Following our heartbreaking announcement last month that valued musician and friend of the site, John Grabski III had sadly lost his battle with the terminal illness he consistently fought to overcome. His loss ended up emotionally touching more people than could have known possible. When the news hit Circuit Sweet both of us felt the impact of the loss. As I wept and grieved for a man I had the pleasure in getting to know this year and of which I am so grateful to have helped; the other half of Circuit Sweet also felt the loss. But through those emotions a track had been created in memory of John.
As we feature the track created in John’s memory and revisit the story of Teeth and his album release.
Hearing about John’s musical mission lead us into constant promotion and coverage and in doing so had the privileged in becoming friends with the musician.
At the beginning of the year many would remember we urged you to familiarize yourself with a truly heroic story from an artist we needed you to listen to. This musician and his story has reached so many- having been mentioned on News Channels and Forums throughout the web. Our efforts got the project some attention in the UK having featured in newspapers and various other media sources. This musicians legacy will continue to reach people afar.
The Story of Teeth:
Rock vs. cancer. Rock wins. Teeth is abrasive, playful and sinister all at once. Made in hopes that the listener will feel the effort and determination in every pick scrape, errant drum slap, and churned-up riff and lyric. Engineered by Steve Albini to sound large, powerful, willfully reckless, yet intimate.
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.
We shared this inspirational story of Rock VS cancer- ROCK WINS! and we were inundated with positive comments, thoughts and support. From this John himself stated to be honoured we took the time to share the story. The truth is we are the ones that are honoured. On finding the sad news it has come as a big shock to us all, writing this is proving to be harder than I first thought. Over the past few months due to my involvement with the story- it was I that was honoured to have John’s respect and to have built a friendship.
February 29th we proudly shared a day dedicated to the release which John worked so hard for. Happy Teeth Day! As previously mentioned Teeth’s album The Strain takes the listener into, and out of a thirty minute, thirteen second journey of confrontation with cancer. Designed to be harsh and startling yet sweet at the same time, the music and lyrics are collectively intended to provide a full cycle of emotions from come-what-may acceptance to vile disdain to confrontation and triumph.
The Strain is streaming again via bandcamp 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.
From his passing, the track titled ‘The Bravest Man I Never Met‘ was created by Oli Montez and is streaming below. We passed this track onto John’s family and would like to state this is purely for them and not beneficial. John’s strength was empowering to all.