Teeth is a self-styled 'easy-listening-noise' band which features some familiar faces from the Wellington music ranks, including Luke Buda and Tom Callwood of The Phoenix Foundation, David Long of the Muttonbirds and free-jazz juggernaut Anthony Donaldson. The group released their self-titled debut album on Record Store Day and accompanied the unveiling with a live performance at the iconic Slow Boat Records on Cuba Street. UTR have been chomping at the bit to get further acquainted with Teeth for awhile now, so we nabbed a recent opportunity to sit down with helmsman Luke Buda for a wee knowledge nosh up...
UTR: So, what are your favourite kind of eating assistants? Incisors, canines, premolars, molars or wisdom teeth?
LB: I believe that all the Teeth have their uses. Except for maybe wisdom teeth which seem to cause pain and cost heaps of money. Also, actually, probably, molars are the most useful maybe?
Your new album was released at Slow Boat Records via their in-house label and to celebrate you played an in store set for Record Store Day. Tell us a little about how you got connected with Slow Boat and regale us with the tale of the day itself...
I've been going to Slow Boat for many many years. It's a great spot for talking about music, local gossip ("Oh my god he was wearing WHAT?" etc) and also.. sports… In fact I would say it's the unofficial HQ of the Wellington "Music and Movement Society" (the discreet minority of people who like obscure records and rolling mauls). Also many years ago they released a reissue of my first ever release The C-Sides, which was an important thing for me. The Teeth album was ready to go for ages and kinda looking for a home and so when Jeremy Taylor (of Slow Boat) rang up and said "How about we do the album and you can release it with an in-store on Record Store Day". It just felt right. So right. So we went with it. It's a huge relief to have it out finally!
As for the in-store itself, I must confess I was a little nervous about it because Teeth are a total vibe band and in-stores can often have a weird stifled atmosphere. Also because we make a lot of guitar noise and we were on after French For Rabbits who are pretty delicate sounding. Ever the optimist, my thinking was "We will sound like brutes after them!"… but one thing I have noticed with Teeth is that people love loud electric guitar noise. Like they really like it. All sorts of people. Never underestimate the uplifting power of rock! So in the end it was totally sweet as. Great job Slow Boat.
Teeth’s tunes give me the impression that you’re experienced songsmiths. Obviously you play in Phoenix Foundation but what other musical projects have you guys been involved in?
Both Tom and I are in Phoenix Foundation. David Long was in the Muttonbirds. He has done many film and TV soundtracks since those heady days. Anthony Donaldson has been in the thick of the free-jazz improv avant-garde scene in NZ since the 80s including The Primitive Art group and The Six Volts (with David Long!). Teeth is his commercial pop group.
How do you find Teeth varies musically and ideologically from your other projects?
Generally Phoenix Foundation take months to make an album. Fandango took 15 months for example… GUYD a mere six or so. The stuff is usually harmonically complex and there are tight arrangements that everyone has to adhere to. With Teeth, most songs are based on one chord. We recorded the band takes in three days, and then mixed the album in about three days too… (in between I took a while to write the lyrics and record the vocals, the vocals are the most produced thing on the album fo sho). Also because Teeth are a four-piece and Phoenix are a six-piece there is so much more room in Teeth to kinda go where you wanna go. To go on some space jamz etc.
Your sweet debut single was titled ‘Something Has Gone Wrong In My Brain’. What was it that went astray in your pondering box?
Ah… well I guess I had some pretty full on anxiety for a bit there and I found the only thing that kept the stress away was keeping busy, and for me that usually means making music so I made heap and heaps of demos in that time. The song came out of pretty much just singing that line as a bit of a true-joke and then going with it.
The accompanying Soundcloud art for ‘Something Has Gone Wrong…’ drew heavily from Wu Tang symbolism. Has the Wu inspired your tunes in any way or is it just an amusing piece of visuals?
Haha I wish they had… Duel of the Iron Mic! But nah it's just a piece of graffiti I saw in one of the old gun emplacements in Seatoun. Teeth is for the children, just like Wu Tang yo!
Regale us with tales about your four-week residency at Meow in Wellington....
The best thing about it was realising I hadn't really been going out and I didn't know any new-ish Wellington bands, and then going on a journey of discovery when looking for people to play with and finding that there's heaps of women playing dark moody rock. That seems to be the Wellington scene right now, self-described "Witch Rock". Very very awesome vibe. The other cool thing about it was that we got heaps better, first gig was fine and everything, but the set definitely came up a few levels by the end. The more you play the better you get really.
Your Bandcamp page seems to have particular care taken on the design side. The art for each single lines up to create a larger picture. Are some of you visual artists as well?
Haha. Thanks. Nah but we do care about it a lot.
What’s next for the Teeth crew? Will you be hitting the road to celebrate the release of the new album?
Got a few gigs lined up. Probably more of a tour later on in the year. Coming up 6th of May at San Fran with So Laid Back Country China, 21st May at the Carter Observatory with Earth Tounge and then Auckland on 4th of June at Borderline Festival.
Undertheradar Proudly Presents...
Teeth with So Laid Back Country China
Saturday 6th May, San Fran, Wellington
Tickets available HERE at UTR, and in-store at RPM or Slow Boat Records