In case the name didn’t give it away, Tooth and the Enamels is not a deep band. They are themed around the singer’s famously busted grill, which was the result of a confrontation with a childhood bully that earned Tooth (aka Paul Kemp) a broken maxilla – sweet! He and the rest of the group – Josh Gingivitis (Josh Black, guitar), Ronny Root Canal (Ronny Vatalaro, bass) and Rob “Chuck” Cavity (Rob Reider, drums) – revel in the sort of snickering, juvenile absurdism that bands like the Queers have kept evergreen. With manifestly daft concepts – many of them, um, dental – their songs are the fruits of being drunk or stoned and are delivered in the sort of full-tilt, old-school punk that’s been blaring from half-pipes for more than a quarter-century.
Like any self-respecting punk band, they have a history pocked with appropriately retarded acts. “At the beginning, I sang about explicit stuff, kinda raunchy like G.G. Allin,” recounts Tooth. “I’ve eaten my own vomit onstage eight times at least.” Now, however, they’re beginning to rely less on antics and more on chops. With a chuckling candor, Josh Gingivitis admits, “We didn’t have any good songs back then, so we kinda relied more on stunts.”
No need to panic, punks, Tooth and the Enamels still have monkey business on the mind. If you’ve seen dudes prowling downtown in white unitards bearing more than passing resemblances to the sperm in Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, then you’ve seen them. Expect more of the same at their release party this weekend.
Children of the DIY ethic to the core, the seven-track, 7-inch record titled Oral Decline is the inaugural release for their bassist’s new label, Cancer Claw Records. Josh Gingivitis does all their cartoonish art, though Tooth, capitalizing on a moment of drunken weakness by his guitarist, bought the rights to the illustrated representation of his likeness for a mere $20.
From a title that goofily pokes at another local punk band (Moral Decline, maybe?) to songs about oral hygiene, the mischief is plentiful even though it comes mostly in one-minute blasts. And their skate-punk sound is no mistake; Tooth has enjoyed a reasonably notable skating career. He was even written up in Thrasher magazine – OK, so it was for being shot in the back with a pellet gun at a competition in Colorado and then enduring failed attempts at camp surgery with a pocketknife. But he was on a national tour, skating for Jacksonville’s Kona Skate Park team. Still, Thrasher, man. Freaking Thrasher!
Though they’re celebrating the release of Oral Decline, they’re already working on their next record, a slew of songs based on horror movies. Nice to see them graduate to, y’know, deeper firstname.lastname@example.org
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