Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers Break Down Their Defiant Pretty Good for a Girl Band EP
Rising Australian pop-punk band Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers released their debut EP Pretty Good for a Girl Band today, and it's the perfect playful yet defiant encapsulation of what the group is all about.
The cheeky title is a rejection of expectations and stereotypes, as well as a reminder that the band's gender identity is way less relevant than their sound, their message and the way people feel when they fall in love with Teen Jesus's music. We've adored the band since we first discovered them earlier this year, and we were honored to get the chance to chat with them to have them break down every track on the EP with us. Keep reading to find out what these songs, and their lyrics, mean to Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers.
Pretty Good for a Girl Band
Scarlett McKahey: The Pretty Good For A Girl Band is a tongue-in-cheek way of pointing out the amount of backhanded compliments and sexism we experience on a daily basis working in the music industry. We have never played a show without receiving a "You're the best chick band I've ever seen!" or "Wow, I love that you're all girls!" We think that the fact that none of us are men is the least interesting thing about us, and "girl band" is not a genre. This label put on non-male bands is used to keep us in a separate league and remind us that we're trying to make it in a man's world, in an industry that doesn't support us the way they support all-male bands—and we're ready to start laughing about it.
The main theme of this EP is just that we have figured out who we are, what our sound is, and what we want to say. The EP is meant to be fun and full of life, but with hints of riot grrrl energy and anger. The title Pretty Good for a Girl Band and the song "Girl Sports" give listeners a taste of what we really think and how women in music are treated on a daily basis. The combination of our pop sparkly fun times with this sexism-based anger we all share is what Teen Jesus is all about.
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Jaida Stephenson: When writing "Bull Dragon," it was one of those songs that came so quickly and fast that I wrote it in one sitting. I was going through a bit of a tough time when I wrote it and wanted to put into words how I was feeling, so I threw together a pretty simple chord progression and started singing whatever came to my brain. It started off as a pretty chill sad song, but after bringing it to the bandit got morphed into what it is now. We liked the idea of having a massive build at the end, kind of like "505" by Arctic Monkeys, so we tried to make the last part as loud and emotive as possible. By the time we bought it to the studio, we were pretty confident with how we wanted it to sound. We only made a few small changes while recording, like adding in those big choir-like harmonies pre-bridge.
I think one of the main reasons we decided for this song to be on the EP is because it really means a lot to us. The lyrics speak about someone not treating you well and you blaming it on yourself, trying to morph yourself into a version they might respect more. At the end of the song, it resolves to a kind of "f*** it" attitude, kinda capturing the realization that you don't need to spend any time on someone who isn't going to treat you right. I think everyone's been through a similar experience to this which is what makes it so relatable.
The whole song kind of stemmed from the lyrics, "You scream, I shout, but I can't seem to get words out." It's meant to try and represent that feeling when you're upset about something but you can't verbalize it. I've always found it really difficult expressing how I'm feeling, or even coming to terms with my emotions, and I think those lyrics capture that feeling pretty well.
Anna Ryan: "Girl Sports" emerged after I walked to the shops one morning and I got catcalled on my own street twice. I was enraged and it really bugged me that this just happens all the time. I got home and asked the rest of the band about similar experiences they have had and put a list together which pretty much makes up all the lyrics to the song. I began by writing the guitar riff and then the chords and lyrics just came afterward. Originally, the chorus was just instrumental, but when we took it to the studio to record with Alex Lahey and Bonnie Knight, Alex suggested putting the lyrics over the chorus, which lifted the song heaps and made it the bop to the top it is today. We owe the world to that damn incredibly dynamic duo because they helped the song become everything it was meant to be all along.
This song is very important to me because I feel like this sorta stuff happens to women and non-male people all the time and a lot of the time we just push it under the rug and let this stuff slide because it's catcalling and this behavior has been so normalized. It's sad to think about, but I wanted to write a song that's pretty much calling out this behavior and saying it's actually not okay to treat other people like s*** just because you've been able to grow up in a world where this behavior is largely accepted.
My favorite lyric in this song is "Honey I think you'd look better if you smiled." This was actually said to me once by a man saying, If I wanted to make it as a musician I should smile more so people like me. I feel women and nonmales get told what to do all the time because we don't know as much or whatever. This lyric is said in a sarcastic tone because I don't need advice on how to do something I love successfully, because I believe I'm very much capable of figuring it out without comments like this.
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Anna Ryan: "AHHHH!" was born in the heart of lockdown. It was one of those songs that just came to me straight away and I damn love it when that happens. This song isn't really written out of personal experience word for word, but the idea of the track is that sometimes long relationships or friendships run their course and you don't always have to continue to put effort into something just because you always have. When I wrote the song, I intended to have actual lyrics for the chorus instead of just screaming, but as I wrote the rest of the song and we played it all together as a band, I realized it was kinda cool and definitely fun for us to just scream in unison.
This song means a lot to me because it's one of the first songs that I've written that I didn't really have any doubts while writing and that I'm really proud of. It's also just so fun to play and the crowd can participate because you don't really have to remember any lyrics.
The opening lyrics "I've been thinking about what's right, I know you don't know that you hold me too tight" are my favorite because they sort of just set the theme for the entire song and I think that's really cool that you can instantly get an idea of what it could be about. The song is just about moving on and letting go and it's just really cathartic to play while also being so upbeat and fun.
'Up To Summit'
Scarlett McKahey: "Up To Summit" was written during a writing session with Alex Markwell from the Delta Riggs. The title is a reference to how Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys says "summit" instead of "something," which we discovered after realizing we shared a love for them. The song doesn't have a huge amount of meaning behind it, it was more the Brit rock tempo and attitude we were trying to encapsulate. However, I had just finished watching Season 1 of Too Hot To Handle, so I'd say the lyrics were inspired by bits of that beautiful show.
I love "Up To Summit" because it's a bit different from the rest of the songs on the EP. It certainly has a different vibe and it's nice to be able to show all sides of ourselves in the collection. It's a bit of a contrast from the pop-inspired "Miss Your Birthday," and it's a nice feeling, like we managed to include all of our influences in the one EP.
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'Miss Your Birthday'
Scarlett McKahey: This was co-written by me and Alex Lahey—I went over to her house in Melbourne to do the session and was completely starstruck. This was long before we knew she'd be producing half of the EP, so to me, I was just a fan and it was very scary going over there. Luckily, Alex is one of the nicest people on the planet so we settled into writing very quickly. We had a lot of the same influences and writing with her was so much fun.
"Miss Your Birthday" is about the conflict between growing up and moving out of home, and wanting to stay on your mum's sofa forever. At the time I was staying in a Melbourne share house but hadn't yet moved out of home. I was extremely homesick and didn't want to offend my hosts, but wanted to be back at home so badly. I think everyone can relate to that more or
less after moving out for the first time.
Love learning the stories behind your favorite music? Click HERE to read GAYLE's breakdown of her a study of the human experience volume one EP.