Raging Teens – Mono a mono
Rockabilly erupted from Memphis in the 1950s, but if the all-day rockabilly festival held last winter at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was anything to go by, the rebellious country music derivative is alive and kicking in New England. Amidst the quiffs and the quaffing, one of the bands performing was the Raging Teens, a quartet that brands itself “authentic rockabilly.”
Certainly they look the part: all slicked DA hairdos, thrift-store threads, slap bass, and Gretsch guitars. Their mono-recorded second CD, Rock ‘N’ Roll Party, sounds the part as well.
“A lot of people said it would sound funny on the radio,” says singer and rhythm guitarist Kevin Patey from his home just north of Boston. “I’ve heard it on the radio a few times and I think it sounds better.”
Alongside the British-born Patey, who, at 30, is the eldest member of the band — “the aging teens,” he jokes — are three early twentysomethings: bassist Matt Murphy, drummer Keith Schubert, and guitarist Amy Griffin.
“Amy is not just a good female guitar player,” attests Patey. “She’s a really great guitar player. She’s not up there playing the tambourine, she’s playing the meat and potatoes.”
The CD, released on Rubric Records, features Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys pianist Carl Sonny Leyland guesting on a couple tracks, and was produced by roots-rocker Deke Dickerson using vintage gear in his Los Angeles studio. But there was more to shaping authentic rockabilly than standing in front of an RCA ribbon mike. “If you want to stay true to the music, you have to write following that structure closely,” says Patey. “Lyrically it has to sound correct to the time period.”
Patey, a onetime punk rocker, is now so immersed in the ’50s that he’s even remodeling the kitchen of his new house, which he shares with singer-songwriter Mary Lou Lord and their two-year-old daughter, to feature vintage ’50s equipment and decor. “I’m in a time warp; it’s getting out of control,” he half-jokes.
Like many young rockabilly zealots coming from a punk background, the Raging Teens automatically mixed the two musics together initially. “The first record is a great record in its own right because it has so much energy,” says Patey. “It’s very high octane.”
From punk rock to rockabilly, the Raging Teens’ musical regression doesn’t stop there. One song on in particular on Rock ‘N’ Roll Party perhaps shows a future direction for the Teens’ sound: “Lies”, co-written by Patey and Lord, is an old-world country ditty, pure and simple.
“I love old country music; it’s where rockabilly came from,” Patey observes. “Guys like Ernest Tubb. For me you’ve got to go back to the basics and listen to Ernest, Hank, Lefty Frizzell, and everyone else.”