Where grandiose meets outsider, there lives Ex Modern Teen

Fifteen years in the making, Charles Granger’s debut CD could also be his swan song

Ex Modern Teen’s Charles Granger feels the pain of one too many Double Quarter Pounders. Supplied

Trying to give some meaningful description of Ex Modern Teen is a treacherous and long-winded endeavour. Basically you need to know this: it’s not like any band you’ve seen before.

“I’ve been in some OK bands and stuff, but we never took ourselves seriously and played the game where you take your band photo and you all match,” says Charles Granger, founder and front man of the local and loosely defined group. “When I see bands that do that it makes me not want to be a musician.”

The self-described hermit, who grew up in La Broquerie, Man., a small town roughly 50 minutes south-east of Winnipeg, played his first live show with Ex Modern Teen less than two months ago on Aug. 6 at the Standard Tavern.

It was the first time the whole band had played together and the first time some members had even met each other.

“I think we fooled everybody into thinking we’re really a band,” Granger says.

Granger, 32, who now lives in Winnipeg working as a filmmaker and teaching film workshops, says the contributors to Ex Modern Teen come from so many different places that getting together to practice is out of the question.

“If I get them for one day in a week, I want to have a show on that day,” he says.

Granger’s first release with Ex Modern Teen is about as eclectic – and eccentric – as it gets.

Recorded with devices ranging from an old four-track machine to a cell phone and a tape deck, Teenlion sets a new standard for lo-fi.

Granger has been working on some of the material that will be released on Teenlion for over 15 years.

“I’ve never set foot in a real recording studio in my life,” Granger says.

The album itself reflects the strangeness of its origins in its variety and length. Totaling 25 tracks and coming in at nearly 80 minutes in length, Teenlion barely fits onto the CD.

At points you’d swear you were hearing a Dandy Warhols demo or a rough cut off an ancient Flaming Lips practice recording.

Despite all this, it would be wrong to deduce that the most interesting part of Ex Modern Teen is the music.

The chance procurement of some lovely go-go dancers and the presence of the extraterrestrial light-being and hype machine Afro Starchild (whose real name is David Skene) means the Oct. 1 CD release back at the Standard will be as much about the spectacle as the songs.

The day after my interview with Granger, Ex Modern Teen was permanently banned from the Red Cactus on Corydon after a performance.

There is still one more reason you shouldn’t miss this CD release – that is, besides the fact that the show and all the songs are completely unrehearsed.

Granger mentioned this project will be his last major thrust in the way of a public music career.

“I’m going to keep doing it,” he says. “But I’m not going to be showing anybody anymore.”

Published in Volume 66, Number 5 of The Uniter (September 29, 2011)

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