Brite Winter 2016 Artist Spotlight: Teddy Boys

By Rachel Hunt

Cleveland sits in the heart of the Midwest, a huge melting pot for new music, mixing influences from coast to coast with a heavy hand. We are the perfect pit stop between New York and Nashville, a place to break before Austin. It’s no wonder that Cleveland bands don’t have a uniform sound despite a rotating list of recording studios and sound engineers that have made a name for themselves in the city. Our definition of heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll is a collection of bluesy Americana, urban electro-pop, and everything in between. Teddy Boys play that type of fusion: they sound like a 60’s-era family band straight from the sleaze-rock South.

Truly a family band in every sense of the word, Teddy Boys are made up of two brothers (Rick and Matt Pietrick), a brother and sister (Steph and Jon Chips), and three other musicians (Zach Panek, Jason Rubinski, and Joe Kern) with mustaches so fierce they must have been separated at birth. With thick Cleveland accents they all sound similar too, goofing around in their Westpark living room. Later, they’ll move it down to the basement where they have a recording studio and practice space.

“We’re all family basically, and we just kind of try to portray that,” says Matt. “We grew up at a time where a lot of bands you knew enjoyed performing, but they looked like they were having the worst time onstage because they were taking themselves too seriously. We shed that and just try to show true emotion.” The group is a spectacle when they see the crowd, with more musicians that you can shake your tail at and charisma coming from every angle. They’ve amassed quite a following, playing packed shows at venues like The Beachland and Mahall’s 20 Lanes.

“We work for our following and we’ve been screwed plenty of times; we’ve been playing out for probably about four years now,” explains Rick. “We love our fans, and our family and friends who come to support us more than anything. They’re the reason we play. They give us so much energy and that’s why we have so much fun is because of those people smiling and having a good time.”

“I think we’re a very inclusive band. People come out, and like he said, people might not dig the music but they just like the energy of it,” adds Jon. “Just drink a beer and listen to us. The Cleveland scene is really nice and everybody’s friends, we all hang out. I think that helps.”

“We’ve had a lot of help from other bands,” Matt chimes in. “Giving us a chance when maybe they weren’t the right fit for a bill. Other bands moved on, they gave us the chance to play and we thank them for that.”

The Teddy Boys have been in hibernation for much of the winter, formulating new material and recording at Crushtone Studio with Jim Wirt where they tracked their last EP Black Hills. “I think we try to draw off more of the style that things were recorded or written back in the ’60s and ‘70s, because it didn’t matter: half the time it was just session players that they’d slap a band’s name on and say this was that, but you always had this cool vibe, a cohesiveness,” says Jon about the direction they’re taking on the new album.

“A little more bluesy too, I would say. Our older stuff is more all over the place on the different records. The newer stuff is a little more focused, but it still has the same energy and the same band. It will definitely still be the same live show,” comments Zach.

Brite Winter will be the first time they’ve played a show since November and the only show so far that they have coming up until their new album is complete. It will also be one of the few shows they’ve played with their permanent organist, Joe Kern. ”These two had been doing it before, but they wanted someone to take the spot and focus on piano parts. I got really lucky joining this band, and you can print that! I’m happy to say I’m a Teddy Boy finally,” laughs Joe.

Teddy Boys play at 12:15 a.m. on McCarthy’s Stage.

Watch Teddy Boys on YouTube