Exclusive Backstage Interview: The Muppets' Dr. Teeth Talks Live Festival Debut at Outside Lands

Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, and the Last Shadow Puppets may have been the large-font bands on Outside Lands‘ 2016 lineup poster, but the Bay Area music festival’s promoters really buried the lead here. The true headliners were actual puppets, or more specifically, Muppets. Sunday afternoon on OSL’s main stage, psych-rock legends Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem finally made their historic live festival debut, in the flesh — or in the felt, as it were — after four decades of backing everyone from Alice Cooper to Miley Cyrus.

The hippie city of San Francisco was the perfect place for Dr. Teeth, Janice, Floyd, Zoot, Lips, and everyone’s rock ‘n’ roll animal, Animal, to unveil the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational Muppet show ever. As they kicked out new-school jams (the Mowglis’ fitting “San Francisco,” Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros’ “Home” reimagined as a Floyd/Janice duet) and old-school classic like the Band’s “Ophelia” and a Joe Cocker-inspired “With a Little Help From My Friends” (the latter with a little help from the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir), Dr. Teeth declared this “the first stop on our world tour — and the only stop on our world tour!” However, it all went so well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Electric Mayhem headlining Coachella or Glastonbury in 2017.

Before this once-in-a-lifetime live event, I had a chance to catch up with the good Doctor himself backstage at Outside Lands. Of course, like any real rock star, he brought an entourage with him (the above-mentioned gospel choir), and he was definitely the best-dressed of the fest, in a top hat/boa/striped jacket combo that even Marc Bolan would have coveted back in the day. (Side note: Speaking of clothing, I hope Dr. Teeth didn’t think I was some sort of Muppet stalker fangirl for showing up to this interview in my freshly purchased “Electric Mayhem Roadie” tour T-shirt. Second side note: Actually, I am a total Muppet stalker fangirl, let’s get real.)

Although our chat was brief because Dr. Teeth had to rest up and presumably polish his 10-carat grill before the big show, the iconic bandleader did share some gold-filling’d nuggets of wisdom — fielding queries about what it’s like to tour with the infamous Animal and why the Electric Mayhem never played Woodstock… although he pleaded with fifth when asked if it’s really that he fashioned his signature glistening incisor from melted gold records (which is just about the most rock ‘n’ roll urban legend ever).

It’s time to get things started. Read the Great Toothy One’s full Q&A below!

YAHOO MUSIC: This is your live festival debut. What did you do to prepare for this historic event?

DR. TEETH: Well, you know, the Electric Mayhem is always ready to jam! You could wake us up in the middle of the night, and we’d start playing loud. Just ask our neighbors.

How come you never played any other festival before? Didn’t Woodstock want you?

Oh no, we’ve played all the biggest rock festivals, from Woodstock to Bonnaroo. But mostly in the parking lot. This is the first time they actually let us go onstage.

What are your festival survival tips and must-haves?

Get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids… and always listen to the Doctor! Can you dig it!?

What’s on your backstage rider?

Our backstage rider? That’s Animal. If it’s backstage, he’ll ride it.

What are your tips and rock ‘n’ roll festival style?

Personally, I go with the gold tooth, voodoo pouch, and feathered hat. You oughta try it; it absotively, possolutely never goes outta style.

If you were booking your own dream festival, like “Mayhemfest,” who would be on the bill?

Everybody from AC/DC and ABBA to ZZ Top and Jay Z. And of course, my inspirational mentor, that loquacious luminary of Louisiana soul: my good friend, Dr. John.

You’ve worked with so many people: Alice Cooper, Debbie Harry, Paul Williams, Weezer, OK Go, Miley Cyrus, the list goes on. Who’s been your favorite?

Well, we don’t play favorites. We’re honored to have shared the shared with them all. And we apologize for any damage we may have inflicted upon their careers.

Who are your dream musical collaborators?

We’ve played with most of our dream collaborators — everybody from Elton to Johnny Cash to Dave Grohl. But the Mayhem is always ready to play with anyone, anywhere at anytime. No gig too big, no ball too small. For bookings, call Floyd Pepper — you don’t mind if I trawl for work, do you? And Animal has always wanted to do an album with Mariah Carey, Diddy, and Weird Al. Think you can you help set that up?

I’ll do my best. So, your fans want to know… will there be a full Electric Mayhem tour after this?

We would love to tour. We would be happy to be a headlining act, an opening act, a closing act, a get-the-audience-to-leave act. Yeah, we are definitely open to all offers.

And speaking of touring, what’s the hardest part about touring with Animal?

Oh, Animal’s not that difficult to tour with. We don’t really know what he does on his own time — and frankly, we prefer to keep it that way.

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