BAND OF THE WEEK: Made Of Teeth
Punked-up noise rock from Wales, specifically designed to wreak maximum damage on your brain.
Have you noticed the stuff some bands name themselves as being made of? From the more normal Made Of Hate, to the even expectable Made Of Iron, we can get to the downright creepy Made Out Of Babies, or the even better creepy/scary combo of Made Of Teeth. Anyway, it’s these last dudes we’re focusing on today - a Friday in 2022, so as usual a day for about seventeen million albums to come out. There’s a plethora of riches out there, from Saor’s remarkably atmospheric and evocative masterpiece ‘Origins’, to the downright fucking mean ‘Heaven Is Here’ by Candy, and there’s even an Alestorm record if you somehow enjoy shoveling rancid shit inside your ears.
So, there was stiff competition, but Made Of Teeth really deserve their spot here today. To be honest, their presence in this fine establishment was earned by barging inside the place half drunk at 3am wearing brass knuckles and smears of blood all over their clothes which you’re not sure is theirs or someone else’s or just a mix, which is the sort of energy their new album ‘Sociopathogen’ (APF Records) exudes. Their third album overall, after 2017’s self-released and self-titled debut and 2019’s Wealth And Hellbeing (Everybody Loses Records), it’s a rough and bumpy ride, deceptively simple in its straight-to-the-throat immediate punk approach to the songwriting and its rabid intensity like the best vicious noise rock should be. I could also throw in sludge, but just for the overall muddiness of the riffage. Any notions of doom, or bands who take their time getting from point A to point B don’t belong here. These people are already beating up point B when you arrive at point A to meet them. In short, Made Of Teeth don’t fuck around - just check out how the album starts, with ‘Four’ - a little seven second drum fill, riff comes in, and off we go! Before the first fifteen seconds are up, when many bands are still deciding where to go with the goddamn intro, you’re in the thick of it, thrown into the ring with four boxers who’ve just lost their last match and have been given a bucket of meth each to forget about it.
This doesn’t just come out of nowhere, though. Not only has the band been together for about five years, but their past (and present) speaks for itself - South Wales is a particularly fertile ground for strange, awesome and particularly nasty bands, and if you just thought of Taint, Spider Kitten or Lacertilia, not only did you earn a cookie, but you’ve also listed the bands whose former or current members feature in Made Of Teeth. My old buddy Chris West alone checks two of those boxes - he was the bassist for the mighty and very much missed Taint and he does drums and vocals in the delightfully outside the box Spider Kitten currently (and he does guitars and vocals for Made Of Teeth, because doing the same thing in two bands is for losers), and I talked to him a bit about this new record. Enjoy!
As many of the records being released these days, ‘Sociopathogen’ is a pandemic baby. How was that for you guys?
Chris: We started recording it in October 2019 with Gethin Woolcock in Bridgend, South Wales. We had pretty much finished the whole thing there and then, with a view to returning early 2020 to just finish vocals. And then...the world changed for everyone! So in between lockdowns we ended up finishing the album in our own practice studio and recording our vocals there, plus some extra guitars and stuff on top. It actually ended up sounding better as we weren't on the clock and feeling rushed in another studio. It then went back to Gethin for him to mix it into what he'd already worked on and we finally got the finished album, albeit a few years later than planned!
Did those circumstances help in fueling even more of the anger that seems to be all over these songs, you think?
Chris: To be honest, all we do in the studio is laugh...a lot! We are all such good mates and constantly make each other crack up with our stupid sense of humour. So I guess the furious sound you hear is just us displaying our love of heavy and extreme music, we love pushing things to the max- faster, harder, stronger with every release! Glad it shows! But I guess it must have done too, it slowly drove us nuts having to wait for things to start up again, a feeling that I'm sure the whole musical world went through as well. I remember our first show back was one of the most crushing we have ever done as we were so excited to be back at it!
Do you give much thought to your musical direction, or is this really what comes out of the three of you spontaneously?
Chris: I can luckily say it truly is spontaneous, we write a lot of our riffs in the studio and very quickly get a structure together and move on to the next. Luckily we all work so well with each other, and have the same love of certain styles of heavy music, that it all seeps into the songs effortlessly. All of those styles you mentioned above are big influences on us stylistically (as well as a shared love of other styles like hip-hop, jazz, blues and folk) and they all seem to pop up in the songs in one form or another throughout the albums we write.
Is this music as cathartic as it seems for you? Is it actually useful for you to let out some of your inner demons?
Chris: I honestly don't know what I'd do without it! I have always said that my music is complete therapy for me, I am 47 now and have been in bands since I was seventeen and it has got me through a lot of dark stuff in my life. These days life holds different but massively rewarding challenges with my family life and raising my kids in this crazy world, and my work life can be very hard at times, but I still need my time with my brothers once a week to just remove myself from my brain and let the riffs take over!
Now the album’s out, what plans do you have for the near future? I assume returning to the stage is at the top of your priorities?
Chris: We plan to play this album live as much as we can and start travelling to more places we haven't played before. We are stoked to be playing with High On Fire which happens to be the same date as our album is released, then we will be doing a very intimate local launch party a few weeks after that with our local mates Kong Lives and Slob supporting us. Then...we'll see how it goes! Hopefully we will get some new offers of shows from the strength of the new album as we really want to start taking this band out to the whole of the U.K. and beyond!