Formed in the mid-'90s by Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum and Bay Area alt punk veteran Lynn Perko, Imperial Teen was an exercise in straightforward pop and sugary melody from musicians best known for more aggressive styles. The band was very active in the late '90s and early 2000s, and scored a minor hit in 1998 with "Yoo Hoo," their sultry contribution to the Jawbreaker soundtrack. They began releasing records with stalwart indie label Merge about once every five years, growing more nuanced without losing their sticky boy/girl sound on albums like 2012's Feel the Sound.
Imperial Teen emerged from San Francisco at the height of alternative rock's mid- to late-'90s golden age. Bottum was still active with Faith No More at the time of his new band's formation, and Perko's pedigree included drumming with groups like the Dicks and Sister Double Happiness. The lineup was completed by former Wrecks bassist Jone Stebbings and vocalist Will Schwartz. A major-label debut, Seasick, was released in 1996, and sophomore album What Is Not to Love arrived in 1998. Around this time, Faith No More called it a day, and Bottum was free to focus on Imperial Teen full-time. The band toured frequently, including dates opening for Hole and headlining their own bills at smaller clubs. 2002's On was their next release, their first for Merge Records, and another fine example of their coy pop. A live album was also released that fall, backed by a tour. Former Hole drummer Patty Schemel took over touring duties while Lynn Perko rested. After the On tour, Imperial Teen went on hiatus. Schwartz worked with his other project, Hey Willpower; Bottum wrote music for television shows including Help Me Help You; Stebbings pursued a career as a hairstylist, and Perko had a baby. When Imperial Teen finally reconvened, their reasons for what took them so long to reunite provided the title for their 2007 album The Hair the TV the Baby & the Band. Another five passed before the band resurfaced with their fifth album, the more mature yet always catchy Feel the Sound, in early 2012. Sixth album Now We Are Timeless materialized in 2019. ~ Jason Ankeny & Bradley Torreano