INTERVIEW: Dale Graham – Broken Teeth

Since 2007, Manchester’s BROKEN TEETH have been building a strong name for themselves in the hardcore community. Now, nine years after their debut and with extensive touring experience under their belt, their debut record At Peace Amongst Chaos (read our review here) is finally here. Prior to the record’s release and an appearance at this year’s Grozerock we spoke to vocalist Dale Graham to talk about the record and it’s lengthy writing process, signing with Nuclear Blast and the benefits of touring and the sense of community within hardcore.

It seems like a long time coming, but your debut album is finally here, why did it take so long for your debut to be released?

Dale: Well it took about three to four years since our last release to get the LP together, I guess it is because we never really had the time to sit down together and write it all. There was a time where we all pretty much lived all over the country and we were touring full time so we never had a weekend spare to sit down together and do it. It was the summer of last year where we decided to stop playing shows and just take a few months to do it. We could just never find the time, to be honest it was never more perfectly timed, we ended up getting a new guitarist in, Matt Weston, and bassist, Nial Moran, around two years ago and they brought a whole new element to it as well. A whole new direction in writing. So it was never more perfectly timed than last summer really.

So it was like something had just clicked?

Dale: Yeah we just had to get comfortable as a band for the five of us to get together, it was a whole new dynamic.

Since forming in ’07, the band has toured extensively. Because of that, you have built a strong name, especially in the hardcore scene. Do you think, especially in today’s climate, that’s the best way to build a name?

Dale: Personally yeah because it worked for us, when we were doing it everyone was like “you need to write a record, you need to write a record” but we were like “we just want to play shows”. We did it our way, we just kept touring and touring and playing to as many different crowds as possible. It definitely worked in our favour, we did it our way and we didn’t write the record for a couple of a years and now the timing is just perfect.

And some of those performances have been quite big, the band have played Hellfest and you have Grozerock coming up. How do festivals of those size compare to the small intimate club shows?

Dale: Well you know we are a hardcore band we love playing those small hardcore shows in those tiny rooms, it’s our shit! It’s where we thrive the most, but when it comes to festivals and the big tours it’s an experience more than anything. It’s a once in a lifetime thing but at the same time you have to find the right balance, whether you’re going to be on the small venues or on the big stages, you need to find that perfect balance. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing the big festivals, it’s a cool weekend where we get to sit in a field together and have a few drinks but nothing compares to playing a 100 cap venue and it’s packed. Nothing compares to doing that.

Festivals can be quite the step up from playing intimate club shows, do you have to take more preparation for the big stages?

Dale: No not really, I imagine bands would do their so called rehearsals every week but we just do our thing. We do the same thing all the time, nothing changes. At the minute I’ve been getting in trouble because the festivals have big production sheets and some of them are 15 pages long and literally I don’t have a fucking clue what they are on about. Things like check riders and stage plots and input lists, what the fuck is this? I need a stage with two marshall cabs, a bass cab, a drumkit and three microphones. Is it that hard? In that respect, playing small shows is definitely better because it’s less shit to deal with.

With the build up to the release of this album, the band signed with Nuclear Blast which is a huge achievement. Can you describe the process of being signed?

Dale: To be honest, it was strange. We were in two minds about it when it got offered, we had just finished doing our demos for the LP and Mark, who works at MAD who books us in Europe, emailed us one day and said Nuclear Blast want to hear your demos! So we sent them over and they were into it and straight away they said they want to put it out. At the time we were thinking, is it really a good thing for us to do? As we are a hardcore band we were unsure for a few months and it came to about January and we had a deadline to sign by the end of the month. It got to the last week and really we just thought we are being stupid here! We’ve just been given this crazy opportunity where it really helps us so why don’t we just take it. This means worldwide exposure and crazy opportunities so why not! It’s always better to take a step forward than a step back.

Predominately Nuclear Blast don’t really have a lot of hardcore bands on their roster. Do you feel by being on Nuclear Blast you can open your music up to people who otherwise wouldn’t really give your band the time?

Dale: Yeah definitely, that was my convincing point with it, it helps us build a platform where we get to expose ourselves to people who don’t know what hardcore music is. Let alone the music side of it, hardcore brings a whole new lifestyle which people aren’t open to, it gives people so many more opportunities to do alternative things with their life. So if I can go stand on a stage to 1000 metalheads who have never heard hardcore and go “look, this is what’s going on” that’s me doing my part and I am still giving back to hardcore. I’m going to go show people who don’t know what hardcore is what hardcore bands sound like, what hardcore bands look like. Hopefully we can win them over and bring them over to what we are doing.

Speaking about the record itself, when I listen to it the message I feel is a statement to the state of society today. What lyrics and messages are contained within the album?

Dale: There are many different things going on in there, mainly it’s about being oppressed in modern society. Hardcore gives us a place where we can speak out about our problems and speak out about our own troubles, it can create that environment where everyone there can experience the same thing. It’s a comfortable thing, you can go there and not feel separated from anyone, you’re all on the same page. Whether they admit it or not, everyone who goes to hardcore shows is a fucking freak! Deep down there is something strange that brings us to that music, that brings us to that room. Hardcore is a pure expression and you can speak about your everyday problems. For me, I struggle with a lot of things; anxiety. I can go from being calm to all of a sudden being overwhelmed with rage and anger. For no reason whatsoever. When I was growing up there was no one I could really talk to about it, but screaming it in someone’s face, it’s like therapy. It’s a release.

So this album is reaching out to people?

Dale: Yeah hopefully! If people can relate to the problems we’ve had or people who struggle with what they want to do in life because there is so much pressure. Especially if you’re a young teenager in high school, it’s like “this is what you have to do, if you want to be an adult this is what you have to do”. That’s not the case. Whatever it is, go do your own thing, whatever it is you want to do, go do it. If you believe in it, it can go anywhere! Fuck the norms, go with an alternative lifestyle. I go into doing this music because I get to travel, I don’t have to pay a lot of money towards it. There was times when we first started where we had to put a lot of money into it but now I get to go travel for free. I get to go see crazy cities and crazy people and I’m just in it for the joy! Without this music, I don’t know what I would be doing. I probably would still be sat in Salford smoking weed with some stupid idiots, just wasting away. Hardcore music, it makes you aware of what is going on around you, it makes you aware of problems, it makes you be different.

What you just said there is really the best reason as to why people should get into music, for the joy.

Dale: Oh definitely, it’s not about money. I mean we are sort of making money from it but if the reason why you want to start a band is to make money then you are doing it all wrong! It’s an experience. You can be rich in many different ways, you can be rich in the experience of travelling and learning about different cultures. It’s an overwhelming experience.

And really to close off, with the record out on May 6th, you guys are going to playing with TESTAMENT in June. Can UK fans expect any more performances from BROKEN TEETH for the rest of the year?

Dale: We are going to be pretty busy this year! The one thing we didn’t look at straight away was UK shows, we are trying to expand on places we have never been, like Asia mainly. We want to try and go to South East Asia this year but there is a UK tour in the works and we need to sort something for the LP release show.

Well I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, thank you Dale

Dale: No problem, thanks James!

At Peace Amongst Chaos is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.

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