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Interview With Ancient Teeth's Brainchild Adrian Mottram

Just this week, I had the opportunity to chat with Ancient Teeth's primary songwriter Adrian Mottram about the projects' sophomore album, HUMANIZER, and a little more about their future plans such as his forthcoming touring plans.

Press photo for Canadian shoegaze, rock, and grunge band Ancient Teeth.

In your own words, how would you describe how the music on HUMANIZER differs from the songs on your debut album, Deathbed?

Adrian: It’s a continuation of my life and it's an observational piece so It sounds wider and more diverse. Perhaps more “experimental” from a genre-defining perspective.

You have an assortment of artists perform a slew of different additional vocals and instruments on the new album. How was it working with these musicians and what did each of them bring to the album?

A: The goal was to provide a wide spectrum of voices and personalities in order to push the universal message of oneness. Everyone that is on this album is somebody I love and respect dearly so I’m honored that they said yes to the idea of being part of the music. Ryan and Jordy are such old-school pillars for me. Jordy can feed me a loop or a few words and I’ll be able to write a song from that. Trish has such an incredible voice and nailed "Vanishing Light." I’ve been recording Katrina for about 15 years so as soon as she plants her voice on a song it's like a breath of fresh air or peace. She's something special. Of course, my parents are absolutely crucial to this. It was really fun producing a performance out of them. They are classical musicians and strive for perfection so when we began recording I changed the melodies on the fly, rearranged certain parts and got into my creative headspace very easily. It was a really fun process working together. I wish I could do more with them.

When did you start writing for HUMANIZER? You stated before for Deathbed that the album was a collection of songs that first materialized as early as 2015.

A: I actually think I have a very rough sketch of "Not Alright" from 2015 or 2016. It was a guitar and vocal Chris sent me and I began building it out into the arrangement that is on the record. Besides this song, the album was written from March 2020 to sometime in 2021 just prior to when we tracked the music in Toronto.

Do these nine new tracks have similar themes as the songs on your debut or do these songs set themselves apart?

A: Absolutely they do, These songs are all written about different people or situations that I witnessed during the 2020 pandemic. If the first record was about having faith in myself this record would be about having faith in humanity.

Do you have a profound moment from writing or tracking HUMANIZER that still sticks to you to this day?

A: Yep, I think many actually. From the writing side, I really leaned into allowing the flow of the song to come out with as least resistance as possible. So there were several songs that were written in one sitting. I sent Jordy "Sacrifice" and he sent me back an idea for the shouting chorus that you hear today. I didn't think I could pull it off but he kind of implied that it needed to be like that and that I could sing it no problem. So I did. I wouldn't have screamed it like that if I wasn't nudged off the cliff to do so. I would say that was a massive shift in pushing my voice and breaking new ground. As far as recording goes I was fairly terrified going into the studio with only one rehearsal and at the same time thrilled to lean into that unknown. Those guys are such pros when it comes to making a song happen. It was another example of not trying to control every aspect of the process and let things come naturally.

Was there any song on the album that you personally had trouble writing at all?

A: No, I don't think so. This record was very smooth to execute. Although there is a B side that didn't make it on the album that just didn't work as a band. The demo rips, but it's just has too much drum machine and I couldn't translate with real people.

What are some of your favorite tracks on HUMANIZER?

A: I think "Feral" is a fun one because it’s written as a homanum, "Astray" is a deep one for me because it takes me right back to packing up our life in Vancouver and trying to find someplace safe to live. "Vanishing Light" is very special too because of Trish and my parents being on it.

Are there any that you’re eager to hear fans feedback on because they’re out of the box or along the lines?

A: I hope that if something resonates with folks that they know I’m so grateful they checked it out.

What do you hope people can take away from your new music?

A: To believe in yourself even if it seems too difficult. Just do it.

Last time we spoke, you guys weren't sure if you were going to hit the road to tour the debut album. Are there plans in place for this record, or are you in the same boat?

A: I’m booking shows right now actually. There's a local band in Montreal called Laurate who have been learning the catalog of songs and will be the live band for the next while so I can bring this to life on the stage. It’s been a lot of fun jamming with them!

Are there any more plans for the rest of the year?

A: The year is young! Right now, the focus is on rehearsing as much as possible and booking some shows. It’s such a privilege to be able to play live and jam with other folks. As far as the rest of the year goes, I just finished mixing the third record with producer Ian Blurton and not sure when that will be out... In 2025, maybe?

Thanks for taking the time to talk about the new album, Adrian! Before you go, is there anything you would like to add?

A: Thank you for following up with the band, I really appreciate it. It means a lot.


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