Teeth of the Sea set to rock Katana in Harrogate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ONE of the country’s most exciting and unique live rock bands is coming to play Katana bar in Harrogate shortly in a special show for Harrogate International Festival Fringe.

North London-based Teeth of the Sea, once performed the entire Queen soundtrack of the movie Flash Gordon in full costume.

Teeth of the Sea will be supported at Katana on Friday, July 22 by Leeds mavericks You’ll Learn, who combine rap music with electronic soundscapes.

The evening at Katana Bar on Union Street will conclude into the wee small hours with a 3D music event Minimalism to the Max.

Minimalism to the Max

VJ Quadrod will mix live visuals and music from ambient, psychedelic, Krautrock and post-rock acts such as Battles, Can, Neu, Tangerine Dream, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Mogwai, Pink Floyd and more.

The unconventional four-piece, who combine elements of post-rock, psychedelia, prog, ambient and Rave in their sound, won rave reviews for Your Mercury, their second album on Rocket Recordings.

Answering questions for the Harrogate Advertiser Series, band member Sam Barton said this mesmerising, menacing space-rock band didn’t like to be lumped in with any label and weren’t embarrassed to like Flash Gordon

Teeth of the Sea interview

1. How do you think the band has changed between the first album Orphaned By The Ocean and the recent one Your Mercury?

When we started out the aim was simple: get in a room with friends, get drunk and make really obnoxious, scary, atmospheric noises. There was no master plan, we probably didn’t even think we’d ever play a gig, let alone make a record. To be honest we were pretty surprised when Rocket wanted to put something out by us.

The first album was therefore quite piecemeal/rushed in its construction. It’s more a collection of everything we’d recorded up to that point whether that’s something we recorded in a studio, our practice room or just our bedrooms. The overall style of it is pretty drone-based and, perhaps in part due to our inexperience in recording, there’s a murkiness to the whole record that I like.

Before it even came out John (drums and bass) parted company with us, replaced by Mat. Mat’s drumming style is a lot more propulsive than John’s and I’m actually playing a lot more bass now than I did on the first album too, so I suppose we now have a more identifiable ‘rhythm section’, something we probably tried to avoid on the first record.

On top of this the electronic elements of our sound have come to the fore more on Your Mercury, Mike’s forever acquiring new toys that tend to be catalysts for renewed bursts of creativity, and we weren’t shy of using loops etc this time. Jimmy has been using synths/tape loops over the last couple of years too and this also fed into the album. The overall sound is much more like a gleaming glass monolith rather than the nocturnal seascape of Orphaned.

But I suppose the main difference is that the process of creating ‘Your Mercury’ was approached as a whole, we were constantly trying to keep this idea we all had for the record in mind when making any decision, no matter how trivial. We’d become a lot more confident in what we thought we could attempt.

Almost all of the reviews of the album mention it’s ‘coherence’ as a strength so I suppose the hard work paid off.

2. How did the departure of John Hirst from the band and arrival of Mat Colegate affect the band’s sound?

See above

3. What are the band’s biggest influences?

Ah, where do you start? Wolf Eyes, Liars, Can, Miles Davis, Hawkwind, Goblin, Butthole Surfers, Tangerine Dream, Iron Maiden, Ben Frost, Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Daft Punk to name a few.

I think the trick is to take inspiration from seeing how people you admire approach their work rather than simply ripping their sound, which just takes you into pastiche territory.

4. How would you categorise Teeth of the Sea?

It’s something we generally try and avoid doing (as do a lot of bands as far as I can see) which is probably quite annoying for people writing about us! We have been described as ‘post-rock’ by some sources but that’s a term I hate.

Similarly other people have called us ‘psychedelic’ which doesn’t offend me as much, but is still misleading. I’d be far happier to be described as a rock and roll band really, even though we probably don’t fit most people’s idea of what that is.

Sometimes a vaguer term forces people to actually listen to what you sound like rather than just put you into some really niche box and leave you there.

5. What is the band’s highest ambition?

For such a bunch of wasters we are actually quite ambitious, certainly in terms of concepts and ideas. There’s always all sorts of things we want to do with film/lighting/visuals as well as tons of mooted collabarative ideas in the pipeline. We’re not a band who can write an idea off for being ‘too silly’, that tends to just be a red rag to a bull.

For example at the moment we’re working on totally re-editing an existing film and composing a completely original score which we will perform/screen at the Branchage film festival in Jersey, late September. (I can’t say what the film is just yet but it will no doubt be announced nearer the time.)

As far as ‘highest ambition’ goes then it would probably be something like a Jeff Wayne style rock opera about a private detective from outer space who teams up with a down-on-his-luck jazz musician to help save the world from a subterranean, subhuman race of miniature horses, featuring at some point a duel to the death between Batman and Aleister Crowley (I’m not telling you who wins). Or something.

6. What is with your love of Queen’s Flash Gordon. Didn’t you once perform the entire soundrack dressed in the gear?

Flash Gordon embodies the TOTS spirit perfectly. Stupid, exciting, beautiful, camp, weird, funny. And the soundtrack is just fantastic, whatever way you look at it, a real high watermark both for Queen and for film soundtracks in general. We did indeed cover the whole thing in full costume, with the film screened as a backdrop - further proof I believe of our ‘no idea is too ridiculous’ ethos. It was New Years eve 2008, a legendary night for us really, and Mat’s first gig with the band too. He was wearing just a pair of underpants and giant papier-mache wings to play.

People still ask us about that now and whether we’re ever going to do it again but I love that it was a one-off, never to be repeated event, it adds a certain magic to it.

7. Why are you playing the Harrogate Fringe?

Well we were asked very nicely and when we saw Julian Cope was doing it we just had to say yes. Also, I’ve heard from several close sources that the Fat Rascal in Betty’s Tea Rooms is the best cake in England, so can’t wait to try one of those.

Ticket information

For ticket information, telephone 01423 522 277 or email modernmusicreview@btinternet.com or visit www.harrogate-festival.org.uk