“The Weirder The Better” An Interview With Moon Tooth

Matt Bacon sat down with Nick Lee of Moon Tooth to discuss penguin tattoos, Relapse samplers, and Mike Patton.

How are you?

Pretty good – if it sounds like I’m eating it’s because I’m eating a veggie burrito before the show.

Are you a vegetarian?

Not particularly, but I try to eat more vegetables and keep the meat to a minimum. I also have to play, so if I eat something super heavy I’m going to want to throw up the whole time.

I swear I have questions prepared, but why do you have a tattoo of a penguin?

This is my grandmother! Just kidding. It’s a tribute to my godmother who passed away when I was very young. She loved penguins, and she made me love penguins. It’s a tribute tattoo.

Earlier today I was trying to explain to my roommate what Moon Tooth is, because obviously there is so much mixed in there. How do you describe Moon Tooth to people?

We usually go with “Aggressive Progressive” but at the end of the day we are just trying to be a rock band in the classic sense, like Sabbath or Zeppelin. We like heavy music from all spectrums. Whatever we want to write we do, and it all comes across. We don’t try to be any type of band; we just want to play intense rock music.

What is your musical background like?

I studied for ten years with this guy Mike Flyntz, and he plays in the band Riot. Hes’ been in Riot for years now. I’m in that band through him, and I’ve been in that band for the last two years. When their old guitarist passed away I came in as a part of Riot V because I have worked for him at his music school for the last five years or so. I did a semester of classical guitar performance, but I kind of hated being in school for music. It was ruining music.

How so?

To be fair I was 18 and didn’t want to be told what to do. When people corrected me, it made guitar a bummer and it made guitar homework. I just wanted to tour and be in bands.

At what age did you decide that that was the goal?

Young. I got my first guitar when I was six. My family would take me to see their friends’ bands, and I got my first Metallica record when I was 7. I wanted to be in Metallica as a kid. Since I was old enough to register what music was, I’ve been really into heavy music. I thought the coolest thing you could do was to play in a band.

Do you still think Metallica is the coolest?

No comment! (Laughter) I still have respect for them but I can hardly stand by some of that material. I still think they could come back and put out a great record though.

So you’re not saying it should have been Lars?

No. (Laughter) Well… If Cliff was still around I think it would be a different band, that’s a popular opinion obviously. I wouldn’t wear that t shirt though. It’s funny but pretty fucked up.

The other thing I was trying to figure out was your touring schedule…

We are on an East Coast tour right now. Then we are going to tour down to Atlanta and then come back. We would like to get an opening slot on a bigger tour, and we are working on building our team.

How do you go about doing that?

Just playing shows, meeting people. We played SXSW last year, and that helped us meet a lot of people. Ray owns a studio and he meets a lot of people that way, and I play in a bunch of bands so I meet a lot of people. It’s just meeting people and networking. Once Metal Injection and Metalsucks got on our side, a lot more people came out of the woodworks. Once the press has your back more people pay attention.

Obviously you’re not necessarily a big name but people know who you are now. At what moment did you realize “this is happening”?

Probably that SXSW gig. That was March, and the previous October we were on a Metal Injection expo. The big one was opening for Dillinger Escape Plan here back in May. I think that was my favorite Moon Tooth show. To play here with that band and have it go well was awesome. That was an intimidating set to play.

Well they’ve got to be a big influence right?

Yep. I love the Patton record. I first was exposed to them in middle school, but it was too much for me. Now I listen to it all the time.

One of the things that really gets me about Moon Tooth is the feeling of “controlled chaos”. In the songwriting process, how do you generate that?

Ray and I, we just like to push each other. We’ve known each other for years, and it has always been a fun rivalry to see who could come up with the crazier shit. It’s almost to like make each other laugh, like, who could come up with the most fucked up stuff. John is his own whirlwind of chaos, and he tries to match it with his vocals. We like to be a little overwhelming.

Are you into Mr Bungle?

Of course. I’m happy you got that from us. I like all the Patton stuff. Somebody the other day compared us to Faith No More a little bit. I think maybe we push the heavy shit a little bit more, but I love Patton as a singer and a writer. I think one thing with him is that you can see he’s a fucking hustler and is very prolific.

What’s your favorite Mike Patton project?

Probably Tomahawk. I probably got into Faith No More last. I knew Fantomas because of Dave Lombardo and then discovered the other stuff. I mean sometimes it changes but overall I think Tomahawk. I saw them last time they toured.

What did you think of the new Faith No More?

I think they did great! They kept it true. When I heard the song “Motherfucker” I thought it was weird, and then I realized that they were just doing one of their awesome weird songs but as a single and made it catchy and interesting. I think they are really smart.

Is Mike Patton the single biggest influence on Moon Tooth?

He might be. I don’t think you can really say there is a single biggest one for all of us. We all have our top guys. For me, obviously there’s Dimebag. As a kid I worshiped James Hetfield – especially with the live shit from Justice through Black tours. In recent years I’ve gotten really into the Melvins, and I love Buzz’s aesthetic and tastes. Live they’ve blown my head off. As a whole we love Mastodon, and we tried to incorporate a lot of their really cool ideas. We all love bands like Torche, Dillinger and The Mars Volta. The weirder the better.

What drew you into weird music?

I got into metal really young. By the time I was 15 I was ready for the next step. Around that time I got a Relapse sampler that had Dillinger, Mastodon, Neurosis, High on Fire and all these bands that are huge to me now. At the time I was 15, and it was 2005 and I was just so fucking blown away by these bands. There was a lot of stoner doom shit but on the Neurosis end of it it’s almost meditational heavy music. Then Dillinger and Cephalic Carnage blew me away. Relapse at that time had every fucking good band.

What do you love so much about music?

I’ve talked about this a lot. Everyone has their place that they like the most in music; for some people it’s the studio, for others it’s writing, but for me it’s playing live. It’s just a cathartic release and validation within myself. I can play to just myself and have my best show of the year, whereas I can play to a thousand people and feel like I played like shit. When it’s on and it’s right and you feel good and light on your feet and you got some aggression out, that’s my favorite part. The therapy of it.

Any final words of wisdom?

Be honest. Eat your greens. Smoke your greens. Don’t be rude!

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Published on: February 18, 2016

Filled Under: Interviews

Views: 1340

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  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Teeth Planet.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Mouth Universe.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        Many possibilities in the Mouth Universe.

        • Vault Dweller

          I’m hoping to take a trip to Celestial Dentata this weekend.

          With my unit.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Haha now that pains a pretty picture! “As we boldly travel the celstial dentina our unit will boldy probe and penetrate the deepest…..”.

          • Vault Dweller

            Well damn, you make it sound almost Poetic! Might need to hire you to feed me romantic lines. Don’t worry, it’s a very part-time position.

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Haha…or sometimes the simple “suck my love muscle” works….

      • Boss the Ross

        Uranus Tooth

      • Spear

        Tongue Galaxy

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Tonsil Comet

          • Spear

            Uvula Nebula

          • Vault Dweller

            ‘Show me your Tonsil Comet and I’ll show you a Shooting Star.’

      • Plaque Hole Sun

    • Boss the Ross

      Mars Molar

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    These interviews remind me of Metal Sucks, except they are good interviews with cool interesting bands other than Phil Anselmo’s latest project, Sebastian Bach’s latest project and Sevendust. Thank you for the continued top notch bloggery.

    • Or Robb Flynn. I’m pretty sure all of the writers suck his cock.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, that’s a good point.

        • He’s such a good person, bro.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Bro, he’s just so…so…so….cool!

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Fuck, Flynn and Grohl?!?!?!?!

          • PERFECT

          • don’t you mean THE BEST!

          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Pennyroyal tea cover?

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            Dave Grohl was the inspiration for the wall…he is pink.


          • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

            That was pretty cool. All I’ve managed to see from that show is Phil being a retard.

          • whoa… ok all bands can throw in the towel.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Especially back in his self-proclaimed “meth kingpin” days in Oakland.

          • Commandant Lassard

            Let us remember the Machine Head of old. In all it’s lolbuttz.


          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            So fucking terrible.

          • Commandant Lassard

            As is everything from Machine Head. I like 2 songs from Burn My Eyes, and even those were kinda lolbuttz looking back.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            I’m actually not a Machine Head hater. Or at least I don’t hate ALL of their music. Burn My Eyes and The Blackening are quite good albums. So is The More Things Change. Their other albums are either terrible (their nu-metal era for instance) or just extremely bland and boring.

          • Commandant Lassard

            It never quite clicked with me, even when I first heard them in ’96.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            At the end of the day it’s meathead groove metal. But I think some of their music is actually quite well composed, features solid musicianship (not mindblowing, but solid enough) and – one thing I always kinda appreciate in a band – it has a sound of its own. I think Robb Flynn is a first class attention whore, but as far as popular mainstream metal goes, his band isn’t that bad. Especially compared to atrocities such as Faave Fingarr Death Pawnch, Disturbed, BMTH, BFMV…

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        You really mean Axl right?

      • more beer

        Yes reporting on what kind of adult diaper he is wearing on his current tour..

    • But don’t you wanna know what Randy Blythe is posting to his Instagram?

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Or which other pro wrestlers Corey Taylor bitch slapped.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        In 5,000 words or less….

        • Commandant Lassard

          In 5,000 words and more….


          • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

            well done, and thank u!

        • more beer

          Not a chance of that ever happening. He likes to hear himself talk too much shut up. Or keep it to that few words

      • Commandant Lassard

        “There was a terror attack in Pakistan, and we were so close to it, it’s surreal. We were in Richmond when it happened, and it could’ve been us! And some teenagers in Dublin kicked a guy’s ass, and it was so close that I could taste the bottom of their dress shoes again. Fuck it, we’re cancelling the tour for the safety of the band and our fans, and I’m going outside to take some pictures of street lights by the lake, where I’m safe from teenagers and ISIS” -Randy Blythe

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      I must admit I do like the stuff that the Sarge posts but Axl is one of the worst music writers I’ve ever read.

      • Pentagram Sam

        Doesn’t tha Bacon Mr Matt do some interviews too for Metal Injection? I think I see more over in these woods but can’t remember if he did any for MS. Always wondered why there’s way more comments (not equating that with quality) on MS than the Injection. They’re basically sister sites

      • xengineofdeathx

        I miss his posts on metalinquisition. That site was like metalsucks, but actually good.

  • I really like this band. Great interview, Baconbro!

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Isn’t it the worst when you find out about an awesome band, then realize they were just playing a show in your area like a week ago? That happened to me with Moon Tooth. Plz come back!

  • Moon Tooth is great.

    I also like to point that the bands they namedropped (Melvins, Neurosis, High on Fire, Torche, Mastodon…) all have a certain ‘vibe’ in each respective art.

    You’re killing it, don Tocino.

    • Pentagram Sam

      I’m stoked to check these guys out esp cos if the Riot connection! Think it’s cool as all hell two dudes can go from old school precision metal to something completely different as well.

  • Owlswald

    Right fucking on. Thanks for this interview! This album has been on constant rotation since its release and is easily the best album of this very young year for me thus far. The combination of the cutting riffs, unique vocal style and technical drumming wins. Can’t wait to check them out live.

    Also, there are going to be A LOT of ears eagerly awaiting their follow-up. The potential for this band is off the charts.

    • Eliza

      I’m just as excited to see what they’re bring forth next.

    • Haha…ears…


    cool interview but as far as the music goes:

  • Eliza

    Not only do I like this band, but I love everyone that they said they were influenced by. So much self indulgence.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I love their new album. It’s so good.

  • EsusMoose

    Guess I’ll need to check out their new album

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Would totally do weekend tasks and paint a bathroom to this music, dig the change of pace. Good words, Bacon.

  • Spear

    You know, I wasn’t really feeling Chromaparagon when I listened to it the first time. I’m liking it a lot more now. Don’t know if I just wasn’t in the mood for it at the time, but I feel like I gain a lot more appreciation for the music after reading/listening to the artist talk about their art. Good stuff!

  • toilet ov variety: awesome stuff, i needed a splash of not-so-br00tal today!


  • I will seeing these guys on Saturday in NJ. Looking foward to their set.

    • Ted Nü-Djent ™

      In Joisey?

      • You are correct sir, 40th B-day celebration continues!

  • Dubs

    Enjoyed this interview a lot.

  • Commandant Lassard

    Matt’s on a roll lately! Kind of noticing a vegetarian theme a bit.

  • Waynecro

    Great article, dude! Thanks!

  • Dagon

    I’m getting a “still alive” tribute tat for my grandma. Stay tuned.

  • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

    Listening to Chromaparagon now… Wow, these guys have so many sounds meshed together, it’s awesome. Like vocal stlyings of Incubus/Faith No More/Living Color, awesome pronounced bass, and the guitar playing is insane. I hear the Mastodon influence and some parts even remind me of Tosin Abasi from Animals as Leaders playing. It’s like a step back to the late 80s/early 90s but with a more modern sound. They just gained a new fan.

  • xengineofdeathx

    I can’t really decide if I like these guys or don’t, but that was a cool interview.