Jedediah Smith is a feverish musical creator who hardly seems able to keep up with his own breakneck songwriting pace.The gregarious leader of My Teenage Stride, one of Brooklyn’s finest indie pop bands, slides effortlessly between bouncy guitar-driven jangles, British-Invasion influenced melodies and shoegazey distortion sprees that usually clock in under three minutes. His copious output has become an oft-cited distinguishing feature of and point of pride for the band and sparked the idea for My Teenage Pride’s latest project.
“Part of the My Teenage Stride thing that everybody writes about is that Jed’s this crazy genius who sits around and writes a million songs,” says the band’s drummer, Brett Whitmoyer, as the four members of the band sit at a Williamsburg coffee shop. “And I was like, ‘You are, and we should do something to show that.’”
Whitmoyer, recalling the influential post-punk band The Wedding Present’s batch of singles in the early 1990s (which was later compiled on Hit Parade 1 and Hit Parade 2), envisioned a similar series for My Teenage Stride—the plan was to issue one single a month in 2009 via eMusic, a web-based subscription download service, which happily signed on.
“We couldn’t not do it. I’ve got too many songs,” explains Smith, who says he is constantly in the studio working on new material. “There are 150 songs floating in the ether— and by the ether, I mean my hard drive.”
The first installment was the exuberantly catchy “Cast Your Own Shadow” while February brought “Creep Academy” and “Average Justice,” two shimmering tracks with faraway vocals under layers of fuzz and a driving rhythm section. Smith says he appreciates the freedom the singles format offers, and he hopes to release all the singles as a compilation ultimately.
“The good thing about doing the singles is that there doesn’t have to be as much aesthetic consistency,” Smith says. “They’re all kind of My Teenage Stridey. There’s reverb and tambourines and Velvet Underground–based music in some way. But an album would have to be more consistent.”
And a full-length record would involve a more “organic, band-oriented” approach, Smith says, versus his mode of operation for the singles—working mostly with Whitmoyer—and much of the quartet’s other material.
My Teenage Stride’s roots lie in Smith’s four-track bedroom recording project that eventually morphed into a band in 2003 when he decided to start performing live, and he enlisted Whitmoyer to drum.Though the two originally met in the kitchen of a house party where they waxed poetic about The Kinks (a favorite of both), they somehow didn’t remember this conversation until they’d been collaborating for months. But the shared affinity for guitar-based pop bands, including The Smiths and Belle and Sebastian among others, bonded them to gether from the beginning and, since then, the rest of the lineup for My Teenage Stride has been a rotating cast through the release of three full-length records and an EP. The two other current members, Tris McCall and Jenny Logan, played with the band in the past and rejoined about nine months ago. But the four of them have since solidified into a cohesive unit, McCall says. “This lineup works very well because I always think the rhythm section is the crucial part, and if you’re playing the piano you’re really going along for the ride,” says McCall, the group’s exceedingly modest keyboardist, remarking on how well the energy of Logan’s bass playing and Whitmoyer’s drumming mesh with the melodies and vocal harmonies. “I think we’re communicating the songs much better than we did when I was in the band previously.”
And they have been in talks with Mark Kramer (who’s known simply as Kramer in music circles), producer of another of Smith’s favorite bands, the early ‘90s dream pop trio Galaxie 500, about producing or mixing the next album, which they hope to record later this year. Smith says this presents the opportunity for them to focus on creating songs as a collaborative group.
“Ears was a little bit more of a piecemeal, half one-man band thing,” Smith says, referring to the meticulously crafted 2007 album Ears Like Golden Bats. “If we’re working with someone like Kramer, it would serve us to do it as a band.”
My Teenage Stride
April 2, The Cameo, 93 N. 6th St. (betw. Berry St. & Wythe Ave.), Brooklyn,
no phone; 8, $TBA.