Interview: Miguel Chen Of Teenage Bottlerocket

Photo By Jason Pendleton

Teenage Bottlerocket has been one of those groups who promoted Ramonescore since their beginnings, and they’re still going strong a couple of decades after. As a matter of a fact, the band sounds better than ever. Recently, the band announced their brand new material Sick Sesh, so we sat with Miguel Chen to discuss the album, pandemic, and favorite Ramones album.

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. How are you doing?

Miguel: I’m doing alright, thanks for asking!

Recently, you announced your brand new album named Sick Sesh. Could you tell me something more about it? Why this album title, and could you please give me a brief explanation about the thematics you covered in this material?

Miguel: Sick sesh is something we say all the time. It’s when you have a good hang, or a good show or a fun time. That’s a sick sesh. This last year and a half has been so shitty for so many people we thought everyone was due for a sick sesh!

Many bands suffered severe consequences during the quarantine. Is covid affected you as a band anyhow?

Miguel: Absolutely. We basically lost our jobs overnight. We had to reschedule and cancel about 100 tour dates all over the world. Everyone on earth was affected one way or another, it’s obviously been a really painful year, but we did our best to push through. 

Does it affect your rehearsing/songwriting/composing/recording process of Sick Sesh?

Miguel: Since we all live in different cities we are pretty used to writing this way. One of us writes a song, demos it at home then emails it around. The biggest difference was that we couldn’t lock down a release date, because we had no idea when we would be able to tour and support the album. This gave us months of listening, mixing/re-mixing and mastering the record. It let us spend extra time making sure things sounded just right. 

How the pandemic treated you as individuals anyway? Does anyone of you have any troubles with it?

Miguel: I’m pretty sure Ray had COVID on tour in February of 2020, we had to take him to the emergency room, but they didn’t know what was wrong with him. He was fine a couple days later. It was just before everything shut down. I had COVID earlier this year. Luckily I pretty much just had a bad headache and some sore muscles, I was fine a few days later.

Teenage Bottlerocket - Sick Sesh

So you recently got back from your first tour in a while. How was it to get back on the stage again after such a long period?

Miguel: I was a little nervous about the reaction to this tour, I thought people would be upset or that attendance would be low, but it was really, really great. Most of the shows sold out, and people were so happy. It felt like coming back to life. 

Besides being your labelmates, MakeWar were also your touring partners during this tour? Is this your first time sharing the tour bus, or you had a chance to hang out/play with them before? How was it touring with them?

Miguel: We took MakeWar out on some of their first tours, so it’s been really nice spending time with them again. We love those dudes. 

Are there any anecdotes from the recent tour?

Miguel: We ended up all over the news because of one show that was charging $999 for unvaccinated people and $18 if you showed your vaccination record. If you didn’t hear, look it up. That was crazy. We told people if they didn’t like it to come to one of our other shows instead. The girl who first brought this to the news came to one of our other shows and apologized.

Every band has its favorite bands to tour with. What are your favorite ones?

Miguel: Pegboy. 

The next question is probably one of those that tickle your fans the most. How you picked up the iconic symbol that decorates your cover artworks, merch, and everything else? Who is the artist behind it?

Miguel: That was Brandon. He wanted to create something that people could see and instantly recognize. He was highly influenced by RAMONES, Screeching Weasel and Descendents. 

You never changed your visual identity except for the background colors. Could you explain why? Is there any meaning behind those background colors?

Miguel: It was part of that same mission, to create something people could instantly recognize. As for colors, we wanted to do a green record and then remembered we’d already done that, so we picked orange. 

Are there any plans about leaving that concept, and getting into some other stuff, illustrations, or something like that?

Miguel: Absolutely not. We’ve been doing it for 20 years, no reason to change it now. 

Some call it melodic punk rock, others call it rock’n’roll, but true fans call it Ramonescore. How you decided to play Ramonescore, and do you think that definition vividly explains your sound?

Miguel: In the early 2000s there was a lot of experimentation in punk rock, which is great, but there were less and less bands doing the stripped down, straightforward punk rock we grew up loving. That became the mission: to play music we love and keep it alive.

I know it is because of your love for the Ramones, but is there any other deeper meaning of this subgenre to you?

Miguel: It’s all about taking something simple, but doing it better than anyone else could. I don’t know if we’ve accomplished that, but we will always keep trying. 

That being said, what is your favorite Ramones album and why?

Miguel: Leave Home is the right answer, that being said I also really love Too Tough To Die. 80s Ramones are a sensitive subject among many diehard fans, but I think TTTD stands as strong as the 70s albums.

Here’s the last one. What’s your favorite beverage while rehearsing, playing, touring…?

Miguel: My favorite drink is smoking marijuana. For real though, I pretty much only drink water, especially on stage. On the rare occasion I drink beer anymore I like Victoria or Shiner Bock. I’m a dad now, I’m too tired to be hungover!  

Ok, that’s it. Thank you so much for your time. Anything you would like to say to your fans and readers of this interview?

Miguel: Remember to go outside and take a break from all the internet/social media bullshit! We love you!

Buy Album: HERE

Tour Dates:

  • 15 Sep 2021 in Grand Junction, CO, US @ Mesa Theater w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 16 Sep 2021 in Salt Lake City, UT, US @ Metro Music Hall w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 17 Sep 2021 in Casper, WY, US @ Keg and Cork w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 18 Sep 2021 in Fort Collins, CO, US @ The Coast w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 19 Sep 2021 in Colorado Springs, CO, US @ Black Sheep w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 21 Sep 2021 in Englewood, CO, US @ Gothic Theatre w/ Anti-Flag – Buy Tickets
  • 23 Sep 2021 in Las Vegas, NV, US @ Fremont Country Club w/ Dillinger Four, Get Dead – Buy Tickets
  • 29 Oct 2021 in Gainesville, FL, US @ FEST 2021 – Buy Tickets
  • 3 Nov 2021 in Sacramento, CA, US @ Holy Diver w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 4 Nov 2021 in Albany, CA, US @ Ivy Room w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 5 Nov 2021 in Ventura, CA, US @ Gigi’s Cocktail Lounge w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 6 Nov 2021 in San Diego, CA, US @ Brick By Brick w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 7 Nov 2021 in Silverado, CA, US @ Punk In The Park 2021 – Buy Tickets
  • 8 Nov 2021 in Las Vegas, NV, US @ The Dive Bar w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 9 Nov 2021 in Scottsdale, AZ, US @ Pub Rock Live w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 10 Nov 2021 in El Paso, TX, US @ Rockhouse w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 11 Nov 2021 in San Antonio, TX, US @ The Rock Box w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 12 Nov 2021 in Houston, TX, US @ White Oak w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 13 Nov 2021 in Dallas, TX, US @ Trees w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 15 Nov 2021 in Oklahoma City, OK, US @ The Blue Note w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 16 Nov 2021 in Kansas City, MO, US @ RecordBar w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 17 Nov 2021 in Urbana, IL, US @ Rose Bowl Tavern w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 18 Nov 2021 in Cincinnati, OH, US @ Northside Yacht Club w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 19 Nov 2021 in Cleveland, OH, US @ Grog Shop w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 20 Nov 2021 in Chicago, IL, US @ Chop Shop w/ The Last Gang – Buy Tickets
  • 21 Nov 2021 in Indianapolis, IN, US @ Melody Inn w/ The Last Gang – But Tickets

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