Teen Suicide wants to meet you at Eclectic this Friday, Feb. 28.
“When you’re playing shows, you want to just be meeting people face-to-face and talking to them,” said Teen Suicide frontman Sam Ray. “I think that if you’re playing in a band, even if you’re a more popular band doing big shows, it’s not the same if you don’t have any connection with the audience, if you just play your songs and leave.”
The band really is committed to connecting with its audience—so much so that Ray and crew are playing a show for fans on the same day as their student-only Wesleyan gig.
“I don’t know if my voice can handle two shows in a day, but it’s worth it,” Ray said.
Teen Suicide is simultaneously any fan’s wet dream and worst nightmare. In less than two years, the Baltimore noise outfit released a staggering total of six albums and EPs, cultivating a loyal fan base. The group’s style ranged from grungy, Wavves-esque surf noise to gauzy ballads, intercut with audio clips from films. It was poised for the indie rock big time…and then it suddenly called it quits.
Following the split, Ray and fellow Teen Suicide member Caroline White formed a new pop band called Julia Brown. That band’s first releases have earned rave reviews and feature a new, softer sound, something along the lines of Little Joy-meets-Los Campesinos. Unlike many artists, Ray embraces the pop label.
“I feel like I have to qualify it to everyone,” Ray said. “‘It’s indie-pop, it’s this, it’s that.’ But it’s pop music. It’s melodic, it’s catchy. Shit like that can be a lot deeper than just what some people might think of as pop music. And I love radio pop, but it certainly has a pejorative sense to some crowds.”
With Julia Brown’s success, it seemed that Teen Suicide was destined for the history books, but then the band announced a mini-tour of five shows, including Friday’s performance at Eclectic. However, a Teen Suicide reunion didn’t always seem possible.
“I was pretty over the band for a long time,” Ray said.
It was a messy breakup, the old classic: band on the rise torn asunder by drama and addiction.
“I think the easiest way to put it is that there were lot of personal problems within the band,” Ray said. “Just clashing, clashing, clashing…and there were definitely drug issues.”
The group is making a tentative new start, and though Ray is noncommittal about the possibility of further releases and tours, he can’t say it’s off the table.
“We don’t know if we’re ever going to get to do stuff together again, so maybe it is just a one-off,” Ray said. “But we started practicing together and we were like, this is way too fun. And people are way too excited. I don’t want it to just be like we’re a band that milks songs we did two or three years ago. If we’re doing shows, we might as well be doing all of it.”
Drummer and founding member Eric Livingston has moved since the split and won’t be joining the reunion tour. Filling out the new rhythms section are Julia Brown’s John Toohey on drums and bassist Alec Simke. So far, the reunion feels like a good fit, a kind of musical group therapy.
“The circumstances of how we broke up were pretty weird, and this has been really great for reconciling that,” said Ray. “There’s not such a bad taste in my mouth, it’s all super positive experiences right now.”