It feels like D.C.’s love affair with Teen Cobra was just beginning.
Since the spring of 2018, the husband-and-wife punkabilly duo has brought their hooky scuzz rock to venues like Slash Run and Black Cat. They also dropped an EP (Social Piranha) that packed more dopamine into its six-minute runtime than lesser bands manage in 60. Alas, after just four years, Teen Cobra is packing up and leaving the District for Tampa, Florida.
“It’s hard because we’re moving to be closer to family,” Veronica Magan, who plays drums and sings, tells City Paper. “It’s not like, ‘We’re moving to Florida, yay!’”
Magan has been in D.C. for 10 years, after pursuing a master’s degree in Syracuse, New York. She met Neil Enet, her husband and bandmate, in their hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. The two began dating in 2009. Eight months later, Enet moved to D.C. for work. He’s called the District home for 13 years. But long before D.C. was his home base, Enet started his first band in Caracas when he was 15.
“It was like heavy metal,” Neil says, grinning. “Very poorly played.”
Being so distant from friends and family caused the couple to spend most of their time together when they both moved to D.C. Finally, in 2018, they decided they ought to find separate hobbies. Instead, Magan says, “Two weeks later we started Teen Cobra. I’m sure some mental health professionals would find this very concerning. We’re 100 percent in a codependent relationship … But funny enough, it was actually through Teen Cobra that we finally found our tribe in D.C.”
Before leaving for Florida, Teen Cobra plays a farewell show at Black Cat on May 26. City Paper sat down for an interview with Magan and Enet to talk D.C., music, and making the most of it in Florida.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Washington City Paper: What did the decision to start performing music together look like?
Veronica Magan: Neil has had bands before, since forever … I haven’t. As a kid, you take music lessons and things like that. But I never stuck with anything.
Neil Enet: She’d always wanted to play an instrument. You tried playing the guitar.
VM: Hated it.
NE: You also tried playing the bass.
VM: Also hated it.
NE: So then, in a rehearsal practice room, she started banging on the drums. And then you saw this band.
VM: Gooch Palms.
NE: There was a guy playing the guitar and a girl standing up playing drums … And she was like, “I can do that.” I had this Teen Cobra idea for writing short punk, fast, very basic songs. And then, you said, “Hey, I want to play drums in a band. But just standing up, playing the two drums …” I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” Logistically, it’s the best decision. Sometimes we’re just in bed, about to sleep, somebody sends an email, and it’s like “OK, band meeting. Do we want to play this show? Yes? Awesome.’”
WCP: What’s your favorite show you’ve played in D.C.?
VM: The first time we played with Ar-Kaics at Slash Run … We love Ar-Kaics. So to play with them was amazing.
WCP: Probably the most obvious influences on your music are the Ramones and the Misfits. But do you have any other major influences that folks might not guess?
NE: I grew up listening to my dad’s record collection and that was all ’50s rock and roll. You know, Sun Records and the Everly Brothers. Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis … And sometimes I think most of our songs are just that with tons of distortion. And faster, and poorly played.
VM: For me it’s more like the bands I can see in person and get some ideas [from]. I really like Faunas. They’re from D.C. And then Daddy Long Legs as well! That’s where I got the maraca thing.
WCP: When you met, did your musical tastes already overlap?
NE: It was 2007 when we met. We liked the Strokes, Interpol, the Killers.
VM: We met because Neil had a band … In Venezuela it was popular … I worked in radio and also for a digital publication … I never did write about his band, but I would go with friends from that website when someone was covering a show.
NE: You were more into punk than I was back in those days.
VM: I think I still am.
WCP: What do you think it would be like to play a show in Venezuela now?
NE: The crazy thing, and here we get on the political side of things a bit, is that all of our friends except for like two have left the country … Sadly, because of the situation over there, if you are able to leave the country, you leave the country. The funny thing is … When we went to play Barcelona [while touring Spain in the fall of 2021] it was packed with friends we haven’t seen for years. But right now, if we went to Caracas, no one would know us.
VM: We did have people who we know from forever ago there, but also … We’re so connected in terms of our culture … In Spain, it’s a Hispanic culture, so people are just very animated. They let you know that they really like it … Here, I feel like you play a show and people are just standing still. And then at the end they’re like “Oh my god, I loved it!” And I’m like, “Really? Because you didn’t even move a hair!”
WCP: Outside of music, do you guys have day jobs?
NE: Oh yeah, they’re very punk. I work in the IT department for a U.S. government contractor in international development.
VM: I was doing business journalism, but in the pandemic, I switched. So I’m doing content marketing for a software company.
NE: It pays the rent and it pays for the guitars.
WCP: What do you think you’ll miss most about D.C.?
VM: I’ll miss museums. And food … Coming from Venezuela, my palette was not developed at all … Here in D.C., people are like “Let’s go eat food from Laos!” Like it’s the most common thing! It’s just so diverse. I never felt like a foreigner here … It’s just such a welcoming city.
NE: We’ll probably be back twice a year or something like that … We love this city.
WCP: Is there more Teen Cobra music coming?
NE: For sure. We definitely have a few songs already recorded … I’ve already started following punk bands in Tampa. Actually, a great punk band called Gino and the Goons, they’re from Tampa, and I’m really excited to be living in the city where Gino and the Goons rock. And I’m excited about starting in a different environment. And seeing a new crowd, new audience, new venue. It’s a challenge.
VM: And an opportunity.
Teen Cobra’s farewell show starts at 8 p.m. on May 26 at Black Cat. DJ Mad Squirrel and Front Royal’s Thee Delux open. blackcatdc.com. $15.