ForgottenBee talks with ‘Black Tooth’ and finds out why they have written a song that smells like Michelin Tyres, who has the weirdest hobby in the band, and why they need to go to the loo when they have a melody running through their head
FB Hello Black Tooth, Welcome to ForgottenBeeBlog. With great advances in dentistry.. Why the ‘Black Tooth’?
Jason: Well my ancestors are Welsh pirates so we thought it was quite apt.
Sam: Something like that yeah…..
FB 2/ Tell me about your background and where you grew up?
Jason: Me and Sam grew up together in North Wales then we met Mark (Bass) when he was pushing trolleys at Safeways. We all had a passion for making music so we hung around together. Then we invaded Manchester about 10 years ago and met Paul through work. He’s a Stockport bloke. Jack is a lot younger than us, he’s from Tyldesley I think. Doesn’t matter really he’s a mint drummer.
FB 3/ When did the band in its current line up form?
Jason: Not a lot of people know this but the Black Tooth band has been going since 1913 and has taken various forms throughout the years. It gets passed down through generations of musicians. During the 70’s Black Tooth was a hybrid classical jazz skiffle outfit that didn’t really take off. The current line up has been going just over a year now and we are really enjoying being as creative as we can be and having no boundaries. Black Tooth law requires band members to have an heir to the throne. Thats why Sam’s had to have 3 kids pretty sharpish.
FB 4/ Your music is very difficult to categorize. Do you make a conscious effort to re-invent yourselves musically?
Sam: I don’t think it’s a case of re-inventing ourselves as that requires a conscious effort. In essence I think of myself as a songwriter, I don’t worry whether it’s a rock, country, jazz or rap song. You don’t use one colour to paint a picture. I don’t see our work as having different genres, to me it just sounds like us. If Jason wrote an awesome piece of classical music, I wouldn’t think ‘we can’t use that’ I’d just think ‘this will be interesting’.
Jason: Yes and that’s a problem with categorising things, especially music. It creates walls and blocks you in as a writer, composer or listener. It can prevent you from evolving and thus you see things just going round and round but not really getting anywhere. Noel Gallagher was a great example, he was all ready to expand himself and try something new with Amorphous Androgynous then all of a sudden he got scared, thought it was too weird (whatever weird means) then retreated back to the same old Noel Gallagher music. It’s ironic that he tries to promote the ‘open your mind’ philosophy when in reality he’s very conservative and boring.
FB 5/ Where do Black Tooth practice?
Jason: Bredbury recycling depot when its closed. Being surrounded by plastic and paper provides ace acoustics.
Sam: The smells add an edge to the songwriting too. I just wrote a song that smells like Michelin tyres.
FB 6/ I happen to know that one of your first gigs was at The Eagle Inn, Salford. Tell me about that gig and what the venue is like to perform in.
Sam: At the time the gig was amazing as me and Jase had spent so long working on Black Tooth. From just us two in a kitchen to a proper live outfit. It was like being a proud parent. We were probably shit but it felt good and its a great little venue to play. Its like being in a cell so theres no hiding place.
Jason: I do love that venue, and it has a rarity of having really good sound engineers at hand. We will be there again very soon.
FB 7/ What is it that makes you passionate about your music?
Sam: It’s just there. I don’t think it’s something you can explain. I know I love writing songs. I know I feel like its a cathartic experience for good and bad. Each song is also a relief as I constantly worry I won’t be able to make another, but why I feel like this I couldn’t tell you. Probably something that happened in childhood like most things.
Jason: If you’ve constantly got a melody running around in your head then you should be writing songs. I was in a meeting in work recently and a mint tune came into my head out of nowhere, I had to excuse myself and sing it into my phone in the toilet.
FB 8/ Talk me through Black Tooth’s creative process when composing music.
Sam: We write a song and then we and the others try different things until we do something we think is acceptable. If they don’t manage it, we show them what to play haha.
Jason: We are at a point now though where we all know our limits and what each other wants. We can improvise and bounce off each other a lot more now as we’ve been playing together for a little while. Its getting so much quicker to get new tunes out which is good because I currently have a backlog of 70 odd tunes on my 8 track and I know Sam’s got shitloads too.
FB 9/ I’ve noticed that your tunes often have snippets of dialogue edited into the song, where do you find this stuff to use?
Sam: The internet mostly, theres a lot of stuff on there.
FB 10/ What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Sam: Trying to expand what I hear in my head onto record and then again transforming that into the live show. And getting a drummer who can drum well and is not a complete **** (bleeped by FB). That’s why I love Jack.
Jason: Trying my hardest to take what’s in Sam’s head and make it not sound like The Band.
FB 11/ Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Jason: The Magic Band. Captain Beefhearts rhythm section. I saw them at Band on the Wall they were incredible musicians.
Sam: I’d love to do something along the lines of the Adam Curtis/Massive Attack collaboration. That was an amazing show.
Jason: Yes definitely a visual live show. Just reminded me about our mirrors idea we had. Im not going to say anymore because I still want to try it out. It involves lots of mirrors thats all.
Sam: Maybe we could do an album with you and you’re micro poetry. Imagine an album of 12 songs that are about 3 seconds long each, that would be amazing. A 30-40 second long album. Lets do it! 🙂 FB
FB 12/ How would you describe ‘music’ to someone who had never heard it before?
Sam: I wouldn’t try to explain, I’d just play them ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and tell them that’s all there is to it.
FB 13/ Who in the band has the weirdest hobby or interest?
Jason: That would be Paul. He has a rather large collection of roll neck sweaters. He wears them when he’s cooking and pretends he’s a telly chef by doing a running commentary in front of a mirror.
FB 14/ If it’s ok with you, let’s have a look at your very clever video for ‘Middle Class’.. *roll the film*:
..I love this video, am I correct in thinking you’re involved in film making in some way?
Jason: Yes we are. Me and Sam have written a couple of sitcoms we started to film. Did a few pilot episodes, they’re pretty good i think. Dunno what to do with them now though. Probably leave them and start something else. We did a good video for ‘Downside Up’ about a guy who could only see things upside down after an accident damaged his brain. It just follows his trials and tribulations and in the end he invents a pair of mirror glasses that enable him to see the right way up. Think I lost it though I can’t remember. We also did a documentary where Sam pretended he was Kim Jong Il’s illegitimate son after he had an affair with Margaret Thatcher. The North Korean football team were playing at Old Trafford during the Olympics so we tried to get in on that basis. It didn’t work but it was fun. We are running through some ideas for the next Black Tooth recordings.
FB 15/ Black Tooth.. It’s time for the ForgottenBeeBlog challenge… You must create a poem of no more than 20 words.. But! It must contain these 3 words :- ‘Out Of Sight’ …. Put your hand up when you’ve finished 😉
Jason: Erm…. The sign was such a blight
‘Keep to the Path’ it said
But the path was out if sight
I think thats 20 words exactly if ‘a’ isn’t a word?
FB 16/ Give me one example how you think the ‘Music Industry’ could be improved right now?
Sam: In Manchester specifically promoters that have a monopoly on all the decent venues, want you to play but don’t actually do any promotion. They just want you to promote it and bring your own crowd. Then they think they are doing you a favour giving you a quid for every ticket sold.
Jason: Yeah we were pretty naive at first signing up with these promoters then quickly realised that they really didn’t give a shit about the night it was all about the money. We thought fuck this we will do it ourselves. But I’m not sure there is much of an ‘Industry’ left anymore. That has its pros and cons. But we are not fussed about ‘Industry’ or shit like that. We want to make music and play gigs and become great musicians and do what we want. Which we are already so whats the use in wanting to be part of another rat race? Be happy and push yourself to make better tunes. Fuck industry.
FB 17/ ForgottenBeeBlog now gives you the mike and soap box and asks you to have a rant.. I’d like to hear your thoughts on #fadmusic.. GO!
Jason: There seems to be a lot music going around these days that has no staying power and it becomes another fad. In the near future I can imagine people saying things like ‘remember when Sleaford Mods were cool? They sound so dated and shit now’ like that feeling you get when you watch Top of the Pops 2. There were bands like Toy became big as quick as they disappeared due to the ‘Psyche’ fad which had nothing to do with Psychedelia, it was just straight forward tunes with loads of phasing and reverb. Some people think its a compliment to sound like a famous band when its not really. Did Pink Floyd sound like anyone else? When someone says you sound exactly like The Arctic Monkeys then maybe you should try and come up with your own sound because there has already been an Arctic Monkeys why would we want another? Anyway it doesn’t really matter it levels itself out in the end.
Sam: I think it was a bigger problem back in the day. If record companies decided Indie/Grunge/Garage was in, that would be all you see in the few music magazines and hear on the few radio stations. Nowadays there is so much available to everyone, if you are stuck listening to something you don’t like you are clearly just too lazy to type your favourite genre of music into spotify.
Jason: True although I did that. I was looking for something similar to Viet Cong and Spotify suggested fucking Sleaford Mods. I got the same result when looking for something similar to Devo. Cant get away from the twats. But that goes to show how there is still a heavy influence in something you think is free. Punk always makes me laugh. It was the anti culture that quickly became a culture you had to buy into. You had to look a certain way or you weren’t punk. This new band Slaves are everything punk is not and yet they are being sold as punk. Just another fad come round again. Lets bring back skiffle.
FB 18/ How do you feel about social media and band promotion? What has been your most successful so far?
Jason: Funnily enough our most successful campaign has been the old fashioned get out there and promote in the real world. Getting likes and people saying they are coming to your gigs on Facebook means nothing in the real world you need to get out there and get into peoples faces. Twitter has become far too cluttered with bollocks it’s like a stadium full of people all jumping up saying ‘look at me!’ I don’t like it. I can’t look at Twitter much anymore. It’s a platform but that’s all it is. Adam Curtis wrote a very interesting blog about how Twitter gets you nowhere. He basically said all you do is create a small bubble of people who spend their time retweeting and high fiving each other. Nothing gets out to anyone else. We’ve noticed this a lot with Twitter. The recent election was a perfect example. Everyone on twitter was convinced the Tories could not win but that was only because you follow and see all the people that think like you. It’s not a true reflection of the real world.
FB 19/ Black Tooth, thank you so much for coming and speaking with the Bee. This is my final question.. Who will ‘Bee’ the first person you invite to a gig when you’re south bound? *flutters wings*
Jason: Dunno, depends who’s buzzing about 🙂
Ok I’m off ‘put the lights out’ when you’ve done guys 😉 xxx
I’m always hesitant when it comes to reviewing music. It is after all a personal preference. That said, once in a while, if a song, EP or album manages to become something more, something special, I will flutter my wings and try to convey how that music makes me feel. Hence, here are my thoughts on the…. ‘Black Tooth EP’ 🙂 Some bands just ooze cool and confidence. Black Tooth are one of these bands. With their latest musical offering, the self titled Black Tooth EP, the five piece based in Manchester have created a mini masterpiece that takes us on journey through ‘The Middle Classes’, religion, the stock markets, substance abuse and Blacktooth’s take of a good ole fashioned love song. I highly recommend this EP. Clever lyrics, superb musicianship, and a lot of attitude! support proper music and get in touch with the band and buy it. I recently had the opportunity to speak with lead singer Jason about the tracks… Here in his words are the inspiration behind the songs on this brilliant new EP.
“The easy one to get out of the way is Middle Class it’s pretty self explanatory, basically about how the middle class seem to be the only class that doesn’t really live a life, they are just there to support the rich in their life. And the poor are there to scare the middle class into staying in their homes and watching tele. Adverts play a big role in this song as they mostly advertise a benchmark for middle class life, fear of disease and a longing to live like the rich and spending all their money on gadgets. So long as you have a nice car, 2 kids, a holiday abroad, mortgage and wide screen tv everything will be ok. Its all a bit soporific if you ask me!
“Out of Sight is essentially about religion. Apart from the first two lines, I stole them from a Captain Beefheart tune called Safe As Milk. I’m a massive fan so I had to do it! Its about finding religion in yourself and believing in something that is basically out of sight. It’s also about realising how selfish people are these days and having to find something that takes you away from that. Im not a religious person but it fascinates me how someone can become so devout about something we cannot be so sure of. Always looking for escape.
Cutthroat is a song about stocks and shares and playing that whole game. I was reading some books about trading as I wanted to know more about it and the thing that struck me was the terms they have for trading. ‘Bear Market’, the ‘Deflated Basketball day’, The Bull is Heavy’ and also ‘How high can a dead cat bounce’ as soon as i read that i had to put it in a song somewhere. It’s such a mad world the stocks.
Lights Out is about taking DMT. I don’t do drugs but this one Intrigues me so much. It’s called the ‘god particle’ and reading Terrance McKenna (The voice in Downside Up) got me reading about magic mushrooms and DMT. It’s the most fascinating thing. So it’s basically about taking a hit and meeting a higher presence which then directs you like a parasite.
John is a love story. I hate love songs and everyone knows I hate them. Well some can be good but i mean the cheesy ballad ones. So I was challenged to write a love song and I did. Anyone can be in love no matter who or what they are and thats what i tried to get across with this song. All love songs are about the same thing and like with adverts they set a bench mark for what is reasonable in love. Bollocks to that!”
Photography courtesy of @TrustFox trustafoxphotography.com
and Black Tooth
FaceBook: Black Tooth