Fifteen was a punk rock band formed by Jeff Ott. Ott was the group's main songwriter and only consistent member. According to Ott, the band had a total of fifteen members by the time it finally disbanded in 2000: Mikey Mischief, Mark Moreno, Jean Repetto, Lucky Dog, Chris Flanagan, John Ogle, Jesse Wickman, Joe Cable, John Quintos, Scott Pierce, Jim Prior, Lisa D. and Vanessa Bain.
Fifteen formed in 1991 following the demise of Ott's previous band, Crimpshrine. Their early releases were similar in style to Crimpshrine, though with classic rock and pop influences which became more prominent as the band aged. Ott also began to use a more traditional singing voice in addition to the throaty growl for which he'd become known in Crimpshrine.
The band broke up for the first time in 1996, following the release of Extra-Medium Kickball All-Star. Their last show was memorialized on the live record Allegra. Ott claimed that playing in a touring electric rock band was inconsistent with the hardline environmentalist stance he'd taken in Fifteen's lyrics. He began performing as an acoustic solo artist and released the split album Epithysial Union with Amanda Ketchum.
Fifteen reformed in late 1998 with Ott and several members of the original line-up. In 1999 they released Lucky on Subcity Records and participated in that label's first Take Action Tour. The album featured electric versions of many of the songs on Ott's acoustic album and was a stylistic departure from the rough-edged pop-punk of Fifteen's earlier work. This line-up dissolved following the departure of bassist Scott Pierce.
A new line-up existed briefly, recording the Hush EP and the album Survivor, but this version of Fifteen did not tour. Fifteen broke up again in 2000. Jeff Ott claimed on the skatedork.org website that the anti-commercial DIY ethics of punk rock made it too expensive for him to have a band while raising a family.
Ott returned to his solo career for several years, releasing another record, Will Work for Diapers. In 2007 he abandoned his solo career as well, saying simply that he was busy with school.
Songwriting and Politics
Fifteen was notable for their lyrical content and political beliefs as much as their music. Ott approached political issues in a more personal, "storyteller" mode than is typical of punk rock music. Fifteen addressed issues such as environmentalism, pacifism, homelessness, drug addiction, child abuse, racism, and sexism. Ott's lyrics were often written in the first-person narrative style, as he himself was a victim of child abuse and was homeless for much of the band's early career. Jeff Ott is also a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.
A running theme in Fifteen song titles is the "-tion" suffix, a nod to the overuse of this suffix in Crimpshrine song titles. Some Fifteen songs, such as "Run II" and "Liberation II", are often sequels to songs written by Ott or other artists.
Many Fifteen songs are tributes to friends of the band who have died, including "Front", "Chris' Song", and "Welcome to Berkeley". "Brian's Song" on the album Survivor refers to the death of Brian Deneke.
Love songs featured prominently on the first three Fifteen albums, but are completely absent from later releases. Ott addresses his stance towards love songs in the track Liberation II, a song about codependency.
All Fifteen lyrics
- All The Good Times
- Another Year
- Armed Gangs
- Family Values
- Food Not Bombs
- Grow Up
- Helter Smelter
- In Our World
- Land Mine
- Man Against Man
- Mount Shrink Wrap
- My Congressman
- My Friend II
- No Tion
- Over And Over
- Parking Lots
- Payback Is Beautiful
- Petrolem Distillation
- Run II
- Separation 1
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