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Teenage Halloween: Guys making music and eating pizza

What do you get when you combine guitar, banjo, bass, drums, saxophone and trombone? None other than the Asbury Park, New Jersey, resident power-pop/folk-punk group, Teenage Halloween. No stranger to Hub City, you’ve probably seen Teenage Halloween on the bill at many New Brunswick basement houses.

Consisting of Luke Henderiks on vocals and guitar, Ryan “Joey Pepperoni” Syracuse on the trombone, Luke Krajczewski strumming banjo, Joseph Kane with the trumpet, Brandon Hakim on sax, Alex Ball on bass and Aidan Gramarosso on drums, the group seems to have it all.

For this mix of guys — ranging from ages 16 to 23 — making music together is second nature. When asked if the process was difficult, Ball said, “You know what’s crazy? No.”

“It’s so easy," Henderiks said. "We’re all just, like, best friends and enjoy everything.”

The group credits Jeff Rosenstock, Ramshackle Glory, Defiance Ohio, Elvis Costello, Green Day and blink-182 as just a few of their influencers, a clear marker of their diverse and lively sound.

When it comes down to making music, Ball said it's an extremely collaborative process. 

“It starts off with (Henderiks) writing lyrics, then he brings it to me and (Gramarosso)," Ball said. "Then we start actually building it together and ... start adding everyone into it.”

It doesn’t take long for the group to get a track down — two or so practices are all they need, Syracuse said. Still, they acknowledge that the process is a work in progress, and they only plan to improve.

“We started very slowly, and it just kind of built to what it is now and it’s pretty great," he said. "I love playing music with these guys. It all works out."

All of the personality Teenage Halloween has during performances isn't reserved solely for the stage. Behind the scenes, the band can be found cracking jokes and engaging in the typical light-hearted conversation you would expect to hear from young guys. Their sense of humor and easygoing nature translates well on stage, making it easy for their audience to relate to them.

Henderiks said he dreams of going on tour with Jeff Rosenstock. After all, Rosenstock is credited for writing the band’s name in his song, “Twinkle.”

Rattling off names of different bands and artists, all of the guys from the group can agree that touring with The Front Bottoms would be cool. Henderiks also added that he would love to tour with Drake. 

“After 'Hotline Bling' came out,” Henderiks said. “I’d like to tour with the Blue Man Group.”

Their long wish-list of artists from all genres seems far-fetched, but considering how the group opened for Tiny Moving Parts at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken on Oct. 24, their big break might not be too far away.

The Oct. 24 show marked the start of Tiny Moving Parts’ tour with Jeff Rosenstock, PUP and headliner Modern Baseball. Add that to the list of bands headlining New Brunswick basements that they’ve opened for, and it’s easy to see their network is large and still growing.

Teenage Halloween has already played at Asbury Lanes — announcing in a unanimous chorus that the Lanes was their favorite venue to play at thus far — and with their spooky, effortlessly collaborative style, it’s only a matter of time before we see them on a bigger stage.

While they dream of bright lights and big crowds, Teenage Halloween remains loyal to their Central Jersey roots. Joey Pepperoni stressed his love for local fans, so much so that he encourages them to show their appreciation in a "cheesy" way.

“Just a shoutout, if anyone comes to one of our shows, you wanna slap me in the face with a nice slice of pepperoni pizza," Pepperoni said. "By all means, you have my permission, that is consent, slap me with pizza.”

The group will be returning to New Brunswick for performances in Hub City basements throughout November (ask a punk for details). They will also be debuting newly recorded music in December on their EP, “It Was Weird, But It Worked.”

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