Teenage Wrist Bio
The world may seem like a pretty strange place right now, but if nothing else that’s forced us into realizing that being human is a shared experience. That sentiment lies at the core of Earth Is A Black Hole, the second full-length from the Los Angeles rock act Teenage Wrist. The album also marks the group's first release since the departure of former bassist/vocalist Kamtin Mohager last year and sees the duo of guitarist Marshall Gallagher stepping up as frontman, with longtime drummer Anthony Salazar backing him up in spectacular fashion. “As soon as we found out Kam was exiting, I just started writing,” Gallagher explains. “I wanted to keep this band going and we didn’t know exactly what that would look like, so I wrote two songs and demoed them myself to see if everyone was still on board.” Those songs turned out to be the jangly power ballad “Yellowbelly” and spacey rocker “Wear U Down”—and with that, a new era of Teenage Wrist was born.
The artistic liberation of this lineup change, coupled with the past two years the band spent touring alongside genre-smashing acts such as Thrice, allowed Teenage Wrist to expand on the shoegazing sound that helped establish them as one of the most exciting rock bands around today. While they are still influenced by bands like Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine—most evidently on the swirling anthem “Silverspoon,” which showcases Salazar’s drumming prowess— Earth Is A Black Hole sees the band shifting their songwriting focus to a more modern sound that showcases the limitless potential of the band. “With this record we wanted to incorporate some more expansive elements such as synths, drum samples and electronica,” Gallagher explains. “When we started making music in 2014, we found ourselves in the middle of this grunge revival which was really cool. But for this record we felt like we needed to push past that in a way and get a little more aggressive. We wanted to be more of a rock band this time around.”
In order to capture this sound, the band enlisted Colin Brittain (Basement, A Day to Remember), whose production style merged perfectly with what Teenage Wrist were trying to accomplish with this album. “Before Colin signed on as the producer, we had worked with him in a co-writing capacity and turned out two pretty cool tunes,” Gallagher explains. “We thought, ‘We’re obviously vibing with this guy from a writing standpoint, so maybe he should just produce the record.’ He works really quickly; we like his philosophy and he added quite a bit to the writing process as we were working together in the studio.” Although Teenage Wrist had never worked with outside writers in the past, this experience allowed them to broaden their songwriting perspective, a fact that is evident on Earth Is A Black Hole. Since Brittain was such a close collaborator with the band, he was also able to analyze the best ways to record these songs and push the dynamic range of the album into bold new sonic territory.
From lush, guitar-driven songs like “Taste Of Gasoline” and “High Again” to the atmospheric ambience of “Stella” and syncopated aggression of “Earth Is A Black Hole,” any of these songs could crossover into the mainstream without alienating Teenage Wrist’s fervent fanbase. “I feel like a lot of modern rock music is trying to be something between pop and hip-hop and that’s not what we wanted to do at all,” Gallagher explains. “We wanted to make something big and aggressive that also had melody and immediacy,” he continues, adding that he hopes explosive experiments like “Taste Of Gasoline,” “New Emotion” and “Wasting Time” will inspire future mosh pits.
Gallagher started writing the lyrics for Earth Is A Black Hole prior to the pandemic, however as issues like the Coronavirus and racial justice started coming to the forefront of our collective consciousness, those ideas also became embodied in the writing. “It’s funny because we started writing these songs and reality started to develop around them; it was a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he explains. While in some ways these songs catalog the transformation that Gallagher has made in his personal life, it’s more than a postscript to 2018’s Chrome Neon Jesus. “The difference between these two albums is that our last album was more nostalgic in the sense of growing up and starting to see the world the way it was—and this album is more about attempting to push through to something new and better.” The band also want this Earth Is A Black Hole to challenge the way their lyrics have sometimes been misinterpreted as apathetic because ultimately these songs are about the potential that we all have to transmute our past into something positive.
This concept is paralleled in the collage-style artwork that accompanies Earth Is A Black Hole, which acts a visual representation of the album’s central theme. “The idea for the title came to me during lockdown while we were in the recording process and what initially felt nihilistic started to feel more transient in the context of my life and this entire record,” Gallagher explains of the seemingly bleak-sounding title. “Everything will eventually disappear into nothing and that can make you feel small and insignificant. But that same fact should be motivation to tell the people who are important to you that you love them and savor these beautiful moments in your life because they’re never coming back,” he summarizes. “All we have is this moment and that’s the most important thing: To be present and be positive and transcend the black hole bullshit because it’s all going to end one day.” That dichotomy between hope and hopelessness is what lies at the core of this album—and it’s part of what makes Earth Is A Black Hole such a satisfying listen.