INTERVIEW: JOELLE BRZOZOWIEC (SHALLOW TEETH)

And in keeping with the spirit of interviewing someone’s other half, I decided to grab the other half of Shallow Teeth’s rhythm section for this segment. We first interviewed Joelle (drums @ Shallow Teeth) back in September of 2021 for our very first ALL-RHYTHM edition, and I felt it was time for us to catch up now that a year has passed since that last one-on-one. Currently, Shallow Teeth are still ridiculously active in the scene despite being down a vocalist. They’re still showing up on stage once or twice a month, cramming their delicious brand of post hardcore down our throats, and occasionally grabbing random people from the crowd to fill their vacant vocalist spot. I had the honor of performing “Life Lust” with these fine folks at Goodbar back in July, and since then, a revolving door of ST fans have had their turn at the mic. I also have it on good authority that Shallow Teeth are in the market to finally add a 2nd guitarist to their arsenal, but I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself. Here’s what Joelle had to say about all of the above!

1. Talk about the beginnings of Shallow Teeth. How did you guys get started?

Welp, about 3 years ago our former vocalist reached out to Kyle Benes and myself in order to start a hardcore band. Not so oddly enough, the “hardcore” aspect became more of an influence than an objective goal. Right as things started forming, the COVID pandemic hit and gave us time to focus solely on members and getting material written.

As we sifted through members, I ended up switching from guitar to drums. With that shift, we tried out various guitarists and bassists, and then ended up with our lil bb boi Henry on bass and stuck with that. I still write second guitar for the songs, but the lineup was the 4 of us (prior to our vocalist parting ways) for quite a while.

2. How did you come up with the name of the band?

If I’m to be honest… I don’t recall. We didn’t have many band names in line, and that one sounded cool to all of us lol.

3. Since I’m completely unfamiliar, what is the hardcore scene in the Buffalo area like nowadays, generally speaking?

Given that we spent most of our early show days playing in areas outside of the city region, I may not be the best person to speak to it. But if I were to compare when beatdown and deathcore-esque “hardcore” was predominant like 7-8 years ago, I would say it’s reminiscent of the “hardcore” scene I grew up with. Local basement shows, the occasional headliner coming through, and local bills with a mixed bag of genres. But even with that, it’s pretty scattered. I wouldn’t call it cliquey, but just ends up in a setup where certain bands play with certain bands, and then cross paths on occasion.

4. Who are your biggest influences as a drummer? (any genre, go with your gut) Feel free to throw in guitar influences too because everyone knows you’re a scholar on the fretboard.

Well, when it comes to influences, it’s mainly music. For both instruments, it’s always been a matter of liking the musicians who wrote music I enjoyed. From there, I would favor those artists by virtue of their compositional nature.

With that being said, my younger years had me more focused on technical proficiency as a means of making music enjoyable. Guitar being my main instrument at that point, genres that influenced me were: New Wave of British Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden mainly), Melodic Death Metal, Chiptune, Jazz (bebop and fusion), Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Djent, Punk, Post-Hardcore (old wave… not metalcore with singing kind), Mathcore, Indie/Acoustic, and Ska.

All of that aside… If I HAD to name influences instrumentally, it’d be as follows. Guitar: Yngwie Malmsteen, Al DiMeola, Claudio Sanchez, Omar Rodríguez-López, Ben Weinman, Tosin Abasi, John Kempainen, Ben Gifford, and Adrian Smith. Drums: Brian Southall, Matt Garstka, Dan Bourke, Chris Penne, and Billy Hymer.

5. Is Shallow Teeth a collaborative project, or is the songwriting centered around one person’s ideas? Also, without giving much away, are you willing to discuss how you guys have been fleshing out your sound with another guitarist?

It’s 100% collaborative. Given that all of us have our own skill sets and influences, we often work together to achieve what we put together. With the recent change in our lineup, we are able to bring more of that to the table and are super stoked to let more of what makes us musicians out!

When it comes to our new friend, it’s still pretty early, but we fully intend to bring them into the writing process in a similar fashion where we make sure all of us can write something we are proud of.

6. Talk about your experiences showing new listeners your brand of post hardcore for the first time.

Well, depending on the brand… Since the genre of post hardcore has gone through more phases than a confused teenager, it’s been fun to navigate. It often boils down to comparisons to bands we take influence from. And if that doesn’t get the point across, we just tell people to listen to it and make of it what they will. How one perceives our music is out of our hands, and we would rather people just decide if it’s something worth enjoying more than making sure it’s categorized correctly.

7. Talk about Shallow Teeth’s future plans (recording, shows, etc.), as in anything you’re at liberty to discuss.

With our future plans, it boils down to nailing down a vocalist, since we are in the process of refining who has come through. It’s been lengthy, but we want to make sure we give everyone who comes through a shot so we can see what will suit our future intentions best.

Since we now have a second guitarist we are working with, it’s really going to pan out where we get our sound refined from what we once did, bring in the new influence, and then put our heads down to start making some new jams. We previously focused heavily on getting out there with our original material, and it hindered our ability to focus on writing. With that being said, we’re slowing down on the show front.

Given that we are pacing ourselves on shows, it will give us a chance to revisit when we only had time to write, but with the benefit of being able to take more selective shows and having something new to present when that time comes. One offs and cool shows will always find their way in, but we really plan to get new material rolling for our next big push of recording and playing out with a new set of songs.

8. Most of our readers are metalheads, so without giving it much thought, list of Shallow Teeth’s “RIFFIEST” songs!

Honestly, Life Lust is probably the “riffiest”. Kyle rips a fair chunk of leads, there aren’t a lot of specific chord sections, the drums have a good amount of accentual parts to each section, and the baseline pushes the melody more than the groove.

2nd would be Black Mirror. Though the song is much more rhythmic to the ear, there is a vast amount of movement on the strings. Though the 2nd guitar isn’t as note heavy, the chord work moves much more than one would think. Given that, I would say it lines up with the formal definition of “riffy”

Lastly, I feel Carrier is worth mentioning. The song doesn’t have too many note heavy sections, but it’s pure riff in the conventional sense. A really tight rhythm that is interesting enough in spite of being repetitive. But the variety and push pull comes from the 2nd guitar. Just pure rhythm lead. Constant chordal harmonization, note leading, and various inversion. It makes the riff sound like it changes, but it never really does. Just built up and broken down start to finish.

9. Talk about some of your most memorable performances, both locally and on the road. What made these shows so special?

I mean.. There are a ton of shows I could name really. But there are 4 I could think of. And all of which are with Amputecht.

Playing with Chon at The Waiting room. That was an interesting time since that was right after we decided “It’s time to play outside of buffalo, we aren’t getting much love here.” The scene was heavy and metalcore only, and we were a mishmash of post hardcore and djent. So after spreading our wings and coming back to buffalo on that bill, it was wild… 1st song, my dumb a**forgot to unmute my guitar, so it was just bass, drums and vocals… But the rest of the set was on point. The crowd was awesome, and it was also humbling to have such tight musicians play after us…

The 2nd show would have to be one I mentioned with you before. The Butch Hulin benefit way back at Broadway joes. Once again, a band that sonically had no good reason to be on the bill, but the house was packed, and the crowd went APE S**T. Got one of my favorite photos of me jamming in the crowd with 3 other people arm in arm with me.

The 3rd show would be My Place Pizza in Poughkeepsie. There were maybe like 30 people there, the owner’s band opened, the pizza was delicious, and someone slammed into both sides of parked cars going like 50 mph down a 30 mph road. But when we played, it was one of my more flashy moments. My strap lock completely disassembled… So instead of stopping, I just held my guitar by the bridge pickup with my pinky. But, we were playing R.E.M., and that had a right hand heavy lead into a solo. So what do?.. People tried to help me hold it up, but I said screw it and threw my guitar behind my head. There is a video hiding somewhere on Facebook of it, and I surprisingly nailed it. That sold the crowd in that moment, and the rest of the show had everyone going off. It was awesome.

Lastly, The Bunny The Bear at Broadway Joe’s before it closed down (RIP Drac). The show was pretty packed, and it was expected to be one of the last shows. But when we got on stage, we got maybe 4 songs in before the cops came and cut the show off. That’s still a running joke with Dave, Joe, Justin and I. Especially since it wasn’t for anything cool.

10. What’s the best advice you can give someone who is joining or starting a band for the first time?

Do it for fun first, and then let the exposure come from your passion transferring from your brain, to your instrument, to your audience. Even if no one likes it at first, as long as you’re happy with what you write, all the mandatory BS won’t be so bad. By Mandatory BS, I mean all the business stuff that comes with it.

You’re in a family with people who need to be on the same page financially, goal wise, and emotionally. Make sure the work is split up between everyone, and always make it even steven with what you put in. Unless you want to be the main member and just have glorified “musicians for hire”, breaking it up in the early phases will make life much easier for everyone. And then if you hit a point where you get to being serious with it, you can get screwed over by ignorance as easily.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s