Tenacity, Timing and Tight: Andrew Stone Talks Teenage Dads
With the pandemic in the rearview (fingers crossed), an growing industry support team, and fans clamouring to the front, Teenage Dads are growing up fast.
Just last month, the Mornington Peninsula band came into the roster of leading agency Select Music, a new partnership that paves the path for a concerts flourish. More partners have signed up.
The stage is where the Teenage Dads shine, Andrew Stone, head of Chugg Music, which signed the indie act in 2021.
Since then, they’ve supported labelmates Lime Cordiale on an arena tour in March, headed out on their run in May, and they’ve played big rooms in support of Spacey Jane on the Here Comes Everybody trek.
Teenage Dads are four high school friends – Jordan Finlay, Vincent Kinna, Connor McLaughlin and Angus Christie. The group began releasing music in 2019, before teaming up with Lime Cordiale for several live runs.
New music dropped earlier this year, “Exit Sign,” and more is on the way. But first, a pair of live performances at Bigsound, where the lads are on the hunt for a sync agent.
Those showcases are built into their national Ready Teddy Go tour, due to wrap up Oct. 1 at the Landsdowne at Chippendale.
TMN caught up Stone for a snapshot of the Teenage Dads story, a tale of good tunes, great shows, top attitudes and impressing the right people, all the time.
TMN: How did you discover Teenage Dads, and what convinced you to make the investment of time to manage and develop them via Chugg Music?
Andrew Stone: Our head of touring, Mark Muggeridge, saw them support Lime Cordiale in Melbourne in 2019 and would not shut up about how good they were.
Then Lime Cordiale themselves would play us new demos and made the introduction directly to start talking about bringing them on as label and management clients. They had some really strong demos and a very positive attitude, and were excited to be talking about their future with us.
It felt like a natural fit from the beginning.
Finally, I was able to see the band play with Lime Cordiale again at The Roundhouse in Sydney and they caused such a ruckus that the show had to be stopped halfway through.
Then, they played on a mismatched bill at a heavy music night at The Hi-Fi, and I went along with Mark and we made the call to do everything we could to bring them in.
Their ability to convert a crowd who were only hearing their music for the first time is as strong as any band we’d ever seen, so we figured if more people were able to have that experience, then things were going to go okay.
The team has been incredible with them as well, from our in-house product, design and merch teams, to our partners at The Annex, Positive Feedback, Six Boroughs, Select Music, Raida Artists and MGM.
The music industry is abuzz about Teenage Dads, they’ve been impressing on the live scene and selling out shows. The band also recently changed booking agents. Walk us through how their live show is developing, and where the fans are coming from?
Their live show is the thing that sold us on the band from the beginning. They’ve been together since high school, write and record everything themselves, and as a unit, they are as tight as other bands that have been touring for a decade.
The thing we are seeing out of the pandemic is that kids want to really feel something at live shows. So bands who like to entertain are doing well, and the beauty of a live stage is that you can create noise, emotion, feeling and excitement that you simply can’t get through a screen. Word is spreading amongst early adopter music fans and we simply can’t keep up with the ticket demand at the moment.
Jordy, the frontman, has perfect pitch, and struts around like he owns the place, so the charisma is oozing from the stage from the first note. Vinnie (drums), Angus (bass), and Connor (guitar) are all so tight and have so much personality.
Think of them as a mix between Phoenix and The Strokes with some of the flamboyance of Talking Heads; all artists that put on incredible live shows and excite everyone who is in the room whether it’s your first or tenth time seeing them.
Teenage Dads recently supported Lime Cordiale and Spacey Jane on tour. How important were these tours in growing the band’s fanbase ahead of another headline run of shows?
You can’t really get a better start for a band taking that next step to bigger rooms in the stage of the career that Teenage Dads are in, but the important thing is both Spacey and Lime hand-selected Teenage Dads for those slots because they love the music and the energy they bring to the night.
Ruby Fields was also a big supporter at the start of the year and they played a few shows together then.
The best marketing tool playing your set — so long as it’s good — to an audience of active, ‘lean-in’ music fans.
We did a lot of work with the band preparing for these shows with the support around them and making sure we had releases and headline shows ready to sell – and we were ready when we were given the opportunity to get on these runs.
Chuggi and Mark (head of touring/day-to-day) put a lot of work in with our touring artists to make sure the show is up to scratch.
There are a lot of bands and labels that take support slots for granted but we are believers that if you have the songs and are good then take every possible opportunity to play live in front of a crowd because that’s what will win people over and get you ready for the big leagues.
Speaking of headline gigs, after the recent Sydney show with Spacey Jane, Teenage Dads instantly sold out Sydney’s Lansdowne. An all-ages show was put on sale for the same day and it too went in minutes. Tickets for a third show are also now gone. There aren’t many young bands doing these numbers post-COVID. How well did these shows go, and how did Teenage Dads break through the sea of concerts and festivals to get these rooms packed?
The timing of putting the shows up for sale definitely helped but we actually have no idea how many tickets we could have sold. We sold everything out in those cities in just a few hours. There is no venue availability in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to play to an all-ages audience, so we will have some more go up early next year we can start selling soon. There aren’t many bands selling over 1,000-1,500 tickets in cap cities right now, let alone selling them in a couple of hours, and none at the stage of career development Teenage Dads are in. It’s really exciting.
We have a great marketing and ticketing team, paired with our agency partners who were able to get shows up with the timing we needed to fit around those shows. Plus the band shouted out the shows to thousands of Spacey Jane fans from the stage. It’s about hitting it from all sides when the timing lines up and making the most of the opportunity.
Teenage Dads could be one of the few Aussie bands to ‘break’ during a global pandemic. In light of this, what have you done differently during the artist development process?
The most important thing is that they took their time, took our advice and guidance on board, and didn’t skip any steps along the way. There have been times that as their A&R and management we have had to spend a bit more time on the music to make sure it matches up with their ambition, and the thing that sets us apart from other management/label companies is that we are a very song driven and an A&R-led business.
We took the time to get the songs right, so once things kicked off for them and our first single together got added to rotation on triple j, we could be confident that the creative engine had enough saved up of that high standard to not have to take any time away from the market for at least the next few years.
That might seem a lot for artists, but it’s the most important part of the whole picture in our opinion.
Every song that we have worked on of theirs since signing them has hit rotation on triple j, has had support from DSPs and social platforms, and had solid fan engagement.
There are no favours that can deliver those results, so we have to be sure the product is up to scratch. Relationships and telling the story effectively helps, but at the end of the day, we know this band has a lot of great songs in their arsenal so we will work hard to get them out to a top standard.
Breaking a band is about competing with the best music that is available from around the world, and we work to that standard with all of our acts.
They haven’t shied away from social media either and are consistently posting and speaking to fans, treating their audience with the respect they deserve, and trying to keep up with best practice.
Teenage Dads will play at Bigsound this week, for the first time. TMN predicts there will be plenty of music executives in the room. How important is a Bigsound showcase at this point in their development?
It’s a great opportunity for them to play in front of international and top-end delegates, managers, artists, and network and make friends – but the great thing about coming in with a bit of buzz is hopefully we can secure some key opportunities for next year, to keep the momentum going.
We don’t yet have a publishing partner for the band, or international agency representation – and as an indie label, we are always open-minded about label partnerships down the line.
Anything else you would like to add?
Hopefully, this is a win for good old-fashioned artist development, and positive signs that the next generation of music fans are coming out in support of music and artists they’re excited about.