Electro pop band Crooked Teeth evolved from when Rob and Jo would meet in Glasgow playing and occasionally collaborating in their respective bands to becoming whole when their friend Sam was recruited on guitar. We spoke to Sam to find out more about their formation and how new single ‘The American Dream’ fits into their history.
It’s a reflection on that ideal, an American Dream built in to the cultural fabric, a false promise of reward for hard work, a glorification of success without really questioning what that means or how it was achieved.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Crooked Teeth?
Rob and Jo know each other from playing in different bands up in Glasgow, I think Jo filled in a couple of times for Rob’s old band (For Abel). They both moved to London separately, met up and decided to work on some new music. I knew Rob and happened to bump into them on the same night so said I’d come along and play guitar. That was it!
Who did you take your inspiration from?
We didn’t really talk about what the band would sound like, just turned up at the first practice and saw what happened. Jo had played drums and guitar up in Glasgow, but turned up for this with a drum machine and analog synths. Rob had a couple of song ideas but written with a guitar band in mind, so this being largely electronic called for a different approach which made the process a lot more exciting.
Why the name ‘Crooked Teeth’?
Although I joined the band the same day they already had the name, which was fine - finding band names everyone agrees with can be pretty painful! Rob said it was just a phrase he liked the sound of. Hadn’t even heard the Death Cab song, so it wasn’t that!
How would you describe your musical style?
Hmm… It kind of varies, but I guess it’s electronic indie noise pop of sorts… Because of the mix of electronics and guitar sounds people often mention New Order, Depeche Mode, etc. But we try not to hang on to those references too much - I’d like to think we have our own angle, bringing a few different sounds to the mix.
You’re signed to Lost In The Manor records. How did that come about?
Chris from LitM has been a big supporter of the band for a while, they promote nights at The Finsbury and other places and we’d played a lot of gigs there. He’d helped us out with the first self-released single (‘Mirrors’), so when they suggested putting out ‘Mountain Song’ it seemed like a natural progression.
Your latest single is ‘The American Dream’. What’s it about?
Well.. although Rob’s lyrics are generally quite oblique I think this is one of the clearer messages. It’s a reflection on that ideal, an American Dream built in to the cultural fabric, a false promise of reward for hard work, a glorification of success without really questioning what that means or how it was achieved. We wrote it before there was even an inkling we might have a President Trump (imagine) so it wasn’t a reaction to that, but it maybe feels a bit more poignant since.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
It’s one of the earliest songs we wrote, so it’s about three or four years old. The basic riff is one I’d had knocking around for a long time, and I played it to the others and it quickly grew into something much better! We self recorded this one at Jo’s home studio in his old Manor House warehouse flat and he mixed it there too.
How does ‘The American Dream’ build on your style?
It’s an early song, but if you listen to the build up and the end of it you can hear a bit of a blueprint for the live Crooked Teeth sound. This and ‘Mirrors’ both expanded the poppier songs we wrote at first into a bit more of a psychey, shoegazey atmospheric territory. I think that was a big building block for the stuff we’ve been writing since. For people who’ve just heard the other two singles I think it fills in a bit more of the picture of what we do.
What are your hopes for ‘The American Dream’?
Just for as many people to hear it as possible I guess! It’s been a live favourite for ages and it feels like we’ve been sitting on it for ever so it’s good for it to be out there finally.
What do fans get at your live shows?
I’ve never watched one, but I suspect it’s quite different from the recorded Crooked Teeth. Usually pretty loud, quite intense. Fun though too, I hope! You can definitely dance.
Where can we see you live in 2018?
Next up is at The Finsbury on Friday, June 29th. Liam Gallagher will be warming up for us in the park over the road. We’ve been laying low a bit for family reasons but will be looking to get some more gigs in shortly - let us know where you want to see us!
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band this year, what would it be?
This year? Getting out and playing some more festivals would be great - a Crooked Teeth show is made for a late night tent! We HAVE to go to Glasgow too, been talking about it so long, but we need to make it happen! I’d love to crack on with some more dedicated writing and recording, we’ve got loads of bits and pieces that need knocking into shape. Playing something new together and hearing it turn into a song is pretty magical.
Listen to ‘The American Dream’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates go to the Crooked Teeth Facebook page.