Robin Edwards’ adolescent years did not resemble a John Hughes movie. Like most young adults, she dealt with her fair share of puberty-induced angst, though not in a particularly cinematic way. There were no Dazed and Confused moments of revelation and meaning, no scenes that captured the halcyon days of youth, and no perfectly timed soundtracks. Instead, she had a small group of friends, and spent the bulk of her spare time writing in her journal, working for the school newspaper, and strumming acoustic guitar covers in her bedroom.
But Edwards, who performs under the moniker Lisa Prank, didn’t stick around high school for long. She graduated early at 17 and enrolled in the University of Colorado at Denver shortly thereafter. Craving independence, she endured dorm life for a semester before moving into her own apartment.
Now, at 27, she’s making up for lost time. Her most recent album, Adult Teen, is a punchy collection of pink-tinted punk songs about feeling all those earth-shaking teenage emotions, even though she’s no longer a teenager.
“As an adult, I’ve had the big, dramatic emotions that I was taught you’re supposed to have as a teenager and you’re supposed to get over by the time you’re done being a teenager,” she says. “My feelings are still just as wild and dramatic as they have ever been.”
As a result, the album is equal parts sassy, sincere, joyful, and vulnerable. “I’m checking your horoscope / Trying to remember the things you said,” she admits on “Luv Is Dumb,” an ultra-bright ode to the IQ-lowering power of crushes. “Jumper” is a ’90s-inspired, alt-rock crash course on being addicted to love, despite the way it ruins everything. “When I’m not falling, I am looking for a ledge,” she sings on the track. “Then you smiled at me, and I’m jumping off the edge.”
After graduating from high school, Edwards ditched covering songs and started writing her own music. She bought an electric guitar and formed a rowdy punk band called Lust-Cats of the Gutters with her then-best friend. As she tells it, it wasn’t pretty.
“We didn’t really know how to play our instruments very well,” she confesses.
It was a beginning nonetheless, and one that allowed her to dive head-first into the community of artists, musicians, and writers in Denver. She learned to read tarot — a hobby she still maintains by doing $5 readings at her merch table following each of her performances — moved into a punk house lovingly dubbed the Witch House, and launched her solo project, Lisa Prank.
For a while, it was lovely — until it wasn’t. Several of her friends moved to the coasts or quit playing music altogether. Sensing the disintegration of her crowd, she moved to Seattle for a month to work for a film festival, staying at a house with members of the feminist pop-punk band Tacocat. It didn’t take much for Tacocat to convince Edwards to make Seattle her permanent home.
“I always wanted to move somewhere else,” she says of her mindset at the time. “I was in a place in my life where I didn’t really have a band, I was playing solo, and I wasn’t dating anyone. I was very mobile.”
She lived with Tacocat for two years, honing her Lisa Prank sound, style, and identity — which includes clashing floral prints and a giant yellow crown designed by Liam Downey of the post-punk band So Pitted.
“I feel like Lisa Prank gets to be this exaggerated version of myself,” says Edwards, who ditches her everyday flannels to perform in sequins and giant, dangly earrings.
She’s not married to the idea of Lisa Prank as a perpetually solo endeavor, however. She chose to perform under a stage name so as to not be pigeonholed as a singer-songwriter act, and thinks of the project as a band.
“I fantasize about getting a real Lisa Prank band,” she says. “But there’s also something that’s so simple and easy about it just being me. I’m a little bit of a control freak.”
Despite her solo status, surrounding herself with like-minded artists is indispensable to Edwards’ creativity. Case in point: She still lives with fellow musicians in a punk house — although this one is called Magic Lanes.
“I’ve been lucky that my relationships with punk houses have been long ones,” she says with a laugh. “I really like to be around a lot of people. I don’t want to be isolated.”
It took some time, however, for Edwards to find her own support system of women artists within her own genre. Pop-punk is notorious for its misogyny; its early- and mid-aughts heyday was replete with tortured white boys demonizing the women who dared not worship them in all their mediocrity. (Prime example: In “Dumpweed” by Blink-182, Mark Hoppus croons, “I need a girl that I can train.”) As much as she loved the genre as a tween, Edwards understandably struggled to reconcile with it as she grew older.
“I initially listened to pop-punk in middle school, and then divorced myself from it because I didn’t see people like me reflected in it,” she says.
She came back around to the genre when she started playing music as Lisa Prank, redirecting it toward her own ends. She is not alone in this either: Tacocat, Chastity Belt, and Childbirth (whose members she counts among her friends) are making pop-punk a thoroughly feminist enterprise, too.
“At some point, you revisit the things from your past, and you can see the value in them, even though they are deeply flawed,” she says. “I had that experience with pop-punk.”
And Adult Teen is that experience in practice. Unflinching in its vulnerability and fabulously fun, the record is Edwards landing a glittering punch in the gut of the heartbroken pop-punk “nice guys” and jerks of yesteryear. And she’s done it without so much as knocking her giant crown out of place.
Lisa Prank plays with PWR BTTM and Bellows at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Rickshaw Stop. $12-$15; rickshawstop.com.