The Buzz caught up with Teeth People’s front man, 25-year-old Colin Keane, to talk songwriting, his ideal woman, and what’s next for one of NYC’s buzziest new rock bands.
Make sure to catch Teeth People at Leftfield on July 8th
Your last EP, Let’s Go, was definitely one cohesive idea, lyrically and sonically. What was your songwriting inspiration behind tracks like “Greenwood Cemetery”?
Thank you. I think each of the tracks is cohesive lyrically within itself, but the overall unity of the EP comes from the musical element—Wyatt [Bertz, multi-instrumentalist for Teeth People] and I put some thought behind the arranging of the tunes, and he also produced the record. I enjoy writing lyrics and envisioning song structures, but vision alone gets you… not very far. Plenty of earnest work went into sculpting the ideas into something recognizable. Kev [Kevin Keane, bassist] wrote great bass lines for these songs. Also, Freedom [Alex Freedom, percussionist] has two original compositions on this release, both of which he wrote and performed on an instrument he invented!
As for inspiration, I’d rather not spoil your own interpretation of what the songs are about! I will say that Greenwood Cemetery is a beautiful place—I used to go there a ton when I lived close by, to read or write there, because it is this wondrous pocket of tranquility in the midst of the city. I actually wrote what would become some of the earliest Teeth People songs there. So I’ll say that, but I usually don’t like sharing the stories behind songs unless someone in the band asks, or unless I were to write a political song or something with a clear message.
Does Teeth People have any political songs?
Actually yes, French Entrance. I intended it to be a gay rights song, and I wrote it for a friend who came out to me a few years ago. That experience was very powerful to me; it made me admire my friend more, but it also put me in tune to what I thought was a silly hassle my friend faced in having to “come out” in the first place. My idea of a “french entrance” was that any LGBT person in question would never have to officially “announce” his or her orientation, because he or she lives in a society that is collectively intelligent, good and accepting. Thus, acceptance would be assumed… an announcement would be redundant. This is unrealistic, I know, but it’s a rock n’ roll song… so fuck it! Anyway, soon, “coming out” will be met with a collective, “so what?” Anti-LGBT folk believe they are members of society; my generation doesn’t think so.
In “Poetry is Dead” you say that “She’s her own female / That’s why I like her a lot.” You tend to write to or about a woman or women in your songwriting frequently. What do you look for in a woman?
Haha! I’m actually glad you asked that because I think it’s bad to look for anything in anyone. If you have “criteria,” you run the risk of missing out on a truly unique person. All that this person embodies that you could have never imagined, let alone looked for, becomes hidden to you while you’re looking for X, Y, Z.
Also, men who put a premium on looks in women are really uninteresting people to me. Every woman is beautiful to me, just by virtue of being a woman… so a search based on looks would, for me, be endless.
I’ll say that if a girl is sweet and genuine and compassionate, I’ll like her, definitely. Whether or not I will be romantically inclined towards that girl is an entirely different mystery that I can’t define or prepare for, nor do I want to.
What’s next for Teeth People?
Shows! We have a handful of NYC dates up until July, so those will be good. We have a few new songs we want to record, as well. One of the best things about this band is that each member pursues his own creative interests and projects, even amidst us working together. Kevin is a filmmaker and has already produced some brilliant shorts for Teeth People, as well as for Dr. Bore, his solo project. Wyatt is a visual artist, and he’s also teamed up with Freedom to form Slow Roasters, which is a percussion group doing some cool things right now! Life is never boring; every morning it seems like I wake up and someone in the group has made this or that. I’m excited about that continuing. There’s a lot to look forward to, but the best things will be surprises, as always.
Thank you again Colin and Teeth People for taking the time to do this interview!
Once again, don’t forget to catch them at Leftfield on July 8th.
Teeth People also plays:
– Pianos, 4/22
– Bar Matchless, 5/7
– C’mon Everybody, 5/27
– Bushwick Public House, 6/9
– Leftfield, 7/8