In 2015, Zach James began donning the suit of the Silver Spaceman, a bedroom folk superhero persona that lifted him from his Brooklyn bedroom and into the terrifying world of artful soul-bearing. As James’ first project at the helm—an early stint in Haybaby gave him the confidence—it started slowly but quickly gained momentum. He got to know Andrew Bailey on smoke breaks during long diner shifts. Bailey was modest about his main gig as the guitarist for shoegazers DIIV—so much so that James wasn’t aware of his new friend’s resume until he saw him at a sold-out crowd at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
When Bailey and James joined forces the project began to take on a different shape. It snarled and simmered around darker textures, miles away from earlier folk-rock threads into murkier trenches. Inspired by his own identity rather than a fictional one, James looked to his darkened smile and rechristened the project Dead Tooth. Since the rebrand, the group has been relatively prolific, recording their debut EP in 2018 and later collaborating with Jamal VanSluytman, member of the pioneering afropunk outfit No Surrender. Most of this steam has billowed up during the pandemic, with singles releasing at a steady clip. The latest, “Hell Shack,” darts between demonizing their own creative impulses and finding a welcome reckoning for them. Inspired by the Trump era’s dark shadows, the track continues Dead Tooth’s reclamation of post-punk’s jagged corners and delirious melodies, resulting in a smoke-choked ode to finding a better path.
Written by James Cassar
Courtesy of Mezzozoic Music Publishing via the Law Office of David G. Switzer, Esq.