Everett True

Song of the day – 431: Teeth (Rock Vs Cancer. Rock Wins.)

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Teeth - The Strain album cover

Here’s the deal.

This dude from The Cribs emails me. I was going to paraphrase him, but you know that ain’t my style. My style is cut to the case where possible. This dude from The Cribs emails me, asks me to have a listen to a band he’s encountered in his travels. You don’t send shit out like that in emails very often if you want to retain any credibility whatsoever, once a decade maybe. I figure this dude knows my taste so I have myself a listen. It’s fucking SWEET, dry and incisive as all hell, blistering and right-on without any of that extraneous shit, like grunge was when Killdozer and Big Black invented it way back then: menace and anger and a drum sound that’s as serious as cancer. Guitars that are so fucking restrained you start worrying whether they’re lurking somewhere out there in the shadows because if they ever break free you’re in a fuck of a lot of trouble boy. Repetition like only early Spacemen 3 realised it. Brooding, like a useless rejected altar boy. Fucking goddamn, you  don’t need to tell me Albini is involved somewhere in this music … you can fucking feel his grimy fingernails all over your earlobes, pleading, plucking, tearing great big holes. SILENCE IS A WEAPON TOO. The album’s called The Strain and Bangs damn it, we would’a KILLED for music this focused, tightly coiled, back in 1990. Covers would’ve fallen. Shirts would’a been ripped. Bass bins torn asunder.

The album’s called The Strain and it’s 30 minutes of some of the greatest grunge you’ll ever hear in your goddamn life, and I’m thinking of early Today Is The Day, early Lift To Experience, early Crass even for the intensity and the intensity alone (not the music), and my old floor buddy Dale Crover for the … Bangs damnit, do I need to explain this … and it’s John and Benjamin Grabski, brothers, never recorded together before, helping John battle cancer despite the cancer returning again and again.

Fuck that. The music is what matters here.

As the Circuit Sweet blog puts it: Rock Vs Cancer. Rock Wins.

Here’s Gary’s email, trimmed because some of it is none of your damn business. Or if it is your damn business then maybe you can conduct it elsewhere where it can have more impact. Your damn business right now is to agree with me how fucking GREAT this album they’ve made sounds. Anyway. Here’s Gary’s email:

We just got done recording our new record with Steve Albini, at his place in Chicago. Don’t know if you know much about that place, but it is residential so we ended up meeting the band that was in prior to us. they were called Teeth and they were really nice guys … Albini was doing them for free because he liked the idea behind the project, and Coady Willis from The Melvins is helping them out.

I have just been trying my best to spread the word, and thought maybe it was right up your street. Super raw, honest, not being done for commercial gain etc. Very influenced by Melvins, Shellac, Bleach/pre-Dave-era Nirvana, maybe even a bit Jesus Lizard at times.

Just wanted to pass on the word.


So the dude from Teeth emails me, John Grabski III. Here’s the email, abridged:

I certainly appreciate your interest.  At this time, two unmastered tracks are available for a listen at http://teethhasteeth.bandcamp.com … also at Teeth’s FB page, http://facebook.com/teethhasteeth (which also has a bio and stuff as well)…

The album trailer as well as a rehearsal video is available at http://youtube.com/teethmusichasteeth …

My interview on Rochester news station WHAM 13 is located at http://bit.ly/vBnXtY …

I have a concise written track-by-track “abstract” of the album itself that would serve as a great listening companion as well; I’ve used it for some private listenings, which regardless of the person’s affiliation has surprisingly resulted in a strong emotional response to the entire experience; something that has proven to be quite humbling to me.

All the best to you, sir!

I don’t know about you. Much as I like the idea of an ‘abstract’, this music is MORE than enough for me. It stands alone, magnificent in its metal beauty. All 30 minutes, 30 seconds of it. I know that my old coffee-drinking partner Jack Endino would love this, and I know that I love this, and I know Steve Albini loves this, and I know Thurston Moore would love this, and I know Mudhoney would love this, and I know Gary Jarman loves this … and Bangs wept. How much more of a fucken recommendation do you need?

6 Responses to Song of the day – 431: Teeth (Rock Vs Cancer. Rock Wins.)

  1. Conan Neutron January 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    It is a fantastic record with an incredible story, but you are right… The music totally stands alone as something amazing.

    Hooray for TEETH.

  2. Martha Brown January 23, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Glad to see my son’s and his brother’s project is getting out there and being held in such high regard. To all those who have helped and will help make this The Big Thing happen, THANK YOU!

  3. richey January 24, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Fucking awesome. The real grunge as it were.

  4. Everett True January 24, 2012 at 7:25 am

    (from Facebook)

    Everett True ‎
    Jack Endino, reckon you’ll dig this if you don’t already

    Adam Kincaid
    Nicely done, the first of this to -be vintage year. I wonder what the the interest in cancer is?

    John Grabski III
    For more info: http://facebook.com/teethhasteeth

    Everett: Thanks, you can publish the real review now. :p The one with the more scathing words decrying my lack of skill on the guitar, bass, drum kit, vocals…

    Jack: If you do check it out, I hope you enjoy it, sir!

    Adam: Thanks for your kind words. I relented at replying, but you asked an honest question. I’m dying of cancer. Late Stage 4 PNET Sarcoma. I beat four other types over the last 5 years, but this 5th has been extra rough on me. Inoperable now, any medical assistance is just palliative (for my comfort). Physically I’m quite compromised these days, and even in the last couple weeks things have progressed in what I would call a bad direction. I’m at the point now where once I start losing weight, the countdown clock starts ticking really, really fast. … The whole album is about life with cancer over the years. It’s not a story but it is, all abstract and metaphorical and shit. There’s even a song that is written from cancer’s perspective… and the album wraps up with a response/refultal to that song in the last two tracks. This album (and Teeth itself) only happened because after getting the worst news yet (hey, cancer’s back, it’s inoperable! You don’t have much time left, make the most of it!) I just called Steve up and asked him if he’d help me get something done that was sort of a life goal to me. And he VERY graciously helped (as have countless friends, family and strangers). For what it’s worth I’m heading back to Electrical Audio (health permitting) Feb 4-11 to record the follow-up album.

    Rock vs. cancer. Rock wins. Teeth is abrasive, playful and sinister all at once. Made in hopes that the listener will feel the effort and determination in every pick scrape, errant drum slap, and churned-up riff and lyric. Engineered by Steve Albini to sound large, powerful, willfully reckless, yet intimate. Teeth founder John Grabski has always written vaguely introspective lyrics riddled with sarcasm and themes that swing from cute and playful to dangerous, and his combination of these lyrics with fairly heavy music allowed him to create some simple and interesting rock songs even at a young age. His idea development started to come to full fruition in 2006 when he set up a recording studio in his Naples NY apartment to record his album “Tooth & Nail” under the recording/performing surname Low-Fi/Emphatic. Songs like “Trust the Flow” and “In the Sea” display a good understanding of basic song dynamics and an ability to hook the listener from a variety of angles. His material took on new meaning in 2007 after a cancer diagnosis, surgeries and subsequent chemotherapies. He started to pick up on material such as King Crimson’s Red and Lark’s Tongue in Aspic, the buzz-saw guitar tone in Queens of The Stone Age’s Era Vulgaris, and he began to think hard about the intricacies of a dual-drumset setup like The Melvins have employed since 2006’s (a) Senile Animal. To help get him through times of near-death, John kept working on music, and in 2008 he recorded some demos titled “The Cancer Tapes” which represent the ideas that manifested in him during a time of great crisis in his life. 2009 brought remission and further musical work (some attic demos were recorded), and 2010 saw John join the heavy, innovative and progressive Cheebahawk, a band that evolved far beyond the prototypical trendy underground “Doom” movement. John continued work with Cheebahawk, while still occasionally writing solo material. In mid-2011 cancer came back with a vengeance. Inoperable, the scourge has decided to take up permanent residence in John. He kept at working with Cheebahawk, and right before a major surgery in October he found out after a brief inquiry that Steve Albini would like to help him to record his solo album. After recovering from the surgery and then going through a few weeks of intense radiation, John recruited his brother Benjamin Grabski to help him write an album’s worth of new material, arrange it and commit it to tape. They had never played together before for longer than an hour, so this was a new thing for both. The project had no name. The brothers packed their equipment into a car and drove to Chicago. After four days of recording and one day of engineering, an album was born under the name “The New York farmers”. Some tracks feature John on all instruments, some feature Benjamin handling a few duties. During tracking, the two-piece also played a night gig at Chicago’s Pancho’s on California Ave. with the great bands Nonagon and Fake Limbs, which garnered a lot of positive feedback. Upon returning from the life-catalyzing trip, John realized that there didn’t have to be an and to his relationship with Electrical Audio, so he asked Steve if he’d be interested in working together again. Steve replied that it would be an honor. The project still had no name. Now it does. Teeth Teeth’s album “The Strain“ takes the listener into, and out of a thirty minute, thirteen second journey of confrontation with cancer. Designed to be harsh and startling yet sweet at the same time, the music and lyrics are collectively intended to provide a full cycle of emotions from come-what-may acceptance to vile disdain to confrontation and triumph. “The Strain” will be available in February 2012, with the follow-up album “Release” available a few months later.

    Adam Kincaid
    Hi John, hope you didn’t think I was being glib in my post. It’s so good to find something positive and life affirming coming from such a negative thing. Good luck in February 🙂

    John Grabski III
    Thank you sir. This over at Electrical Audio’s forum chronicles the story of how this all came about.


    Jack Endino
    I like it! But I think it is post-grunge. If it was actual grunge the guitars would be mixed louder. 😉 John, I congratulate you for resisting entropy as long as you can. That’s all any of us can do in this life. If you can turn your misfortune into art… on some level you’ve won a battle if not the war. I take my hat off to you.

  5. John Grabski III (Teeth) February 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Pre-order Teeth’s debut album here!


    Thank you for your support eveyone!

    – John

  6. Tommy mutz April 22, 2016 at 12:12 am

    Wow. This is amazing. John Grabski was my best friend growing up. I love and miss him dearly. So happy to read all of this. Thank you everyone.

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