Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
When Baby Teeth's latest record The Simp is uploaded into iTunes, there's that silly little category that can either be dealt with or left white and glowingly blank. In the instance of the Chicago band, its wishes for the genre categorization of its music are fascinating. The National goes by "alternative/punk," as does Of Montreal. Paul McCartney is "rock" and others are "pop" or "folk" or the award-winning and most appropriate for Baby Teeth - "unclassifiable." Maybe that's just pretentiousness coming through to claim such a title as the latter, but when it should be done, it should be done.
It's not what shows to the far right when Apple's software gets its digital fingers upon it, once it's been read in that disc driver of yours. It comes up as "children's music," of all things and it seems that should the songs have their own choice in the matter, it's the very best name they can be called. It's a reminder that the making and execution of songs should still, in all of its glory and rarefied mystique, be as spontaneous and taken from the marrow as subconsciously and simply as words such as "the farmer in the dell/the farmer in the dell/high ho the dairy-o/the farmer in the dell" must have come to that writer of the historically popular nursery rhyme. Those words likely just came along, unwanted but insistent.
Now, one is able to intuit that when the mouse takes the cheese, children are romping around in circles giggling and enjoying themselves. Children's music is, by and large, nonsensical and created to be danced along to and sung in groups of 10 or more by shorties who put all of their air behind it and just let it rip as if they don't care. Children will sing when no one's looking or when everyone's looking - up to a certain age. They're predominantly conditioned to not care if they're doing all of this in a crowd or not. It makes no difference. Sometime during the adolescent years, showing outwardly exactly how some music affects you inside is looked at oddly and with judgment in those eyes.
Baby Teeth, placed in and forced to entertain a room full of children (pocketing a wad of their parent's disposable income), would be wiped out of their merchandise every single time they played. The kids, while they would lack any real connection to the words that lead singer Abraham Levitan sang (they'd all but glide over their heads as casualties to attention spans and lack of grip on music that wasn't all sunshine and gumdrops), the recognition that they were supposed to feel as jittery as Elvis' hips and legs and bolstered by the hot mood would be absolute. They would feel the songs from The Simp blowing up through them as if they'd just contracted a pleasurable disease. They would jump out of their skins as only children do. They would get it. They would think -- were they the children of rock critics -- this makes me feel like the "Footloose" soundtrack as written and arranged by The Rolling Stones and I love the fuck out of it. Kids.
The Daytrotter interview:
*Your live show is -- to borrow that "Almost Famous" word -- incendiary. How did it get like that? There's a lot of fun being had up there, is there not?*
Peter Andreadis: We get along really well and love one-upping each other in practice or in the van. On stage, it's just an extension of that fun. I think we're also afraid of being boring. We want to put on a show that people will talk about.
*What cities are good to you? Please back up your answer.*
PA: Well, Chicago is great to us. We've had a lot of support from fans and the booking agents at the best clubs have been good to us. We've had our best shows there. The best shows out of town usually happen at small universities: Beloit College in Wisconsin, Valparaiso University in Indiana. In some of those places there's not that much to do and kids get really into your show.
*If Baby Teeth was to adopt a color scheme -- a la the White Stripes -- what would it be?*
PA: We did wear all white for the first few years we were a band. But we got tired of it and all our white clothes got dingy.
*Bill Maher has his New Rules. You have a song called The Rules. What are the band's life rules?*
PA: Never wear a black belt with brown shoes. And vice-versa. Never eat Indian or Chinese food before going on stage.
*What did you personally get each time the tooth fairy made a visit? What do you suspect your bandmates got?*
PA: I think I got a quarter or something. I think Jim got a decoder ring and Abraham got a pair of dice.
*What's your favorite historical spot in Chicago?*
PA: Maybe the Green Mill. It's a bar from the 1920s that Al Capone used to hang out in. My friend Chris bar manages there and always gets me free drinks and a table if I call him ahead of time. Does that qualify? It's actually been declared a historical landmark.
*Night owl or morning person? Perhaps that's a dumb question.*
PA: Probably a night owl. I get my creative streak between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
*How did you come about the name of the new album? What does it all mean anywho?*
PA: The Simp is short for simpleton. It's about having a naive vision of your place in the world.
*Who or what do you quote more than anything?*
PA: In the van, we quote lines from the G.I.Joe PSAs that have been passed around.
*What subjects does everyone in the band relate most to?*
PA: Food, liquor, music, and Internet.
*Who as an entertainer do you respect?*
PA: David Bowie. He's had a long career and is still making good music and touring. He's also done acting and fashion. I want to be old and cool like that when I get there.
*Regarding games of chance, what's the best story you can tell?*
PA: Jim is the gambling man, you'll have to ask him. I like to play it by the book.