Hellish hissing and skull-splitting feedback explode into a swirlingly atonal shit-cloud of expertly terrible guitar noise, erratic yet superprecise drum strikes, droning bass, garbled shrieks, and totally indecipherable lyrical chatter. That's the sound of Scraping Teeth. And it's the fucking worst.
No, really. Almost 20 years ago, Spin Magazine launched an anti-talent search, asking bands all across the country: "Do you suck?" And immediately, hundreds of entries flooded the music mag's mailboxes like little gift-wrapped nuggets of excrement. Some sucked. Others really sucked. But only Scraping Teeth sucked so bad it was like giving head to a dude who's stuck on the shitter with diarrhea. And ultimately, that's why this self-described "confrontational rock" crew from Miami was finally named "The Worst Band in America" as part of a four-page spread titled "Cream of the Crap."
Explaining the selection in Spin's May 1993 issue, then-senior editor Mark Blackwell expounded upon the "painfully boring" awfulness of Scraping Teeth, writing, "The Teeth are bad... Tiresome, effects-ridden guitar and weak vocals from Rat Bastard. Flat, plodding bass and weak vocals from Fishfungus. Out-of-sync, sloppy drums and weak screaming from Dimthingshine. And, unlike many of the entrants, they're a real band, not a joke — three years old and still suck."
Scraping Teeth's Worst Band in America Tour 2012
Scraping Teeth's Worst Band in America Tour 2012: With Holly Hunt, 90s Teen, and Normads. 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Admission costs $5 at the door. Ages 21 and up.
It was a major accomplishment for Rat, Fish, and Dimthing. After winning (or losing?) the magazine's crap contest, they were presented with a Broken Record plaque by Blackwell, Spin publisher and Penthouse scion Bob Guccione Jr., and ad man Fred McIntyre. They even scored a $500 cash prize. ("We just gave it to Dimthing," Mr. Bastard remembers. "He spent it on digital drums after his kit got stolen.") But most important, they would be known forever as the Worst.
"We were actually playing way before that whole thing, though," Rat interjects. "Back in the late '80s, there was another lineup with Flex and A.J. Mazzetti. That was the original Scraping Teeth. And it was the lineup that opened for the Flaming Lips at the Cameo Theatre."
For Mr. Bastard, this gig, warming up a dangerously wasted South Beach crowd for Wayne Coyne and crew, was probably the moment his band finally matured as a brilliant turd. "We ripped through a two-hour set and the Lips were in another world," he says, snorting. "I don't know how long we were supposed to play. But we just kept going. And actually, we weren't even on the stage. We were on the floor. And there were these girls dancing onstage behind a white sheet. They were all on acid or whatever.
"So eventually, Coyne was like, 'Hey, is it OK if we just take off?' And I was like, 'Yeah, no problem, dude. We got you covered.' They were nice about it. But I guess they were just totally freaked out. They weren't ready for that shit.
"You know, if the Lips even remember it, they'd probably say, 'That's the worst band we've ever seen in our lives! We couldn't take it!' But everybody at the Cameo loved us."
Soon after that glorious shit-show, though, the original Scraping Teeth "just kinda died off" because "Flex had to go back to Venezuela 'cause he had a young daughter there. And then A.J. just started working on motorcycles and," Rat laughs, "briefly became the drummer for Flock of Seagulls with Mike Score."
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Similarly, the classically crappy era of Rat's crew recognized by Spin disintegrated over time. "Yeah. Fishfungus became an attorney in Salem, Oregon. And Dimthingshine moved to New York to teach percussion or yoga or whatever the hell. You know, spiritual, musical stuff."
But now Mr. Bastard and Scraping Teeth are back. And this Tuesday, they'll kick off their 17-city Worst Band in America Tour 2012 at Churchill's Pub with a revamped roster featuring Holly Hunt's Gavin Perry and Beatriz Monteavaro as well as Snakehole's Autumn Casey. "We have no idea what's gonna happen," Rat says. "We haven't practiced at all. Not even once. So it's gonna be a total surprise what we sound like."
They also won't be playing any Scraping Teeth fan favorites such as "Blow Me While I Shit" or "Mary Had a Fucking Goat." Everything will be new and semi-improvised. "We're not gonna play any old tracks. We'll just make up the music along the way, and we'll write the lyrics in the car between gigs. We'll all write a song or two. We'll spend a minute trying to memorize the words. And then we'll just end up singing them any way we want.
"Basically, we're gonna go for it," Rat explains. "You know, our motivation was always to be the greatest band in the world. It's what we've tried to do. And that's how you get to be the worst."