WRITTEN BY: Regina Schliep
Rocktober winners Bristoltooth are keeping listeners on their toes! Hopping around throughout the competition from classics like The Who’s “Baba O’Reily” for the dad-rock challenge to putting their own twist on the iCarly theme song, Bristoltooth has shown their sound has a range that they are continually unfolding. Although recently started just as the pandemic began, their chemistry goes beyond the length of their musical endeavor and is evident in the performances they’ve brought to the Rocktober virtual stage. Unfortunately, the band is waiting to dissect the meaning of their slogan “The Tooth is Loose,” but check out the interview with Bristoltooth, where they discuss their origins, the surprising yet exciting ride of their Rocktober experience, and a special announcement for something in the near future.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW YOU, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE BRISTOLTOOTH? TELL US MORE ABOUT THE BAND!
Dom – It’s funny because we never really thought we’d all be in a band. Cullen put out a solo piece called “Deadfish Float” and I was playing the ukulele, just picking it up, and then we were at a party at my house one night, this was before COVID, and he was like ‘I think we should all do a band together.’ Then the next week we all picked up instruments and then COVID happened and that was the time when we were really able to hone in on our craft.
Mike – I had actually played guitar and bass prior to the band starting but they all just decided what they were playing and were like ‘Mikes on drums!’
Cullen – Well you had mentioned you had a drum set in your house.
Mike – It was my brother’s though!
Cullen- Noah played bass in the middle school orchestra, and Dom was learning guitar, so neither of them were good drum candidates, so I was like ‘Mike, your drums!’ and I just brought everything over to the house and they set up a playing space in the basement and that’s where we practiced.
Mike – Cullen, Noah, and I actually all went to middle school together, and I didn’t really know either of them.
Noah – Me and Cullen knew each other.
Cullen – We were on the same bus!
Noah – We didn’t know Mike too well.
Cullen – Yeah I remember meeting Mike at Temple and he was like ‘We didn’t really hang out in middle school’ and I was like ‘I don’t remember you at all’
Mike – I knew both of your names, and Noah knew who I was because one of the first classes we had, we had it together and our teacher was like introduce yourself to the people next to you, and I looked over and was like ‘Hi I’m Mike…’ and he was like ‘I know!’ and I was like ‘AH! How’d you know! That’s a little terrifying man’ But Dom and I wound up meeting freshman year through a mutual friend of ours, and he invited me over to his dorm to play Mario Kart. He and Noah were roommates, so then we all just hung out.
Cullen – I went to Temple freshman year, and then I dropped out, but I still would come to hang out a few times with Noah and our other friends, and the next year they got an apartment and we all started partying together and stuff and we all just became boys.
Dom – And then we went to Italy!
Mike – Wasn’t a part of that one.
BRISTOLTOOTH STARTED RIGHT BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, HOW HAS IT BEEN STARTING UP A BAND UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES?
Cullen – I feel like it’s been weirdly a good thing for us because there isn’t anything else to do and we’re trying to keep a small group and not interact with a lot of people, so it’s been kind of nice that we’ve had a place to go to focus without any distractions.
Dom – My only issue is it’s frustrating that we have connections to house show venues and obviously right now we can’t do that or play to a live audience so that’s kind of frustrating.
Mike – It’s also frustrating because other people who live in the house and have their own schedules so we have to work around those. We can’t just be like ‘now we wanna play’ because they have nowhere else to go really.
Cullen – If they can’t go to the library and study or anything and there’s a rock band playing in the basement, we have to negotiate.
WHAT DOES “THE TOOTH IS LOOSE” MEAN TO YOU GUYS?
Cullen – A lot of people have been picking up on that, actually. The tooth can’t be contained.
Dom – The tooth is loose, that’s all I’m gonna say.
SO FAR, YOU GUYS HAVE PUT OUT “CHERRY COKE” AND WE RECENTLY GOT A COVER OF “BABA O’REILY” FOR ROCKTOBER’S “DAD ROCK” COVER CHALLENGE, WHICH ARE BOTH TWO PRETTY DIFFERENT SOUNDS THAT YOU GUYS REALLY TOOK UNDER YOUR WING. MOVING FORWARD, ARE THERE ANY IDEAL DIRECTIONS YOU WANT TO HEAD IN OR INSPIRATION YOU WANT TO DRAW ON WITH YOUR SOUND?
Dom – Personally, some artists that have been influential to me are a band that’s coming up The Backseat Lovers, and a lot of punk rock stuff like Beach Bunny, they definitely influence my writing, Twin Peaks, Mac DeMarco, Snail Mail, and I’ve been really into Lionel Richie right now. I’ve been playing him all the time lately in my room just trying to play behind him. I think if we could go to one sound, it’d probably be indie-rock, but we’re trying to figure that out right now as well. The upcoming project we’re putting out is a collection of genres and vibes, and we’re trying to put a finger on it too.
WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR ROCKTOBER EXPERIENCE SO FAR?
Dom – Going into it, when I entered us in, I didn’t really think we were going to have a chance because we really look up to a lot of bands on the scene, like Beach Fuzz and Perpetuals, those kinds of bands be look up to. So out the bat, we’re up against The [Beach] Fuzz and I was like ‘there’s no chance we’re going to win.’
Cullen – We did not expect to make it past round one at all, we thought it was going to be like 70/30 [voting results]
Dom – And then like we kind of all reached out to our different friend groups and everyone and actually pulled the win, and I was surprised. I think that gave me a lot of hope and I was really excited when we pulled out the win, but honestly, it still feels weird that we beat them.
Cullen – That was probably my highlight, being in the first round and it got to the point where we were like ‘we can actually beat Beach Fuzz’ and then we did, and we were screaming and it was crazy.
Mike – We reached out to literally every person that we know too. I messaged people I went to grade school with and they were like ‘hey, this is actually pretty good music, keep it coming we’re voting for you.’
Dom – We kind of fired all canons like first night with Beach Fuzz. I actually went on Omegle and played songs for people and once I got them talking I asked them to vote for us, and nine times out of ten they would.
Cullen – The tooth is global!
IF YOU WERE FANS, WHO WOULD YOUR ROCKTOBER BRACKET COME DOWN TO?
Cullen – Definitely the Fuzz, and I really liked Russel’s stuff.
Dom – I really liked [Soul] Pistola’s first cover of “House of the Rising Sun.”
Mike – That was fantastic.
Cullen – I was horrified by that.
Dom – I really liked Romaine [The Child’s] zoom video thing, and Beach Fuzz. I’d wanna see them head to head. But also Bailee Zelis, I helped shoot her live session on Bell Tower and I thought her acoustic sound was amazing.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE THE WINNERS OF ROCKTOBER?
Cullen – Beach Fuzz should’ve crushed us in the first round! No, but we’ve actually had a lot of fun and taken it way too seriously. We’ve taken everything we have and put it into this competition, like, I’m at Penn State right now and I’ve been driving back and forth just to make this thing happen. We just really tried our best and put everything we have into it.
Mike – Didn’t you say you drove 18 hours last week!
Cullen – Probably about that collectively!
Dom – Cullen should probably just win Rocktober-
Cullen – Nah dude, it takes many teeth to make a smile!
Mike – That was beautiful!
IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN EXPECT TO HEAR FROM YOU GUYS SOON?
Cullen – I guess we’re announcing! We’re working on a little EP, it’s just a collection of demos really because we’re just recording it on my laptop in the basement, but hopefully, that’s going to be wrapping out soon so keep an eye out for that!