]
You've recently relocated from Sydney to London. How would you say the music scenes differ in Australia and the UK?
MISKA – It's naturally a lot bigger in London, not just because of the population but mostly because of the interest in music.
LINDA – There's a real interest here. The music scene's not just chugging along day to day.
RUDY – One thing I've noticed is that there's a much broader scale between the underground and the mainstream here. There's a lot more opportunities for bands like us and that's one of the reasons we came over.
SOPHIE – At home I don't think people know exactly what to do with us as we don't fit properly into just one box, but that's not a problem over here.
RUDY – There are some really great acts in Australia, though, even if you've never heard of them before.
SAM – It's a shame that the music scene in Australia doesn't know how to support underground music properly.
You've played with some really interesting and gutsy artists like CSS, but who's been your favourite band to play with so far?
RUDY – Cut Off Your Hands. That was the most fun.
SAM – They're a New Zealand band. They used to be on 679 Records.
LINDA – When we released our first EP in Australia we toured with them across Australia and that was so much fun.
RUDY – It was fun because we just became such good friends and we vibed well off each other. They do loads of shows every year and it was really interesting to see how they dealt with touring as we were new to it back then.
LINDA – Actually, I think we were a bit jealous to see how many shows they played as they were gearing up to tour internationally and travel around a lot more.
SAM – Plus they put on a really great live show and were fun to watch every night, you didn't get bored.
Your MySpace page claims that your new single 'Isabella' is influenced by older punk outfits like Siouxie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex. Do you think this punk vein runs through a lot of your work? How would you characterise your 'sound' to someone that had never heard you before?
LINDA – We didn't actually come up with those references and so we didn't have them in mind when writing 'Isabella'.
SAM – They didn't even feature in our discussions when we were talking about our influences for the track.
SOPHIE – Although we didn't bring them up ourselves, a lot of people that I've talked to about our work have made the comparisons with Siouxie and the Banshees. I guess objectively you can pick out influences that are there even if they weren't originally intended.
MISKA – It's a great honour though to be compared with them.
RUDY – Someone described us as spiky the other day. Dark pop, but delicate and spiky. I liked that.
MISKA – That's oxymoronic though?! Being delicate and spiky at once!
The new singles, 'Isabella' and 'Long Walk Home', seem drastically different from one another. Is there a reason you decided to pair up two such contrasting songs?
MISKA – We were just indulging ourselves because they're two of our favourites!
LINDA – As well, it means that people can't just pin down our sound straight away.
MISKA – It gives a feel of the album, not all tracks are 'Isabella' tracks and not all are 'Long Walk Home' tracks.
RUDY – It's nice that they're not instantly single tracks either.
You're releasing the upcoming double A-Side on limited edition vinyl and digital download. What is it about vinyl that appeals?
RUDY – The physicality. Even if you didn't have an amp, if you put your ear up to the needle you could still hear it.
SAM – We're not into the commercial idea with this single, we're into the old fashioned romanticism of music and this is a little gift before the album comes out next year.
SOPHIE – So many people only know a band through their singles, and if we only put our poppiest singles out there then people might never get to hear the great, more obscure, tracks.
What's your greatest musical ambition for the future?
SAM – We'd just like to reach the stage where we could live comfortably off of the music. It is our passion, so to live off it would be an amazing gift.
MISKA – It's not as grandiose as having five villas in Tuscany, but it's a good dream.
RUDY – I'd like to reach the stage where you could sell out a show and know that all those people are there for you. Like when we saw Massive Attack recently and they came onstage at Brixton Academy. I tried to put myself in their heads. It must be incredible.
SOPHIE – They don't have to worry about proving themselves constantly anymore.
What do you miss most about home?
SAM – Food and family.
LINDA – ...and lovers. Because I have so very many!
SAM – Family and friends are the given I think.
LINDA – You know we left everyone else behind but each other. It was a big decision, but the right one.
RUDY – I miss the beach…
ALL – YEAH!!
LINDA – We definitely miss the summer!
What does the future hold for Teenagersintokyo?
MISKA – Refer back to the question about our dreams!
SAM – We're putting out another track from the album in December, which should be on vinyl, and we're pretty excited about that. It should show a different shade of us. Then we're on tour around Europe in mid-November.
LINDA – We're excited because we're going places that we've never been before like Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris and Glasgow. Then we're having some time off, and the new album is coming out sometime early next year.
SOPHIE – We've also got a limited edition t-shirt for sale in Rough Trade East that we designed ourselves.
SAM & RUDY – Yeah but you can order it online too.
LINDA – Only on the Rough Trade website though.