Whale Tooth, at the Silver Dollar Room. Photo credit: Cameron McLellan
Whale Tooth, made up of four Toronto dudes (Mike McCreary, Sep Noroozi, Norm Maschke, Alex Denike) and vocal starlet Elise LeGrow played at the Silver Dollar Room last night and Torontette was lucky enough to interview them. They’re known for tunes that are brimming with soul, contagious harmonies and catchy hooks. This is music that will make you dance off your shoe soles and make your kissers smile.
T: How did Whale Tooth come to be?
Craiglist. Norm had some songs recorded and wanted to play them live.
Sep: So he e-mailed me.
Alex: and I said Sep, do you want to jam?
Norm: And then we jammed on this old faux country tune, Alex, me and Sep and a couple months later we added Mike and Elise.
T: Standard question, where does the name Whale Tooth come from?
Norm: I needed a title for that grouping of songs, that project and I had a whale tooth. It was my father’s that he picked up at some point in the 70s and at the time of writing those initial songs I just decided hey, why don’t I just slap Whale Tooth on it and then it just kind of took a life of its own. But initially it was a metaphor for where the tooth had been, and where it had come from. It’s just like music. You find people that you wouldn’t otherwise think you’d come together with. Different paths and so on.
T: Tell me a bit about your writing process.
WT: Slow but steady. Somebody brings a very, very bare bones, primitive idea and over a couple of weeks we will piece together a song bit by bit. We’ll play it and we’ll play it and we’ll play it and if it’s that good then it sticks. We’re constantly making them better.
T: I saw you guys perform during CMW at the Hard Rock.
Elise: I’m sorry to hear that. We didn’t push that showcase. There are a lot of venues at CMW that are more attended by our regular audience than the Hard Rock Café. It was kind of outside that usual radius of venues that we normally play at. People aren’t used to seeing indie rock bands at the Hard Rock so its hard for us. But we’re glad to be here at the Silver Dollar tonight, I love this place.
T: You guys put on an electric live show. Some people are really good at making music but not good at performing, and I think that’s half the battle. What’s more fun for you, being in the studio or being on stage?
WT: Performing. Big time. But we’d like to have more time to mess around in the studio.
T: I heard a rumour that you’re starting a new album soon.
WT: We hope to. Hopefully this summer but we’re not going to rush into it if we don’t like the songs that we’re making.
T: You’re gaining quite the momentum in the Toronto indie scene. When did you sort of know, okay, this is it.
WT: When there were strangers in the audience. When we didn’t know everyone in the room. Where we don’t have to bring friends and family. It’s still taking root but we notice it more and more then we did at our first initial shows.
T: Any funny fan stories?
Elise: There was this guy that really liked Norm at this bar in London and he introduced himself saying (spot on Spanish accent) ‘My name is Enrique, come back to my house, we have a party.’ He made his intentions very clear that he wanted to PARTY. And his e-mail was like hotandsexy69 at hotmail dot com. It was very forward. We have lots of little children fans too, like my 7 year-old niece who knows every single word to all of our songs.
T: Top 5 songs to shake your tail to:
1. Anything James Brown
2. Sly and the Family Stone
3. Anything Motown
5. Dance Mix ’94
T: Top 5 songs to make love to:
1. Phil Collins
2. Prince – Purple Rain. It’s the build up
3. Barry White
4. The Shins
5. Early Broken Social Scene. It’s very lovey, you could totally make love to that.
T: Top 5 bands to come out of Toronto
Elise: Great Lake Swimmers
Norm: Broken Social Scene
Sep: Make Your Exit. The Paint Movement, although they’re Toronto/Mississauga band.
Alex: I like the Balconies a lot but they’re technically from Ottawa but they have transplanted themselves here in Toronto. I’m a really big Do Make Say Think fan as well.
T: So what’s next for you guys besides working on a new album?
Elise: The world!
Norm: We have a pretty big show that we haven’t announced yet. Doing NXNE. Other than that we’re just writing.
T: Where do you write your music?
WT: In our dungeon. Various basements across the GTA. It starts in a bedroom or in a basement. It’s a very underground operation.
T: Any favourite drinks and snacks you enjoy while you’re writing?
Elise: Beer and beef jerky for Mike and Alex. Cold cuts for Sep.
Sep: I like a nice, light garden salad.
Mike: Yeah, slathered in bologne.
T: Any last words for the Torontette readers?
WT: We’ll see you soon, we’re writing new songs so get pumped about that. Keep one eye open. Keep your other eye on things that you would normally do every day, but keep one eye open for us.
Edited for clarity and length.
Watch the video for ‘Hibernation Song’: