One Man Punk Band Toothless George is a man of many talents. Band member, solo artist, one man bander, and even a former professional skateboarder. That being said, we definitely wanted to feature him on our site. Enjoy.
Are you exclusively a One Man Band? If not, what other setups/players do you work with?
I am not now, nor have I ever been opposed to plying music with other people. I have found though, that very few musicians possess the level of professionalism, and determination that I have, therefore I often become fed up with being the only driving force behind a band, and revert back to performing by myself. I played with a ten-man band to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of my one-man band, but that project is too grand to be a full time band. There have only been two shows with that group, and they were two years apart!
How long have you been performing? Tell a little bit about your foray into the world of performance, particularly as a One Man Band?
I played my first show ever in 1988. I played my first one-man band show in 2003….
[Editor’s note. Toothless George provided the following additional info in the third person, in the event that this would be an article. Though I’ve decided instead to stick to the traditional interview format, I’m still including his write up in order to make sure this important info is known to readers]
You can’t begin talking about Toothless George & His One-Man Band without first acknowledging Hasil Adkins. TG had been a fan of Adkins’ music since the late 80’s, but never realized he was a one-man band until seeing a 2002 live performance at J.C. Dobbs in Philadelphia. He was blown away by the show, and the next day while strumming his guitar on the edge of his bed, he looked across the room at his dusty drum set, wondering if he could do what he had seen “The Haze” do on stage the night before. He never wanted to perform in public as a one-man band. To him, it was just something he did in the privacy of his own bedroom, for fun. He didn’t even want to play what was to be his first show.
In 2003, Toothless George received a phone call from Kermit Hell Lyman III, a long-time friend, and former label-mate. Lyman was promoting an acoustic show at The Pontiac Grille (formerly J.C. Dobbs) and wanted TG to play too. The concept was so far from his punk rock roots, TG immediately declined the offer, stating that it sounded “like flypaper for hippies and angry lesbians!” Lyman, however would not take “no” for an answer. After a month of unanswered voice mail messages, he finally caught up to TG on South Street in Philadelphia, and once again asked him to be a part of the show. Unable to think of an excuse why he couldn’t play, TG gave in to the request – under the condition that he could play his drums too. A little confused, but satisfied with the confirmation, Lyman agreed.
TG took the stage immediately following a solo performance by Nicole Atkins (who later signed to Columbia Records) As he set up his drums, he noticed questioning looks from audience members. No one knew what to expect. When the last song on the jukebox died, he began to perform his first song of the night, “Born To Die Alone.” He was so shocked by the thunderous applause in the packed club, he cocked his head, then asked the audience, “Wait, you really liked it?” Shortly after that first show, Toothless George & His One-Man Band began performing regularly in Philadelphia, D.C., and New York City, and started touring internationally one year later.] – (from liner notes of “Long In The Tooth” L.P.
If you were in an elevator with a person who was capable of becoming a lifelong, dedicated fan who would NEVER in a million years request “Freebird,” what would you say to both give them an idea of your music and pique their interest?
I tell everyone that if they come to my show expecting musical genius, they are going to leave disappointed. If they come to have a good time, they are going to have a blast!
What are the benefits of playing everything yourself? Limitations?
The benefits are that I don’t have to rely on unreliable people. I don’t have to call the whole band to find out if we can play a show. The limitations are that I can not physically convey everything that is going on in my head. I am a really good bass player, but only a competent rhythm guitarist. I’d like to play bass, but no one wants to hear just the bass except for frat boy Primus fans. (I don’t play that shit.) I also have to carry everything myself.
Do you see being a One Man Band as a temporary “do what you gotta do till you get a band” type of thing or is the kind of performance type that you like best?
One-Man Bands can’t break up. As long as I breathe, I will have a band, but I do prefer playing with other people – as long as they are as dedicated as me.
List three to five of your favorite albums?
1. Rancid – “…And Out Come The Wolves”
2. Danzig – Self Titled
3. The Explosion – “Flash Flash Flash”
4. Rocket From The Crypt – “Group Sounds”
5. The Clash – Self Titled (US Version)