It's a snowy October evening, and Sharp Teeth have just returned from a tour across the Northlands to play the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis. Lead singer/guitarist Erica Krumm, with her bluebird-on-the-fingertip cuteness and fierce guitar craft, has all the boys with backpacks mesmerized—she is all business. Drummer Nate Baka wears only his underpants and tells corny jokes between songs, while bassist Adri Mehra acts as the perfect middle child—unassuming, skilled—the one in the band who actually knows how to "read music and shit."
Sharp Teeth have a freshly recorded second album, Lines and Stars, under their belt, created at Blackberry Way with producer Neil Weir, who made the most of their limited time and budget. Their sound is heavy-duty, beautiful in its simple bombast. But these songs communicate something more—an ache and a wistfulness for something that has never been. Without knowing the words, you know these are songs about frustration, the kind found in the most sincere of love songs. And Sharp Teeth offer relief from the roar in the form of candy-coated melodies, which appear for just for a minute at time and waver on feelings of hopefulness, like hopping over a fence late at night to meet that boy or girl you dig so much.
We recently sat down with the grunge-pop trio to talk about their musical backgrounds and history as a band.
City Pages: Looking back, do you remember the moment when you first fell in love with music as a kid?
Erica Krumm: For me, it was not one moment—the importance of music was always very prominent in my childhood. My parents exposed me to everything from the Carpenters to Black Sabbath. It was just something I grew up with.
CP: That is kind of unusual, parents who rock to Sabbath.
Nate Baka: It is. My parents loved Chuck Mangione.
CP: He is good with the horn.
Krumm: I was always encouraged to do anything, so I grew up wanting to play music.
CP: That's great to grow up in an environment where you are encouraged to be whatever you want.
Krumm: That's for sure. My dad still plays. When I was a kid he was in a band called Mid-Life Crisis. He used to play at the Hex.
Baka: When it was an old-timers bar.
CP: So you'd come home and old dudes would be practicing in your basement?
Krumm: Yeah, totally. I remember as a kid my parents would go on dates to the Uptown or the Entry.
CP: Erica and Nate, you started out as a two-piece, correct?
Baka: We were going to be a new-wave band.
Krumm: We had this whole vision. I used to be a drummer and he used to be a singer—we both wanted to do something new.
Baka: The goal was to be able to play a song, which we eventually did.
CP: And then you added this guy...
Krumm: We met Adri in 2007. We were opening our minds to the idea of a bass player.
Baka: I was still against that.
Adri Mehra: Erica warned me in advance.
Krumm: Yeah, I told him, "Nate is being kind of weird about this."
Mehra: Erica said, "Nate is kind of okay with how the band is now." I still occasionally pipe in to ask if I really am a band member.
Krumm: I hate to tell you, but I think you have been for quite some time.
CP: Erica, you taught at Girls' Rock-n- Roll Retreat [a summer rock-camp program in Golden Valley]. Tell us about that.
Krumm: It was the coolest experience. These girls are eight to 14 years old, playing songs they wrote in a week on instruments they just learned to play. You totally bond with them.
CP: What did you teach?
Krumm: One of the songs I used was "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill, because it has only two power chords. Whenever the girls would get frustrated, I would crank that up and they'd all play along and get revved up again.
CP: What was your record-making experience like?
Krumm: We had a blast—a mix of fun, and frustration with technical crap.
Mehra: We did the whole thing in two days.
Krumm: That was all we had the time and money for.
Baka: But no matter what, that is the way I prefer to do it.
CP: It wouldn't seem to fit with your aesthetic to do it all fancy-style.
Krumm: No! It's not what we are about. We didn't want to over-think it.
CP: If you had to pick the three words to describe your sound, what would they be?
Mehra: Not. Half. Bad.
Baka: I. Don't. Know.
Krumm: Noisy. Pretty. Raw.
SHARP TEETH play a CD-release show with Disasteratti, Kitten Forever, and Zombie Season on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, at the HEXAGON BAR; 612.722.3454