Five Things: Teeth & Tongue
“Every time I make an album I swear it’s going to be a quick, easy, straightforward affair, but that doesn’t ever seem to happen,” says Jess Cornelius aka Teeth & Tongue. The New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based musician will release her second album Grids – the follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed Tambourine – this week. Here are five things that inspired it.
Marc Regueiro-Mckelvie (Popolice) and Damian Sullivan (Jealous Husband) were involved from the outset, even though they didn’t necessarily play on every song on the record. Some of the tracks we arranged during band practice, some of the tracks I arranged at home. But even when that happened, I would think about Marc and Damian playing the parts live. I think they had a big influence on the overall sound. Plus, they both have amazing solo projects of their own which is always really inspiring. You don’t want your own band thinking the songs are shit, so you work harder.
This guy is a legend. One day I came in and he’d been up all night spewing from gastro, and his kids had had gastro, and he hadn’t eaten in 48 hours. He still offered to work that day, because we were in the middle of a track. We didn’t, of course. He tried to pull up the track and almost fell off his chair. He was constantly positive and excited about the record, and because it was such a long process, I really needed that. He also had a big impact on how it sounded, and not just sonically. I would think a song was finished, but he’d say: “why don’t you try and write a little refrain for this part,” or “this part kind of needs something else…” and kept looking for ways to make the tracks better. He pushed me. And I sure as hell pushed him, the poor dude.
Somewhere during the recording process I became fascinated with making my own sourdough bread, so the house was filled with oozing little tubs of bubbly, smelly sourdough starter. I would bring the loaves (with varying degrees of success) into the studio to feed whoever was there. Sometimes it was just AJ, but I think Marc got a good piece of loaf once. He likes bread. I think baking was all a bit of a distraction technique, on my part. Sometimes the loaves would take 48 hours to rise. Maybe that’s why the album took so long.
Just before, and during, writing the album I was doing a lot of touring and travelling, both solo and with the band. I think that made an impact. Spending time in the US and all over Australia, doing it super low-budget mostly, made me tougher and made me appreciate the ease with which a lot of us live here. I think it made us a better band and also made me want to work harder on the songs, because you get a better idea of just how many bloody bands there are in the world! It also made me love living in Australia even more.
My mum and dad
Yes, cheesy. But they’re pretty cool, and they inspire me to keep doing fun stuff. My mum is an artist, mainly in ceramics, and my dad helps develop solar energy projects. They’re in their late fifties/early sixties but we went on a 10-day cycle trip around Tasmania recently and they kicked my ass regularly on the hills. Plus, they live in NZ and I don’t see them very much. If I don’t keep putting out records and videos they’ll start to wonder what the hell I’m doing with my time.
Grids is out on March 21 through Dot Dash/Remote Control. Teeth & Tongue is supporting Vance Joy and Gossling in April and May. Check out the dates here.