Words by Lindsey Anderson
‘How does one region continue to churn out so many great bands????’ is a question I constantly ask myself when my ears fall head over heels for a band based in the pacific northwest. The band that currently has my ears is the Portland-based band, Tender Age. A band I can only best describe as aimless summer night drives mixed with the chaotic euphoria of a house show; Tender Age has a sound that I feel is best described by lived experiences as opposed to a musical genre.
Their single ‘Don’t Mind’ exudes the chaotic energy that lives within the mind; the challenges one may face as they move through life on a day to day basis. The track is the lead single off of the band’s upcoming full length ‘Becoming Real Forever’ and despite being a last minute addition to the record, the track does a great job of capturing the band’s energy and giving listeners a taste of what the full length has to offer.
The video for ‘Don’t Mind’ shows the band shredding through the track on a sunny day in Portland. From start to finish, the band exudes a warmth and excitement that’s bound to make a viewer want to attend a Tender Age concert as soon as possible.
Tom Tom is very excited to share not only the video for ‘Don’t Mind’ but also an interview with the band where we chatted about their upcoming album, their recording process and what breakfast foods best describe ‘Don’t Mind.’
What inspired ‘Don’t Mind?’
We’ve been naturally gravitating toward understated pop songs. The lyrics are about confusion; about what you really feel. Feeling invisible and unheard. Mental health struggles surrounding that. Justifying something to yourself for the benefit of others that you know is unhealthy. Something that can sometimes be a weird addiction with a rush, a high and a low. It can seem easier to fold on yourself instead of others.
Out of all of the other songs recorded for your upcoming full length, why did ‘Don’t Mind’ make the most sense to release as the lead single?
Weirdly enough, it was a last minute addition to our recording list for this album. It was just like a ~whatever~ song that was fun to play. It surprised us how well it came across after tracking it. A specific energy and feeling was very well captured. It just feels like a really solid and accessible pop song.
The video for ‘Don’t Mind’ was shot behind your practice space. Is there a specific reason why that spot made sense for the video shoot?
We definitely love our practice space and it’s an important place for us. It’s nice to look back on as a visual document of our time there. We moved there about a year ago and it has really helped us find a productive streak. It’s hard to find affordable spaces in Portland where you’re the only band in a building and by some crazy luck we did. It has been a really positive and harmonious environment for us.
When you saw the final version of the video, what were your 1st thoughts?
Really cute! We’ve never made a video ourselves really and it worked out really well. Josie the dog, “worlds best girl,” makes an appearance. It was a fun memory that got captured perfectly. We got a really rare nice, sunny day in January. Christopher, he plays guitar, he had the idea. He just wanted it to be simple and fun. He basically brought his entire living room to the lot out back, asked a couple of friends to hold cameras and we did it really quick. It was fun.
Your upcoming full length was recorded in a cabin that you repurposed into a recording studio; how did using that cabin enhance the recording experience?
It was really nice to all go somewhere and be together with no distractions. The opportunity came our way, so we took a chance. We didn’t know what to expect. Would it sound crappy? How would we isolate amps? Would people call the cops on us for being too loud? It just sounded fun so we made the plan and hoped for the best.
Gregg, the owner, was super supportive. He was like, “Do whatever you need to, take the living room apart, whatever. Have a good time. Don’t worry about anything!” That was invaluable. He had no reason to let us go there and do that except that he’s just a big music lover and supportive of the arts. In fact, he’s a Diana Ross super-fan, which we couldn’t sound anything further from, but he was really into it and insisted we do it.
Everyone who stays there has an amazing time and you can really feel that energy in the house. I think it had a major effect on us. We hauled all this crap there, including a refrigerator sized 16 track tape machine that barely fit in the van, but it was great. The acoustics were really nice. We got a nice drum sound. The loud ocean waves and wind kind of cancelled out the noise we were making for the neighbors. We put cords through vents in the ceiling to isolate amps in upstairs bedrooms. It was creepy how well the space worked for us. We’ve been back a few times since to write new music. It’s a super inspiring environment. We’re very emotionally attached to the house and always bugging Gregg to rent it again.
Was there anything about it that was challenging about the recording process?
It’s a lot of work to record yourself; no question about it. It can take you out of the experience or focus of what you’re working on a little. It was a really great experience though. Most of the credit totally goes to Olives. They were very meticulous and did most of the work. It was an old house, so the tape machine would pick up weird ghost-like humming because there was only one grounded outlet that we were powering a lot of stuff off of. It was a perplexing problem that was a little stressful to troubleshoot, but eventually we figured out a work-around and fixed some stuff later in mixing.
It was also hard not to go into full-on vacation mode. We were at the Oregon coast. It’s a beautiful, dark, moody place or a shiny, sparkling oasis depending on the weather at any given moment. The ocean was definitely calling us to drop everything sometimes, but it was also really cool to channel that into creativity. We’d go jump into the freezing ocean in the middle of working and come back and have a breakthrough on a song we were stuck on. It had a recharging effect after a long day of recording.
If you were to describe ‘Don’t Mind’ using breakfast foods, which foods would you choose and why?
A soft boiled egg. Nice and creamy…with some crispy potatoes. Feels so good to eat it, but then you feel real weird later. A half boiled state of mind, if you will.
What goals does Tender Age have for the rest of the year?
We’ve already recorded and mixed half of another album, so we’ll probably release something later this year and do a jaunt up and down the West Coast. We’re going back to the beach house in late July to write and demo another batch of songs as well. We’ve been trying to stay really productive and keep riding this wave of energy we’ve had over the past year or so. It feels good.