I first became aware of the sludge behemoth that is Yellowtooth when main man and also the founder of Orchestrated Misery Records Peter got in touch to tell me about his new band in the latter half of 2008. OK, I will say they don’t offer anything new or ground breaking, but then they don’t claim to and in their own words “We are not out to reinvent the wheel, but to jam, drink and play some tunes!”. So if that’s enough to wet your appetite, read the interview, then go and buy their debut 4 track demo of filthy downtuned despondency!
Hey Peter, hope life’s treating you well over in Michigan City, as with all my interviews, lets get it kick started by giving us a brief introduction to the band, your current members along with their roles in Yellowtooth?
Peter: Hey Lee, life has been good, thanks! Very much appreciate the interest you’ve taken in the ‘tooth! The band Yellowtooth consists of 3 members: Henry McGinnis: Guitar/vocals, Ed Kribs: Drums & myself (Peter Clemens) on bass/vocals. We formed in the spring of 2008 after talking about jamming some tunes with each other and finally just let the music roll out when we started playing. It’s been a lot of fun and in just over a year we are ready to record our first cd.
On your Myspace page, it states that you’ve all been involved with music for 20+ years so can you give us an insight into your background, what other bands/projects you’ve been involved in?
Peter: All the members have been kicking around the Indiana/Chicago scene since the late 80s in local bands & whatnot… but Henry & Ed have been jamming together for over 20 years & were in several bands together: Chronic Disorder, Kiloton & What Doesn’t Kill You. As for me I’ve tooled around with Skullview, Sea of Tranquillity, Nocturnal Torment, Invasion, Shades of Grey and a few I’ve forgotten over the years, haha. I’ve bounced around between thrash & death metal and within the last 6 or 7 years really discovered the world of “slow motion”, as one Vitus freak told me.
Why & how did you form Yellowtooth and did you have any preconceived ideas on how you wanted to sound before your 1st rehearsal?
Peter: I originally wanted to do something in the sludge vein like Negative Reaction, Sourvein or Indian but that changed when the three of us started writing music. I had written 2 or 3 songs & a bunch of different parts that I wanted to use for Yellowtooth, but I’ve found that writing slow & doom stuff is difficult when you incorporate different personal & their ideas. With Henry & Ed writing they have a big “Clutch” influence that has a tendency to show itself in our music. You may not hear it often, but it’s there!
Describe your music using only 3 words?
Peter: Angry, primitive & ballistic
Henry: Heavy, Loose and dark!
Why the name Yellowtooth as it certainly conjures up images of inbred rednecks with bad teeth drunk on moonshine, was this the intention?
Peter: Yes, pretty much. I also didn’t want to start a band or project with some lengthy name like “Job For A Cowboy” or “Space Aliens Subjected to Southern Breath” or anything like that. Plus, we are all in our 40’s now so I think that might represent us pretty well. Actually, I have a story of how the name came about: About 6 years ago the band I was in (Skullview) was preparing to play the KEEP IT TRUE Festival & we had a few girls visiting the rehearsal spot. Well, this one female proceeded to piss off our drummer Joe and in a fit of rage he yells out “Shut the fuck up you fat yellowtooth bitch”, haha!!! I laughed so hard that name stuck in my head! Couldn’t have happened any other way!
Although you reside in the (kinda) mid-west of the USA, you embrace the more ‘Southern’ sound to your music and bands such as Weedeater & Buzzov*en obviously spring to mind, but who would you say has been a major influence on dirge?
Peter: Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve been listening to so much music over the years I think it’s just a culmination of things I’ve heard. I was a big doom fan for years & the band Thergothon (Finnish band) made an influence… perhaps them? Early My Dying Bride & Anathema also had a big impact. Those songs were so dark & depressing it was crazy! I think taking things slow in certain songs makes a greater impact if it’s done correctly, but that’s just my opinion. You don’t want to play the same tempo & burn the feeling out of the song.
Can you give us a rundown of the equipment you use?
Henry: I use a Laney Tube Amp with an old Randall Cabinet. My guitar is an Ibanez RG720 that’s pretty sweet.
Peter: I think Ed’s kit is a Ludwig 8 piece with Paiste cymbals. I mess around with an Ibanez 800SR Soundgear (4 string), a Hartke Amp & a Custom Made Elliot Electronics Bass cabinet. I also use an overdrive pedal (bass distortion) made by Boss & a Sansamp Bass Driver that has real crisp highs.
Who writes the lyrics, do they cover any particular themes and what was the reasoning behind writing a song about John Wilkes Booth who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln?
Peter: Not really… the JWB song just happened to be influenced off something I caught on the Discovery Channel. Can you imagine an entire nation trying to track you down & bring you to justice for killing the president of the United States? That subject itself deserved a song, haha. “Is It Something I Said?” is basically a love song gone wrong. “Wizard Dust” is about a particular drug that I once enjoyed too often. A lot of different subjects really when you boil it down.
You released a 4-track demo last year, have the reviews/feedback been encouraging and if people want a copy, is it still available?
Peter: Yes, we released a 4-song demo we tracked at our studio in the summer of 2008 and it’s still available if anyone is interested. The cost is $5 and that includes postage for most of Europe. If your interested just send me an email at email@example.com and we’ll talk. I’m also open for trades. We really haven’t sent many promos out but the few reviews we’ve received have been positive. I’m still waiting for that one that says “Quit!!” haha
What about future releases, do you have anything in the pipeline and what can we expect from your new material?
Peter: We are now in the process of recording an 11 – song cd at B & B Studios in La Porte, Indiana. We will re-record 2 songs off the demo & 9 new tunes that show our progression as a band. Some of the titles include: Burning Daylight, The 11th Hour, ’75 Black Pontiac, Decaying From Within, Traitor & Meet Mr. Mossberg.
How easy have you found it to get gigs and does it help with you being fairly close to the major city of Chicago?
Peter: We haven’t really had the opportunity to play out very often actually. We have only done a few parties & had a few open rehearsals. Unfortunately my work schedule has a lot to do with that… my shifts rotate every week and trying to guess what days you have open is nearly impossible. Hopefully in October or November I’ll get my vacation & we can do some shows with Negative Reaction & Salt of the Earth. That would be tits!
Let’s talk about your recently launched record label Orchestrated Misery Recordings, what made you start your own label?
Peter: Totte & Catapult The Smoke forced me to start it, haha! Actually, when I found out that CTS had never released a cd I was in total shock. I have been around long enough to know the in/outs of the underground music scene I thought I’d try to put my foot forward and help them out. I really liked their music & figured if anyone heard it they’d be hooked too! For the most part I’ve been right!
I must also congratulate on your first release with Swedish Stoner/Doom outfit Catapult The Smoke but how did you discover this relatively unknown band and what has the response been like?
Peter: I discovered them off a file-sharing program. The band had several releases available online and when I tried to find them on cd I ran into a total blank. One thing I enjoy doing is finding new bands & supporting them or their labels by purchasing their music on cd or vinyl. After listening to the band for over a year I contacted Totte and asked him about cd availability, and when he told me that nothing existed it kick started my brain into forming the label and pressing their cds. I wasn’t sure about manufacturing costs or whatnot but I figured if people would be open and trade with me then I’d be able to hear new bands & newer releases. Plus I was thinking about pressing some of my own bands & moving forward with distribution, advertising, etc and that seemed like the right thing to do.
What future plans do you have for the label, any future releases you can mention, what about formats, will it venture into vinyl as well as continuing with CD’s?
Peter: I would love to press vinyl but that entails too much money for just one person. Personally, I will continue searching for bands that I really enjoy & if they have something to release I’ll do my best to spread the word. I’ve already pressed 1000’s of mail inserts and I’ve only taken a few ads out in some magazines (Decibel) but this is something I hope to do over the next 10 years! Underground music is where it’s at my friend!
Will you ever consider releasing anything by Yellowtooth via Orchestrated Misery?
Peter: I have talked to several friends & labels about pressing the Yellowtooth cd and it’s actually more relevant for me to do it myself. The footwork will be done correctly (or how I feel it should be done) and I’ll have the responsibility in getting this thing out into the proper hands. There are countless positives and negatives that I’ve weighed but it seems like I’ll have a good amount of support from some friends.
Thanks for the interview Peter and please use this space for any final words, plugs or insults…
Peter: A big thank to you, Lee, for being a supportive bastard! Also, Oliver Stygall and all the information he’s given me to help with the release. Also, Ray Miller & Cursed Productions for being a true friend… he’s still a bastard but that’s what I like! And finally to Ed & Henry… my brothers in the ‘tooth. Lets’ get this 1st one completed and start moving, haha!!! And to you who may read this… check us out! We didn’t reinvent the wheel but we sure as hell tried to modify it!! YT
More info on Yellowtooth at: www.myspace.com/yellowtoothmc
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards