An archaic old saying espouses that “It’s better to be seen and not heard.” In the case of Baltimore, MD melodic hardcore upstarts Sharptooth, you could invert that as “It’s better to make a scene and be heard.”
Known for explosive live shows, battering ram energy, and provocative politically conscious messages, the five-piece—Lauren Kashan [vocals], Keith Higgins [guitar], Lance Donati [guitar], Phil Rasinski [bass], and Connor Mac [drums]—consistently leave a lasting impression on stage and on their full-length debut, Clever Girl [Pure Noise Records]. Often dubbed “the crazy band” since their 2015 emergence, the group lives up to that promise of unpredictability.
“We keep people guessing and audiences on their toes,” explains Lauren. “We’ll be an inch from their faces or climbing shit, throwing things, and jumping off stuff. It was about engaging them through the physicality of our performances and also the content of what we’re talking about. If you can’t understand a word I’m saying, I’m going to spell it out for you. We’re upfront about social issues.”
“It’s also coming from a poly-sexual female perspective versus just another straight white guy in a hardcore band,” adds Lance. “Bands don’t have values and stand up for anything anymore, but we do.”
Formed amidst the Baltimore riots and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Sharptooth bared their claws at just the right time.
Lance goes on, “It was a turning point around politics and music. Mainstream media was one direction. You’re fed a lot of stuff. The advent of the internet pushed a third voice you never heard. In 2014, the riots were going on right down the street from us. That kicked us in the ass and made us look at the world around us.”
The group cemented a following through tireless touring, incinerating venues alongside everyone from Hawthorne Heights, Texas In July, and Vanna to letlive., War On Women, and 25 To Life. 2016 saw them record Clever Girl with producer Paul Leavitt [Darkest Hour, Senses Fail]. Upon a first listen, Pure Noise immediately signed the band.
Now, the title track “Clever Girl” introduces the album with thrashed-up hardcore grit, punishing breakdowns, and a walloping chant. Nodding to a famous line by cocky hunter Muldoon before raptors consume him in the original Jurassic Park, it speaks to an important theme.
“It’s one of the more abstract songs,” Lauren explains. “It’s this anthropomorphic concept of women as velociraptors going around eviscerating the shitty people who try to regulate us and legislate us. We’re destroying and slashing the patriarchy. It’s so cleansing and empowering. It’s taking back everything that’s been taken from marginalized people.”
The dinosaur imagery feels apropos across the board. Of course, the moniker Sharptooth namechecks a character from The Land Before Time, but Lauren also works as herpetologist—training alligators—by trade.
In the end, Sharptooth wield teeth of their own. “We want to give a voice to the voiceless,” Lauren leaves off. “So many people aren’t spoken for—not only in this scene, but the world at large. When they listen to us, I want them to feel like their perspective is being talked about.”