How Teeth Made the World Believe They Hacked the Pope's Twitter
And pissed off fans of Lady Gaga and Will Self.
NB 11/02/13: This article was published before Pope Benedict XVI resigned today. We're trying to get in touch with Teeth to make absolutely, 100 percent sure that they haven't just trolled every media organisation on the planet.
Teeth are a transatlantic threesome who have a dominating interest in pizza and aliens and make the kind of noisy, abrasive, tuneful electronic music that would soundtrack the Battle Royale arcade game perfectly if anyone ever got round to making it. They're the acid house revival if acid house was more about screaming and distortion than gospel samples and breakbeats – Melt Banana covering The KLF at The Smell.
They've also been Karl Lagerfeld's favourite band, hacked Lady Gaga's Twitter account, pretended to be Will Self on Twitter for nine months (before changing the Twitter handle to @t3eth and claiming fans out of everyone who thought they were following Self) and recently hoaxed a hack of the Pope's Twitter account and had hundreds of people believing them along the way.
I hung out with them at the Dalston arts cafe and music venue Power Lunches last week before their first show together in over half a year, and spoke about Twitter, drag balls and push-up bras. I don't know how much of what they said I can actually believe, but it was fun nonetheless, which I guess is the whole point.
VICE: Hey guys. How are you all? How is it playing together again after ages of not seeing each other?
Whybray: We're all ill. We've been kissing each other too much.
Ximon: I've had no sleep. After you've had no sleep, eventually you just get more and more negative.
Veronica: Yeah, so he's this, like, powerful negative force. "We're never gonna finish our album. I hate the name Teeth. We should break up. Blah, blah. blah." But we all love each other.
That's good. So tell me about your Pope hoax.
Ximon: I am totally, definitely not into the Pope hoax.
Veronica: He's just jealous because Whybray tries to outdo Ximon constantly on Twitter.
Whybray: I totally did this time. It's 2 -1.
Veronica: I don't think it's 2 - 1. I think the Pope and Lady Gaga, who Ximon hacked before, are kinda the same.
Hacking into Lady Gaga's account was for real, right?
Veronica: Yeah, and it's the one thing that keeps people believing in all these Twitter things we do.
But hacking the Pope wasn't real?
Whybray: No. Okay, so me and my friend Will from Serious Thugs made this account called Ponfitex, and the Pope's real account is Pontifex. I screen captured the best tweet that Will did, which was "I am the Pope and the Pope smokes dope…RT if you smoke dope," made it look like it had 30,000 retweets and posted that on Facebook. And I kept making fake tweets from, like, The Guardian and CNN and posting it all on Facebook. Then I made some screen grabs that looked like me and Will had been interviewed on BBC News.
And you had hundreds of people believing you'd hacked the Pope's account?
Whybray: Yep. I don't know how many exactly, but we had thousands of reblogs and retweets and that kind of thing.
Veronica: I think one of the most convincing things was the taxi receipt.
Whybray: Yeah. I got a taxi back to Old Street from White City and explained everything we'd done at that point to the driver, and he was like, "Mate, that is fucking stupid." Then I asked him to write "From the BBC Centre" on the receipt.
The NME cover was great, too.
Whybray: Yeah, our friend Hannah – who's the Photoshop queen – shopped us onto the cover of NME, then I finished it off, printed it out at work and replaced loads of real NME covers with our cover. A guy in Sainsbury's asked me to sign one I'd literally just bought off him before replacing the cover.
Was there any point in the whole thing?
Whybray: Basically, this guy Dan messaged me when the Pope's account went live saying he'd got "pontifecks".
Veronica: But Ponfitex is nice because it works for dyslexic people all over the world.
Whybray: Exactly – like me. Anyway, Dan messaged me saying "All the girls like pontifecks," and I was like, "We'll see who all the girls like." But it basically became Teeth's Christmas present to our fans.
Was the time you pretended to be Will Self on Twitter for ages for any reason?
Whybray: No, that was just sort of me being weird for nine months. I like Will Self. I've never read any of his books, but I like him. And he was saying "I'm never going to be on Twitter," and I was like, "Well, yeah you are." And now he's on Twitter. I win.
What have you guys been doing while Simon's been being the Pope?
Veronica: Ximon and I have been in New York and I've done a load of collaborations. I did one with Unicorn Kid, which was really fun. And Ximon has another band called Bottoms and his festival thing.
Ximon: Yeah, we have this festival called BushWig, which has kind of carried on from Wigstock, which was this huge drag queen festival that attracted over 30,000 people. It's mostly, like, broke, street-y, fierce, non RuPaul queens. Now there's this whole scene building up around it. I'm working on a zine called Sisters, which has all these new, exciting drag queens in it and we have this house – the House of BushWig.
You're bringing drag houses back?
Ximon: Well, I'm a bit unsure of that term. I mean, there's, like, the House of Xtravaganza and the House of Ladosha and that stuff, but it's more of a support network than a proper house deal. If you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or you're rejected because you're gay or trans or queer, or whatever, you forge a new family. We've already agreed that there's no mothers, that we're all sisters.
When are you guys gonna start dressing up more on stage?
Whybray: Come on, man – we're not Devo.
Veronica: They do want to dress up as me, though.
Ximon: Yeah, we're gonna drag up like Veronica, but do it really fucking well. Like, wear her clothes, get a black wig, wax our faces.
The whole time?
Whybray: Well, we need to make sure that Veronica gets really famous.
Ximon: Yeah, that's how bands with female singers get huge. You become the brand and we fade away into the background and make far less money than you.
Veronica: That would never happen, because you are such a diva.
How are you going to go about doing that?
Ximon: Veronica just needs to wear a push-up bra and get in FHM.
Veronica: The funny thing is, I wore a push-up bra the other day and everyone was like, "What the fuck has happened to you? Have you had implants?" So it obviously works.
So, your new album isn't going to be so angry. Is that because you're all grown up and mature now?
Ximon: Oh, fuck you. No, it's basically because we went to China and stayed in a five star hotel for a week and were like, "Why are we writing shitty punk music? Let's just try and be like Rihanna and Britney and stay in five star hotels."
Whybray: We're reverse engineering it, basically. We're writing the songs that will make us famous.
Veronica: They're still us, though. They're more poppy, like "Flowers" and "See Spaces", and less like the kind of squat stuff we were doing, which is cool.
Nice. So the last time you played together was in New York. Playing in London is better, right?
Veronica: Well, in London we're playing to our friends and in New York we're playing to people who've actually bought tickets to be there. People in New York are proper giggers. They buy tickets online and you don't know who the fuck they are.
Whybray: Saying that, apparently there was a guy here last night – like a proper city boy in his suit and shoes – propping up the bar, being like, "I fucking love Teeth, mate. Tomorrow is gonna be fucking banging." So I guess there are other fans here, too.
Yeah, you guys are on the radio now. Of course there are going to be city boys at your shows.
Ximon: Oh god. We saw our radio plugger list, which is where your song gets sent to radio stations and they give you feedback, and Jo Whiley said we need "more development".
Whybray: Yeah. Then there's the, like, A, B and C list – so A is for getting played all the time and B is only a couple times a day, or whatever.
Ximon: There's so much politics involved, too. It's like, "I suck your dick, you suck mine." But I'll suck yours first.
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamie_clifton
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