A few weeks ago, Greensboro-based band Toothsome found themselves rocking out to Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern’s livestream fundraising event. It reminded vocalist Tom Sowders of the good old days of rocking out during live sets with their catchy beats and plucky punk tones. “I am looking forward to the private party with the same line up when all this shit is over,” Sowders notes.
For now, Toothsome will release a two-song EP this Friday, September 4. Recorded with Broken Sound Tapes, Sowders is joined on the album with Lyle Collins (drums), Rylan (Ry) Eshelman (bass guitar), Melvyn Brown (keyboards) and Eric Mann (guitars).
Mann (formerly of Kudzu Wish and also playing in Basement Life) is credited for coming up with concepts for both “Shark eggs” and “Pirouette,” which were then completed in a 3-month period last year.
“Due to busy life schedules we come up with song ideas at home, share files with each other, then roll them out in the practice room and see what happens,” Mann says. “Part of what makes our songwriting fun and fluid is we are practice space nomads. In 2019 we probably practiced at 10 different places; storage units, living rooms, drum stores, DIY collectives and garages.”
The result, Mann continues, being one song about growing up and growing older (“Shark Eggs”) and another about losing your mind and your keys (“Pirouette”). Here’s more from the Toothsome guitarist…
encore (e): Tell us about working with Broken Sound Tapes, was this your first time recording with them? Tell us about their impact/contributions to how these songs turned out—were they deep into them or were they fairly hands-off?
Eric Mann (EM): The first weekend of March we headed up to Oxford, NC to track with Scotty Sandwich. We recorded both of these in a one-day session. He had no idea this would be right before the world ended, pandemic style. For all of us, this was the final normal thing we did before all hell broke loose. After we got them mastered, we decided that we should release them. Michael of Broken Sound Tapes didn’t hear them until they were finished. When we sent them to him, he was stoked on the songs and wanted to put them out.
e: Are these two songs a part of or leading up to another release? If so, please tell us what you can.
EM: Yes. These songs are a lead-up to the first Toothsome full-length. Each batch of songs we write sounds more like us, so we are keeping up the theme and birthing more material every few months.
e: This cover art is fun, too—Elvis and aliens go together like PB&J. How do you know the artist Chris Prince and why does it fit with this release?
EM: Chris Prince (@deadliving) is a good friend of ours and one of the most talented people in the world. He makes some seriously effed up art. This is very tame in his catalog. I think he drew this late at night. We saw it on Instagram and asked if he could add our name and we paid him to use it. A crooning alien does seem to fit us. Insane and fun.
e: There are some small live performances popping up here and there in Wilmington—what about your part of North Carolina? Is Toothsome able to get back into live performances at all yet?
EM: Yes, some streaming performances are cropping up from spots here in the Triangle and the Triad at venues or band practice spaces. We have discussed practicing again but hasn’t happened yet.
e: Are you planning on any type of release event (online or otherwise) for this?
EM: No, but we wish. Honestly, we are a slow-moving band so this year has been our style though all of us would have loved to play a release show.
e: The last 6 months or so have hit artists, entertainers and venues hard—how are you all hanging in there?
EM: Ry, Tom and I are continuing to share files to see if they can shake out a few song ideas until we jam again. We’ve had a full band Zoom hang out, some of us have gone on a bike ride together, talked about raising children and shared home improvement tips. The random band text message thread heats up every 2 weeks just to keep us entertained.
e: Anything else you’d like to add about this latest release or music to come?
EM: I listened to Billy Idol while I answered these questions.
We love Reggie’s and hope to play future shows with Evening Shadows and Little Gems.
Some of us really like to go camping.
Also, the best band meal we’ve all shared is Slappy’s Chicken in Winston Salem before we played a show next door at Monstercade.