Skate or die. Those were the options, right? So news that Teenage Bottlerocket drummer Brandon Carlisle was taken off life support last weekend was a huge shock to the system. The dude seemed larger than life. Too tough to die.
My band Paperjets opened for Teenage Bottlerocket in August 2011 at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston, south west London. We’ve opened for bands like Off With Their Heads (didn’t watch us play) and The Flatliners (didn’t watch us play, wouldn’t share their drum kit), so I wasn’t expecting much. But to my surprise, Brandon hung out before the show and all four members of the band watched our set. Guitarist Ray, who is Brandon’s identical twin brother, even said, “cool show.”
I must have seen Teenage Bottlerocket about six or seven times in total. The first time was at a tiny little pub in south London called the New Cross Inn in April 2011. It was a crazy, sweaty last-minute gig to make up for the cancelled Descendents show they were meant to have supported at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I went full-fanboy and got them all to sign my copy of Warning Device.
I hung out with Brandon and Ray once more, briefly, in 2013, when Teenage Bottlerocket opened for Dropkick Murphys at the Kentish Town Forum. He seemed like a cool guy.
It’s strange, really; following your heroes on social media. Through Instagram, for example, I know that Brandon was a keen fisherman who loved his dogs Boomer and Shorts. I also know that he was a small town kid whose punk rock dreams took him all over the world. And now I know that his funeral is this Saturday in Fort Collins, Colorado. I hope his beautiful SJC drum kit finds a good home. Those photos of it without him are heartbreaking. RIP…