The soaring, spaced out, transcendent synth-rock jams of Virgin Teeth’s debut EP “Hello, Scorpio” are sounds for flying to, sounds for passing out to, sounds for waking up to as you embark on a rescue mission for your own soul. Mixed by Allen Blickle (Baroness, Alpaca), the three-piece’s EP blends the existential isolation of Radiohead, the sparse, mathematical angst of The Acid, and the cosmic ideas of Jung’s Red Book, its ambitious, long form songs borne of stardust, shamanic brews, and faded rock ’n roll dreams, the soundtrack to dark nights spent alone, ruminating on the difference between what feels good and what feels right. Comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Eagle Oliver, keyboardist and synthesizer wizard Trevor Brooks and drummer Blake Ritterman, Virgin Teeth has played a limited run of shows in San Francisco and LA, with further spring US shows to be announced.
“Hello, Scorpio” is the result of a period of intense personal transformation in the life of Virgin Teeth frontman and songwriter, Kevin Eagle Oliver. Born in 1989 the son of a carpenter and a massage therapist in the northern California town of McCloud, his introduction to the world of music was stealing an unused guitar from the defunct middle school music room at 13 and learning to write songs. He moved to San Francisco to pursue music and found himself, at the age of 22, living in a grimy punk rock party house in the Upper Haight with 20 other young people. “I was lost and trying to ease my feelings of isolation by staying high and treating women in a way that wasn’t right.” he says. “It was easy for me to ignore the pain that I was causing myself and other people.”
The day before his 23rd birthday, a friend invited him to take part in an ayahuasca ceremony, something he had never done before. He emerged with a sense of profound and troubling clarity, about his music, and about the darker aspects of himself and his eroding values. “It forced me to reevaluate what I was doing, creatively and in my relationships with people,” says Oliver. “I got this huge flood of creative energy after that experience and was compelled to create music based upon it”
“Time Flies” is about facing up to the dark things that we do, and the complex battle that can result. “Sometimes we can be very attached to the stuff that we should be fighting against.”
“Sleep Tight” explores the anxiety he felt being a dishonest lover; “Anti-Hero” explores Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey in reverse, (“the lyrics flowed out as this ode to the inner villain.” The title track, “Hello, Scorpio” deals with complicated emotions wrapped up in past relationships, and how good things can be a vessel for suffering and pain.
Initial recording sessions took place in San Francisco, in a rehearsal studio shared by Kevin and Trevor. “We would walk out into the alley and there would be people passed out and needles everywhere. I think some of that vibe is present on those recordings—there is some heavy stuff in this music.” In contrast, the vocals were recorded in the gorgeous rustic enclave of Topanga in LA County. Three years since his ayahuasca experience, Kevin is happily wed, with a baby daughter, and playing the songs that are a true reflection of the things he cares about — side effects of that night in San Francisco when he was forced to look himself in the mirror.
The name Virgin Teeth came about after a particularly traumatic visit to the dentist. “He quoted me some astronomical figure for like six root canals, and I walked out and broke down thinking that I was going to be in debt for the rest of my life; I wanted nothing more than to have virgin teeth. Then I realized those were two great words next to each other, and they came to represent this idea of staying hungry for that creative impulse.”