INTERVIEW

“Being in a band… it can be such a joke, I mean, some people take it really seriously, like being in a relationship to get married…”

Photography by Gabriel Green

Photography by Gabriel Green

A band with endless ways to spell their name and just as many dance/punk/weird influences

“Being in a band… it can be such a joke, I mean, some people take it really seriously, like being in a relationship to get married, while some people are just sort of seeing each other… Being in a band is kind of like that,” explains Teeth!!! vocalist Veronica.

“What, like being married?” Ximon Tayki [laptop business] asks, sceptically.

“No, like being in a relationship!” she laughs. “Like, saying you quit the band is like saying, ‘Let’s break up.’”

“Ximon said he’s quitting the band about half an hour ago,” says drummer Simon Whybray.

“Oh, yeah…” muses Ximon.

Veronica: “We’re very volatile like that.”

Simon: “Whenever I say, ‘Let’s talk about band stuff,’ he says he quits.”

Veronica: “So do I.”

“You do!” Ximon turns to her. “You send me those Facebook messages saying you’re quitting the band and once I thought you were serious and was wondering, ‘Oh my god, what have I done?’”

“And I was like, ‘You know what you’ve done!’” Veronica laughs.

Ximon: “We don’t take it too seriously. Basically, we want a record label to give us loads of money and then we can, like, pay our rent and make awesome music – well, we make awesome music anyway, we just want the record label to give us money so we can pay our rent and hire a space since we don’t really have any place to do anything at the moment… Like, ten grand towards a development fund or something.”

“He wants a Daddy,” say Veronica.

Teeth (or T3ETH or TEETH!!! or T∑∑TH etc – they stipulate that we can spell it any number of ways they do) are not exactly major label material; they also defy the term ‘unconventional’. That’s reserved more for ‘Marmite bands’, those ones that you either think are amazing or completely crap and are impossible to sit on the fence about. They make the kind of music that you have a gut instinct to either love or loathe, if only you could make up your mind.

So, what kind of music is it, then? “We make electronic music… In a unique way,” attempts Ximon.

“He has a laptop, she sings, I play drums with an electric kick,” offers Simon.

Okay, then what does it sound like?

“We have a bunch of influences… I was thinking about the band the other day, and it’s kind of like a platform for us to talk about the stuff we like.” Ximon sighs. “I think it’s difficult to talk about music.” Veronica has a try: “Basically, if you want it in those three MySpace words, it’s electronic, it has a punk mentality and it is kind of… not weird… You can dance to it – it has the capability to be really dance-y, though we don’t necessarily perform it that way. If you were to see us at a show, a good show, it would be at a really late night warehouse dance party.”

Though the band don’t do the dancing themselves; at a good show, they say, they end up climbing things and wreaking a healthy amount of havoc. Dance punk? Weird dance punk??

“I think it’s hard to talk about music without referencing stuff, like talking about it metaphysically,” says Ximon. “So being a music journalist is kind of hard.” (Two extra points to Ximon).

“A lot of people like to compare us to other bands,” says Veronica “but we started Teeth because we were in another band and, basically, I didn’t do anything besides operate their laptop until the very end when I would do a cover and it was this Tamion 12” song. They were off Ersatz Audio, which is Adult’s label, and they were from Detroit and did this really cool song and we covered that song at the end of the set but it sounded completely different to the rest of the band’s music and we eventually thought, why don’t we make our own band that does this kind of music?”

“We don’t sound like them,” Ximon explains. “We just thought we should write our own music instead of covering all the time. The last band wasn’t really a band; it was kind of a joke. I mean, we have our influences and we have music that we like…”

“But we never say, ‘Let’s write a song that sound like those guys,’” interjects Veronica. “It’s more like we finish a song and think, ‘Hey, that kind of sounds like…’”

“Although,” remembers Ximon “I did get a major pop obsession, like, three weeks ago and we kind of wrote a pop song.” According to the others, he was ridiculously obsessed with making this pop song. “I like pop music, but I’m not super fanatical about it,” he protests “but all of a sudden I got really obsessed with Lady Gaga.” There is a mixture of giggles and groans. “For three days I was watching every single YouTube video she’d ever done, totally obsessed, added her on Facebook as a friend…”

The story goes that one night when Ximon was up late, chatting to a friend who lives in San Francisco…

“He does visuals for us when we’re on tour,” says Veronica.

“I think he does things for Glass Candy as well,” adds Ximon. “He’s made some music videos, plays with a guy who’s in a band called Tussle… Anyway!”

Yeah, anyway! Ximon and his mate were chatting and Ximon got it into his head to try hacking Lady Gaga’s Twitter account and he tried the name of a very popular single of hers, thinking that would be far too obvious but… it worked. He’d hacked her official account – “One point seven million gullible teenagers freaked the fuck out!” he preens. So at five o’ clock in the morning he calls the other Teeth, asking what he should say and do with this new found power. Not surprisingly, they weren’t about to believe him so he proved it by going nuts, posting Teeth’s name and their MySpace address all over this Twitter page for about ten minutes before getting reported. Apparently, Lady Gaga’s potential anger at the hack was won over by how impressed she was that her fans were smart enough to figure out her password. There’s an epilogue to this tale, involving a large mechanical beetle crawling out of Ximon’s tea cup and flying out the kitchen window but we’ll leave the story with the moral that with such a simple login, it’s doubtful Lady Gaga does her own blogging – or at least it’s as likely as her planting a robotic insect in someone’s tea. “Lots of really weird shit goes down in Dalston,” Veronica concludes.

Teeth, post their joke band, have been playing together for about a year and a half. They haven’t changed much, but they’ve thought about it. “We were going to change the way we play live,” says Simon “getting more equipment and working on what comes out of the PA, getting to a point where Ximon was playing more of the sound he makes live – samples and jamming and stuff – but it never really happened, don’t know why…”

“It’s something we always talk about but never do,” interjects Ximon “hence, why we need that money from a major label…”

Simon counters that even if they had the cash to buy heaps of equipment, they’d almost certainly end up ditching all of it and going back to they way they play now. Teeth’s recordings tend to sound dirty and they like that more than the polished sounds cash and good gear would produce. They’ve just recorded with Rory Brattwell and will hopefully soon have all their songs from the last year laid down, making space for new tracks. They’ve already got singles on Moshi Moshi and Tough Love.

“As long as we have recordings that we’re happy with and can just give away, then we don’t feel bound to it,” says Veronica. “Maybe we’re not ready to change just yet.”

This is a band who’ve created their own sound – who are their sound: climbs-the-walls punk mashed with the electronic and the cosmic, jarringly garish but intriguing with a bit of sexy and fun as fuck. That’s Teeth and there’s no need to change, and no need to get minted by a major: just fork over a few grand to cover the rent. You got that, Universal?

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Originally published in issue 13 (vol. 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2009

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