Teenage Violets in studio at CFUV (Victoria, BC), December 6, 2018.
Mark Anthony Brennan of Coast to Coast to Coast chats with Dane Loucks (singer/guitar) and Don Chessa (bass).
How did the band get started?
I met Don working the door at Logan’s Pub. He and I played together at one of Jro’s [Jro J. Schuurman] Canada Day benefit shows at the Copper Owl. We played old ’50s rock’n’roll tunes. I would see Chris [Chris Lloyd (guitar)] in these bands. He was in a really cool surf band. Then we played together at the Hootenanny [at Logan’s]. I played acoustic and he played he played electric. Chris half-mentioned that if I wanted to start a band he’d be interested. Then 3 or 4 years down the road, the purrverts were breaking up or I thought they were. So I thought maybe I should start up that band that my mom keeps telling me to start. She wanted me to start this band because we started off as a cover band, doing a lot of Elvis Presley, a lot of Little Richard. That’s the kind of music I love to play. When I first started out I was in a rock-a-billy band called the Switchblade Valentines. That’s how I learned how to play guitar. My buddy Mikey, who’s no longer with us, taught me to play rhythm guitar. So, Chris, Don and I got together. Vince Vaccaro was our drummer for our first jam. He’d been asking to start band for a bit. But Vince was just too busy, so Don brought up Garret [Garret McClure] from Scars & Scarves and Golden Hand. Garret came out and we’ve been playing together for about a year and a half now. Everything has just gone up. We won a bunch of money.
Wait. You won a bunch of money? How does that happen?
There’s a bar by my house named Darcy’s. First time I walked in there, I was wearing a moustache and I bumped into a guy and he says, “Watch it, Pablo.” And I’m going, “Pablo?” Then Darcy’s had this Victory of Vinyl competition coming up but I thought, “Every time I go there someone walks into me and calls me Emilio Escobar or something.” I guess I had this really creepy moustache. I’m growing it back right now. Apparently I’ve earned it. It was stripped away from me for a bit. So we joined this competition, almost as a laugh, and they handed us $3,000 and Budweiser paid for our album. Yeah, so we won that money and we were asked to play Car-free Day and Rifflandia. It’s been going really well.
What’s the story behind the recording of “Wolfman”?
It was very arduous getting to Vancouver to record the album with Felix Fung. Don and I had his car’s radiator hose blow at about 5:30 in the morning. There’s was steam all over the road, in our faces. The cops showed up. Anyway, we got to Vancouver and the first thing we recorded was “Wolfman”. We recorded two different ways and we ended up using the one with a lot of [producer] Felix Fung’s input. There is another version out there that I might release at some point on Bandcamp. Maybe at Halloween.
All of these songs, the lyrics are by Dane. We all contribute. It’s interesting how these things come about. Chris or someone might add something in there, then we all talk. Then we all just sort of let things happen.
You do a cover of “I Put a Spell on You”?
Yes. There were two versions of this song too. We did it originally the way Screamin’ Jay Hawkins did it in the ’50s. The 1957 version where it goes, “bomp, bomp, bom..bom.” When we got in the studio we said, “OK, we’ll do it this way, but maybe also do it a different way.” And this is what we ended up doing — more of a Nick Cave “Do You Love Me”-ish.
What about “Yet Here You Stand”?
I used to always do covers, like “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and stuff like that. Then somebody told me, “Hey, you need to write your own stuff.” So I did but it was far too depressing. That’s when I wrote this song [“Yet Here You Stand”]. But I found that if you put a ’50s spin on it, it’s a lot less depressing. If you heard me play this song on acoustic guitar you’d be very sad. But because it’s done really nice, with a lot of tremolo, it sounds a lot nicer.
You guys seem to be on to good thing with this group. What’s the secret?
Keep it fun. Play at the right time at the right place.