When Bridget Battle contemplates the question of what she considers to be the high points of the past year for Tweens, she flips through a mental Rolodex of memories that have been forged with such volume and intensity it’s easy to see that they’ve not yet been cataloged or quantified.
“The Breeders West Coast trip (when Tweens opened for the band), our West Coast tour in general, was cool. I’d barely been to any of those cities,” the vocalist/guitarist says over the hottest tea available at Iris BookCafé on the coldest day in Cincinnati in 90 years. “It’s so hard to go back and sometimes we don’t even have time to stop and be like, ‘Whoa.’”
The year 2013 was certainly a watershed one for Tweens, an almost just-add-water kind of success for a band that had been together for mere months when their roller coaster picked up speed and hit its first big hill.
In the spring of 2012, Battle approached new roommates/local Noise Pop band Vacation bandmates Peyton Copes and Jerri Queen with a Dixie Cups song and Tweens was spontaneously born. Before a full calendar had expired, the Doo Wop/Girl Group/Budget Rock-steered trio had recorded demos, amassed a loyal following, recorded their Live at Mohawk EP and opened an early Breeders’ reunion show at the Southgate House.
Last year was equally momentous for Tweens, signing with Frenchkiss Records, tracking their official full-length debut with producer Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys bassist and one of Indie Rock’s most respected boardsmen, who has worked with Nation of Ulysses, Enon and Ryan Adams), opening more Breeders shows, doing a full tour with Black Lips and becoming the darlings of New York’s CMJ Music Conference.
“CMJ happened the day after we finished recording,” Battle says.
“It was a whirlwind; we played like five shows in two days. It was like, ‘This is why I like to do this,’ all of us together, communicating without talking and being on stage. And we played with some really cool bands.”
Right now, the event that looms largest for Tweens is the late-March release of their eponymous debut, which CMJ magazine picked as one of the topmost anticipated albums of 2014. Enhanced by Battle’s cover art, featuring a gorgeously kitschy shrine assembled from thrift shop finds, Tweens’ first real album combines re-recorded versions of early songs with a handful of new ones … and one notable absence.
“These are the songs we’ve always had and a lot of the demos we did,” Battle says. “The last three songs are the newest songs. My favorite is a new song called ‘Forever,’ and there’s a really intense, noisy song I wrote about being under pressure — and is kind of about Anna Nicole Smith — called ‘Star Stutter,’ and there’s a slow jam for lovers’ mixtapes. We were going to put (fan favorite) The Teardrops’ ‘I’m Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend’ on the record but it didn’t make the cut. It’s going to be a B-side, though; we recorded it and it will be released.”
Obviously, the trio is thrilled with their other major accomplishment in 2013, namely a pair of CEA nominations for New Artist and Punk/Punk Pop Band of the Year (Copes and Queen are also nominated in the latter category with Vacation) and their place on the bill at the New Artist Showcase this Saturday. Battle is typically gracious about the honor but an ulterior motive emerges with very little prodding.
“It was cool to see a lot of our friends on there as well. There are some Punk bands on there this year, which is pretty great,” she says. “I’m excited because it’s going to be fun to play the showcase. I’m also excited to get dressed up. I just love finding a reason to do that. I’ve been really into crazy sparkly decorations from Cappel’s for making banners for sets, so if I can find sparkly dresses to complement the banners, I’ll do it.”
So far, Tweens’ first label experience with Frenchkiss has been extremely positive (“They’re just as excited as we are. They’re like, ‘This is the year you’re gonna take over.’”), as was their first foray into a real studio with Janney at the helm (“I knew what I wanted and he would let me do whatever. He’d give me his two cents. I had to push him towards using more distortion.”).
After the band plays a handful of shows at this year’s South by Southwest, including a Frenchkiss label showcase, the album drops the following week. That’s when the real madness will commence.
“Touring forever,” Battle says of their plans. And, attention Hollywood — Tweens are also ready for their close-up.
“The ultimate Tweens dream is to be a band playing in a killer teenage comedy,” the singer says. “Whenever I see The Donnas in Jawbreaker, or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Clueless, I think that’s the coolest thing. But nobody does that in movies anymore.”
TWEENS performs Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Best New Bands showcase at Bogart's. Click here for show info and here for more on Tweens.