It seems hard to believe, but the boys in Teenage Bottlerocket aren’t boys any more: They’ve been a band for more than 15 years, and have spread their pop-punk gospel across the world through a series of killer records like Total and They Came From The Shadows and an equally killer live show, one that is packed full of sing-alongs and circle pits. What’s really wild is that the whole thing all started thanks to a well-placed CD-R.
“The very first tour Bottlerocket did, we burned a spindle of CD-Rs of our music and would give them to anyone who had any interest in our music at all,” recalls vocalist/guitarist Ray Carlisle. “We played Gilman Street, and David Jones from Enemy You was at the show. We gave him a CD-R, he brought it to the Fat Wreck Chords office and gave it to Toby Jeg, who then signed us to Red Scare.”
Despite the rise of social media and digital streaming services, Carlisle knows the best way to connect to music is through one-on-one connections like that—and this helped inspire the creation of Stealing The Covers, the Wyoming punk quartet’s new album, comprised of 14 songs all by bands Bottlerocket has encountered throughout their travels, from groups who share their same ZIP code to complete strangers who passed along a CD at a gig.
“The idea first came to light 10 years ago,” Carlisle says. As far as I can remember, my brother Brandon came up with the idea. We just thought, ‘Let’s do an album of doing songs by our friends’ bands.’ But some of these bands aren’t even our friends!”
1. The Way I Know – We took Varsity Weirdos out on tour in 2008. Amazing band, great dudes. I still have a VW shirt floating around in my closet somewhere. One of my favorite bands from Canada!
2. Back and Forth – Hollywood Blondes were a band from Ohio. We crossed paths on some of our earlier tours out that direction. Those were good years for pop-punk. It seemed like every town had a band, some better than others of course, but in general just a lot of fun.
3. College Town – Ray and Brandon showed me the Can of Pork compilation and this song. Without them I never would have heard of Juke. I’m really happy we did this song, because it reminds me of fun nights with our beloved Brandon.
4. Don’t Go – This song was stuck in our heads for two years straight. We would sing it to our dogs. The Scutches have since picked up our super close friend Tyler on bass, which kind of makes them a Wyoming band. Sort of. Good dudes.
5. Robocop is a Halfbreed Sellout – We had to include a Wyoming band. These guys went to college in Laramie, and had like 10 bands in 4 years. Most of the guys have moved away, except their drummer Ferg. He comes over for dinner a couple times a month with his wife and son.
6. No Hugging No Learning – HEAD was like a super cool secret. If you met somebody who knew HEAD you were probably gonna be good friends. Everything about the band was super mysterious, and awesome as fuck.
7. Shit Fuck God Damn – I know very little about Artimus Maximus outside of this super short song. I hear it’s based on a true story.
8. Gay Parade – The Gullibles were some high school kids from Georgia. I think they graduated, broke up and never looked back. One dude does YouTube videos of heavy metal versions of punk songs.
9. It Came From the Radio – The Blendours from Iowa are a super catchy band. They did a video for this song that’s super cool. Everyone go check it out!
10. Alien Motion Technology – One of our favorite bands from Europe, The Mugwumps! We were set to play with them once in Austria and their drummer got sick. Brandon ended up learning a set of their songs like half an hour before the show and shredding it.
11. Hat Nerd – Oh man, this song. The Four Eyes blessed (or cursed) the world with this silly song. It gets stuck in our heads for months at a time. Think of this every time you see someone wearing a hat.
12. My Very Best – Another one of our favorite bands from Europe. The 20 Belows are fronted by our good friend and occasional merch guy Ulrich. We love them to pieces.
13. I Kill Butterflies – It sounds like such a happy song, until you listen to the lyrics. At that point “what in the actual fuck” is a pretty common reaction.
14. Why the Big Pause – Chris from The Punchlines is a really dear friend of ours. He used to deliver sandwiches on a bike, and he would carry a machete in case anyone tried to steal the food. Might be the funniest guy we know.