There’s something morbidly appealing about Meth Teeth. With a name bound to elicit reaction, it’s no surprise that this Portland noise-folk trio has been gaining attention. But the grating rot implied by their moniker, and fulfilled by their fuzz-blasted tunes, is proving more than a little divisive. If nothing else, Meth Teeth’s serrated folk is certainly distinctive, and according to guitarist/singer Mattey Hunter, those signature abrasions developed at least partly by chance.
There’s something morbidly appealing about Meth Teeth.
With a name bound to elicit reaction, it’s no surprise that this Portland noise-folk trio has been gaining attention. But the grating rot implied by their moniker, and fulfilled by their fuzz-blasted tunes, is proving more than a little divisive.
If nothing else, Meth Teeth’s serrated folk is certainly distinctive, and according to guitarist/singer Mattey Hunter, those signature abrasions developed at least partly by chance.
“I quit a really not-so-fun band and just decided that I was gonna write weirdo-folk songs and do them by myself,” Hunter said. “Kyle [Raquipiso, drums/vocals] moved here about six months after that to go to art school and decided that we needed to join up. That’s when Meth Teeth got real I guess. Kyle has his own solo project called Leper Print with a few records out and up until recently I was in a band called Night Wounds for a bit. They moved though. So now Meth Teeth is my only thing.”
Somewhere in the mix of Raquipiso and Hunter’s collaborations, the “weirdo-folk” of Hunter’s solo project was combined with a healthy dose of distended static to form the one-of-a-kind mess called Meth Teeth.
“We are poor,” Hunter said, “We are lucky that we really love the lo-fi, I guess. It doesn’t take much money to record a pretty rad record when you want it to be lo-fi.”
That lo-fi aesthetic, married to Hunter’s approachable folk hooks, developed into a sound that was unique to Meth Teeth. Soon noise addicts and folk aficionados alike were scratching their heads at the wooly monster creeping out into the Northwest folk scene.
Not long after their first appearance as an actual band, Meth Teeth began searching for label support, which they eventually received from Canada’s Sweet Rot Records.
“I spent my last 30 dollars sending out demos,” Hunter said, “One of them ended up with Jeff and Sweet Rot in Canada. We had never met him at the time. He liked it and told us he wanted to put our demo out on a record. We were really surprised, we recorded that demo after two days of [being] a band.”
The demo in question would eventually become Meth Teeth’s debut EP, a blistering 7-inch vinyl artifact that bleeds with the ruggedness of its creation. Having sold out of its initial run, Meth Teeth is planning to release a second pressing of the EP while simultaneously working to capitalize on its sudden momentum.
In the coming months, Meth Teeth will take to the road in their premier tour of the States. This summer will also see the release of the group’s debut full length, as well as a performance at the annual PDX Pop Now! festival.
Such an explosion of activity for the band has been intimidating in some respects, but on the whole Meth Teeth is confronting their growing popularity–and the problems it presents–with appropriately guarded optimism.
“It’s been surprisingly easy to set the tour up,” Hunter said, “Gas prices are bumming me out though. I was just having a talk with my friend the other day about how the days of a band going on tour and playing to basements without a set money guarantee are kinda over.”
This unfortunate truth is just one of the many adaptations that bands such as Meth Teeth are making in the face of a changing music industry. However, Hunter and company are confronting the problems presented by the business aspects of their career with some of the same unconventional innovation that has characterized their music.
“There is no reason to buy a CD anymore I guess,” Hunter said of Meth Teeth’s decision to release their debut 7″ in vinyl and digital format, “I pretty much download everything I ever want to listen to for free. I have no money, but when I really like a band I still buy their vinyl.”
This release pattern should continue with the group’s upcoming LP, due out later this summer on Sweet Rot. In addition to that release, Meth Teeth will be putting forth a split 7-inch with Christmas Island and another 7-inch EP on Seeing Eye Records before the summer is out. Along with the group’s upcoming tour, those releases forecast an exceptionally busy summer for Meth Teeth, which is something the group is perfectly comfortable with.
“Everybody has different projects going all the time it seems,” Hunter admitted, “but this one has been really fun so far. As long as it stays that way I think we’ll keep going.”
What may truly distinguish Meth Teeth’s contrarian racket is precisely that sense of enjoyment that the group brings to their songwriting. Beneath the grating assault of Meth Teeth’s production lie hooks, energy and an enjoyable sense of humor that is usually absent in acolytes of both the folk and noise genres.
That Meth Teeth synthesizes something so whimsical from the violence of their warped guitar squeals may just be the outlying factor vaulting the group above simple morbid curiosity-and into the company of the Northwest’s premier purveyors of noise and songcraft.
Meth Teeth and Frog EyesWednesday, June 4, 8p.m.Backspace, $7All ages