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Interview: Five Questions For Teeth's Lukasz Buda

Interview: Five Questions For Teeth's Lukasz Buda

Chris Cudby / Thursday 16th May, 2019 1:40PM

Wellington's Teeth made a splash last year with the release of their self-titled debut album, an infectiously noisy yet spine-tinglingly melodic collection of motorik grunge-rock anthems. The synergetic sonic creation of The Phoenix Foundation's Lukasz Buda and Thomas Callwood, legendary percussionist Anthony Donaldson and David Long (Muttonbirds), the group are making a rare local appearance this Saturday at Caroline, with support from mind-bending drums / electronics wiz-kid Big Flip The Massive and avant-violin virtuoso Motte (Anita Clark). Chris Cudby felt now was the perfect time to hit lead songwriter Buda with a fistful of probing questions via about Teeth, and how he balances time between the band and his high profile work with The Phoenix Foundation. Read the affable artist's responses below...

1. For the uninitiated, can you please tell us who's in Teeth? Is someone the principle songwriter, or is the band more of an organic mind-meld songwriting kind of project?

TEETH started out when the Phoenix Foundation held auditions for a new drummer in 2013. Anthony Donaldson (legend of the avant grade and improv scene since the 80s) auditioned and we just sounded like a completely different band with him. It wasn’t right for TPF but I was quite excited by the idea of playing music with him. So that’s how it started. We got David Long (ex-Muttonbirds, think 'Dominion Rd' guitar line, he gone done play that) on gat and of course the ever dependable Tom Callwood (TPF) on bass. I think the combined age of the band is 978 years old. LOL? I guess I came up with the beginnings of the songs, but it is defy a bandy band in that things are quite free form and jammy so the final product is very much a band creation. It can be hard to be jammy in the Phoenix as there are 6 of us. There is not often room. So I guess for me that’s what TEETH is, a band for space jams. Also, hilariously TEETH is my “weird” band and it’s Ant’s “pop” band.

2. There's definitely a gritty vibe and love for distorted textures felt throughout your self-titled debut, balanced with a strong melodic approach. Are you exorcising any personal demons / expressing a lust for noise / exploring any particular repressed aural impulses with Teeth? Or is this sonic dynamic simply a result of the band's group synergy?

Well the Phoenix Foundation is pretty open creatively to anything really. Our last album GUYD is completely different than anything we’ve done before. However it also does have a very strong kind of set vibe in the process. Con (Wedde) and Sam (Flynn Scott) and I have been making music together since we were 14. Yikes. So as mentioned before there just sometimes isn’t room to fuck around as much as you might want to sometimes. So yeah I guess TEETH is just about a bit of freedom. It’s noisy but… I think quite a soft noisiness. To Ant Donaldson’s chagrin Dave and I like the term easy-listening-noise. It’s not aggressive music. We just like the sound of loud distorted guitars.

3. You recently released a Christmas album with Moniker – how many projects do you personally have on the go at the moment? Your day job is making music too, right? 

Currently we are most of the way done with Phoenix Foundation album seven. I have a bunch of stuff for a solo record. With Moniker (Sam and Con and I) we have just finished the score for a NZ TV crime drama series, just about done on a feature film, in the middle of a nature documentary series episode (with Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper) and are about to start the next season of Wellington Paranormal. Oh and there’s TEETH. With the soundtrack stuff well that’s simple – I gotta pay the bills yo. With the other stuff it’s like TPF is it’s own beast with it’s own energy, TEETH has now become that too and so I also have solo stuff I guess just to indulge myself. TBH at the moment I feel a bit TOO busy...

4. Do you find yourself returning to regular lyrical themes throughout your different musical projects? Or does your work with each one touch on a specific different lyrical territory?

I generally just struggle with lyrics regardless. But I think at the moment all projects have the same themes… which is, unfortunately, getting older. Body falling apart etc, I am however making a concerted effort to whinge less, and also to not write over personal, generally pessimistic songs that I later struggle to deal with. I’m trying to find a bit more humour in the gloom.

5. Why have Teeth re-emerged to play together this weekend? What can punters expect from Saturday's show with Motte and Big Flip The Massive? Is this a one-off return to local stages for Teeth or can we look forward to more shows in the near future?

Teeth would be doing heaps more gigs if it wasn’t just up to me to make it happen! We love playing. I am just busy and also… confession – spoilt with a really good manager at the Phoenix Foundation HQ, so I am not used to having to sort out all that shit. Haha. So whenever I book a Teeth gig I then go into a panic “Oh fuck! What am I supposed to do to get people to the show!?”. We've got a few new numbers so hopefully we’ll record those and then we’ll release them and then maybe we’ll actually do a tour. That involves a lot of emailing though...

You can catch Teeth playing at Wellington's Caroline on Saturday 18th May with support from Big Flip The Massive and Motte.


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Teeth, Motte, Big Flip The Massive
Sat 18th May 8:00pm
Caroline, Wellington