It started as a joke from Scarlet McKahey’s dad and his bandmates: “What’s the worst band name you can think of?”
Years later when it came time for Scarlett and high-school friends Neve van Boxsel, Jaida Stephenson and Anna Ryan to come up with a band name after a School of Rock session in Year 9, Scarlett remembered back to those bad band names and so Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers was formed.
In the years since, the Canberra grunge rockers have played the stages of some of Australia’s biggest music festivals.
Throwing all of the equipment in the back of a Corolla in February this year, the band took off on their first headline tour with Hockey Dad and Last Dinosaurs. They didn’t get far. COVID-19 pumped the brakes.
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“Since then we have been struggling to have motivation for a bit, going from touring every weekend to then being at home for months is a bit shit,” guitarist Scarlett said.
But the time at home has been productive.
“We have been focusing on writing a lot. We have a fair iso collection now but some are more successful than others,” according to drummer Neve.
And it is a collection that music lovers will be able to hear live at the Yours and Owls Festival in Wollongong next January as Teen Jesus has just been announced on the 2021 lineup.
With the fourth band member, Jaida the bassist, now living in Melbourne, the girls were only able to fit in a few solid jam sessions together over the last few months, which is why winning one of triple j’s Level Up grants was so instrumental for the Teeny Jeanies.
“We are hoping to use the grant to get more studio time and to get our next project moving a bit more. We can finally start turning our little iso hobbies into something real we can put out there,” Anna, the vocalist, said.
But despite frequenting Melbourne for jam sessions and on their most recent tour (or “the big smoke”, as Anna said), the born-and-bred Canberrans have the country-town feel of the capital to thank for their success.
“If we had started out in a city other than Canberra I don’t think we would still be doing this,” Neve said.
“It would have been harder to get out there and we would have been disheartened straight away, but having everyone lifting you up is great.
“I remember playing our first gig and being like ‘OMG that was the best show ever!’ but looking back at it, it was embarrassingly bad but everyone was just like ‘YES!’”
And in a music scene that basically acts as a supportive mother for local bands, the Canberra muso community is calling for help after months of having live shows, recordings and rehearsals cancelled because of the pandemic.
“The Canberra music scene has so many different people who contribute to all aspects of it. Obviously, artists will go and see other bands play which is really nice, but you always see the same people, even supporters,” Scarlett says.
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AHHHHH!!! we have had the best time on our first ever headline tour!! thank you to everyone who came to a show, selling it out was a dreeaam ??? thank u @sptnkswthrt and @kitschen.boy for being our bestest friends, and every support band that played with us IT HAS BEEN THE BEST TIME OF OUR YOUNG LIVES n now it is time to sleep ???
“People in Canberra who come to every gig and support the artists and buy the merch, that is what the scene is, it is so much more than bands just being able to play.
“Please remember to support the bands and music scene, it is a bit shit for musicians at the moment not being able to do the only thing that we do so support however you can, buy some merch and try not to forget about them.”