With a foundation built upon camaraderie— guitarist and vocalist, Chris Sikora, and drummer, Pat Casale, have been playing together since 2007— and ambitions, With Our Teeth look forward to spreading their peer-deemed, post-hardcore sound.
Having released a two song EP, Born in a War, in March 2011, With Our Teeth, with an enigmatic sound in tow, created a new niche within the local music scene. After discovering that they did not click with hardcore shows or jive within the punk realm, With Our Teeth proudly donned— as Sikora jokes— the title of “weird” band on the bill. Weirdness aside, however, the three-piece outfit must contend with typical band woes, such as, auditioning new members and balancing music with school, work and other responsibilities all while trying to garner a following in South Jersey, which, as many agree, is a far cry from the likes of a musical hotbed like Nashville.*
Starting off with a little background of the band, how did With Our Teeth come together?
Chris Sikora: With Our Teeth started with Pat, our old bass player and I; we were having trouble finding a singer and a second guitarist. Steve [Matranga, guitarist and vocalist of WOT] contacted me about starting a pop-punk band but at the time we had a full lineup for the band we formed before With Our Teeth. When we found out we had to start all over again, however, I contacted Steve and asked him if we wanted to play with this band [With Our Teeth]. A month or two later, we got a hold of an old friend who was interested in singing for us. Steve and I are going to start that pop-punk band one of these days! [laughs]
How would you, as a band, describe your sound (I know, not the easiest question to answer!)
Sikora: We always have a difficult time answering that question. Usually we just take the answers that other people throw at us— post-hardcore, melodic post-hardcore. We’ll ask people if they’ve heard of certain bands that we like, and when they say no, we just tell them that we’re rock/alternative.
Given that New Jersey is a far cry from the likes of a big city (well, South Jersey anyway), do you think it’s harder to gain a following in the music scene or easier?
Sikora: It’s definitely harder to gain a following because of that. Most of the time we’re the “weird” band. We don’t fit with hardcore/metal shows and we don’t fit with pop punk/indie shows. When we play shows and people like what we’re doing, though, that makes us feel good. It’s all about playing music with other bands, no matter how different you sound, and sharing it with the people that show up to hear it.
Personally, what brought you to music?
Sikora: All of us have been around music, in one form or another, growing up; I think the main reason all of us got into it was just hearing music that we wanted to be able to play ourselves. Listening to music is so fulfilling and being able to be a part of the creation of music is just, well, awesome.
I know your still looking for a couple of members to join WOT, have you auditioned anyone for the parts yet? If so, can you briefly describe the process of looking for new members since line-up changes tend to happen at least once in a band’s lifetime.
Sikora: Trying out band members is very frustrating. We have a dry-erase board in our practice spot with the names of people that were interested in trying out; between bass and vocals, it’s up to 23 names or so. We’ve tried out a few people and we’re still trying them out. Most people contact us, want to try out and then disappear from the face of the Earth. It’s very hard to find musicians that you get along with personally and vibe with musically but when you do, the wait is usually worth it.
Finally, any band horror stories? Any show that just didn’t go as planned, sketchy venues, crazy road-trip moments en route to a show, etc.
Sikora: We’ve had a few shows where we’ve driven hours to play and not many people show up. Those suck but we just play and have fun. The bands are always fun to hang out and share stories with, so it helps a lot.
Another time, we were out in Pennsylvania and got pulled over. We had just left a Wendy’s and pulled over to check our equipment; our van was filled to the roof and we thought that one of the back windows was cracking. A minute later, a cop car pulled up behind us. All of us got out, which made the cops uneasy, and they held us there for a while. Then, they finally told us that the reason we were being held was that two girls that had run away from home, were just found in the same plaza and they accused us of following them. It didn’t help that three out of five of the band members had just shaved crazy mustaches out of their beards and our merch guy went by a different name than the one on his license, which we found out as the cop was handing back our licenses! Eventually, the police officers said that the girls’ story obviously didn’t check out and we headed out to the place we were staying for the night.
*Being located only miles from Nashville, TN while writing this post, it seemed appropriate to include the city within the text. Please, feel free to ignore my creative liberties.