For almost 20 years, the Wyoming-based punk rock band Teenage Bottlerocket has grown in popularity. Formed by Laramie natives Ray and Brandon Carlisle, and later joined by Kody Templeman and Miguel Chen, the band gained an international following. In fact, a group of Japanese musicians have recorded a tribute album to honor the band and one of their songs even appeared on an NBA broadcast this season. The band is set to release a new album and a couple of extra songs this month.
Teenage Bottlerocket has always managed to come up with songs that connected with their fan base, such as an early hit called Skate or Die.
Co-Creator Ray Carlisle is one of the lead singers. He says he and his friends idolized punk bands growing up in Laramie and decided to form their own. Carlisle says in the 1990s there was a Laramie band that had success and it convinced him he could do the same things.
“Back in 93, there was a label called one-legged pup records. The drummer of this band on one legged pup and one of the owners is named Justin Cooper. He owns a skate shop here in town. And his band File 13 opened for Green Day in Fort Collins. So we’re like, oh wait, there’s this local band that opened up for Green Day. This is all attainable….let’s go out and do this.”
Carlisle does Human Resources work for a Laramie business as a day job, but he looks the part of a punk rocker. He and his fellow bandmates have certainly kept tattoo shops in business. Many of the band's lyrics are funny and fun. They make fun or things such as the rock band Kiss and hard rock fans known as headbangers.
But the band is tight and takes its music seriously and after a number of tours, it became very popular. Carlisle remembers when they turned a corner.
“One of them was selling out the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, because we had previously played San Francisco and ten people went and had always considered the Bay area the toughest scene to rock. We also opened up for this band called J Church, the Methadones, and the Groovy Ghoulies in Chicago. And our t-shirt sales, you know we were like we did what in t-shirts? It was a lot of money to us at the time and it was kind of a monumental moment, wait…people care.”
Kody Templeman sings lead on roughly half of the band's songs and like Carlisle is very well thought of in the punk community. Templeman enjoys the fact that Teenage Bottlerocket is the standard for up and coming punk bands.
“I don’t know, it feels awesome, I think we all kind of put ourselves in their shoes. I mean, that’s how we started was listening to bands, and it's cool to know that what we’ve done, has done the same thing for other people.”
The band did recently suffer tragedy when Ray’s twin brother Brandon, the band’s drummer, died suddenly in 2015 due to heart failure. He was in his late 30’s. Some wondered if the band would continue, but after giving it some thought Carlisle asked a drummer he admired, Darren Chewka, to join the group.
“My whole thing was, I lost my brother, but I don’t want to lose my band. It’s important to us and it’s important to a lot of different people and it’s fun, so let’s just continue to shred.”
They are releasing a new album in a couple of weeks. Templeman says they are doing an album of unusual covers.
“We recorded songs by like bands that we’ve played with and our friend’s bands and bands we’ve listened to in the van and stuff. Just a lot of bands that have really never been heard of, that we really liked, and we just wanted to give them exposure. It was really fun.”
Their first single "RoboCop Is A Halfbreed Sellout" is a catchy tune that was written by another Laramie Band. The band plans to record and tour well into the future. In the meantime, Carlisle is also trying out an acoustic career.
“You feel naked when it’s just you and your acoustic guitar compared to a loud band. You know the difference is my Mom I don’t think would necessarily have a good time at a Teenage Bottlerocket show, but she would love my solo thing.”
Teenage Bottlerocket’s new album is out July 14 with an extended play that includes two newly released Bottlerocket composed songs.