Stage: Festival Patio Stage 1 (King St. & Memorial Square St.)
Date: Friday August 17, 2018
Time: 9:00 p.m
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About Teenage Head
There is only one word to describe Teenage Head; unstoppable.
This is a rock band that has withstood every conceivable tragedy possible, and yet, after 40+ years, are still here; still holding the rock’n’roll flag high and proud; a self-energizing machine that continues to inspire the next generations of rebels and outsiders.
Fueled by the music and attitudes of The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, The New York Dolls, Flamin’ Groovies and others; Teenage Head began their journey in Hamilton, Ontario – four teenage friends from Westdale Collegiate practicing in a basement day and night. It was 1975 and there was no catch phrase for the hybrid music they were creating. At the same time in New York, bands like The Ramones were also distilling these influences into a new kind of energy. It wasn’t until 1977 that this worldwide movement became known as punk and the music industry would never be the same.
Teenage Head hit the scene with a force forged from equal parts past, present, and future; rockabilly, glam, and raw energy. Singer Frankie Venom (1956-2008) was a charismatic showman who embodied the swagger of Iggy with the cool of Gene Vincent.
The band’s career trajectory quickly embarked on a record industry rollercoaster ride unprecedented in its scope. It begins with a three-night stand at the legendary CBGB’s, opening for The Cramps, during the summer of 1977; it continues with an almost non-stop touring schedule as the Teenage Head live show builds up a voracious and singularly loyal audience.
A debut album is released in 1979, distributed by Epic Records Canada (the iconic single, Picture My Face, is one of the most collectible of that era). A year later, the group signs to Attic Records and release Frantic City, the album that puts them on the international radar and influences everyone from Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip to Arcade Fire to actor/singer Hugh Dillon. The hit singles, “Something On My Mind” and “Let’s Shake” propel the lp to platinum sales (100,000).
At the height of Teenage Head’s new found radio success, a June 1980 headline concert at The Ontario Place Forum, Toronto, suddenly erupted into a full-on riot as an overflow crowd tried to enter the sold-out 12,000 capacity venue. An event unheard of for any Canadian band .
The next album, 1982’s Some Kinda Fun (certified gold) brought more radio hits from the title track of Some Kinda Fun to the another fan fave and anthem Teenage Beer Drinkin’ Party. Touring and live TV/Radio simulcasts firmly rooting the bands status as one of Canada’s greats while rounding up legions of die hard fans.
1983 finds Teenage Head signing to MCA Records USA for the Tornado EP. This was the bands first major label signing. The EPs title track Tornado hits the airwaves gathering radio play and follow up single Blood Boogie is remixed by fellow Hamiltonian and legendary U2 producer Daniel Lanois.
Teenage Head’s next record is 1984’s Endless Party out on Ready Records. A live album recorded New Years eve in the bands hometown of Hamilton,On A close encounter with the bands sonic fury tracing the hits and including a revisited studio version of Top Down from the bands first self titled album.
By 1985 Teenage Head were on their own again. A self-released album,
Trouble In The Jungle has brought producer Dan and brother Bob Lanois back into the fold. The band return to their glam/rockabilly roots and the albums single Frantic Romantic has them shoot their first video in New York City receiving airplay on Muchmusic. Frankie Venom and drummer Nick Stipanitz leave shortly thereafter as a result of the many label changes.
In 1986, Teenage Head had re-invented itself by promoting childhood friend Dave Rave to lead singer (Dave, ex-The Shakers, had contributed to all their albums and had been there from their basement beginnings). This line-up returned to the charts with Electric Guitar (with help again from Dan Lanois) and the hit single/video, Everybody Needs Somebody. However, the rigors of touring and doing everything themselves was taking a toll and this chapter in Teenage Head history closed out by the early 90s.
What no one had realized is how embedded the band is within Canadian pop culture and how powerful their influence. A reconciliation with Frankie Venom in 1996 resulted in Head Disorder (both Frank and the group’s last album of original material); initiating the band’s return to active duty; which would continue until his passing from cancer in 2008 (after recording the historic Teenage Head with Marky Ramone album).
Still dedicated fans and new believers rediscover the band in the wake of renewed interest in Canadian punk; the punk documentary The Last Pogo Jumps Again; and the critically acclaimed history of the band, Gods of The Hammer, written by prize-winning author Geoff Pevere.
Which brings us to the present. And the return of Dave Rave on lead vocals and the addition of Gene Champagne (Killjoys) on drums. It is now a full circle with the original frontline trio of friends from Westdale Collegiate (bassist Steve Mahon, guitarist Gordie Lewis, singer Dave Rave) and Gene Champagne keeping the iconic brand unstoppable!
Fun comes fast. See you on the road!