THE germ of Crooked Teeth spread from Glasgow…
where Rob and Jo met – having played the circuit in their bands, For Abel and Evol. A couple of years down the tracks they moved to London where, following a chance meeting, they were back in each other’s lives. That is the moment Crooked Teeth formed and, after discussions and compromise, headed into the studio with their friend Sam – wielding the guitar. The trio fuse synth-propelled sounds with lyrics that address issues in society - and deeper issues few artists document.
I talk to the guys about their current single, Mirrors, and what it represents. With its LCD Soundsystem vibe; I was curious to know about the song and how it came together. The chaps discuss their beloved home of London and its merits; the differences to Glasgow and what they have in store for the remainder of the year.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Crooked Teeth: Jo, Rob and Sam.
How are you enjoying the weather right now? Any chance to hang out in the sun or too busy right now?
But, yes, managed to catch a bit.
Can you tell me about new single, Mirrors, and what the song is all about?
J: Mirrors is a celebration of individuality in a metropolis that’s becoming increasingly homogenised.
It’s, at once, a greyscale and psychedelic-technicolour love-letter to the city of London.
I know the song is a reflection on London’s increasing homogenisation. How do you think this gentrification is affecting the spirit and soul of the city?
S: Well, the joy of London is really the diversity of experiences; that’s it. Once that’s gone, it’s not the same city.
In terms of making art; there’s still loads going on but these days it costs so much to live here - there isn’t the breathing space for many people to put time and energy into projects just for the love of it.
Every square-meter is potential ‘luxury apartment’ - so don’t get too attached because you’ll soon be moving on.
All of us have moved here from somewhere else, though, so I’m a bit hesitant to make sweeping statements about gentrification.
How have you guys reacted to the recent incident at Grenfell and the fact Labour are becoming more popular and desired by the people of the capital?
Grenfell was horrific and totally avoidable so the reaction to that is a mixture of despair and anger, really. As well as being a terrible incident in itself, I guess a lot of people feel it as confirmation of something they were already feeling - about the way Londoners that aren’t rich are almost treated as an inconvenience.
Regarding the election: it’s encouraging. There’s been a long period of government shrugging off responsibilities with very little publicised opposition. People are seeing and feeling the results and it feels like those questions are finally being asked.
I nearly wrote an essay reply to this but decided to keep it short!
Rob and Jo. I believe you met in Glasgow and were playing the circuit there as part of other bands. How long did it take to realise you should start your own band – and recruit Sam into the fold?
J: Rob moved to London a while before I did.
We’d never worked together in Glasgow (save for one gig where I stood in as drummer in his band (For Abel) and, when Rob found out that I’d moved here, he instantly talked about starting a new project. I suggested, much to Rob’s initial bewilderment, that we make it synth.-based - instead of the usual Rock outfits we’d grown accustomed to in Glasgow.
Rob Invited Sam along to the first jam with his guitar and pedals and we all hit it off straight away.
How does the music scene of Glasgow compare to London, would you say? Does Glasgow offer the individuality and authenticity London is losing?
It’s more constructive, in my opinion, to refer to Hackney’s music scene and the other boroughs individually - rather than an all-encompassing ‘London scene’. Hackney feels a lot like Glasgow: similar grubby little venues; not to mention a friendly sense of community among local groups and promoters/sound engineers.
There is a definite ‘Glasgow sound’ that is absent in London and likewise, but, in terms of scale and breadth of individuality, I’d say Rob and I feel just as at home here.
What are your future plans regarding music? Any E.P. or album approaching?
We’ve got a fair bit of material recorded - or nearly there - so you’ll hear some of that soon in one form or another.
The music is produced in Jo’s warehouse studio in Manor House. How important is that space and is it a great place to record in?
S: That space was vital in the early days.
It meant we could write and rehearse without having to shell out for studio time. For recording, it was very much a D.I.Y. effort - and the warehouse was the space we had available.
Jo knows his stuff and did a fantastic job using limited gear. It just meant we had the time to record and mix the songs how we wanted - not that we spent ages on it - but there’s no way we could have got as much done if we hadn’t had our own space.
J: Warehouse living seems to be fading out with the wave of gentrification.
It was a useful space, but with the current state of music recording technology, you can make great recordings no matter what room you’re in.
As Crooked Teeth; you play Noise-Pop and have your own style and sound. Are there any particular artists who have been influential to you guys?
S: It’s funny, because someone asked this, not long after we started, and we all came out with bands that don’t sound anything like each other.
So, maybe C.T. sounds different to all of us. We didn’t really talk about influences at all before we rehearsed.
J: It feels like we’ve brought several different elements to the table which seem to have amalgamated into something beyond our control, and so, we’re continually surprised what the comparisons people make.
What tour dates are coming up? Where can we see you play?
Our next show is supporting All the People at The Finsbury on Saturday, 26th August. We’re playing with MUX at Paper Dress Vintage on 9th Sep.
IN THIS PHOTO: AT/ALL
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
S: I’ve been listening non-stop to a record that came out about this time last year by an Australian band called AT/ALL (Sun Dog).
J: South London-based Mx World is soon to drop her first E.P.
Her chaotic, colourful synth.-scapes are some of the most exciting music I’ve heard in years
If you each had to select one album each that has meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
S: That’s impossible!
I’ll change my mind in an hour or so but I’ll say No Pocky for Kitty by Superchunk – first, listen to my all-time-favourite band.
J: None of this would have happened if it weren’t for Portishead – Third
It shook me violently out of a creative lull and pushed me into buying some analog gear. It changed everything for me, musically.
R: I just want to choose my favourite album by my favourite band, Guerrilla, by Super Furry Animals
I love how they push the boundaries whilst using a classic songwriting formula. I probably listen to Some Things Come from Nothing every other day.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
S: I don’t know if I’m in any position to offer advice but I guess I’d say don’t wait around for the next bit of gear or perfect opportunity: just play and record and you’ll learn and find out what works a lot quicker anyway.
Trusting your band-mates is important: being open to seeing where they take your ideas, but also, all feeling free to say when you don’t think something works.
That’s where the magic is for me.
J: You’re a band, so be in a band. Don’t be a leader: be in a band.
Appreciate your creative team and let it grow organically.
A MacBook will never, ever replace human musicians.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
S: Young Shields by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, please
J: Eclipse Total by Aries
Discovered her earlier this year at Primavera Sound. She’s wonderful.
R: STRaiGHT eDGe by Gablè
Short and simple, but I love it and all the different samples they cram into it.
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