BY LYDIA RIVERS
After Bridget Battle and some friends moved into a house with the sole intent of turning the basement into a DIY venue, three-piece band Tweens formed out of a fateful jam session back in 2012. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, their distinctive sound has been called anything from brat punk, to bad-girl punk, to doo-woppy, to trash pop — it’s hard to pin the group’s down with just one label. Rolling, raucous melodies and catchy refrains forged from full-force untamed energy make for some grimy, sickly sweet bad-girl bops.
I had the chance to talk with Bridget Battle, lead of Tweens about creating the cover art of their album and EP, what the DIY scene means to her, and if she thought she’d be in a band when she was a teenager.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]
What does your songwriting process look like?
Yeah, I definitely get so overwhelmed by the recording process. Even just demoing, if I have to input anything into Logic or GarageBand… I definitely like to keep it super minimal. I like to overlay things on just my voice memos on my iPhone, which seems like more hassle than it’s worth, but it just works for me. So I’ll just like, write a couple guitar tracks in my room and then put a melody over it, and then by the time it has enough legs, I just take it to my band mates. We flesh it out full band, and it’s just super simple and straightforward, but it works for us.
How did you end up deciding on and creating the visuals for your debut album and your most recent EP? They’re very different, but fit so well together.
I always did all the art. I used to take old vintage Life magazines from like the ‘60s and ‘50s to make show flyers, and that eventually seeped into a lot of the demo artwork. For the first LP, I made a shrine in my bedroom from stuff I found in antique malls, and then once I felt like I compiled enough knickknacks to where I felt like it looked good, we shot it. I don’t even remember where I got that idea from. I I’m so bad about judging a record by its cover — I think art is so important. I think there’s so many cool things that you can do to kind of give a visual representation of what you sound like. I think those things are so important together for people to digest the whole idea of your project. I loved the Brian Eno album cover and Beach House’s Devotion, and I kind of took some influences with the cake and it all placed out like a scene, like a still life.
For the demo tape that we released last summer, we got a motel room near where we all live in Cincinnati because they have a heart-shaped jacuzzi tub. We rented it for the night, and we drank a bunch of tequila, and took some pictures in it. The motel was so gross. Our friend Shayla and Jill took a bunch of pictures with the rose petals spelling out our name, and I think it’s really good. We have a bunch of really funny outtakes — I should probably just post them because they’re too good to hide away. I think coming up with ideas for artwork is one of the most fun parts I think.
How has the music scene in Cincinnati influenced your sound?
I feel a lot of pride being from the Midwest, because from a historical standpoint, a lot of my favorite bands are from the Midwest, Ohio in particular. You have everybody from The Breeders, to Guided By Voices, to Electric Eels. Being a teenager and just being so obsessed with music, I definitely have a long list of Ohio bands that I always looked up to. So, I think no matter what, whatever I’m into, I feel like those things always subconsciously seep into what I end up writing. When we’re creating anything, sometimes it’s unintentionally influenced by the things that we love.
I saw that you got your formed Tweens after moving into a house with the intent to turn the basement into a venue. How did the DIY music scene influence you when you were starting out, and how do you feel about it now?
I couldn’t imagine trying to get anywhere without a DIY community. I don’t know, I think it just instills kind of like the perfect balance of what it takes to start a grassroot community. I don’t know how we would have gotten on tour without that kind of community. My fondest memories, too, are definitely just having shows in that basement. I’ve met so many people from all over the country. I’ve been all over the world because of DIY shows. I think it’s so important, I think all ages shows are so important — It’s so sad that we barely have any of those in Cincinnati. I mean, I was the teenager who could never get into shows in Cincinnati because it’s such a bar driven music scene, and it sucks that a lot of the DIY communities we had back when this band started just kind of aren’t around anymore. I think that that makes local scenes suffer because you don’t have younger people starting cool bands and doing cool new things keeping the scene alive when people start dropping off as they get older. Which, you know, I think inevitably always happens. But yeah, I definitely, don’t think I would have been as successful or have been as passionate if it wasn’t for kind of that DIY basis underneath everything from when I was a teenager.
Did you think you would be the lead in a band when you were a teenager?
Oh, I never thought I could do that! I mean, I even took guitar lessons briefly when I was like 13 years old, and. I’m not a theory person by any means, definitely all by ear. I couldn’t tell you certain notes to my songs. I couldn’t write you tabs for any of my songs to save my life, but that doesn’t matter! I thought that I was like, musically inept, but everybody does everything in a different kind of way. I just needed one of my old band mates to show me a power cord and to play along with some old Ramones songs. That’s all you need sometimes. Sometimes you just gotta put yourself out there and you’re pleasantly surprised by the things that you can accomplish! I also kind of held musicians with such high regard because I admire the arts so much. I think I was kind of intimidated for a long time, but I find with music, it’s kind of like fake it ‘til you make it. I think that’s what everybody does.
What’s next for Tweens?
We’re gonna put out an unreleased song on I think it’s June 3, for the Bandcamp waiving day. Then we’re finally going to upload a whole bunch of merch. I’ve never given anybody the opportunity to buy any of our old shirts like online.
STREAM TWEENS AND SUPPORT THEM BY LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC PHYSICALLY!