The LadybirRdS of Regional Community Theater

LadybirdsInterview by Todd E. Jones (aka The New Jeru Poet)

Regional Community Theater is known for the independent productions and extreme emotional melodrama. Using the witty aspects of these feelings, LadybiRdS is a musical group that possesses these qualities with a tongue in cheek wit. LadybiRdS is a kooky, bubbly electronic pop duo consisting of Teeter Sperber on vocals and Tyler Pursel on music. Both members were in the now defunct group, Ley Royal Scam. Pursel is also in the somewhat well known hip-hop group Gym Class Heroes (on Fueled By Ramen Records). Together as LadybiRdS, Sperber and Pursel create adorable pop tracks. Their music has a child-like sound, which could propel them into writing songs for children’s shows or movies. Underneath the quirky and cutesy sound, Sperber’s lyrics deal with heartbreak, loss, love, and change. Released on Creep Records, “Regional Community Theater” is the debut album by LadybiRdS. The LP is a collection of 12 interesting, catchy, and fun synth-pop songs. The group enlisted several guest vocalists for their debut album too. Max Bemis of Say Anything (J Records) appears on the title track and “Maxim And The Headphone Life”. Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids sings on “Cooper, Thanks For The Birds”. Justin Johnson of The Danger O’s appears on the magnificently poignant “Shark Party”. Neil Sabatino of Fairmont appears on “Lady Of Travel And Leisure”. On an extremely humid day in June 2007, I had a lovely conversation with Teeter Sperber that spanned the country. As I was in New Jersey, she was in Oregon teaching snowboarding to pre-pubescent boys. Like true Regional Community Theater, the music of LadybiRdS has the independent energy and quirky love of homespun fun. Although local theater can sometimes be ridiculously dull and cheap, LadybiRdS has brought something wonderful new and poignant to entertainment.

MVRemix: What goes on?

Teeter Sperber: Hello Todd E. Jones! How are you? This is Teeter Sperber, full time spaz. I am hiding out from all the kids! I work at a summer snowboarding program in Mt Hood, Oregon. I am responsible for making sure 12 wily 9 year old boys make it onto the mountain this morning in one piece.

MVRemix: Tell us about the debut LadybiRdS album, ‘Regional Community Theater’, which was just released on Creep Records.

Teeter Sperber: Well, ‘Regional Community Theater‘ is super poppy. Tyler and I made up a new genre name called Indie Electro-Duff! It’s like a more street version of Hillary Duff or something. We made it in a punk house basement in suburban PA. It took a month and it was super fun.

MVRemix: Favorite song on the ‘Regional Community Theater’?

Teeter Sperber: The title track, ‘Regional Community Theater’ is my absolute fav, because I love, love, love the way Max sings the word ‘best’. Also, the melody that Ty wrote for the chorus, kind of makes me want to cry, in the best possible way. That song is extra-personal because it’s about Ty and my former fake-not-fake mall emo band, Ley Royal Scam. Also, how we sort of imploded because we started off as a joke. We were forced to become ‘real’ and just couldn’t get along. I really dig how in the beginning, I go, ‘Haha, I had no idea!’ in my scratchy chipmunk-style voice. While recording, I came into the song at the wrong bar and they caught me messing up on tape.

MVRemix: How did you get involved with Max Bemis of Say Anything for the songs ‘Regional Community Theater’ and ‘Maxim And The Headphone Life’?

Teeter Sperber: Well, interestingly enough, before the release of Say Anything’s record, ‘Is A Real Boy’, myself and my best friend were hired to write voice-over sketches between every song for the record. It was a sort of a Max Against The World type theme with Stephen Trask of Hedwig the Angry Inch. We worked together on it for a long while. Max was super young and spazzy. At the time, I remember he would make lots of nervous facial ticks, kind of adorable style. Unfortunately, the project ended up not working out because our lawyers kept butting heads over ultimate ownership of the work. But Max and I remained really good friends, in spite of it all because he’s rad and I’m obsessed with his Mom. When Ty and I decided to make a record, Max was the first person I asked. He was instantly down.

MVRemix: One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘Shark Party’. What was the inspiration behind this track? What is it about?

Teeter Sperber: Oof! Subject matter on this one is a pretty clichéd brand of, par for the course style: ‘I miss that special person’s guts so bad so if I just join romantic forces with someone else, they’ll totally be easier to forget’. Or not. Does that make any sense?

MVRemix: How did you meet Tyler Pursel and eventually form Ladybirds?

Teeter Sperber: Ty and I met through Ley Royal Scam. We we’re instant buds. His guitar parts used to make me want to tear my hair out because they were so good. He’s the best guitarist I have ever known. I had a super bad crush on him for like 5 minutes too. When LRS would play live, I’d often drink Alize and try to make out with him on stage, but he’d never let me. The straight-up denial cut like a knife, but I was able to get over it and forge ahead! Shortly after Ley Royal Scam threw in the towel, Ty joined Gym Class Heroes and started touring the world. I moved into a small cottage on the Oregon Coast and made a solemn vow to break up with music. I had planned on not listening to anything other than Lucinda Williams again and was for sure never ever, ever, ever going to make my own music, as I was definitely still dealing with severe heartache from LRS falling apart. Even though that band was totally micro, on the grand scale of things, it was super important to me. Todd, check it! The tunes are amazing! http://www.leyroyalscam.com! Also, maybe you’ve noticed that the L, the R, and the S in LadybiRdS are often capitalized? That’s why I chose the name. Ley Royal Scam por vida! Long story even longer, he called me last October and asked me to make an electro-pop record with him. I’m pretty sure I said ‘No’ at first. And then, I said ‘Yes’. Then, I went to Sayulita, Mexico for a month and a half and came up with the band name. Bam! In January, we took all month to record the album and it was only then that LadybiRdS formally existed.

MVRemix: You also have Patt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, Justin Johnson of The Danger O’s, and Neil Sabatino of Fairmont on your album too. How and why did you get all of these guests on the album? Which was your favorite collaboration?

Teeter Sperber: Well, initially, in my mind, I had wanted to call the record ‘And In Come The Boys’. I was hoping to collaborate with a cool new dude on every song, most likely because I am terrified of singing and it seemed easier to hide behind someone else’s voice. But, Ty really wanted us to have our own identity as a band as well. So, we decided to stop at 4 guest vocalists. 5 if you count the kid chorus. I chose Matt of Get Up Kids because they we’re one of the most influential bands of my musical upbringing. I used to follow them all over the globe, super fan style, to watch them bring the rock. I love his gravelly voice more than anything. I just admire him a whole bunch. Neil from Fairmont had invited me to sing on their record, ‘Wait and Hope’, a few months previous. So, I thought it would be super cool to return the kindness. Justin from the Danger O’s was a given because they are also on Creep Records and Ty really enjoys creating a family vibe with the bands that are a part of the label. Plus, dude totally sounds like Sting when he sings, so why not!

MVRemix: Which was your favorite collaboration from the album?

Teeter Sperber: I’d have to say the one with Max. It was primarily because when we were done recording, we ate lots of garbagey snacks from the gas station mini-mart and drank cold frosty ones. We watched ‘DeGrassi: The Next Generation’ and all talked about how we’d kill to be on the soundtrack to that show. The he played me almost every song off of “Is A Real Boy…” acoustic, as well as ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson. Then, we fell asleep. Best night ever!

MVRemix: What is the creative process like? Does Tyler make the music first or do you start out with a set theme or lyrics?

Teeter Sperber: Ty created all the instrumentation while he was on tour with Gym Class Heroes and I was traveling through Mexico. I didn’t get to hear any of the finished tracks until I arrived at the studio to work pre-production. I was responsible for all or most of the lyrical content, so I came in with those ready and then Ty chose which words were going to go with which song. We worked together for a week straight, posted up in a sunny bedroom with nothing but a keyboard before we recorded, working out melodies and vocal patterns and such. It was more collaborative and calm than anything I’d ever done. We had tons of fun and laughed a lot.

MVRemix: Musically, what else have you been working on?

Teeter Sperber: The main thing I’ve been doing is practicing frantically for two cover songs I want LadybiRdS to do. I want to do ‘Black’ by Okkervil River, the best band of our generation and ‘Only You’ by Yaz. Practicing entails not only singing each song multiple times a day, but also calling, texting and e-mail harassing Ty, begging him to make time for us to do this. Gym Class is super busy so we’ll see!

Original Article (extended)