Local Act Scraping Teeth's Dubious Distinction: Worst Band in America, 1993
On Tuesday, April 10, local instrumental sludgy duo Holly Hunt embarks on its first tour with a kickoff show at Churchill's in Miami. The ensuing dates will see the group crossing the South, Midwest, and Northeast in just over two weeks. The musical pair, with its raw, surprisingly melodic take on drone rock, is one of the more interesting and exciting rock bands currently gigging on the Churchill's/DIY-type circuit. That stands in stark contrast to the official title of the group's tour: "The Worst Band in America 2012" tour.
For that, thank the mastermind behind the outing, the legendary Miami noise king Rat Bastard, perhaps best-known for his work under the name the Laundry Room Squelchers. The nod for Worst Band in America, though, goes to another Rat Bastard project, Scraping Teeth.
It was 1993, and the music-critic world was enthralled with everything Seattle and the beginnings of Britpop. Someone at Spin magazine was in a cheeky mood, though, and the monthly rock bible announced an official "Worst Band in America" contest.
Who better to represent Miami than Scraping Teeth, a group as deliberately painful as its name? Like many other Rat projects, Scraping Teeth mostly repelled melody, subtlety, and all verse-chorus-verse structure, preferring instead purposefully sloppy, purposely inexpertly sung numbers with titles like "Death by Refrigerator."
And yet, there were hints of entertainment value in there, if anything in the creativity it took to be so outright unpleasant. Surely, this wasn't the worst, though, was it? Spin's editors and contest jurors begged to differ. That year, Scraping Teeth beat out some 300 other entrants with colorful names like Meatbreath and Rectal Pizza. Here's what the magazine's Mark Blackwell wrote about the, uh, victor:
...After much debate, we settled on Scraping Teeth. The Teeth are bad. They're painfully boring. They try to shock. They fail. They try to frighten. They fail. They're sort of like what you'd get if you took one of those "scary" monotonous bands such as Skinny Puppy or Swans, and got rid of everything remotely interesting and clever. 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. Congratulations, Scraping Teeth. You're the Worst Band in America.
Still, not all was mockery in the deal. For this dubious win, Scraping Teeth got a real-life trip to New York to play a special Spin-sponsored showcase at CBGB and nearly two decades of bragging rights. For this tour, Rat and company are proudly flying their worst-band flag again, and this time around, Holly Hunt members Betty Monteavaro and Gavin Perry will join them onstage for the sonic squall.
If you plan to head to Churchill's to support Holly Hunt, you might as well know what you're in for from the headliners. Click the link below to listen to every MP3 available from Scraping Teeth, lovingly provided on Rat Bastard's own website, and watch an old bit from CNN news about the contest, starring our hometown boys.
Scraping Teeth. With Holly Hunt, 90s Teen, Normas, and Kyle Woodward. 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Admission is $5; age 18 and up. Click here.
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