formed in Hamilton, Ontario in 1975 by Frankie Venom, Gord Lewis, Steve Mahon and Nick Stipanitz. Fronted by the charismatic Venom, the band’s live shows became infamous for inciting apocalyptic reaction from audiences across the country. Their 1978 show at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto ended in a riot, captured in the documentary film, The Last Pogo.
In 1978 the band’s first single, “Picture My face,” hit the streets followed a year later by self-titled debut album. In 1980, Teenage Head released their breakthrough album, Frantic City, that produced the hits “Let’s Shake” and “Somethin’ On My Mind.” In total, Teenage Head have released eight studio albums and one live record.
By 1986, Frankie Venom had left the band and was replaced by Dave Rave. Venom rejoined the band three years later but succumbed to throat cancer in 2008.
Back in the seventies, when Nick, Gord, Frank and myself decided to try and form a rock group, we had no idea what lay ahead. All we knew was what we loved, and that was loud, in your face bands like Alice Cooper, The Stooges, MC5, and The New York Dolls. That was the blueprint.
It was this mutual love that determined what Teenage Head would become. If you didn’t absolutely love the “Funhouse” album by the Stooges, then you were out. You were not going to be in this band.
How lucky we all were to have been influenced by such amazing bands. Without them, there never would have been a band that sounds like Teenage Head.
Now all we had to do is learn how to play our instruments, how hard could that be? We practiced relentlessly, wherever we could, and whenever we could. I can honestly tell you that even though there’s only 4 strings on a bass, I struggled the most.
In Bruce Springsteen’s latest book, he mentions how the members of bands like The Sex Pistols, The Dolls, and even U2, may not have had the “best” players, but they were the “right” players. I knew we had the right players, right from the beginning, including myself. I may not have been the best bass player in the world, but nobody wanted it more than I did. To this day, I still feel very fortunate to say I’m a member of Teenage Head.
Nick started out early on, playing drums in his older brothers cover bands, and is a natural born drummer. Just listen to our first album. It may sound deceptively simple, but Nick thought out every single cymbal hit, every snare hit. Finding the right drummer has always been the most difficult position to fill in any rock band. Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, you name it.
We had our Ringo.
What can you say about Frankie? He was originally our drummer. Watching him gradually move off the drums, and out to centre stage, is when I first knew we had something. Much has been said of his on stage antics, and ability to entertain the troops, but not enough about his voice. He had the perfect voice for Rock, Pop, even ballads, he never let us down.
We had our Iggy.
Gord started out as a bass player, and fortunately, not only for me, he decided to switch to guitar. Self-taught, and determined, this was his calling. This is where the heart of the Teenage Head sound comes from. The crunch, the tone, the riffs, it’s all coming from Gord, and his Les Paul Special. Not only did we find our Johnny Ramone, we found our Johnny Thunders.
Now, after 40 plus years, we’ve finally dug through the vaults, and with the help of Warner Music Canada, are set to release a 20 song collection of what I feel is our best work. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss about Teenage Head has been about, now you can finally hear it for yourself, for the first time, all on one amazingly remastered package. This is the one.