Teenage Moods release Mood Ring tonight at 7th St. Entry

The basement of Psychic School is, at least for the time being, off limits.

After an unusually rowdy weeknight concert for the Teenage Moods, the house's lower level is a mess. There are holes punched in the ceiling; a bass amp leans sadly on only three wheels; and even the Christmas lights don't work, leaving the room in darkness and virtually impassable.

"It was a different crowd than normal. Usually if it's all our friends, no one's punching holes in the ceiling," says drummer Taylor Motari, without any hint of malice. "It was just because there were a bunch of other bands that brought their friends that hadn't been here before and maybe thought that was okay because it looks like a meth house."

Indeed, a cursory look from the outside could give the wrong impression: The front porch is strewn with couches, an old barber's chair, and even a row of leather airplane seats, recovered from Lord knows where. But inside the house (where bassist Jillian Schroeder lives) is quainter fare, the living room filled with secondhand furniture, a mixture of various homemade art, and a wall of old VHS tapes. There's even a house mascot, Geo the Cat, who sits himself down on the living room floor.

"Usually I think house shows are more fun," Motari continues, slouching slightly in an arm chair. He has a slicked-back mullet and tucks his hands into a bright green jacket. "The audience is dancing and stuff like that, as opposed to standing and looking at the stage."

Gordon Byrd, curled up in another chair in the corner, agrees. "I think it fits what we do, probably more naturally than being on a stage... There's no separation between you and the crowd, your friends, so it feels less like, 'I'm up here and you're down there.'"

Teenage Moods have only been together for a couple years (they earned a berth in our Picked to Click poll in 2009), but everything the trio has done in that time points to a band preoccupied with keeping things simple and having fun, right down to such lighthearted song titles as "No Place for a Tiger" and "Heavy Bunny." They've self-released one CD to date, distributed in used jewel cases that the band spray painted themselves, as well as a cassette.

"I've got a high-speed tape duplicator that does like 11 tapes at a time, so it's easier to make tapes for me than it is to sit and burn 100 CDs," says Byrd, acknowledging that the format conveniently suits the band's playful, ultra lo-fi garage punk. "If there's anybody that doesn't want a tape but wants the record, it's like, 'Just give us a dollar and download it.' It's probably in better fidelity than the tape is anyway."

Their new release, Mood Ring, was actually recorded around the same time as the first album, and not surprisingly plays like a companion piece. In fact, the cassette, which they started handing out at shows last year, collects acoustic versions of the material from the two CDs, recorded with the help of friends from groups like Sleeping in the Aviary and the Paper Cup Band.

Teenage Moods release Mood Ring tonight at 7th St. Entry
Photo by Nick Vlcek

"We had this room with all these different keyboards and toys and we were like, 'Well, what if there's like four men doing a bunch of singing on it?' We already have these different versions of these songs with us just being a rock band, so we just kind of had fun with that," says Motari. "We were really just throwing ideas out there and having them play songs and by the time it was done it just felt like they were in the band."

Mood Ring, likewise, was recorded in a friend's basement. They made due to the most part without a proper sound booth, instead making use of a comforter hung across the room, with everyone crammed in not far from an open furnace and washing machine. But as Motari explains, that suits them just fine: "We definitely wouldn't just risk all the money of going to a studio and trusting some guy," he explains.

"We work on a pretty small scale, which is fine. Our band fits in my two-door hatchback," Byrd laughs. Things are so small-scale, in fact, that Motari can't use much else beyond a kick drum and a snare when they play shows.

Schroeder, who's been relatively un-talkative through most of the conversation, sitting shyly at the end of the couch, quietly reaches down and picks up Geo, stretching him out on her lap. She scratches him on his belly and giggles.

"But the thing is," Byrd goes on, "if I'd set out to start a band, like this is my dream band. Part of me wants to be serious just because I love it so much, but the whole reason we do it and got everything started was because we're friends and it would be fun."

TEENAGE MOODS play a CD-release show with Sleeping in the Aviary (headlining), Buffalo Moon, and Mystery Palace tonight, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25, at the 7th ST. ENTRY. 18+. $5. 9 p.m.

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