Bands With Pans is a series in which we shop for meal ingredients with a Brooklyn-based band or artist on a $20 budget. Next we tag along for the cooking, chatting and—duh—eating. This installment, we bug neo-psych babes TEEN.
- Teeny hesitantly settles for crumbled feta. Lizzie: “It’s good, though. I get it.”
My brave photographer and I meet TEEN’s lead singer Teeny Lieberson and keyboardist/singer/sister Lizzie Lieberson just as Greenpoint’s MetFood’s employees hoist the building’s metal gate to half-mast. It’s 6:30 on a Sunday evening in this conservative Polish neighborhood, so apparently that means closing time for our chosen grocer. But we’re here, we’re hungry, we’re gonna do it. We duck inside and flash-shop.
Teeny says she’s making a simple pasta for dinner. “It’s really the easiest thing in the world to make,” she says. “…My old roommate’s boyfriend was Italian and his dad would make this dish. She taught it to me. I’ve been making it for a couple of years now. It’s such an easy go-to.” Less than three minutes but no more than four “WE ARE CLOSING” someone hollers, and so we approach check-out.
- Teeny, on tour-eating habits: “We go to grocery stores and made salads in Tupperware. Because you get starved for good food. You—well I—we start obsessing over vegetables.”
1 16-oz. box penne pasta
1 6-oz. box crumbled feta
1 loaf Italian bread
A few zucchinis
Ready for the total? Eight dollars and sixty-six cents.
- Teeny leads the pack back to her place.
Jane Herships, TEEN’s bassist, waits for us outside the definitely closed shop. Unfortunately drummer Katherine Lieberman was ill on the day of our cooking adventure, and could not join us. Together we cross through McGolrick Park to a deli near Teeny’s to grab beer. So not counting the bottles, TEEN spent $8.66 on ingredients. The cheapest by a landslide, thus far in the series.
- Jane, on creative on-the-road food prep: I’ve made quiona at rest stops. You take a quart container—like a Tupperware—take water from the hot coffee thing and let it sit. And then a couple hours later you microwave is=t a couple minutes and it comes out great. …I’ve steamed vegetables at rest stops before. You just put a little bit of water in a ziplock bag.
We reach Teeny’s apartment, a gorgeous, sunny one-bedroom and everyone ditches their shoes, just as the front woman does when taking the stage. Flowers from the group’s recent MoMA show sit on top of a lovely Housing Works-scored table. These women are helluva hostesses, cracking open bottles and arranging cheese. Mac Demarco plays over a MacBook. Throughout the evening, the girls intermittently sing along sweetly—among a flurry of salty, sailor slang. The space is warm in a pleasant, familiar way.
- Lizzie, DJ for the night: I get obsessed with one record and it’s all I wanna listen to. I listen until I kill it. I listen to it until I can’t listen to it anymore. I’ve been listening to that Mac Demarco record like… every day?
Teeny zooms around her kitchen while a small window unit roars in a desperate attempt to cool us. “Use penne,” she tells me. “Ziti can work. The little baby—pennette? Cuter penne.” She boils them to al dente (“I like it to keep a little crispness.”).
- Teeny, on the prospect of a bigger cooking budget: “For this? THIS is the only way to make it. That’s it. I would have gotten some extra wine to drink with it.”
Peroni in one hand, skillet handle in the other, Teeny drizzles olive oil over the warmed pan. The zukes, cut like tiny emerald half-medallions, sizzle when they drop.
Teeny lets a holy force guide her through the cooking process, it seems. “I don’t count, I just eye it.” Her fingers wrap around a wine bottleneck—a dry white variety from her fridge—letting a hearty splash bloom a cloud of wine fog.
- The Sisters Lieberson
Lizzie slices cloves of garlic like chips. “I used to cook the garlic first but I like cooking it last,” Teeny says as she evaluates Lizzie’s technique. Teeny is a bit of a bossy big sister— but she is the band leader so really she’s just fitting the role. And love permeates each jab, nullifying any chance of nastiness.
Teeny: “If you add it in the later stage, it tends to be more flavorful ‘cuz you don’t need to cook garlic very long… there’s some people who—” she screws up her face. “DON’T LIKE GARLIC. Isn’t that fucking crazy?”
Jane: “You just cook the garlic in the wine? You don’t sautée it?”
Teeny: “I add it last-minute so it’s super flay-vuh-ful. …Sundried ‘maters are good in it. This is my favorite, the most basic. You could put black olives in it.”
Jane: “Spinach? Asparagus?”
Lizzie: “I’ve done spinach.”
Teeny: “You could put ANYTHING in it. …That’s why I like it.”
Teeny stirs the veggies and some crushed red pepper into the pasta, emptying the feta container in, too, so the cheese can get melty. Lizzie prepares the Italian loaf (Teeny: “Put a little olive oil on it.” Lizzie: “I did, asshole.” Teeny, unfazed: “Oh, OK.”) Jane assembles an off-the-record(ish) but refreshing arugula salad.
- I can hear your stomach growling from here.
We sit down to the spread and get our forks dirty.
Teeny: “Spicy! Too spicy, maybe. You guys, I’m sorry. It might be too spicy.”
No complaints crop among the group’s mmms.
Lizzie: “Hawt and tang-gee.”
Teeny: “It’s a pasta dish you can eat without feeling…” She makes a claw with her hand and puffs out her cheeks. I think she means “bloated.”
Our dinner date happens in the wake of what will be known in Twitter history as When That Stupid Sharknado Film Was A Thing. Although the idea of airborne sharks and Tara Reid ranks as unanimously scary amongst this group, a more frightening and believable natural disaster comes up in conversation.
Lizzie: “You’re more likely to be hit by lightning the more lightning—”
Teeny: “You actually become a conductor. If you get struck by lightning, you have like, 50 percent chance of getting struck again. [Because] you’re attracting electrical currents. It’s happened to people—they get struck more than once. Shitty luck, man.”
Lizzie, thumbing her iPhone: “Someone named Roy Sullivan was a park ranger and [got] struck seven times by lightning. And survived all of it.”
Teeny: “SEVEN times?”
Lizzie: “He died of a self-inflicted gun wound.”
Teeny, leaning over: “At the age of 71. Maybe all that lightning made him crazy.”
Lizzie, reading: “‘He was avoided by people later in life because a fear of being hit by lightning and that saddened him.'”
The women emote empathy via a chorus of awws. Teeny breaks it, though, and gets real.
“Fuck that,” she cocks her head, as if issuing a challenge. “Just get hit by lightning, and get hit by lightning together.”
It appears a fortunate crackle already struck these gals, and lucky for us, it looks like they’re gonna maintain that glow as one.