The dark, weird rebirth of Pianos Become the Teeth
After Pianos Become the Teeth finished touring behind their fourth album, 2018's Wait For Love, they revisited their old screamo material during a tour with Touche Amore where both bands celebrated their early material, and then they found themselves at a crossroads in their career; they'd written a followup album to Wait For Love, but scrapped the entire thing because they didn't feel it was up to par with where they should be as a band. It left the band wondering "What do we do? We wrote a whole record and this doesn't even really feel right. Is this kind of like, the end of this?," guitarist Mike York told us. But then the pandemic hit, the band had time to reassess, and they started again from scratch. "Writing a whole record and then scrapping it was kind of the rebirth of being like, 'You know what? We just need to do a no holds barred, like, everybody's ideas just need to come to light. Every weird idea, every weird thing somebody wants to try, we really just need to make this be as cool and as big as it can be.'"
That record is Drift, the band's first album in over four and a half years, which comes out this Friday (8/26) via Epitaph (pre-order on red vinyl). Ahead of the release, we've got a new podcast episode up now with Pianos Become the Teeth guitarist Mike York. Listen on Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
In the episode, Mike reminisces on Pianos Become the Teeth's early days, when they and their new wave of post-hardcore peers were doing small DIY shows and tours, and building a new underground circuit of their own, before the bigger record labels and music publications started to take notice. He then gets into the moment that Pianos and many of their peers (like Touche Amore, La Dispute, and Defeater) signed to Epitaph, the steady rise that Pianos have been on since then, and how now they've become an influential band on a whole new generation.
Mike also discussed some of the musical influences and the use of analog tape loops that helped lead to the weirder, darker sound of the new album, making it with producer Kevin Bernsten (who also did their first two albums), and how the entire band relocated to Mike's uncle's cabin in the woods to make the album in seclusion:
My uncle's cabin, it's this 1970s [cabin], it's round, it's like a round house, it's in the woods in Daisy, Virginia, and the entire thing is just lined in windows, so when you wake up in the morning, all you're looking at is the woods. We built these two makeshift studios, where downstairs is our live tracking area, and upstairs would be like our control room, so we'd all make breakfast together, listen to the demos, talk about them, and then we'd go downstairs and work for six hours. And then come upstairs for lunch, listen to what we recorded, talk about it, have a beer, go out on the deck, talk about like, 'where could this go?', and inevitably somebody would make their way downstairs and start riffing on something, and somebody would join them, and somebody would join them, and all of a sudden you have a song. The organic process of doing that is amazing.
Mike also discussed the band's upcoming tour, which includes dates with reunited screamo legends Jeromes Dream, who Mike said were an "actual dream (no pun intended)" to be touring with. "Being able to do tours with bands that we've looked up to for so long, or been influenced by for so long, is just like, 'How did I get here? This is insane.' [...] Being able to have these opportunities to tour with bands that I never thought in my life that I'd ever have the opportunity to even see live, much less tour with, is mindblowing to me." He also spoke about the tour's other openers -- Caracara, Dosser, and Dreamtigers -- and added, "This is the longest break we've ever had as a band in 15 years, so, if people wanna see probably the most unhinged and craziest our band has probably been, it's probably gonna be these shows."
Mike also talked about the unique scene in PBTT's hometown of Baltimore, and the way it's birthed everyone from Beach House to Future Islands to Turnstile to JPEGMAFIA to Genocide Pact, and he talked about other artists he's been inspired by over the years like Bon Iver, Portishead, My Bloody Valentine, Flume, SOPHIE, and more, and there's a whole bunch of other stuff in there too. Listen to the episode on Spotify, Apple, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Pianos' tour begins on album release day (8/26), and it hits NYC on September 4 at The Meadows (17 Meadow St) with Caracara and Dosser. All dates are listed below.
Pick up Drift on red vinyl.
Pianos Become the Teeth -- 2022 Tour Dates
Fri, August 26, 2022 Durham, NC Motorco Music Hall
Sat, August 27, 2022 Baltimore, MD Ottobar
Fri, September 2, 2022 Cambridge, MA Sonia
Sat, September 3, 2022 Philadelphia, PA The Foundry
Sun, September 4, 2022 Brookyln, NY The Meadow
Thu, September 8, 2022 Atlanta, GA Masquerade - Purgatory
Fri, September 9, 2022 Nashville, TN Exit Inn
Sun, September 11, 2022 Columbus, OH Big Room Bar
Wed, November 2, 2022 Los Angeles, CA 1720
Thu, November 3, 2022 Mesa, AZ Nile Half House
Fri, November 4, 2022 Las Vegas, NV Rockstar Bar
Sat, November 5, 2022 San Diego, CA Voodoo Room
Sun, November 6, 2022 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
Fri, November 11, 2022 Pittsburgh, PA Preserving Underground
Sat, November 12, 2022 Chicago, IL Subterranean
Sun, November 13, 2022 Minneapolis, MN Cabooze
Mon, November 14, 2022 Detroit, MI El Club