A couple of weeks ago we introduced Royal Fisticuffs, and they told us of their plans to shake up London’s pop punk scene. They mentioned a band we’re introducing today: meet BritishTeeth.
They are singer Chris Graham, James Farrelly and Greg O’Grady on guitar, Joel Higgs playing bass and Tom Maguire on drums. They play “punk rock for dudes that like to wear plaid shirts,” and their sound is influenced by Samiam, Saves The Day, Bouncing Souls “and some bands that make the winters of your old age much better.” That’s Hot Water Music, Menzingers and Against Me.
We asked them about the London pop punk revival that Royal Fisticuffs seem to be planning at the moment. They’ve also experienced the early struggles of trying to get on shows, when promoters aren’t sure where to put you. But there’s some comfort: “It’s really nice to know that we’re part of a small collective of other bands that are bubbling away together. I guess it’s a really great thing when you’re trying to carve out a little hole for you and your friends’ bands.” It’s always better when that collective are full of good people. “Yeah, the guys in Home Advantage, Royal Fisticuffs and Real Adventures are all amazing guys, and we love playing with them . but what’s nice is that we’re all pretty different sounding – but fit well on a bill together. It’s nice to have that network, you know?”
Guitarist James Farrelly explains that he, Joel and singer Chris are “old friends from deepest darkest Norfolk.” Chris played James in a Norwich hardcore band called Bleed13 and then in Hearts. Chris knows Joel from their old home town, and Joel’s old band Breezeblock. They then went their separate ways to go and get an education, but after Uni they started playing in London in a band called Our Harbours. When that finished. It wasn’t long before James found himself in a new band.
He picks up the story – “So Greg and I found each other through an Italian lad to start playing some Young Livers-esque punk. Chris joined in on drums. I served up some poor imitation Italian food to our friend, at which point our working relationship went slightly downhill and we parted ways. At this point, Chris had grown weary of lugging his drums around the country, so fulfilled his dreams of being a vocalist, and Greg recruited his old bandmate from The Chase, Tom for drumming duties.” They played their first show as a four piece with Polar Bear Club and that’s when they decided they needed a second guitarist, a quick swap around later and old friend Joel Higgs was drafted in to play bass with Greg taking up guitar duties.
The name comes from a set of lyrics from James and Joel’s Our Harbour days. “We had lots of comments on the name, mainly people mishearing it and thinking we were called ‘British Beef” or “British Tea”. In retrospect, those are much more meritorious names that don’t add fuel to our American cousin’s fire that we all have bad teeth.” They made sure to tell us that yes, they visit the dentist regularly.
The band released their debut EP through Music Glue, where Tom works. This gave them an opportunity to work with Gallows producer Tom Mitchener, recording at his studio near Watford. “Tom had just finished up recording the latest Gallows record, so we spend the first couple of days asking silly questions about what Wade made of the local newsagents.” What’s his studio like? “It’s great, he and his Dad have collected a bunch of awesome gear over the years, so it was a pleasure to play through some lovely old amps. We’re really into things sounding a little more vintage – old Vox amps, Rickenbackers, dusty old keyboards – that kind of thing.”
It was good to find someone who quickly understood what they were after. “Tom totally got what we were about straight away. We’re all fans of good US punk, but we also all love our British bands. You’ll hear little homages to Oasis in our mid-8’s and some blur references in our songs. Tom managed to help us find that nice mix between having that gently overdriven sound and balls to the wall punk choruses.” They do have some plans to do things little differently next time round though. “Tom did his drum tracks to a click. It’s always so much more organic if you can get into one room together and get some feeling into the songs. That first Bronx album always blows me away, and I know they tracked a bunch of that live – we’d love to get a sound like that on the next record.”
They’ve had a few meaningful moments as a band, including opening for Saves the Say, who have soundtracked many of their summers. But they reserved their favourite moment as “playing a house show last Halloween for Sweetjugs at Astbury Castle.” Bot expecting anybody to check them out, they were overwhelmed by the 40 or so who packed into a tiny kitchen to see them play “seeing a bunch of people go nuts for us and for a bunch of songs they’d never heard pretty much confirmed in our minds why we do this.”
BritishTeeth are a band that know exactly where they want to be. They say they’re not out to push boundaries, but to play music just as they know how. Their sound has all the hallmarks of sunny American pop punk, but without the American falsity that lots of English pop punk bands employ these days. And at the end of the day, “most of us are over 30, which means we have little time or energy for worrying too much about what’s ‘cool’ or would look good as a quote on the cover of Front magazine. We’re a bunch of guys trying to make some songs that feel good to sing along to with your mates, or when you hear it on the bus in the morning you think ‘Fuck, I totally feel like that, too’. Familiarity feels fine.”