Up Next, Teenage Dads
by Thomas Giblin (he/him)
culture & lifestyle writer
Teenage Dads aren't teenage dads (or at least they say so). But they are the next big indie pop-rock band. Think The Strokes and The Beach Boys blended with your parents’ favourite 80s hits. The Melbourne-based band consisting of Jordan Finlay (vocals, guitar), Connor McLaughlin (guitar), Vincent Kinna (drums), and Angus Christie (bass) had a breakthrough in 2022. With sold-out shows across Australia, tours with Lime Cordiale and Spacey Jane, a Best New Artist nomination at the Rolling Stone Australia Awards and a growing legion of fans, Teenage Dads are growing up fast.
However, their success doesn't provide any clues about the origins of the band's name. So where did
it come from? They "didn't have anything better," so Teenage Dads just "stuck," says Connor, surprisingly chipper for a 9 am press junket. He recounts how he and Jordan "just started jamming" during a free period at high school. They invited their schoolmates to jam with them, hoping to form a band, but it only gelled once they asked Angus and Vincent along. Seven years later, with a headline Australia and New Zealand tour ahead of them, their humble origins seem a distant memory.
Their latest EP, Midnight Driving, has shades of The New Abnormal so it's no surprise that Jordan, the predominant songwriter for Teenage Dads, loves The Strokes. I also mention Duran Duran as a possible sonic inspiration to Connor. He piques up, "I actually played in a covers band at my mate's engagement party and we did ‘Girls on Film’, which is pretty funny." The band also loves Phoenix, a French pop-rock band whose hits would feel at home next to "Cheerleader", a personal favourite from their 2021 EP, Club Echo.
Teenage Dads want "their sound to be as easy for the live viewer to get involved." Their discography is rife with "call and response" elements, encouraging listeners to shake their limbs and scream lyrics such as "Teddy doesn't live here anymore." That being said, the last song on the Midnight Driving EP, ‘Goodbye, Goodbye Again’, is a distinct change of pace for the band. It's "a little bit slower," more meditative and poignant than ‘Hey, Diego!’ and ‘Teddy’. But as the closing song, it represents a solemn goodbye to a friend, family or lover.
Midnight Driving is "about perspective. How things look from one point of view and how they can change over time from another outlook. The songs feel like diary entries, documented internally, like conversations you have with yourself when you go Midnight Driving. A constant, internal form of therapy almost."
Teenage Dads recently performed "Teddy", a fan favourite track off this EP, on Triple J’s Like A Version segment — their energy in the video is infectious, a shot of dopamine. "Teddy" originated from a birthday party where Connor asked his friends to do a ten-minute "DIY hardcore show" as a present to himself. Jordan then wrote "what was the chorus of Teddy" but ironically, he couldn't make it to the show. Jordan still reworked the tune, transforming it from a "joke song" into a "cool" track that made the band budding stars.
Teenage Dads has gone from The Gasometer, a small venue above a Melbourne hotel, to The Metro Theatre
Sydney, an iconic Australian venue accommodating up to 1,200 people, in a matter of years. “It's surreal," says Connor, who used to watch his favourite bands at venues Teenage Dads are now selling out.
He admits that touring isn't all sunshine and roses - it gets taxing. He says "Our routine is: wake up, get to the gig, play, try to interact with everyone and go to sleep." But this seems alright when you're with your best mates.
Connor is genuine and shy when talking about the success of Teenage Dads and why it came as a surprise. The band's proudest achievement for him is "when we started realising that people were coming to our gigs that weren't our friends." They've gone from performing covers at people's 18th birthday parties, and now they're about to embark on an overseas tour with Lime Cordiale.
There is an air surrounding Teenage Dads that is exciting to be witness to — a band on the precipice of stardom. So, catch them while you still can, as lightning in a bottle is hard to come by.
Midnight Driving, their latest EP, is available to stream now. Also, catch Teenage Dads on the 13th of April at The Tuning Fork.