Baltimore’s Sharptooth have not only mastered a mind-blowingly heavy hardcore sound, they also deliver an inspirational message of positivity. This powerful combination means this tenacious, exciting new band has the potential to be absolutely huge.
The five-piece of vocalist Lauren Kashan, guitarists Keith Higgins and Lance Donati, bassist Phil Rasinski and drummer Connor Mac are enjoying a growing reputation for explosive live shows, battering ram energy, and provocative, political messages.
We spoke to Lauren to find out more, and first up asked her to sum up the Sharptooth sound. She told us: “I would describe us as metallic hardcore that is simultaneously thrashy and melodic. The fun thing about Sharptooth is that, musically, we like to wear a lot of hats and don’t like to be confined by genre tropes. Some songs are straight up bone crushingly heavy with big break downs, others are fast and spasmodic, while others are anchored with melodic hooks and choruses, and we even throw some southern influence in there. I think our sound is distinctive, dynamic, and that there’s something for everyone in the album.”
New single Clever Girl is testament to all the points above, and it’s also borne out of a worrying, yet inspirational story. Lauren explains it was inspired by an argument she had with a guy who tried to tell her and a group of women, many of whom were survivors of sexual assault, about how they should feel about sexual violence.
Lauren explains: “All I could think in that moment was SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP because this person had absolutely no right to speak on the subject, let alone talk down to us. I think anyone can relate to the experience of having someone who has no idea what they’re talking about, either trying to talk down to you or control you.
“This is a call to arms for any and all marginalised people, for our voices to be heard and for everyone else to take this time to simply listen. It’s all about aggressively fighting back against the hands that chain us and ‘biting back’ against oppression of all forms – be that by people in your life, in your society, or systemic forms of oppression like sexism, racism and bigotry.”
The anger that has inspired the song is certainly not lost in the delivery of Clever Girl – it’s an intensely heavy onslaught of spinetinglingly good brutality. The track kicks off with a lone, heavily distorted riff then a big smash of guitar as Lauren’s big screamed vocals dive in at breakneck speed. High-pitched guitars then support Lauren’s cries of “Sit down, shut up” then there’s a big breakdown as Lauren’s shout of “You better run… Fuck boy” tees up a big fast-paced smash of guitars, driving drums and screamed vocals.
The onslaught ends with a prolonged guitar chord, then gradually building repeats of “Dead men tell no tales, Dead men talk no shit” with chugs of guitar in the background. Lauren lets out a cackle then lets out a mass of brutal screams of the same vocals to bring the track to a huge, violent ending. Check it out for yourself in the awesome video below:
The release of Clever Girl is being backed up by the launch of Sharptooth’s debut album of the same title next month. Lauren tells us: “It’s extremely exciting! We’re thrilled that these songs and their messages are going to be getting a much bigger reach now. I think that people should expect an album with a lot of musical diversity, coupled with messages about socio-political issues from an extremely personal standpoint. Our overarching theme of the album is all about living your truth, standing up for what you think is right, and amplifying each others’ voices so as to create a more equal and unified world.”
Sharptooth draw musical influence from a wide range of bands and artists, some of which you might not be expecting. As Lauren told us: “Musically we take inspiration from everything from Every Time I Die to Trapped Under Ice and Set Your Goals. Personally, a lot of my writing is informed by artists like Stick To Your Guns and Stray From The Path, who are some of my favorite bands and who tackle political and personal topics in ways that I really admire. Jesse Barnett’s writing in all of his projects has been hugely influential to me.
“Our live show pulls elements from letlive. and The Chariot and Converge in its physicality and explosiveness. But also, coming from a TOTALLY different direction, I know that I personally take a lot of inspiration from artists like Kesha and Lorde and Nicki Minaj and a lot of strong femmes in pop music. They inform so much of the approach I take to being a woman in the world of performance.”
The band is far from your run of the mill melodic hardcore band. Indeed, their debut EP almost touches on elements of punk on Single Standard and Give Em Hell Kid, but the brutality will always shine through in the end and is there in abundance in the deliciously aggressive Vespa. But it’s not just their sound that makes this one of the most exciting up-and-coming bands around, it’s the inspirational message that they stand for, and which Lauren is keen to impress.
She explained: “Sharptooth is a band for EVERYBODY! I think that because we speak out in the name of marginalised voices and the disenfranchised, that sometimes people may forget that the reason we do that is so that EVERYONE can achieve equity and equality. And sometimes it’s messy, and not perfect, because we’re all humans and humans, by nature, are gonna make mistakes.
“But I truly believe that this band can be used as a vehicle for positive change that benefits all people. And if you’re about that too, we’re about you. So reach out, get to know us, talk to us and help us all learn from each other us, and in the meantime, be good to one another.”
I firmly believe Sharptooth are set for great things. They sound huge, lead by Lauren’s vocals that are absolutely brutally good. The single Clever Girl is out now, and the album of the same name is released on 27 October, and you can get hold of them here. And, even more excitingly, Lauren has hinted that Sharptooth could be hitting up the UK as soon as next year. Bring it on.