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Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead Interview

6 April 2015 offering No Comment

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Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead has been around for a while. It’s only recently they have gotten some much deserved shine with their masterful full-length on Malignant Records called “Starving the Fires”.

The two are without a doubt some of the hardest working artists in death industrial. Avoiding the typical tropes and sounds, Teeth Engraved continues to evolve sculpting impenetrable walls of noise pummeled by scrap metal “bovine whirlwind” percussion and vicious vocals.

Please introduce yourselves and how long you’ve been operating as Teeth Engraved.

-Hey dude, we’re MZ and DD and we’ve been operating as Teeth Engraved for, believe it or not, ten years this year. I can’t remember the exact date but I think the anniversary is some time in late August or early September?

How would you describe the way in which you create your compositions?

-There’s no set in stone way we approach putting our stuff together but pretty often it’ll start with one of us messing with some gear around the house and over the course of a day we’ll slowly come up with something that sounds like a starting point that we can both build on at the practice space later.

Right now my work bench is set up in our practice space so any time I get pissed off with work and need to look up and clear my head I tend to reach over and start messing with music stuff ’til i feel like working again.

A lot of times our stuff will start out with some real small element like a looping chunk of feedback, a snippet of a lyric, a couple stray drum hits, or a really simple synth part that’ll then get built up and layered ’til it kind of spirals out of control.

I’ve noticed there are some tone and melody in your music. How do you incorporate melodies into this out of control spiraling?

-A lot of times with us the melody and tonal stuff are in place right from the beginning and like rather than trying to make something that starts out totally fucked up and harsh sounding we start out making something more structured then slowly ramp up the chaos ’til shit starts to fall apart.

I’m pretty sure I originally kind of copped the idea from something I read in this old interview with some japanese band, I think it might have been C.C.C.C., that I read in a zine probably seventeen years ago where they talked about making cool synth sounds first then piling the distortion on once they had a foundation they were happy with. I always thought that was a cool way of working and that’s pretty much how we operate… construct something we like then demolish it.

I really like to feel like we have some amount of control over the chaos rather than just plugging in a bunch of pedals and leaving shit to chance which is why it always takes us so long to finish new shit.

How have your experiences brought you to where you are with Teeth musically?

-It’s weird, it seems like lately we kind of get lumped I’m with the whole “blacknoise” thing which is fine but honestly I grew up playing in grind and punk bands and that definitely informs how I come at Teeth Engraved more than anything else… But even then, I was always the kid getting kicked out of bands for being a noisy bastard and kind of always trying to find the limits with shit… like when my bandmates would want a solo or something I’d want to fuck around with a bunch of feedback. Or like if they wanted to do hardcore I’d try to get them into Godflesh, Voivod, or Man Is the Bastard. Just constantly the “weird kid” in the band.

I also got into the first handful of Skinny Puppy albums and certain types of hip-hop pretty young too so I’d want to mess with samples and drum machines back when that was still kind of “not allowed” in punk music.

Looking back It kind of makes me wish I had grown up on the west coast cos all those slap a ham, pessimiser and prank records bands and that whole fiesta grande scene as well as all the southwestern hardcore bands out where you were seemed like they were tapped into something way more interesting than the bands I was playing with back east. I remember hearing Plutocracy for the first time and thinking “I knew this could be done!!!” hahaha.

A really formative moment for me was like right around when I turned 16 I went to my first “big” metal show out in Worcester MA and picked up some relapse records comp that had a ton of noise and Industrial stuff… that was the first time I heard Dissecting Table, Masonna, Atrax Morgue, Brighter Death Now, Skin Crime, Con-Dom, Yen Pox, Tribes of Neurot and a bunch of others who are big favorites of mine to this day and it all just totally blew my head off. From that point on I knew that I really wanted to do something with industrial music but it took a lot of years to figure out how to make it happen.

Apart from that, i’d say that seeing Neurosis for the first time back in 1995 was probably the moment that I decided I needed to become a musician… It was a total painful mindfuck and those guys are still a huge source of inspiration to me even though we don’t sound anything like them.

A lot of your music swirls with pretty dystopic as well as personal themes. Can you explain a little bit how Teeth Engraved views the world and its inhabitants?

-Hahah, ok I need to pick my words pretty carefully here so i don’t make myself sound like a total fucking idiot…

I wouldn’t say that I’m misanthropic or any dramatic bullshit like that but I’ve struggled with a really rotten temper coupled with serious social anxiety ever since I was a young kid so a lot of times I feel pretty out of step with the people around me. It can be especially difficult now that I’m in my mid thirties and most people I meet my own age have kind of stopped doing music and settled into a “grown up” life that I don’t really relate to.

I mean, I have a sense of humor about it and I do value the friends I have and I totally don’t hate people for having different priorities than I do but it’s easy to feel isolated when most people you meet seem to think you’re a nutcase for still being into music, going to shows and skateboarding when they’re buying houses and having kids. You kinda start to feel like you’ve slipped through the cracks a little.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve also really come to realize that my fucked-up temper is a huge problem too… As a kid I was always getting completely wasted or dropping acid then going to shows and getting in tons of stupid fights and I was always way more than willing to fly off the handle and fucking flatten someone for any perceived shit talk or lack of respect… Looking back, as much as I want to make excuses for myself I was honestly a violent prick and it cost me many, many friendships along the way, rightfully so.

It’s really only now that I’m a grown man that I can understand how much all that violent shit stunted my growth as a person… It’s like over the course of all those years that I was so fucking angry all the time and so keen to demand “respect” from everyone around me I somehow re-wired my brain to only look at the negative in everything and I still go into most of my interactions with other people expecting them to fuck with me or give me any excuse not to like them. Its pretty crazy how much of that hostility and paranoia is still ingrained in my personality even after many years of working to sort myself out mentally.

I’d like to think that someday I’ll put it behind me but I still have a long way to go.

A lot of the themes that run through our music are definitely born out of that feeling of being out of step with people which I think gets filtered through a lot of cynicism about the future and this crust punk-ish “we’re all fucking doomed” environmental bent as well as a lot of other apocalyptic stuff that comes from me being a big science fiction fan.

What have been some of your challenges in creating and releasing music?

-The biggest challenge for us creating and releasing stuff is me being a total fucking nutcase perfectionist and having to force myself to say something is “done enough” when we’re still working on a track six months after we said it’d be done and i’m obsessing over tiny little details that are apparent to no one but myself…

Beyond that, for a long time we had almost no contact with labels or other bands or whatever so it was always hard for us to get stuff out when we did finish something.

Honestly though, shit finally seems to be changing a little bit lately both in regards to us actually finishing projects that we start and also getting more offers to do splits and comp tracks and stuff. I don’t think we’ll ever be one of those bands that puts out a new tape every week or whatever but hopefully there will be a more steady output going forward then there has been in the past.
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“KDW” was your first release I was exposed to from Teeth Engraved. How have you evolved since the release of “Starving the Fires” and what are some major milestones in your existence?

Actually a lot of people don’t know this but KDW was our third release, it was the first we did on someone else’s label but there were two before it that we self released through our own “Seismic Deth” label. One was called “Ghosts of Rust” and the first one was called “The Gaping Mouth of Nothing.”

they’re both long gone but if you scour the bargain bins around Boston [where we lived at the time] long enough I’m sure you’ll come up on them for like twenty five cents a piece eventually… I’m pretty sure the masters for the first tape were lost in a massive hard drive crash back in 2008 but I actually just found the master cd of the “Ghosts” recordings that I thought I lost many years ago while cleaning my room the other day so there’s a chance that one will get dusted off and maybe pop up on our bandcamp someday.

We started out as more of a guitar noise thing that DD and me would do when the rest of the band we were in at the time would ditch practice but over the years we’ve replaced most of the guitars with synths and gradually added more electronics until it mutated into the gruesome doom industrial mess that we are today.

As far as evolution, a lot of the new shit we’ve done since “Starving” has been way more structured and rhythmic than anything we’d done before. We’ve wanted to work more rhythmic stuff into what we do in some way for a long time but it’s only pretty recently that we’ve been able to do it in a way that comes close to what we’ve been hearing in our heads…. The split with you is kind of the first taste of that and by the time the next full length is done we’ll hopefully have incorporated those elements fully. It wont be something we pull out on every track but It’s a new tool in the tool-box.

Major milestones for me are definitely the releases of KDW and Starving the fires respectively, I still get a kick out of releasing stuff on labels i like even after being a musician for almost 20 years so those two were really fun for me.

Playing our first show in a really long time this summer and not having any major embarrassing fuckups was a big one too. That kind of gave me the kick in the ass to try to play more shows in the near future including maybe a short tour this summer. Playing shows has always been a wicked anxiety overload for me even back when I used to play in punk bands and tour a lot so if that show had been a trainwreck I’m pretty sure I never would have found the willpower to play out again.

Teeth Engraved is pretty sonically dense and complex to the outsider…how do you put together a live show set?

Putting together the live set while totally fucking stressful for me on the anxiety level honestly isn’t much different than how we put together a new track… It usually will be something like find a couple complimentary synth textures and a central loop then improvise something around that.

We practice almost every day even when we don’t have shows lined up so when we do get asked to play out we’re usually pretty well drilled and it’s pretty much just a matter of setting our gear up in a different room than usual and doing what we do.

I think the main reason we haven’t played live more often is down to a lack of offers to play more than to it being particularly difficult to execute.

What new releases do you have coming up?

-In the coming months we’ve got a split w/ Regosphere, and a comp track on Black Goat records coming out all of which are finally done, mastered and sent out to the labels in question so hopefully they’ll all see the light of day before too long. There were also a couple other things that we recorded for that fell through too and we’re still figuring out to do with those tracks.

For the rest of this year we’re gonna be focusing on finishing a full length for this rad label called Fall of Nature Records out of Australia and recording the Second part of Starving the Fires for Malignant as well as some recordings for what will hopefully become some kind of collaboration with Husere Grav.

We’ve also talked about maybe reaching out to TRTRKMMR and/ or Pig Heart Transplant for some kind of split or a collab cos we love both of those projects but right now that’s just an idea cos I think they’re both way out of our league musically.

I know TeethEngraved consists of two entities. Can you tell me about what each of your contributes as well as what solo projects you have in tow?

We both play a ton of different instruments so there’s not really any clear division of labor anymore. It was a little clearer in the early days cos I did all the vocals and most of the electronics and D played all the guitar but now that we both do vocals and electronics it tends to vary a lot from track to track.

Somewhat surprisingly the little bit of destroyed melody and “pretty shit” that’s been creeping back into our stuff lately has been coming more from me than her, on the earlier stuff it always used to be the other way around.

Right now Teeth Engraved is the main focus for both of us musically and we also both just started playing guitar in a metal band with our friend Pat on drums so our solo things have kind of fallen by the wayside lately but I used to do harsh noise under the name Deadness and she did a more ambient project called Towering.

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What are two or three albums you think people should check out if they want to know where Teeth Engraved is coming from, be it musically and conceptually?

As far as stuff that has Influenced us, there’s this one album called “Towers are Burning” by this old ambient/noise/doom band outta Oakland called Noisegate that Is one of both of our favorite albums of all time, I think that Is more than anything else what we’re shooting for with Teeth Engraved.

Beyond that, Gruntsplatter, Crash Worship, Gravitar, Pain Teens/ Walking Timebombs, Your Cell Yourself, the early SWANS stuff, Tribes of Neurot, Anenzephalia, Zeni Geva, Neurosis, Rudimentary Peni, Dystopia, Gasp, Mz.412, the Extra-Capsular Extraction and Earth2 albums by Earth, the first two Napalm Death CDs, HALO, Work/ Death, Sistrenatus, Siege, and the Defixiones, Will and Testament album by Diamanda Galas, all have some bearing on where we’ve been or where we’re going.

I totally rip my vokills off from The Accused and United Mutation pretty much wholesale too so anyone who doesn’t know that stuff already should probably check those guys out while they’re at it.

As far as our own stuff Its all pretty fragmented but I guess If I had to pick I’d start with “Starving the Fires pt. I”, thats the closest thing to any sort of “coherent statement” we’ve done so far where we kind of pulled a lot of different ideas we’ve had over the last ten years together into “holy crap this is kinda starting to sound like a real band”.

Anything else you’d like to add?

-Nothing I can think of man, thanks a lot for the interview.

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