Imperial Teen - Biography
While still logging hours for his day job with art metal pioneers Faith No More, keyboardist Roddy Bottum branched out into more traditional power pop as Imperial Teen in 1994. Formed in San Francisco, the lineup included drummer and co-founder Lynn Perko, guitarist Will Schwartz, and bassist Jone Stebbins, all of whom had already made Bay Area names for themselves in groups like Wrecks and The Dicks. Walking a fine line between alternative pop silliness and grinding guitar noise, the band usually kept their pansexual, and often homoerotic, themes encased in infectious boy/girl harmonies. Produced by Redd Kross frontman Steve McDonald, the hyper-kinetic pop rock of their debut album, Seasick (1996 Slash) fit in well with the alt pop movement of the mid-to-late 90’s, although Imperial Teen was much too lo-fi and gauche for mainstream exposure.
Expanding their lo-fi glam pop aesthetic into tighter yet more epic songs, the sophomore full length What Is Not To Love (1999 Slash) was their most commercially successful album to date. First single “Yoo Hoo” received moderate radio play thanks to its inclusion in the film Jawbreaker, whose star, Rose McGowan, also appeared in the music video. On the cusp of mainstream success, Imperial Teen secured the opening slot for the highly publicized Hole/Marilyn Manson tour, only to watch it fall apart after a handful of dates when Hole dropped out and Manson sustained an ankle injury. After completing a small club tour, Imperial Teen lost much of their momentum by taking a lengthy break from recording, eventually signing to the now famous independent label, Merge Records.
On (2002 Merge) traded in much of Imperial Teen’s raucous guitars for a more keyboard-based New Wave aesthetic that was critically praised but did not increase the band's audience. They entertained enthusiastic crowds at both Amoeba Hollywood and Amoeba San Francisco in October of 2002, but shortly thereafter embarked on a five year hiatus. Bottum relocated to Los Angeles to score television shows, Perko gave birth to her third child, Schwartz turned to his side project Hey Willpower, and Stebbings took up a career as a hair stylist during the interim. Produced by long time friends and creative cohorts Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker, the aptly titled fourth full length, The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band (2007 Merge) found Imperial Teen returning to their glam-punk-indie-pop roots with unabashed fervor and a pinch of modern indie rock eclecticism to boot. They followed this up with Feel The Sound in 2012.