Polished; The Importance of Production in Metal with Blake from Teeth
Recently, the production process of music has been riddling my thoughts as if seemingly unrecognized up until this point. Production is such a vital element to a song that can ultimately decide your opinion, perhaps even more so than the musicianship or the songwriting itself, of a track. As we draw the blinds on another decade, many may reflect, even if only in thoughts passing, on the swift progression technology has taken in recent years. This achievement de la tech has had an effect on music that is impossible to ignore.
But who cares about 808s?
AI-generated house beats?
This is metal Sydney metal, right? A genre as old as Ozzy Osbourne’s first pair of sunglasses. A movement, true and respected by all who follow it faithfully back to the days when the first chord of Helter Skelter sparked the fuse of parents everywhere.
I believe that our music faces a new villain. The biggest threat facing metal today is the overproduction and misuse of modern technologies. With all new exciting possibilities your average producer may offer you, the highway to Hell now seems speckled with more neon lights and dials than kings cross and as good as football fields of foot pedals can be, many modern metal musicians have detrimental production standards. This isn’t to say that anything new is bad, in fact, my point is derived from the contrary. We should be using new tools to generate new noise and not attempting to push square-shaped sounds into circle shaped holes.
Sydney metalcore band Teeth are an excellent example of future music. The band, after a series of singles, have recently released their first EP, Prey For War. An epic EP so heavy, my stereo developed a gravitational field, causing many stray objects to collide with me (I am currently seeking legal action.) The EP marks the beginning of great things to come as the band has already earned their place into 2019’s Good Things Festival, the road ahead seems promising.
The EP itself is fantastic (with equal credit going to Teeth and Jono Peters their producer respectively.) It leaves such satisfaction that everything bar its length, causes you to consider it as an album. Teeth vocalist and cavity-free, Blake, credits their refreshing sound and studio work ethic to the fact that the studio is Teeth’s home. “we’ve been pretty busy since we started because we started in the studio. A lot of bands usually start with the intention of jumping into shows but it was just me and the guitarist and we just wanted to write some music and record it. We got a friend to do drums in the studio. The focus has always been on recording so I think naturally we have just pumped out a lot of music, we haven’t forced it but if we are doing shows it’s to bring us back to the studio at some point.”
Unlike modern mainstream metal, big league bands like Killswitch Engage (who despite writing some interesting music lose a lot of impact due to overproduction) Teeth draw their inspiration from a more sterile and mechanized process. On the bands most recent, gingivitis inducing single, Rapture, Industrial elements are featured within the metalcore melody making music truly refreshing and hard to compare. “we wanted to focus on stripping things back a little and trying different elements,” explains Blake, “we did a couple electronic bits in the new EP but we wanted to strip the songs back a bit and just chuck in some different sounds”
Teeth are a perfect example of production gone right. The young musicians are utilizing modern tools. Not to condense (both literally and metaphorically) as I feel many bands now do, squeezing themselves into tightly cramped studios till all the juices that had made them special are leaking out the door, but rather to express the same energy that created metal in the start by new means. The songs themselves are heavy lumps of sweet cream sprinkled with mounts of computerized cherries and sprinkles. When asked if he was proud of the recent music the band had produced Blake said: “I’m more proud that we have a good functioning dynamic with our band, we achieve what we want to achieve and the process of doing it comes really natural.”
Blake mainly attributes the failure of talented, potential-filled bands with the pressure of performance “there can be so much pressure to perform in the studio if you’re working with a really well-known producer you might be really anxious about recording you might not go in being as comfortable as you are on stage…it’s really important to find someone that you are comfortable to work with and get along well with, almost like a friend... The guy we record with (Jono Peters) he’s our mate now. Going into the studio yeah, there’s work to be done and we’ve got things to do but at the end of the day it’s just me and him hanging out, in his brothers room with speakers anyone could buy, a laptop, talking smack and making noise and we are just having fun.” While he, himself lacks knowledge on the complexities of music production Blake values and recognizes the efforts of their producer as something that comes through generously in their music.
The Importance of production is not to be unstated. In many cases what happens with the recorded material is more important than the musicianship or even the songwriting itself. It’s the reason transformative covers of songs are so interesting and an old classic can be modernized in exhilarating ways (see FIDLAR have a cigar) or, alternatively, sound like a bootleg version of the original. It’s the reason that while a live album won’t make or break one’s perception of a band, they can be an amazing and inspired with an encapsulating experience (See Green Day’s Bullet in a Bible) or be left in the bleak mediocrity of a noisy nuisance. Blake comments,
“A lot of genres of metal have to sound really precise and the guitars have to be tracked SO well and everything needs to be really, really tight and done so it sounds good… sometimes a band will go and do that genre of metal and they’ll record it live and it just sounds so insanely good. One of my favourite records was recorded live. It’s by Suicide Silence, The Cleansing it was their biggest record and that was all recorded live”
To conclude, though technology has evolved and the times are indeed a’changing rather than using new tools to do an old job we should be using producers and their arsenal artistically to create new exciting music rather than spoiling something classic with unnecessary bells and whistles. Teeth are a band exciting band to watch and support. They bring an exciting unique flair to the Sydney metalcore scene. A scene that Blake himself is seeing die “even just five years ago there was three times the amount of metalcore bands.”
So, are Teeth the balance in the force? The band to watch? The chosen ones?
Decide for yourself as I urge you to check out Prey for War now.
And watch Blake and I discuss these topics and more at X2X studios