In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in in the Blank.
What is C.H.U.D.? According to this campy sci-fi/horror trailer from the '80s, it's the governmental acronym for "Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers." So, why the self-described label C.H.U.D. punk, Animal Teeth?
"I used to play in the sewers a lot as a kid," says frontman Austin, who puts together Acid Kat Zine, a xeroxed periodical he created in 2011 to take with him to the South by Southwest music festival. Acid Kat is a trash can filled with filth, rock and roll and punk subculture, he says. It's a burn-out zine, that like Animal Teeth, satirically pokes fun at itself.
The young members of Animal Teeth all hail from the suburbs -- Florissant and St. Charles -- where they say kids these days are more prone to starting garage rock bands than punk bands. Since its first show at Apop Records in January of this year, the group has played house shows in their neighborhoods and frequents south city spots, managing to have a fair share of fun even though half its members are still underage.
Animal Teeth channels late '70s and early 80's L.A. punk, citing influences including the Germs, Circle Jerks, Big Boys and the Screamers. In darkened bars, the group trudges through crunchy power chords, funky bass lines and straightforward drumbeats. Austin sidles around in a black trench coat, chugging chocolate milk, swinging metal chains and spitting a sermon of flippant lyrics like some kind of punk rock preacher.
"My dad described our music pretty good," says bassist Tony. "We were practicing and he was on the toilet. He was like 'man, this sounds like what I'm smelling.'"
Austin says that Lumpy of the RFT's best new band of 2013, Lumpy and the Dumpers, calls Animal Teeth deliberately anti-punk, which might not be all that far off. What does the blanket term mean to them?
"Punk isn't this trenchcoat, it's not buttons. It's just doing what you want to do. My mom's punk. She does whatever she wants," says Austin. He who works with Beauty Pageant and Freezerburn's Mister Ben on fests like the Acid Kat Fall Freak Out to glue otherwise segregated punk and noise scenes together.
"We're on a big mission to join a bunch of scenes, bring them together -- punk with noise kids and rock and rollers. We just want to mix it up," says Austin. "We're all weirdo misfits and we share the same likes. There's a lot of snootiness going around. We want to smear that over and start a new scene."
Animal Teeth recently recruited new member Jonathan Booker to take current guitarist Taylor's place when she leaves the country to pursue studies next semester. The group will tour with Champaign's Kowabunga! Kid in February. You can pick up Animal Teeth's demo tape, out on Lumpy Records, here. Check out its latest recording, Bug Man, below.
We asked Austin of Animal Teeth to fill in the blanks ahead of the Acid Kat Fall Freak Out tonight. See what he had to say on the next page.
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