Having found themselves a part of a growing eclectic aggressive music scene in Austin, Texas, noise rock infused post hardcore act EASY PREY (members of Bum Out, UNTD SNKS, OK Pilot) supported various touring bands such as Small Brown Bike, The Bronx, Whores, and American Football, and now it’s time to leave their mark with their impressive, adventurously varied debut full length “Teeth”, premiered last Friday and self-released digitally and on cassette. The band put together an insightful track-by-track breakdown for us to share so you can learn a little more about each song on the record.
Recorded in the summer of 2017 with Dustin Gaudet in an empty house in Austin, with post production and mixing by Matt Bayles (These Arms are Snakes, Minus The Bear, Botch) in Seattle at Red Room Recording, and mastering by Brad Boatright (Baptists, Converge) at Audiosiege in Portland, the ‘Teeth’ is driven by personal, political and social issues. In context and execution, the record is one of the most daring, well-measured, and intelligent post hardcore albums to come our way in early 2018.
Cover art by Austin Artist, Rich Cali. EASY PREY is: Cole (guitar), Matt (drums), Chris (vocals), and Doug (bass).
We initially set out to record professionally in a studio, but a friend asked us if he could record our album; all we had to do was find a space to record in. We lucked out; our guitarist’s in-laws had just bought a house nearby which would be empty for a while, so we planned to record over a long weekend and take it from there. Half the songs were newly written after I (Chris, vocalist) joined, and the other half were older songs, re-worked and repurposed. We also set out to record something a little more sinewy, nuanced, and less angry, but the weekend before we recorded, Charlotteville happened. We all went into the session angry, frustrated and a little confused by what had happened, and that is definitely evident on the recording.
Teeth came out a lot heavier than we’d anticipated, but I think it captured what we were feeling at that time. Musically and lyrically, everything came together. We tried to make the record sound as live as possible, with only a few guitar overdubs, and one vocal track for every song. We tracked the drums, bass and guitars together for the majority of the record and the vocals were all done in five takes or less. The result is ‘Teeth,’ our first full-length.
Chris: Teeth is the title track and opener. A nagging, lurching track and an ode to isolation, confusion and self preservation. I think I would call someone out as a liar if they said they’d never felt absolutely hopeless and out of their head, this track is my attempt at putting into words that feeling. It’s relevant on whatever scale you want, I think it relates on a small personal level just as much on a broader wider platform. The track itself rolls along, everything feels like its about to fall apart but keeps chugging along. We try to make our songs lurch, it’s kinda gross to listen to and makes you feel a little uncomfortable.
Cole: We wanted an opener. We started with the drum riff in the beginning, and it grew from there. We usually write guitar and drums together first, and then start bringing everything together.
Chris: This is my call out to toxic masculinity. We’ve got to have moved on further than the macho bullshit that dominates the punk/hardcore/metal scenes, but we somehow haven’t. I know it’s trite coming from a band of four white dudes, but we’re all in agreeance that if you’re not against it, you’re part of the problem. Blind Ambition is a flat out rock song, just big dumb riffs and sinewy guitar leads, caveman drums and sluggish basslines.
Cole: I wanted a straightforward ripper but with lots of gross noise, so the open strings ring out the entire time the main riff is played.
Stuck Out At Sea
Chris: This was the last track we wrote before recording and I think it’s one we’re collectively most proud of, so we used it as the lead track off the album. It seemed like the obvious choice for the single. It’s a political track, the blind leading the blind, the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the feeling of being lied to and mislead so blatantly.
The music is another rock & roll song, it was us trying to take Hot Snakes garage-y punk and roll and add some bludgeon to the sound. Mid-paced all the way through and pretty relentless apart from a few breaks.
Cole: One of the last songs we wrote before recording. We wanted something that was immediately engaging and then loosened up, and I think we got that.
Chris: This was an older song that when I joined, I wanted to write new lyrics for. We weren’t going to record this initially but given the context of the time we recorded, we decided to put it on the record. It’s one of the simplest lyrically with the same refrains repeated. I think the metaphor of someone being a vulture is pretty overplayed, but moving to America and being a witness to the last election cycle, seeing the worst of humanity crawl out of the woodwork to voice their backwards opinions, I felt the analogy was apt. The vulture is always there, circling waiting for the bad shit to happen before they swoop down and capitalise on the situation.
Cole: The first song we wrote as a band. Three different singers have sang on this song (sort of) but only one uses the phrase “pick through the shit to get to the meat”. 10 points.
Chris: This is the midpoint ripper. Another track about confusion and not dealing with things in the right way. It definitely a theme running through the record lyrically. The song is short, fast and to the point, and the only other song with more than one vocal on it courtesy of Cole (guitars).
Cole: I think this is my favorite song on the record. I was shocked that it’s only a minute and a half. You can say anything you want about your reasons for being in a band, but at the end of the day, you write music you want to listen to. That’s what this is.
Chris: Flattery is about being an artist and the bullshit that comes with being in a band and trying to justify the time and money out into it to yourself and other people. We’ve all been in bands for the last 15+ years, so we all understand the sacrifices you have to make (or don’t make) to play music. It sounds a little bitter, but its not, it’s just a matter of fact; you play music for yourself but what other people think of the band is at the end of the day what makes it viable, unless you have unlimited funds. So I tried to write to that feeling.
Another lurching beater, ugly and brutish in parts but restrained in others.
Cole: We recorded this in one take live. It’s certainly not a perfect performance, but based on the song structure and subject matter, we decided not to overwork it, if that makes sense.
Chris: This is the religion-baiting track. I wanted to write about my feelings on organized religion and all the hypocrisy and double-standards that go hand in hand with it. We live in an age of enlightenment, yet so many fall back on the comfort and safety of religion as an escape route/safety net.
Cole: Our friends in Partaker’s record had just come out, it was maybe Jan or Feb of 2017, and I loved the way they hold back on some songs, and then get aggressive. I think it’s harder to hold back than to go all out, and it makes it so much more rewarding when that big riff comes in.
Chris: I guess the lyrics for this song are pretty ambiguous and I’m totally fine with that. It started as a song written from the perspective of someone who lives outside of societies expected norms, namely in the LGBTQ community, and I still want it to be relevant from that standpoint, but it morphed and now has a broader reach. I wanted it to be ambiguous enough that you can take the words and they’ll mean something personal to the listener. We knew from the outset that this song would either open or close the record. We liked the early noughties catharsis of the intro and the way it ends almost like a stoner metal track. We just wanted it to build and build and end big. We pretty much always play this track last to close out the set, the way the thick guitars pound in at the end for the last half, still makes me want to punch walls.
Cole: I think this was a predetermined ‘album closer’, we had no clue how to end the record. It had an entirely different swing to it when I brought it to the guys, and the drum part Matt plays during the middle is so goddamn satisfying. The breakdown was written because it would be fun to play live. Mission accomplished.