Tweens on the Cincinnati Doo-Wop Punk Tip – An Interview with Peyton Copes

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By Michael Caligaris

Peyton Copes has become quite the figure in the Cincinnati punk scene—first as a member of experimental punk group, Vacation, and now as the bassist of the Doo Wop-inspired punk band, Tweens. He and his new band are hitting the road this month, and stopping at San Francisco’s The Fillmore for two nights, opening for Kim Deal’s band, The Breeders. Peyton was gracious enough to sit down and talk with CITC’s Michael Caligaris, divulging on all things Tweens.

Caught in the Carousel: Peyton, thanks for taking the time out to talk with us here at the magazine.

Peyton Copes: Of course, thanks a lot for getting in touch.

CITC: On the surface, your new band, Tweens, is sort of a branch off of Vacation—another great Cincinnati punk band that you and the drummer, Jerri Queen, share membership with. But we all know that it is so much more than that. So, tell me: How did you guys hook up with singer/guitarist Bridget Battle and form Tweens?

PC: By sharing two members it would seem to those who heard Vacation first that Tweens is a “side project” or something like that but in reality, it is definitely its own being. Jerri, his partner Ava, Bridget and I have been living in a house together for about a year and half, and Bridget and I lived together prior to that so we were already really close friends. Bridget was really interested in playing music and since Vacation practiced in the basement, we had the all of the resources on hand to get something going. Once we realized that she knew a little bit on guitar, we decided to learn a bunch of girl group songs and cover old Bay Area punk bands like The Bobbyteens, The Trashwomen and The Donnas.

CITC: You’re self-described as a “nasty, Doo Woppy” band from Cincinnati, and I definitely hear a lot of 50’s and 60’s influence in your songs—especially on “Be Mean.” What attracts the band to that era of music? Why do you think that genre of music bonds so well with a punk ascetic?

PC: We have all always been very attracted to all of the girl groups of the 50’s and 60’s musically and conceptually. Bad girls singing about doing bad things is the coolest. There is definitely a structural similarity between old pop songs like those and pretty straight forward punk so it just seems to play those songs faster and louder.

CITC: How do you guys approach songwriting in this band? Does Bridget undertake majority of the composition or is it more of a collaborative effort?

PC: 99% of the time Bridget will put lyrics on a guitar part she has been working on then it is brought to practice where we all work out the kinks and figure out the final structure of the song.

CITC: How do your roles differ now that you play bass on Tween’s tracks, rather than guitar in Vacation?

PC: Well, in Vacation I have freedom to do whatever I want. If I feel like feeding back for a verse, then I’ll feedback for a verse. If I feel like bending the neck until its about to snap off, then I’ll do that. With Tweens I am revisiting my first instrument, bass. I have less freedom to go completely off the handle like in Vacation but I don’t see that as a bad thing at all. There are times where I have to stay really tight with Jerri and be a part of a normal rhythm section but I am not afraid to play loose and noisy when the time is right.

CITC: You guys came up pretty quickly in the scene of my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. What’s so great about playing in The Queen City? Moreover, has the city played a role as well in shaping your sound?

PC: Cincinnati is cheap and easy which is the best combination for a city to be from. There is always a pretty solid scene here so there is no shortage of shows to play and also, it’s easy to go on tour with cheap rent. Cincinnati is an old rock and roll town so there is definitely some influence coming from living here. For example, we cover a song called “I’m Gonna Steal your Boyfriend” by an old Cincinnati girl group called the Teardrops who coincidentally lived in the same neighborhood as us years ago.

CITC: Tweens has released numerous demos—and even a live album at the Mohawk—but what I’m getting at is: When can we expect a full-length studio LP?

PC: We will be recording our first full-length in September and early October. I’d expect to see it out in early 2014.

CITC: And now, in support of the band, you guys are going on tour with The Breeders. I’m also a big fan of them. How’d that come about?

PC: I believe Kim Deal [former bassist for The Pixies, current guitarist/vocalist for The Breeders] asked Jim Blaze, owner of the local record shop Shake It Records, who should open for them at their “warm up” show in Cincinnati several months back and he said Tweens. After that show, they asked us to do some East Coast dates with them which we did in May and now they have asked us to go with them again on the West Coast. It means a lot to us since we have all been big fans of The Breeders for a long time. Lots of Ohio love.

CITC: Do you find it difficult to balance the touring schedule between Tweens and Vacation? Or is it pretty systematic?

PC: Vacation did a lot of touring for a long time but in the last year we have kind of slowed down a little bit. Our bass player, Evan, moved up to Columbus and has several projects up there, and Tweens has been keeping Jerri and I really busy. We [Vacation] just released a new record and plan to do some touring but not quite as extensive as in the past.

CITC: So with this tour alongside The Breeders, you guys will be stopping in at San Francisco’s famous venue, The Fillmore. For TWO nights in a row! What should the Bay Area expect heading into these shows?

PC: Yeah I can’t wait to be in the Bay for two days! It’s no fun getting to your favorite cities and having no time to do anything. Well first off, The Breeders have been amazing lately. It’s really exciting to see them with their Last Splash lineup, they are all great musicians and great people. As for us, we will be playing a lot of new material, which one could expect to hear later on our first record when it’s completed. I guess you will also get to see three people who are stoked to be playing the famous Fillmore two nights in a row alongside The Breeders! Definitely looking forward to those two shows the most on this trip.

CITC: In closing, would you mind answering some questions based for the Caught in the Carousel “Scouting Report?”

PC: If this is what you desire Mike, then yeah sure.

CITC: Do you have a nickname in the band?

PC: Dad. Papa. Anything paternal, I’m always the one getting stressed out about things that I feel are stress-worthy but Jerri and Bridget probably don’t.

CITC: Who wears the pants in the band relationship?

PC: Lil BB Tween 2013.

CITC: In your opinion, who is the greatest musician of all time?

PC: Mark Zero

CITC: Which musician—past or present—would you love to share the stage with?

PC: Marc Bolan

CITC: If there could be only one album you could take into the afterlife, what would it be?

PC: Daaaammmnn I don’t know. Grateful Dead Live in Europe ‘72?

CITC: What were you like in high school?

PC: Too many drugs not enough homework.

CITC: What are some things you would find backstage at a Tweens show?

PC: Poppers, pizza and dirty socks.

CITC: Favorite food on tour?

PC: Banh Mi

CITC: Favorite beverage?

PC: the coldest beer brewed on the highest mountain.

CITC: What has been your favorite city to stop in?

PC: I love Richmond, Virginia. I have lots of family around there.

CITC: What movie would best describe your life?

PC: Anything Stallone.

CITC: In one word, describe your love life.

PC: Swedish

CITC: Leave us with some rules to live by.

PC: “Be excellent to each other” – Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan

(read a review of Tweens’ debut album here)

 

- Michael Caligaris

1 Comment

  1. Hazel Reply

    That’s my clever nephew…a class act! Love the Bill and Ted reference…..

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