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Battling it out until the end

By Conor Wilson

What a year it has been for local band Hockey Teeth.

On Feb. 21, almost exactly a year after the bands founding, they were named the winner of Western’s Sounds of the Underground battle of the bands competition.

After winning, the quartet – featuring, guitarists and vocalists Joey Boone and Austin Colwell, bassist Riley Adair and drummer Owen Rollison – will receive studio time and the opportunity to perform sets at the weekend-long Bellingham Arts and MusicFestival and Lawnstock, an annual concert produced by Western’s AS productions.

“I feel like we don’t deserve it or something; it's been too short,” Boone said. “We’re all just in shock. People know the words [to our music] and we don’t have songs out.”

The newfound success is a bit strange, Boone said. Hockey Teeth have only performed four live shows in its history and have yet to release any music. Despite the brevity, he said the band has amassed a decent following.

“It’s quite thrilling,” Adair said. “I would say it’s comparable to a first kiss or something. Musical success is very satisfying and euphoric.” 

The band said they are in the process of recording music and are anxious to finish and put it out, but at the same time are feeling a fresh sense of pressure after their competition victory.

“I don’t want to push [music] out without polishing it,” Colwell said. “This is the first time I’ve ever felt like there’s a demand for it, where people are like, ‘Oh we really want to listen to your music.’”

In addition to their contributions in Hockey Teeth, Colwell and Adair both produce lo-fi beats in separate projects under the names Harbor Day and Ice Cream Cult respectively. Boone is also part of a rock-duo called Honey, Honey, Honey. 

Colwell said this project has been different from his others, because this time an audience is interacting with them consistently, often through social media. He said with fan expectations, there is pressure to release music.

“I feel more famous than we really are,” Boone said. “We don’t actually have a following, we have, what, 200 followers? But, yeah, I have to humble myself.”

The band said that they are hopeful they can take advantage of the studio time allotted by their victory at the battle of the bands. 

“We’ve self-recorded a bunch of music but it didn’t feel like it had enough layer of polish on it to be released,” Rollison said. “Now that we have professional help, I feel it will make it easier and we’ll finally make that push to release.”

Collaborating and creating music for the group does not seem to be a problem, however, Boone said.

Colwell said after joining the already formed three-person group consisting of Boone, Rollison and Adair, there was a clicking moment when they were working on a song called Fireworks, one of the first times practicing together as a band.

“We all just looked at each other and were like, ‘This is really fun,’” Colwell said.

As Boone said, the band has a good process of combining their individual songwriting talents.

“I’ll bring a song and I think I have everything figured out,” Boone said. “I’m like ‘Good, everything’s perfect’ and Owen will do some beat over it I never would have expected and I’m like, ‘OK, that makes it better.’ And Austin will put some dreamy thing over it and I realized I barely had anything.”

The band said they are looking forward to bringing their music and high-energy performances to several shows they are planning for the spring.  

Getting to perform at Lawnstock was specifically a big goal of Colwell’s, who said he has known about the show since his sister attended Western four years before he arrived.

“I’ve wanted to play at Lawnstock ever since I got to Western,” he said. “I’ve been trying for a little bit [to perform] with a personal project, but I don’t know, it feels like dreams are coming true right now.”

Although the band collectively said that winning the battle of the bands was probably their favorite memory of their time together, Colwell said they had a lot of fond memories from late-night practice sessions trying to record. 

“A lot of time wasted,” Rollision said. “For a good reason.”

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