Friends in Low Places, the first full-length studio album by Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, takes a look at the opposite spectrums of the teenage experience. Right off the bat, "Teenagers Too" hits the listener with a punch to the gut with its punk-inspired riffage and aggressive lyrics.
The site spoke with Bobby Mahoney and Jon Alba, who co-wrote the entire album, to discuss the song.
What is "Teenagers Too" about?
BM: "'Teenagers Too' is an exaggerated and generalized look at the chaos that goes along with being an adolescent. I looked to older teen gang stories, such as 'The Outsiders' and 'West Side Story' to create a suburban world where the teenagers essentially did whatever they wanted. The song is very tongue in cheek, and is very sarcastic because while I was 16 when I wrote the song, I did not connect with most of the people my age, so this was my 'fuck you' to my own generation. The song is my response to how I was seeing my friends changing as they got older."
JA: "That song is very timely in regards to when it was written. The cool thing about it is, even almost four years later, it still can relate to a lot of people at the age of 16. People complain about this generation all the time...and I think that song addresses those complaints in a sarcastic manner. Even as we get older, that song doesn't lose any meaning, in my opinion."
How did the song come to be?
BM: "The song was written by Jon and I, in my basement. I had the lyrics written and Jon had the idea for the B-D-A-G riff that starts the song. We had most of the song written and then we brought it to Drew and Dave (drummer and bassist at the time) and we ironed it out and came up with an arrangement that is not all that different from the current form of the song, minus a longer intro and without the ending jam."
JA: "That's truthfully the first Jon and Bobby composition, in its fullness. I sat down in his basement and just banged out the B progression, including the rhythmic strumming for the verse. Bobby had essentially written the lyrics as a poem, anthemic in a way. We worked out the rest of the progression, including the key change in the solo, and just took it from there. The catchy bass riff was conceived by Dave, and the extended jam you hear at the end of the album was actually spontaneous during a gig from a few years back. The song also started with a different intro initially, which does not appear on the album."
"Teenagers" has been played at every single full band show since it was conceived in 2011. Why is that?
BM: "From the first time we played the song at Churchill Live (a popular local benefit concert) in 2011, we have played it at every full band gig. It is a high energy rocker that crowds, both young and old, really get into. Not only is it fun for the audience, but it is also a lot of fun for us to play. The end section of the song started as a jam we did live and we actually did it so many times that it became a really great part of the song."
JA: "I'd be lying if I said there weren't any songs I get bored with playing every now and then. 'Teenagers Too' is certainly not one of them. It is genuinely so much fun to play, and brings so much energy for us on stage that we are able to bounce off one another with. I mentioned it earlier, but it's anthemic, and I think the crowd really buys into that part of it."
Why does the song start off the album?
BM: "Not only does it get the album off to an explosive start, but it also is a great place to start the storyline of the album. It is an overture of sorts. It touches upon all of the themes of the album, in a general way, and then each song goes more in depth with each of those ideas. The album is about teenage confusion and alienation, so what better song to open the album with than 'Teenagers Too' ultimately?"
JA: "I think that speaks for itself. From the second we conceived the idea of an album, we knew that would be the opening track. For all intent and purposes, it's the definitive 'vintage' Seventh Son track. I came up with the idea of starting the song with the feedback, which was actually longer in one of the initial trackings we laid down. Instead of our old intro, the feedback cuts in to the hi-hat count and what I perceive to be a massive explosion of sound. It's funny, because the song had always been seen as the guaranteed closer for a Seventh Son show. We tried opening with it once in Summer 2013, and it worked. That's when I knew we could try making this happen."
What stands out about "Teenagers Too" in your opinion?
BM: "The big chant-choruses are quite different from our other songs, so it definitely stands out from our catalogue. I also think it has a cinematic feel to it- especially with Jon's 'rap' in the middle section. I think you can visualize the images in the song, despite how exaggerated those images are."
JA: "Honestly, I wish I had conceived the idea of a 'rap' while we were still recording. Now, it appears live, but on the record, you hear the 'Stand down and resume blind faith' bit. That was created on the spot in the studio and not pre-planned, with me coming up with the idea of some sort of resistance to the teenage uprising and Bobby filling out the blind faith bit. I think blind faith is another one of those underlying motifs in the album, and it's something that actually appears in new Seventh Son material as well.
What's your favorite part of the song?
BM: "First of all, I love the whole vibe of the song. It is reckless and rebellious and it kicks ass. I have played the same solo essentially every single time we have played the song, since the first demo, and it is still one of my favorite solos on the album. I am very proud of it. I also love the ending because it is just so much fun to play."
JA: "Definitely the solo and ending, like Bobby said. That solo tells a story, in my opinion. It starts out in the same vein of the early parts of a rebellion; there's rumbling, but it's just a concept. Then the key change promotes growth, and by the end, with the smashing of the cymbals, it's absolute chaos. The added ending also gives a hint of what the band is like live to the record."
Ultimately, how do you look back on the song?
BM: "It is amazing that after playing this song for the last four years, it is still fun and I love playing it every night. At the end of the day, its about having fun and making loud music with your friends, and with this song, I get to do just that."
JA: "It will always have a special place for me. It's one of the first rock songs that I ever got to write, and I think, it's still one of our finest. It may not be all that complicated, but it's based on the foundation of rock: Simple ain't easy. It takes a tremendous amount of intensity and passion to successfully play that song, so it makes us be that much better every time we play it."
Friends in Low Places is available via iTunes, Bandcamp, Spotify and various other outlets.
Friends in Low Places