Teeth founder John Grabski has always written vaguely introspective lyrics riddled with sarcasm and themes that swing from cute and playful to dangerous, and his combination of these lyrics with fairly heavy music allowed him to create some simple and interesting rock songs even at a young age. His idea development started to come to full fruition in 2006 when he set up a recording studio in his Naples NY apartment to record his album “Tooth & Nail” under the recording/performing surname Low-Fi/Emphatic. Songs like “Trust the Flow” and “In the Sea” display a good understanding of basic song dynamics and an ability to hook the listener from a variety of angles.
His material took on new meaning in 2007 after a cancer diagnosis, surgeries and subsequent chemotherapies. He started to pick up on material such as King Crimson’s Red and Lark’s Tongue in Aspic, the buzz-saw guitar tone in Queens of The Stone Age’s Era Vulgaris, and he began to think hard about the intricacies of a dual-drumset setup like The Melvins have employed since 2006’s (a) Senile Animal. To help get him through times of near-death, John kept working on music, and in 2008 he recorded some demos titled “The Cancer Tapes” which represent the ideas that manifested in him during a time of great crisis in his life.
2009 brought remission and further musical work (some attic demos were recorded), and 2010 saw John join the heavy, innovative and progressive Cheebahawk, a band that evolved far beyond the prototypical trendy underground “Doom” movement. John continued work with Cheebahawk, while still occasionally writing solo material.
In mid-2011 cancer came back with a vengeance. Inoperable, the scourge has decided to take up permanent residence in John. He kept at working with Cheebahawk, and right before a major surgery in October he found out after a brief inquiry that Steve Albini would like to help him to record his solo album. After recovering from the surgery and then going through a few weeks of intense radiation, John recruited his brother Benjamin Grabski to help him write an album’s worth of new material, arrange it and commit it to tape. They had never played together before for longer than an hour, so this was a new thing for both.
The project had no name.
The brothers packed their equipment into a car and drove to Chicago. After four days of recording and one day of engineering, an album was born under the name “The New York farmers”. Some tracks feature John on all instruments, some feature Benjamin handling a few duties. During tracking, the two-piece also played a night gig at Chicago’s Pancho’s on California Ave. with the great bands Nonagon and Fake Limbs, which garnered a lot of positive feedback.
Upon returning from the life-catalyzing trip, John realized that there didn’t have to be an and to his relationship with Electrical Audio, so he asked Steve if he’d be interested in working together again. Steve replied that it would be an honor.
The project still had no name.
Now it does.
John got to the day he wanted to see- his album release. Working incredibly hard throughout a trying time, John’s outlook on his Creation proved to be immensely moving. His strength empowering. And his voice-listened too.
The Strain is streaming again via bandcamp below and available to purchase now. All family, friends and the copious amount of strangers who this story affected all helped towards funding of the record- so this post is for you too.
This release, this story and more importantly this individual has ended up emotionally touching more people than could have known possible. Teeth’s music will reach more, it will live on through the passion it’s creator held.