INTERVIEW: Ray Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket, Ray Rocket


LOS ANGELES, February 15, 2015 — In 2015, Brandon Carlisle, drummer for Teenage Bottlerocket, passed away, leaving family, friends, and a band to mourn his loss. Brandon’s brother and bandmate in Teenage Bottlerocket, Ray, had recently recorded a solo record at the time of Brandon’s death. The album, Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana?, is set to be released on April 1 via Rise Records. Ray Carlisle recently took some time to speak with Wells On Music regarding his new solo album and the future of Teenage Bottlerocket.

Interview questions written and transcribed by Becca Jean

Originally, why did you want to put out a solo acoustic album?

I just really enjoy playing acoustically live and I knew that it would lead to the opportunity to do that a lot more and a lot of friends of mine have been doing it and I wanted to do it too. I was sort of putting it off for a long time and I’m glad I finally got my foot in the door with the project and got this CD coming out. So, it’s cool.

How long have you been working on it?

Well, it’s kind of a weird question because I sorta picked the best songs from each Teenage Bottlerocket record that I thought translated over good acoustically. So, “Rebound,” I guess, would be the earliest song that’s on the album, which I wrote back in 2001, but yeah, I went into the studio and recorded the thing in seven days. Besides a Ramones song that I recorded and a song my roommate wrote when I was in college, that’s track three “Please Feel Free” and “Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana,” the rest of the record is previously released Teenage Bottlerocket songs.

When you told the rest of the band that you were doing this were they supportive?

Yeah, absolutely, everybody was. Brandon was a little skeptical. He was afraid it wasn’t gonna be good so he was concerned that it would give the band a bad name, but before he passed away I was able to show him the recordings and he was really excited with the way it turned out and he actually played drums on one of the songs that’s on the record.

Was there any ever doubt in your mind whether or not Rise Records would want to release the record?

I guess I didn’t think about it much I knew that I was going to show it to them as soon as I got out of the studio and if they weren’t into it I would go to another label or if I had to eventually release it myself, but I showed Craig and Matthew the mixes as soon as I got out of the studio and they were stoked so there was no drama as far as who’s gonna release this or what am I gonna do with this album, it was sort of set in stone as soon as I walked out of the studio.

What kind of touring do you plan on doing for this record?

I’m doing a lot of fly ins in April. The album comes out April 1 and [I’m] flying in to different cities over the weekend and then, in May, I’m going out with The Copyrights and The Lippies and that’s gonna bring us up to Pouzza Fest and a couple other festivals and then as soon as that’s over, Teenage Bottlerocket is going on a big tour this summer that isn’t announced yet. We’re announcing it in March, but yeah it’s gonna be pretty busy until then.

Speaking of Teenage Bottlerocket, after Brandon died did you ever contemplate shutting it down for good and just starting a fresh new band?

Yeah, I did and I think we all just asked ourselves what would Brandon want and I know he would want us to carry on. We could all start another band anytime, there’s nothing stopping anybody from doing that,we all have our side projects as well. Miguel’s got his yoga studio, Kody’s got The Lillingtons, and the question was really, were we going to carry on with Teenage Bottlerocket. The new band thing, I mean, while Teenage Bottlerocket has been going, there’s been several bands that have started of members as far as Stat Dad and That Guy. So, like I said, it was a question of whether or not we were gonna carry on with a new drummer. That was the big dilemma and I thought about what life would be without Teenage Bottlerocket in my life, and all of us did, and we all wanted to continue. And on a personal level, I lost my brother and I didn’t want to lose my band too. All of us love playing these songs live and we’re interested in recording records in the future too, so we’re gonna keep it going with Brandon in our hearts.

When you guys found your new drummer, Darren, did you kind of do it through back channels where he was refered or did you guys actually have open auditions?

Well, I saw Darren play back in 2008 with his band Old Wives in Edmonton, Alberta. I went and saw this band the Riff Randells play and I fell in love with his drumming at that show and I’ve seen him play three or four times since then, and so when we all got on the same page as far as, “alright, well, let’s find a drummer,” I suggested Darren. We flew him in we knew he was gonna be good,  I just needed to make sure that he vibed with everybody, see how it was just hanging out with him and everything clicked. That night we all went out and had a good time and everybody got along because, like I said, we’re doing a tour this summer and we’re gonna be in the van together a lot. We had to make sure everybody is cool with each other and yeah, we’ll see how it goes. So far, so rad.

Have you guys started working on any new material yet?

We haven’t. Well, the song “Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana” from my solo album, we rehearsed that with Darren as a full band. So, technically, I guess, it’s a new song. We haven’t played it before, but as far as writing goes, we’ll see what the future entails, but we definitely discussed doing a record.

I’ve got a couple questions that some of your fans wanted asked. The first is, what’s your favorite metal album/ favorite metal band?

Sepultura Arise is my favorite metal album. Metal band I’d have to go with Metallica.

The second question is, do you like Star Wars and did you like the new movie?

Yeah, I love Star Wars and I liked the new movie. I thought it was great. I liked how it wasn’t just perfectly choreographed lightsaber sessions like they had in Episode 1, 2, and 3. It was like we got Star Wars back. So, yeah, I liked it.

Is there anything else you want people to know about yourself or anything you’re working on right now? 

Just that the Ray Rocket record comes out April 1 and we’re gonna premiere a couple more songs between now and then and check out the new record and come and see me if I’m in a city near you.

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