Local Musician Check-in: Jonathan Teeter

Posted on November 27, 2013 by


jonathan teeterFor a decade now, Austin, TX transplant Jonathan Teeter, known fondly by friends as Teeter, has been a part of the Cville music scene, be it as a super-fan of the now defunct Astronomers, a member of his own similarly now defunct band Co-Pilots, or any of the other numerous musical projects this man has his hand in. These days, you can see him rocking in the Post Sixty-Five, a new Cville seven-piece fronted by Hicham Benhallam, and making gourmet coffees at the Crozet Mudhouse. His current songwriting outlet is the drum-guitar duo tentatively called Waterbears, who just played their first show at the Main Street Arena last week.

This week, I caught up with Teeter to learn more about how he began songwriting, his influences, and what the future holds for him and Waterbears.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? If not Cville, when did you come here?

I’m your stereotypical barista by day, musician by night. I came from Austin, TX and moved to Cville in 2003. Great year for music.

What musical projects are you currently involved with?

I’m currently playing guitar in a very moody and romantic seven piece called Post Sixty Five. It’s the first time I’ve been able to sit back from the spotlight and add interesting noises where needed. I call myself the texture guy. I’m also starting a rock outfit with my roommate who happens to be a fantastic drummer. Right now we’re just a noisy two-piece, but I’m hoping to add keys and bass soon. I have a “vision”, as they say.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

I started playing music seriously in 2005. My parents got me a guitar for my sixteenth birthday and as soon as I learned chords I was writing music. I also play the trumpet and dabble in melodica.

Most influential artist as a child? Teen? Adult?

As a child – The Beatles. It was the only music I liked that my parents played in the car. As a teen – Gorillaz. They slipped a top 40 hit in on MTV. It tricked me into buying the first “good” album I’ve ever owned. As an adult – Anything by Damon Albarn. Blur, Gorillaz, The Good the Bad and the Queen, etc. If I can churn out a vocal melody half as melodical and lyrically as surreal, I know I have a good song.

When did you write your first song? What was it about?

I wrote my first song when I was 17 and it’s called “Music in the Night”. The chorus goes “Luckily I find myself/ in an industry of lights/ in a parking lot/ unleashing music in the night.” It’s about driving around with my friend Jack in the dead of night, exploring Albermarle County in the dark while blasting great tunes and making cool discoveries. One time we found a half constructed building with all the lights turned on. It was a really weird sight.

What influences your writing?

I’m influenced by whatever I’m really in love with at the time. When I was writing Co-Pilots songs, I was listening to a lot of upbeat guitar rock. But at the moment I’m trying to hone in on more disturbing sounds and themes, a la “A+E” by Graham Coxon.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions?

I think people keep me passionate. There’s a lot to learn from everybody you meet. I love that there’s no right perspective on life or how to act, we’re all just going off of our own guidelines.

When did you play your first gig? What emotions and thoughts ran through your head after finishing?

I played my first gig in October 2010 at Durty Nelly’s. After finishing, all I could think about was how abnormally sweaty I was and how I completely ate it on vocal duties. I pretty much yelled my way through the set.

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

It comes in waves. First I’m nervous. Then I have two beers. Then I’m pumped. Then I get on stage and I’m nervous again. Then we get through the first half of the first song, and if things start off well I’m all pumped up again.

What does a day in the life of a modern-day songwriter look like from your perspective?

My day is like everyone else’s. I go to work and I interact with people, most of which I think are weird. But on occasion I’ll be trying to figure out a song in my head.

teeterWhat do you want people to take from hearing your music? As a fan, what do you also want people to take from experiencing your live show?

I hope that people enjoy the lyrics because I work really hard on those. I’d like people to hear a song and be transported into a slightly less real world than this one. In a live setting, I don’t want people to think, “Wow, he has a great voice,” or, “Wow, the instrumentation is superb.” I’m hoping that the love and excitement for what we do is recognized above anything else. I try to put that energy into the crowd and nab me a head bobber or two…. Maybe even the occasional dancer.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for you and your musical endeavors?

I just want to play a lot of regional shows and have fun. I also expect to be very famous and wealthy and six feet tall within the next couple of months.

Lastly… Describe yourself in 10 words.

I am not a grocery store, I am a man.