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[INTERVIEW] The Sinking Teeth

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Melbournian post-hardcore trio The Sinking Teeth have had themselves go through the hard yards for a while now. Being one of the few bands in the genre that have only three members, instead of the usual quartet/quintet image, they’ve had their name stand out a little more through not just their lineup, but also their material. With their latest release entitled Songs From the Bottom of the Lake, we had a chat with vocal guitar player Nick Manuell about the group’s newest recorded piece, their current tour going on and the stories he and Sinking Teeth had written for this album.

“It’s been awesome fun” he begins. “The last tour we did just had us flow straight into this one. So, for this one, there was a weak gap and we released a single called Salt In Stitches and then, pretty much immediately, we released the album towards the end of that tour. So, it’s kinda been driving around ever since. So, it’s kinda good to have a little break before we do the WA shows, but it’s really good.”

Having nearly completed their tour, Nick and the guys had already felt like they knew which cities were the highlights for them. While it seems that there are plenty of cities that have some wild crowds, The Sinking Teeth found their hometown Melbourne to be their most favourite.

“Melbourne’s our home, so all of our friends come to the shows, so that’s always a really good time. But, Brisbane was killer. We kinda did a double launch there with our friends ShutUp ShutUp ShutUp, who used to be called Release the Hounds. And that was a really crazy show, and I love Crowbar. It’s a great venue. But mostly, we got heaps and heaps of friends up there and it’s the people in Brisbane that make it special for us.”

With Songs From the Bottom of the Lake complete and released to the world, Nick has found the record itself to be sentimental to him for the fact that there had been so many experiences he and The Sinking Teeth had been writing up on.

“I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions about that album, personally. I’m feeling like it’s kinda like the end of something, releasing it. We have songs that we wrote three or four years ago when we wrote our first EP. So, we’ve been sitting on it for ages and so many things happened over that amount of time, like members quitting the band and lots of live events. The album is kind of bittersweet to me, but people have seem to be liking it. We got some really nice feedback from a whole lot of people, so it’s been good.”

“There’s a lot of old stories from things that have happened in our lives. There are things that I’ve been trying to write for ages. There’s stuff about my dad on there, because he passed away when I was a kid. I was trying to write songs about that for a long time, and nothing felt it was worthy for such a large experience. There are some really heavy topics on there. But the whole thing, unintentionally ended up being a reflective of things that have happened to us in life.”

On the cover of the record is a guitar pedal stuck in a frozen block. In fact, there are other items displayed inside the booklet that are also frozen. From what Nick provided in detail, we learn that the objects that are seen are what help tie the concept of the LP together.

“Basically, the concept came around ages ago. The whole idea is that there are these frozen items that are supposed to be reflective of important things to us. They’re all frozen in the lake as if to be memories in the same way that the songs are. There’s a song on the album called Bottom of the Lake, and the album title came from that, so we started to expand on that and think on ways we could visually represent what we were trying to put across. It’s supposed to be these frozen visual representations of memories, and they’re all the way throughout the booklet, and not just the album cover. So, the CD has five or six items through it.”

The Sinking Teeth are one of the few handful of trios that are quite well known in the intimate setting of Melbourne’s heavy scene. With that being said, their choice of being a three-piece wasn’t intentional, but it just so happened to make their sound a lot better for a band that plays live and records.

“I moved to Melbourne about nine years ago, and as soon as I moved up here, I had a friend that I moved up at the same time with from home and another I went to playgroup with in Melbourne. We just started a three piece band, and prior to that, in high school, I was in another three piece band. I’ve been a whole bunch of groups in my whole life, and they’ve been mostly trios. There’s multiple reasons we’ve kept it that way. We’ve thought about adding guitarists overtime and stuff, but it’s shitload cheaper to tour with three people and we find that we sound a lot tighter with just three people. I also just overplay so much that there’s no space for another guitar, in a live setting, anyway. I tend to add bits, I use a lot of delay which kind of soaks up all the space for another guitar that would be there. So, the three piece thing is intrinsic to our sound, but it was something that was unintentional for us to start off with.”

With Nick Manuell moving from his hometown to a completely different environment, this has played a big part in the inspiration for his song-writing. But aside from Melbourne, his birthplace also holds plenty of stories in the past that have been responsible for some of the other tracks that The Sinking Teeth wrote up.

“There’s a song on the album called Raymond Island, and that’s where I grew up. It’s a tiny little island in the Gippsland lakes that has only about 350 people there and the only way you can get there is by a chain ferry. So, Raymond Island is about going back there and not having any friends there anymore, because everyone has moved away. And Bottom of the Lake is about how these guys used to swim from the mainland to the island and would drown, which is a bit grim. Pavement is pretty much about moving to Melbourne and trying to find a place within subcultures. So, when I moved here, I started hanging around The Arthouse and met a whole bunch of people through that. You know, that kind of slid my way into the ever-changing Melbourne music scene, which you kind of have to stay up to date with. A big part of my element of the song-writing has been about that big transition, for sure.”

As 2016 is coming to a close, The Sinking Teeth have already got a number of plans that they’re hoping to have completed in 2017. One plan of which involves writing more material for their next release that they are hoping to have finished in its written format over the break during Christmas.

“There’s heaps of stuff that’s gonna change. But in terms of what we’re planning, we’re gonna do some shows at the beginning of next year. But, because this one took so long to get out, we’re real keen to get this next one done. So, over the Christmas break, we’re just gonna write our asses off and see if we can put something out early-ish next year. And in addition to that, we have a new drummer in the band, so having something recorded that he’s on is super important to us. And that’s gonna change the sound, immensely heavy in the mix. We’re also seriously talking about going overseas, hopefully mid-next year. So, there are heaps of stuff coming up that we’re trying to complete.”

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