September 1, 2016

AOTM: September – Crooked Teeth

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I got the chance to catch up with Tyson Evans of Crooked Teeth at VAMP: Vintage Art & Music for the People in Oakland, CA last month where he filled us in on his last days with Second To Last talking about pop-punk.

Casual Punk Fan: I’m sure lots of people would like to know, what’s the story on the ending of Second To Last and what inspired Crooked Teeth to emerge?

Tyson: I had just cycled through so many members of Second To Last. Being so young when we started, people got worn down quickly by it. When we were 17, there was a label that wanted to sign us and was giving us the push and pullback. We were all like 16 and 17 years old. We were overwhelmed because at the time we were still in school. We got really excited about it even though we didn’t really understand it. I think I was the only one who slightly understood the scenario. The label fucked us over at the last minute by not responding to our emails. They asked us to take their premier band out on tour with us. That band was riding in our van, using our gear and trailer, etc. It was fine don’t get me wrong, these guys were our best friends at the time. But at the same time, none of us came from privilege or a high income background. We had to sell a lot of our favorite possessions like our PlayStations and any little things we did have to go out there and tour. We would tour on winter breaks, spring breaks, any long weekends in the fall of high school. So we took that band on tour and when we came home it was awful. We didn’t have a draw at all because we were such a young band.

That label had arranged the entire tour through email with a certain producer. That producer said if we were going to spend a certain amount of money to get our songs recorded, then we would need to do pre-production. At the time our band didn’t really know what any of that meant. We were still so young. Our band started to get second thoughts and we didn’t really know what to do. The label was letting us go to the way-side. They didn’t tell us by not responding to our calls or emails even though they arranged these recordings with the producer. So not only were we in the dark, the producer was too. This forced us into a merch deal that we didn’t understand, but were too naive not to sign. This marked the turning point for when the band started falling apart. We got burned. We had this mentality of, “Is this how this is always going to go?” My friends who I started the band with were giving up on it. We were about to graduate high school and they all had different paths lined up. We all still wanted to do the band, but we didn’t know how to make it work now. I kept going for whatever reason. Our drummer stuck around for a couple years, but then we parted ways. Everyone was telling me to keep going because I’m “still so young.” I think the last 8 months I just had a change of heart. I was exhausted with the amount of members we’d gone through and I already have bad anxiety.

I hit up Dan “Soupy” Campbell from The Wonder Years and asked him what I should do. We have a long-standing relationship and he’s my go-to for career advice. He told me I should take a shot at re-branding. Keep the social networks and switch the name out for something I really like. I honestly owe so much to Dan. It was email after email we exchanged of me going, “What do you think of this band name?” and “will this or that work?” He actually ended up naming the album, Out Here, A Lone. I reached a point where I just stopped listening to people, my pride, and my ego. It’s like continuing with a relationship you know is toxic, but it’s what you know; despite the fact that there’s no growth. I knew at that point that I was settled on reinventing Second To Last.

It sounds like you’re at a spot where you’ve learned a lot from the past. Now you can go forward with a better mindset.

I think that’s the biggest aspect, yeah. I can’t keep repeating these hiccups. We’re lucky we didn’t have to ditch everything and start over.

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You mentioned you have bad anxiety. Would you say your music is an outlet to help you cope with that?

I would absolutely say that.

I think going forward my music is going to be much more honest. You look around and see all the awful things in the world and that has to weigh on you. That doesn’t matter if you’re clinically depressed or got it all together. But sometimes you just have to think that even the Grinch smiles once in a while. For me, being able to work on being kinder to people and putting petty differences aside is something I think will make my music more honest and sincere.

Let’s talk tattoos. I saw you have a Kerplunk Green Day tattoo and you also played a cover of “She” during your set. Do you have any other music inspired art?

For sure. I have an MxPx one too. It’s a bit of a long story, but it explains a lot about me.

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. I went to a Christian school with about 75 other kids in a super small town. But, my Dad had Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Green Day’s Insomniac cassette tapes in his truck when I was growing up and I just started to fall in love. When I got into Green Day it was a very special time for him and me. It felt like when this phase started, everything else stopped. Any slight desire to play sports or video games was out the window. I wanted a guitar now and I wanted to do what they do!

So my Dad took me to see Green Day on their American Idiot tour with Jimmy Eat World. It was so sweet. In the middle of the show, my Dad gets a call from my Mom. My Mom’s close friend is at the show with her kids and Billy Joe did something too “punk” for her tastes on stage so she pulled her kids out of the seats and left. She called my Mom on the way out to the car and let her know that this show is too inappropriate for me. My Dad is having a having a conundrum now because he’s torn on what to do. He came back and told me that we had to go. I’m only 13 and I don’t understand why, but I’m bummed. I love my Mom to death, don’t get me wrong, but she was just scared for me. As a rising rebellious punk-rocker in a Christian household, you can see why she might be upset right?

It’s like Beatle-mania 50 years later!

Exactly. I woke up the next morning to her throwing away all my Green Day shirts and CDs. She ended up feeling really bad about it though. She took me to this record store a few days later and told me to find some new music. I asked a guy working there to show me some stuff similar to Green Day and Blink-182. He immediately responds with MxPx. He tells me about Life In General and the newly released Panic (2006). On top of that he gives me Relient K’s Mmhmm.

Well that’s a healthy compromise for your Mom right there.

Right? This was like a backdoor to all the best pop-punk artists out there. When I cracked open the CD I read about Relient K’s inspirations for the record and it listed The Descendants, Something Corporate, AFI, and NOFX. The next day my Dad took me to Tower Records where I stayed all day in the “Punk” section.

So to wrap up the story, MxPx was a pivotal band in molding my love for punk-rock. They became my new Green Day.

That’s one hell of a story and I appreciate you sitting down and chatting with me.

Be sure to check out Crooked Teeth on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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