There is something to be said about a band like Pianos Become the Teeth. While on the surface they might not be the most accessible band to come out of The Wave, the buzz percolating from the band’s first full-length Old Pride built them a surprising amount of energy in the lead-up to the release of their newest effort The Lack Long After. The result is something much more focused and stronger this time around – which is saying a lot considering the moving, yet bombastic songwriting of Old Pride.
“Personally I think we moved towards a more cohesive song structure,” says guitarist Chad McDonald as we catch up with the band during the Baltimore quintet’s current tour with Touche Amore and Seahaven. “Most of the songs on Old Pride were written around guitar riffs and then the blanks were filled in. We attempted a more structured approach on the new record. “I’ll Get By” is a good example of this. The instrumentation is very simplistic but they move the song along and complement one another.”
It seemed that there might be pressure considering the critical feedback from Old Pride’s release that would cause somewhat of a rehash this time around. “I don’t think the attention that we got played much of a roll in the shaping of the new record. We are all proud of it but didn’t want to recreate it when writing new material. I think the touring we put behind that record brought us together as musicians which hopefully translates in the new songs.” Old Pride certainly sparked different emotions depending on the track, such as the heart-wrenching “Cripples Can’t Shiver,” a track telling the story of Pianos’ vocalist Kyle Durfey’s father and his fight with multiple sclerosis, or the post-rock leanings of “Filial” that start the record off on an epic note.
Yet, rather than making this record Old Pride 2.0, the band took a collective step forward, writing something much more cathartic and fluid to back the lyrical content this time around – including Durfey dealing with the passing of his father. “Everyone deals with the death of a loved one at some point in their life,” says McDonald. “We are all old enough to have gone through that process so the central theme of the album is very relatable. Kyle is the only member to have lost a parent. As frightening as it is to say, I think the record will take on an entirely new level of significance once that happens for the rest of us.”
This time around though, the expression of grief was felt quite quickly upon first listening to The Lack Long After. Whether it was Durfey’s brooding lyricism or the angular, yet huge musical passages backing it, the emotional intent of this record never seems to waiver, an intent McDonald says the band had when writing this album. “We knew the subject matter was largely going to be based on Kyle’s father passing away and the grief that comes along with losing someone you love, so we wrote with that in mind.”
As far as getting this new material out for people to hear, the band’s repertoire has included cuts from the new record, including ending their set with The Lack Long After’s closer “I’ll Get By.” “[It] is a slower song and it has been interesting to see the varying responses that song receives. It’s either stage dives or blank stares,” says McDonald, but he also points out that after a couple years of touring on Old Pride, “mixing in new material is a nice change of pace.”
Despite having their van window smashed in while in Austin, Texas earlier on the tour, the road seems a little smoother for the band, who are plotting out their touring schedule aside from a batch of dates with Touche Amore in the UK in March. While McDonald jokes they are trying to do as much touring as possible without going broke, he says the band certainly has their heads held high either way with the release of this record.
“We’re all proud of the album so you shrug off the obvious trolling critics and try to learn from the others. Art is subjective so as long as you are working to the best of your abilities you should be able to take pride in what you have created.”