The return of Forty Seven Teeth

By Andrea Gunn

Kingston indie music favourites showcase their new album at Spring Reverb

Anna, Jesse, and Dee of Forty Seven Teeth | Credit: Anna Robertson

A mosquito has 47 teeth. At least, that’s according to a piece of trivia Dee Prescott read on a bubble gum wrapper years ago. “That’s a great band name!” she thought.

The band Forty Seven Teeth started in 2015, when Dee, Jesse Aylsworth, Anna Robertson, and Joseph Harvey started jamming. “And it just all fell into place,” says Jesse. The band released their first single, “All the feels” in 2016, and an EP a year later. And for a couple of years, they were a mainstay of the Kingston music scene. They were a big draw at live music events across Ontario, including the 2017 Canadian Music Week in Toronto (where the lineup included fellow Kingston band Casper Skulls.)

In 2018, the band took a break to pursue other things, but it was more of a hiatus than a breakup. In 2019, Jesse, Dee, and Anna started playing again as a trio, using the name No Guff. Under that name, they played a show at the Mansion organized by KPP Concerts. They didn’t know it then, but that October 2019 show would be their last for almost three years.

When the pandemic hit, they got together when they could, just to jam. “It was nice,” says Anna, “because as No Guff, we didn’t really have an agenda, we just were writing and playing. We got together whenever there was a lull in isolation. And every time, it seemed a new song would come out.”

Dee says, “It just seemed like when we were having band practice, another song would emerge.” Song writing, she says, “is a team effort. It’s all three of us. If we didn’t have one part of the band, we wouldn’t be able to create the song.”

The songs on “Apologies” are full of emotion: introspection, exhilaration, and regret. “Part of the writing process – because there wasn’t a lot happening in our lives during the pandemic – was a look back at old memories,” says Anna. “Dee and I would riff on funny happenings, old events, a person from the past. That was where we started writing the lyrics. And then all the songs ended up being little snippets of the past. And then I realized a lot of them were apologies. They brought to light the crappy things that other people did to us, that we did to other people…the messiness of youth.”

They decided to record this wealth of new material for posterity. Jesse’s dad, Tim Aylsworth, a local musician and record engineer, recorded and mixed “Apologies” in his home studio. The album – all 16 tracks –was recorded in three days. “In the past, we’ve gotten our heads too much, trying to be perfectionists,” says Anna. So, this time, the trio gave themselves a three-take limit for each song.

“Once we recorded the album, it was clear that it was a Forty Seven Teeth record,” says Dee. Having made the transition into a three-piece outfit, it was time to become Forty Seven Teeth again. And then maybe take a step back into performing in front of a live audience, when the time was right.

Apologies album cover

Before Forty Seven Teeth, there were other bands. Dee was in I Hate Sally: Jesse was in Shushlang. But their musical ventures go back even farther. In elementary school, Jesse played drums for a group called Torn Existence. When Anna was in high school, she was in Lizticket, a band that found an audience – and future bandmates – at a Kingston club that booked all-ages shows, thanks to KPP Concerts.

“They started shows at the 477, a club at University and Princess,” Anna remembers. “I always appreciated my parents allowing me to play shows at this random bar when I was a teenager.”

“That’s how Anna and I met,” says Dee. “I had a band called Love-Sick Bruise, and she was in Lizticket. I don’t know if we played together, but I remember seeing Lizticket and saying, ‘Oh my god, there are other girls who play music! This is great!’ We were instant friends.”

Once “Apologies” was released, Forty Seven Teeth were asked by a few people to play live shows again. Nervous – but excited – to get back on stage, they leapt at the opportunity to play a KPP show as part of Spring Reverb this June.

And will there be more shows after that?

“We have a bit of a timeline,” says Anna, “since I’m currently six months pregnant. So, it’s all a matter of how I can play with my bump,” she laughs, mimicking holding a guitar far out to her side. “We’re going to play this show, and if it works out, we may play a couple more.”

“We’re excited to play, to be in front of people again, and feel that energy. It’s nice to share this creation we’ve made.”

Forty Seven Teeth play at the Ale House on June 1 with PUP and Casper Skulls as part of Spring Reverb.

Check out “Apologies” on Bandcamp.