Tyler Scurlock weaves among four heads bobbing behind several stacks of synthesizers and a drape of cables seemingly holding it all together like electrical tape. If Kraftwerk was the man-made machine, Sharks' Teeth is man doing its worst impression of a machine — ecstatic and fumbling, whispering and laughing, clumsy and dancing, expressing a full range of emotions while twisting knobs and pressing keys, inviting us to the band's living room disco.
"For us, we're having more fun than anybody," Scurlock tells Gambit. "That's usually the case when we're playing a Sharks' Teeth show — I'm geeking out."
Scurlock is a prolific songwriter who has sharpened his storytelling in cathartic rock 'n' roll and emotional vignettes through several projects. As Sharks' Teeth, he recorded and released dozens of synthesizer experiments, from heavenly drones to September's full-band magnum opus It Transfers & Grows (Gigantic Noise). Devin Hildebrand, Shelby Grosz and Emily Hafner transformed Scurlock's bedroom-born analog obsession (he's2016 Music Issue been collecting since he was 17) into its intimate, charming live production.
"It's backfired from what I wanted it to do," Scurlock says, laughing. "It wasn't really on purpose to form into exactly what we are now but I couldn't be happier and I wouldn't want it any other way. ... I wanted to focus on a project where any arrangement, as long as I was there, I feel comfortable calling it Sharks' Teeth."
To record It Transfers & Grows, the band plugged its instruments directly into the mixing console, blasting tracks through the studio speakers and playing along with every warbling analog chirp and wavy bass burp. "It doesn't matter if there's any noise in the room," Scurlock says. "You can high-five and clink beers. ... All that stuff can happen while you're recording, which makes it a different experience."
Scurlock would make "ridiculous stuff up, trying all kinds of things on the keyboard," while Grosz twisted knobs and Hildebrand layered drum sounds, a mix of field samples, live recordings and programmed drums. The album offers cloudy diary entries ("Karma Decay"), upside-down John Hughes scores ("Melting Belief") and cosmic funk for a private dance floor ("She Teaches Art"). The band's next release — what Grosz calls "cocktail music in a Berlin lounge" for a five-track EP tentatively dubbed Orlando's Bloom — will be recorded via eight-track tape.
"If I'm playing it and it doesn't make me feel emotional in some way, I have to question whether this is some pop garbage," Scurlock says. "The way I'm feeling right now, thinking about and playing these electronica, borderline-disco dance songs and then going into writing, sitting down and writing, I don't feel, like, compelled to write more of the same style at all. I'm open to doing anything.
"This is the most natural thing for me to do. I enjoy doing it so much. But every time, I struggle writing — all the time, every time I write. I never know what direction I'm going in until it happens."
The 2016 Music Issue
• AF THE NAYSAYER, first person shooter
Inside the circuit boards with the producer
• In the court of Sexy Dex & the Fresh
• Video Age and the big rewind
• Armed to the teeth: the intimate synth world of Sharks’ Teeth
• Water Seed reunites with New Orleans
• The altar of Delish Da Goddess