photo by Jenn Kennedy

Put the damn books down and turn up the volume! It's time to take a raucous aural recess with Los Angeles-based rockers Third Grade Teacher. The foursome are gearing up to release a new record, Third Grade Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Universe, with the single "Fantastic" moving toward the head of the class.

Need a refresher course?

The 3GT line-up is lead woman and actual third grade teacher Sabrina Stevenson (the real version of the one you saw in the movie "School of Rock"), who has got a voice wired for high-octane purrs and howls and a look that takes the mod-schoolgirl look up a few sophisticated notches -- in a certain psycho-sexy vibe kind of way. Meanwhile bandmate Laura Smith schools her guitar, pounding out commanding bass lines. Then there are "the boys" with Rob Ahlers (drums, vocals) channeling Keith Moon while David Guerrero (guitar, vocals) gets keenly engaged in creating, maintaining and mastering sonic excellence and balance.

Are all the members of Third Grade Teacher, teachers?

No, actually. Sabrina met David the same year she started teaching in East Los Angeles. Their mutual love of music marked the beginning of the band but they were struggling to find the perfect name. Then, David's mom came up with Third Grade Teacher -- a handle that proved to be an edgy paradox given the band's attitude-fueled material and performances. With the addition of Laura and mutual friend and fan of the band Rob, the line-up was complete.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

"My principal, colleagues, kids and their parents all know about my dual identity -- teacher by day, rocker by night -- and they love it," says Stevenson.

"I enjoy teaching kids and part of that is making sure they're also having fun while they're learning; if the kids aren't having fun, I feel like I've failed them. My teaching job enhances my performances -- it's a lot of fun and sometimes there's nothing better than letting the buildup of the workday go by jumping and writhing around on stage -- singing, and yes, sometimes screaming!"

You're SOOOOO Fantastic!

The release of Third Grade Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Universe marks the pinnacle of the band's aggregate experience thus far. They've taken their decidedly rock, heavy pop punk-influenced sound and shaken things up -- think the Pixies meet the Monkees with Chrissie Hynde working magic on the board. The making of the record required tireless commitment, with the band spending every free moment immersed in their art while recording at Guerrero's home studio in Los Angeles. There, 3GT experienced notable heights of inspiration with the proverbial light bulb (the "a-ha" experience) illuminating their way at the most unexpected times. When the band came up with the hook for "Fantastic," it was a cold, rainy day -- a quintessential "bed" day where you just want to stay home under the covers. However, with Sabrina's stream-of-consciousness lyrics setting the tone, the band started noodling around with a bright, jangly riff until it evolved into "Fantastic" -- a sonically fabulous and fashionable rock song worthy of magna cum laude status and just maybe destined to become a rockin' classic in a class all its own. -- Roxanne Ruben

RELEASE DATE: October 2005

Julie Du Brow / dubroWORKS, (310) 821-2463

Steve Dansiger, (323) 788-4323

"My third grade teacher didn't sound nuthin like yer third grade teacher. GREAT F***IN RECORD! I didn't know anybody could rock like that anymore. Worshipping at the feet of your greatness."
-- Charles M. Young

"Third Grade Teacher is heavy, except when they're pretty and sweet, or when they're playing rock anthems, or when the birdcall vocals enter, then you're not sure what's going on any more, except that it's right. Third Grade Teacher writes songs that, after a couple of listens, you seem to have known for years. Except when they're so goddamn heavy you simply beg for more pummeling. They have respect for the classic order of hook, riff, and pop structure, but bend it to suit their mutant vision, where every genre is seized by the throat and made to serve them, the Roman Empire of anthem rock."
-- Nicholas Johnson, author of Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange & Menacing World of Antarctica

"The rock they carve is dark, passionate and punk-ass threatening, with an occasional noise-piece excursion tossed in, sorta what the moaning noises would sound like at a Sonic Youth/Hole/Patti Smith orgy -- beautiful, but ominously so."
-- Rich Kane, OC Weekly

"If you haven't already heard of Third Grade Teacher, you will soon, because this band -- which sounds like Woodpussy, the Pandoras, L7 and the Breeders all rolled into one -- has the rare ability to make a roomful of people stand still and listen."
-- Miriam Jacobson, LA Weekly

"Who says rock is dead? These guys rule!"
-- random new fan overheard in audience at 3GT show

the band:

Sabrina Stevenson -- singer, 3rd grade teacher
Laura Smith -- bass, vocals
David Guerrero -- guitar, vocals
Rob Ahlers -- drums, vocals

press resources:

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Here's what a few people are saying about 3GT:

"Now class, are you ready to rock? Two plus two equals the tightest four-piece rock combo out of L.A. in recent memory, and they go by the name Third Grade Teacher. Pumping out the most potent blend of earnest ironic, soul-baring punk rock, with enough force to power one of those long yellow school buses onto Pluto...3GT's new record, Third Grade Teacher Reveals The Secrets of the Universe, is a collection of 11 gems that make you believe in what rock and roll set out to do in the first place. Rock!"
-- Alan Watt, author, Diamond Dogs

Impact Press Top Pick!

"Wow. I mean, wow. This is some seriously heavy and demented rock and roll. Drawing heavily from the roots of modern rock (Led Zep, Sabbath, etc.) this is a relentless rock and roll ride. Screaming and sultry, smooth and jagged, all at once. Exciting, demented and great. I'll put my kids in her third grade class anytime."

"This band is the best thing to happen to classic rock since the Alice Cooper boxed set... head-splitting lampoons of Led Zep, Thin Lizzy, Patti Smith and early Velvet Underground... My highest recommendation." -- Ron Garmon, Mean Street

"An excellent album that mixes a good amount of tongue in cheek fun with sincere rocking tunes. "So Long" sounds like The Breeders at their popping best, while "Feel Like Me" bounces around in a long lost alternative groove that is well worth revisiting. On the other hand, there's the druggy fun of "Roll It Up", the weird "Soul Machine/The Launch" and the wild and raging "Dusty O'Merryweather" that's guaranteed to peel back all the layers of paint in your house. All in all an eclectic and wild sort of album that's a hell of a lot of fun and well worth owning."

"Third Grade Teacher is a great band worthy of attention. It is good to leave the audience baffled at times, as it shows the artist is reaching beyond audience expectations. It is good to rock like hell at times, as it shows the artist is meeting audience expectations. It is good to take everything in your mind and heart and turn it into effervescent sonic art. 3GT do all these things and more." -- SKRATCH Magazine

Splendid e-zine sez:
"Raucous garage rock... Dressed up in Catholic School attire, the quartet scream, bash and swear their pent-up aggressions away. If their all-out assault doesn't make Angus Young quiver in his schoolboy shorts, the deranged look in the otherwise attractive Stevenson's eyes will... In addition to the CD proper, a multimedia tracks includes videos for two non-album tracks that ram home the group's inherent craziness. Stevenson writhes and flails across the stage like an eight-year old in the midst of a temper tantrum while berating a young man in "Schoolboy". Bassist Laura Smith completes the dirty fantasy, her fishnet stockings kicking out from under her plaid mini skirt... The thought of a pretty, wholesome blonde third grade teacher rocking out with her friends in seedy LA Clubs, singing songs about beating unruly children and using drugs may not sit well with the PTA...but thankfully, most of us don't have children who attend the Fourth Street Elementary and can enjoy Third Grade Teacher for what it is: a rollicking good rock band in themed outfits."

"...They have absolutely no regard for coloring within the lines of any rigid genre conventions (Except, maybe, for LOUD), merrily hopping, skipping, and jumping through jangly roots rock, bouncy pop-punk, thrashy garage, stomping arena rock, and even a lick or two of flash metal... Heavy, sexy, and outta sight." -- Sleazegrinder

This just in from Norman Famous...
"Third Grade Teacher rock their asses off. They've got some Led Zep crunch, a little Pretenders attitude and a dash of giggly Go-Go's going on all at the same time. Sometimes they sound like Hole was supposed to sound. They look like school kids from hell - the uniforms are a nice touch - but their music is full-grown rock. This is a very musical record. Guitarist/riffmeister David Guerrero isn't kidding - he can really play his axe. Lead belter Sabrina Stevenson - the third grade teacher herself - can easily shout Courtney Love under the table. Image, licks, tunes and talent: Third Grade Teacher have it all. If you like it hard and fast with a bit of lunacy (like the sonic freakout of 'Soul Machine/The Launch') then this is for you!"

"The band has the ability to go from straight-on noise to rock ballad without losing its edge or its identity... You will not be disappointed." -- Campus Circle

Good one from State of Emergency:
"The quite vibrant quartet of Third Grade Teacher express a vivid and stressfully surreal punk-pop power that will stun you with the clout of a damn good caning. Tripped-out psychedelic swirls are crammed with metallic churns and poppy sounds that give 3GT their authority, both on stage and on CD. The female fronted group, (led by a real third grade teacher), are equipped with dark, passionate and sexy music that memorizes with an ominous supremacy that'll leave you at first scared, but gagging for more... The charisma of the band continually flows throughout the record."

" LA quartet making their Chicago debut; they're tighter and grittier sounding than [locals] Pistol Whipped and could pass for classic hard rock if it weren't for that name and the decidedly new-wave delivery of Sabrina Stevenson (who really does teach third grade)... 3 (Third Grade Records) is a double CD (enhanced with photos and video) that threatens to overstay its welcome with its warped take on everything from funk to Led Zeppelin to crisp college pop, and yet never does." -- Monica Kendrick, Spot Check, Chicago Reader

We love too!
"Now this is an after school special, my friends...I'd rather say that I just f*cking loved it, rather than trying to be eloquent or provide a quantitative review of something that defies those very traits. This album simply takes all the things that I love about music and depth of emotion and living a reactionary existence and bundles them all up in the ball of spitfire energy known as Sabrina Stevenson. Stevenson, who really is a third grade teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, probably would have been my hero had I been lucky enough to know a woman like this growing up. While some may find her dual existence confusing, it's absolutely cathartic to listen to a disc when someone uses their duality to its fullest potential as an outlet for creativity and pure emotion...Rock with brutal intensity. Stevenson is the female Iggy crossed with Kim Gordon. Brilliant, just brilliant."

"...Rocks with an unbridled energy that most bands today have missed out on for many years now. This garage-rock powerhouse is somewhere in the mashed-up world of the Stooges, Queens of the Stone Age, or Jon Spencer... great songs and amazing energy." -- Bite Me

from In Music We Trust:
"...Los Angeles' Third Grade Teacher combine elements of metal, punk rock, and yes, even pop, to come up with their thrashing sound. Not safe, not reserved at all, like you'd expect from a third grade teacher. When Sabrina Stevenson yells 'fuck you,' you know she means it, as she lets her hair hang down on this album chalk (sic) full of fury, noise, and aggressive. This is powerful music that is relentless in its assault and, as much as you fight it, they'll win you over, no matter how long it takes."

"Not a bad apple in the bunch! When their songs aren't pounding the punk pudding, they're slow and vicious, leaving you feeling levitated and wanting to spin into the wind... Aggressive and feisty from the get go!" -- 100 Punks

"...A strange dark atmosphere... A freaky female singer, who shouts really strange lyrics in the air and three other members produce such a weird sound -- something between rock 'n roll and metal! It's really hard to describe." -- Enough Fanzine

"Third Grade Teacher is a four piece, fronted by a female third grade teacher, who is completely off the hook. Frontwoman Sabrina, alternates effortlessly through each spaced out rocking track with trademark screams, shouts, and whispers. I'm told that Sabrina's antics during a live show is something not to be missed. The album is a pretty cool tricked out mix of rock, low-key punk influence, and garage band like attitude... Definitely solidly rockin'." --

"8/10: A decidedly lo-fi but absolutely sublime bash and pop... This album is more enjoyable than eating paste and makes learning fun!" --

read on!
- Marlene's new feature/interview at Score! Music mag
- great big ol' feature in the OC Weekly by Joel Beers
- another recent appearance in the OC Weekly courtesy of Commie Girl!
- a fab write-up from Rich Kane
- an older article on the band from the LA Weekly

a brief recorded history of Third Grade Teacher:

  • Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (Al's Bar/Third Grade Records)

  • The Underklass (Third Grade Records)

  • 3 (Third Grade Records)     BUY IT!

  • Third Grade Teacher (self-titled) -- Pinch Hit Records     BUY IT!

  • Third Grade Teacher Reveals the Secrets of the Universe (Third Grade Records) -- out soon!


compilations, etc.:

Garage Band -- L3 Interactive CD-ROM ("Schoolboy")

Black Bean & Placenta compilation ("The Servant")

"Band Aid"/"Monster" 7" single (Soccocore/Third Grade Records)

Alright, This Time Just the Girls -- Sympathy for the Record Industry compilation ("Fear of a Boy")

Unsigned on Sunset compilation ("Fire")

Focus-Grouped to Death -- OC Weekly compilation ("The Underklass")

How Many Bands Does it Take to Screw up a Blondie Tribute -- Sympathy for the Record Industry comp ("Atomic")

Indie Rock Unites, Vol. 1 -- Fire-Tone Records /JDRF benefit compilation ("Schoolboy")

Put Some Pussy in Your Punk, Vol. 2 -- On the Rag Records comp ("Schoolboy")

Movie and television soundtrack credits:

Terror Firmer (1999)
Bellyfruit (1999)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Fear, Itself" -- Halloween episode, 1999)
Tweeked (2001)
Luster (2002)
Tweek City (2005)