By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

The film “Teenage Badass” has a bit of an autobiographical feel to its star, musician Evan Ultra.

He met director and co-producer Grant McCord when he tried to recruit him to play drums in a project. In the movie, Ultra plays singer-songwriter Kirk Stylo, whose band, Stylo and the Murder Dogs, competes for a spot to play on the local news with its new drummer, played by Mcabe Gregg.

“I was trying to get him originally to be a drummer in one of my bands in real life,” Ultra says with a laugh.

“I was showing him these songs, and we were in his car. Some of the songs are in the movie. It’s a double platform. I was able to do the soundtrack. I sang all the songs and acted as the guy who sang them all, too.”

“Teenage Badass” is a love letter to Arizona, marijuana and Valley bands like Jimmy Eat World and The Maine. Gracie’s Tax Bar, The Van Buren and The Rebel Lounge play prominent parts in the movie.

Released digitally on September 18, “Teenage Badass” features the fictional band’s first single, “Dick Cheney.”

‘“Dick Cheney” was originally written years ago and is really about me coming to realize that the long-term relationship I was in was slowly drowning me,” Ultra says. “Most of these songs in the soundtrack are talking about dealing with life in love and love for life, and how to keep it all in balance. Is it better to go your whole life pretending you’re happy or blow your whole life up in order to truly seek out happiness?”

This is the first feature-length role for Ultra, who made the rounds of the Valley, living in Gilbert, Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale before moving back to Missouri during the pandemic.

“It was so much fun,” he says. “The plot of the movie let everyone feel that way. Everybody could relax into these quirky, goofy, crazy characters who are smoking and drinking in the movie. It’s just fun.

“Grant did a great job developing the characters. I would like to be with that team again.”