Objective Complete

In between railing against the unjust imprisonment of Native American activist Leonard Peltier and touring with their comrades in Rage Against The Machine, STATE OF THE NATION actually found themselves to be an indomitable force of politically-fueled punk in their own right. Ex-members of Hard Stance, Farside, and Inside Out get collective and pro-active over a soundtrack of Twin Tone-inspired revolution rock.

Rob Haworth: Vocals, Guitar
Mark Haworth: Bass
Andy Patterson: Drums

Recorded November 1993
Released May 1994

Recorded at Tacwa, WA
Engineered & Mixed by Clint Werner
Mastered by Michael Sarsfield at Frankford Wayne, NYC
Graphics by Jason Farrell

1. Paint Myself
2. Mineral Death
3. Fantasy
4. Passport to Privilege
5. Biligana
6. Fronting Cloth
7. Want to
8. Seed
9. Looker
10. Ditty

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

Band: These Arms Are Snakes
Album: Easter
Genre: Post-Hardcore
Line up:

Label: Jade Tree

Tracks:
1. Mescaline Eyes
2. Horse Girl
3. Subtle Body
4. Desery Ghost
5. Child Chicken Play
6. Hell’s Bank Notes
7. Abracadabraca
8. Deer Lodge
9. Lady North
10. Perpetual Bris
11. Coporeal
12. Crazy Woman Dirty Train

With anticipation from These Arms Are Snakes’ follow-up to their debut full-length, Oxeneers or When the Lion Sleeps Its Antelope Go Home, Easter had to live up somehow to the siren guitar strikes of Ryan Frederiksen and intense rhythm section and vocal urgencies of Steve Snere.

All of the above are completely present on Easter. The band even step up in production, pulling an instrumental phrase back here, or pushing a guitar line to the front there. These Arms Are Snakes have proven yet again their underrated larger than life progressive rock and roll. The problem lies in the homogeny of the albums tracks. Standing alone, each track is phenomenal, but as a whole, the album sounds like a bunch of larger than life singles. This is great for those times one wants to skip around, but the flow of the album suffers just a bit.

The band opens with another heavy hitter. This time, instead of rapid electric beatings by guitar licks and synth lines to the head like "The Shit Sisters," "Mescaline Eyes" feels like a slow swing into a brutal knockout hit of an opening riff. The band never holds back on how heavy or light they can become, and Easter cements how These Arms Are Snakes are relentless at this. The follow up, and single, "Horse Girl" is a tyrant rant by both Snere and his band, and "Lady North" is a vibrant hurricane of ups and downs.

Even when it looks as the band will venture on the light side of harmonious sound, "Chicken Child Play" showcases how the band has a knack for building beauty into epic chaos. The only easy moment that comes across on Easter is the acoustic "Perpetual Bris." Thinking the album will drown out on "Coporeal," the band come back with an encore on "Crazy Women Dirty Train," its song title encapsulates the extra five minutes of rock.

These Arms Are Snakes have once again made a monster of a record. While it doesn’t stick together in between tracks, that lack of flow is made up in the individual compostitions that build the record as a whole, just as the music builds within each song. It only helps to go back, listen and anticipate what’s to come late this year from one of the most dominant, but some times underappreciated rock acts in the league.
Rating: 9

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I] INTERVIEW[/I]

The demise of Washington’s Botch and Minnesota’s Kill Sadie gave way to the formation of Minus the Bear, the fivepiece behind one of this summer’s most anticipated releases. Yet the dispersement of these rock bands has yielded far more than mathrock; members of the aforementioned groups went on to form Seattle-based These Arms Are Snakes (TAAS) with members of Nineironspitfire, and release an EP (This is Meant to Hurt You) and two albums (2004’s Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home and 2006’s Easter). Compelling and engaging, the end products are aggressive and brilliant. While aggressive rock has slid into a tired territory of dark imagery and chaos, TAAS has crafted clever and interesting material that manages to explore the genre, fuse the group’s varied backgrounds, and maintain a level of musical sophistication.

What is perhaps most impressive is the group’s ability to present its music to the masses; the live set for TAAS is a private time warp the the late 70s when Iggy Pop reigned the stage; lead singer Steve Snere is as active and engaging without bodily fluids–the remaining band members perform with bravado and without theatrics. TAAS’ set is impressive in a way that audiences should beg the group’s contemporaries for more enthusiasm.

The group recently toured with Mastodon, Against Me!, and Cursive aross the U.S. and spared time for an interview after their opening performance.

HOW’S TOUR WITH MASTODON, CURSIVE, AND AGAINST ME! ?

Ryan: When we play we get quite a few blank stares. I feel like we win people over by the end of the night. I feel like a lot of people just never heard of us before so they gotta take it all in?°¦ ?°»Well, they weren’t terrible?°¦’ I think we’re doing good. We just got back from Europe before this tour started and were there for four and a half weeks and it was really really good. But that tour was fuckin’ awesome. People respond well to us.

We did our own headlining tour in the states for five weeks but even when we played crowds would be like?°¦[makes face]. But we play Europe it’s such a different vibe. People are very appreciative and a lot more receptive to other bands we’re playing with.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BAND TO SOMEONE WHO HAD NEVER HEARD THESE ARMSARE SNAKES?

Brian: Depends on who it is. If it’s a young person our age and actually knows anything about music, it’s going to be very different than some dude. But a younger person, I guess it’s ?°»noisy punk?’

Ryan: When it’s my relatives or something like that I tell them it’s a modern version—more to float my boat than anything else—I tell them it’s Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd but modern day noisy version and they can kind of look at it if they hear it, ?°»Yeah you’re completely you sound nothing like either of those bands.’ [laughs]

Brian: We sound like Dark Side of the Moon if Pink Floyd weren’t a bunch of amateurs.

Ryan: Yeah like Led Zeppelin if they knew what they were doing! If Bonham and Page didn’t suck.

I KNOW, WHAT A BUNCH OF HACKS

Ryan: Guy couldn’t play to save his fucking life!

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ULTIMATELY WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES?

Ryan: We’re not really trying to accomplish anything. We’re just trying to write music that we life and we can appreciate. I think there’s not a lot of cool shit, you know? There’s a point where I was working two jobs and not happy about anything but music still made me really excited. And when I heard a band that was cool, and resonated, it was ?°»Okay this band is communicating an idea or thought that resonated with me.’ Something a normal conversation doesn’t capture. I want something that this band that makes people say ?°»Fuck! This really resonates for me!’

WHO DOES THAT FOR YOU?

Ryan: It’s ever changing and different for all of us but the influential bands for me are Led Zeppelin.

Wait, actually, it’s going to start getting weird: Doves, and Bjork.

BUT THAT DOES HAS A COMMON THREAD

Ryan: I think they do too. I feel they are musically minded. I don’t feel like they’ve ever gone the way of, ?°»Well this worked for this record so let’s keep doing this. Let’s do that again.’ We write a record and that’s where we were at that point in time. Now, where we are now, we’re going to start writing again soon. We were there before. We wrote Oxeneers. And we don’t need to re-write it. We don’t need to write Easter again. It’s important not to write the same record over and over.

Brian: I think it’s weird when you are a musician and in a band, surrounded by music all the time, listening four hours every night at the show, driving in the band, walking into the mall, and it’s so easy to swallow things and listen all the time. There’s this barrage of music all the time. I know for me the things I’ve been in to has completely changed. What I was liked three years ago doesn’t apply to what I like now.

It’s an ADD culture you’re constantly barraged by new things so you’re constantly searching what’s new, and visceral, and exciting. What I like now might be different six months from now.

It’s kind of depressing in a way. I hope what we do now is completely different but something people can latch onto.

HOW DOES THE WRITING PROCESS WORK FOR THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES?

Ryan: It used to take us a month, month and a half to write a song and then we switched drummers. We had a very good friend of ours fill in and write Oxeneers and we had to do it as fast as humanly possible just because we had a deadline for ourselves.

And then after that record we toured on that for a while and Chris [Common, drums] joined the band and we had more time?°¦We said ?°»We’re going to write for the next three months.’ We spent a lot of time writing and slowly trying to refine everything. We’d go ?°»This doesn’t work.’ Some shit would work out and some didn’t. Some got completely reworked after we demo’d them and now we’re getting to the point where we like to spend time on a song.

We want it to be more organic and spontaneous.

Brian: I don’t think there’s a writing process. It’s just the nature of this band.

Ryan: It was just a bunch of guys who liked hanging out.

Brian: It’s just whatever we kind of feel like doing.

TELL ME ABOUT ALBUM YOU’VE ALREADY HINTED AT, WHAT IS NEXT FROM THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES?

Ryan: Basically we’re getting ready to go in and start writing the new record. We’ve been on tour a long time with very few days off. We’ve started talking about getting ready and put it out next spring. When we get home from this tour it’s all out writing. One more short European tour, but that’s it. We’re cutting ourselves off from touring.

Brian: It’s hard on being in a band because you have this momentum to keep going?°¦I feel like as long as we’re on tour we can sustain ourselves. We need to do another record, but if we do another record we have to start settling in again and it’s a weird dichotomy to put yourself into. It’s very easy to settle in this lifestyle. It’s all or nothing, it’s very tricky.

Ryan: It would be nice to have just one lifestyle. I’m interested to see how other bands do things. We have our way, and it sort of works, and you look at other bands?°¦and how does a band like Shellac put out a record every four years, tour for a month, and keep people interested. Godspeed hasn’t put out a record in seven years but they seem more popular than they were seven years ago.

?°¦It’s a shitty position to be in.

Ultimately this is what I want to do, so I don’t see it as disadvantages.

Brian: I think our whole generation is in this point where it’s like meaningful work is really hard to come by. Especially meaningful work that pays well. I have friends in the non-profit who are like, ?°»Well I’m doing something good but I can hardly pay my rent.’ Then you have people who that make really good money doing something irrelevant and it’s, ?°»Good I can buy a car, but, what am I going to do with a car? Look back on my twenties and think I wasted my life?’ It’s a sign.

Ryan: It’s a selfish generation. Not in the sense that?°¦

Brian: We’re at a crossroads. I just want to do something cool. I don’t want to work at a dot com, I don’t want to be a salesman.

Ryan: There’s mean to an end. You can do whatever you want, you can work for six months and say, ?°»I’ll be on tour for a year and a half, see ya.’

Brian: I don’t think it works that way.

Ryan: Some can?°¦You have a resume and ?°»I work at Amazon for a year and a half,’ and obviously they’re not going bankrupt. And if they do, it’s not your fault.

SO IS THAT WHAT THE RECORDING AND TOURING CYCLE IS LIKE FOR YOU?

Ryan: That’s the cycle. You write a record, record it, wait four months for it to come out, and by then it’s old to you. And then you tour on those songs you’ve known forever for a year, two years—it depends. For Oxeneers we never said no to a tour. Then we realized we had to stop doing this and write another record and it took us a long time for us to know what we wanted to do. This time around we’re cognizant of what we want to do. We just want to do this amount of touring and cut it off and write, and give ourselves another deadline. If we don’t make it, we’ll say, ?°»We’ll give this record another day.’

These Arms Are Snakes to release split with Pelican, plan Nirvana cover

These Arms Are Snakes have announced plans to contribute to a new split with Pelican.

The band explained:
"It’s a split with Pelican where they redo one of their old songs and we added parts to it and we’ll be redoing one of our old songs and they add their own flavor to it. Brilliant. We promise to not redo a shitty old song. Do we even have any of those? Aren’t they all winners?
The band is also promising that a new cover of Nirvana’s "Heart Shaped Box" will be recorded for an upcoming compilation."

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

Easter is the latest from the incendiary These Arms Are Snakes, who continue on their path as one the most amazing post-punk/math rock bands around today. Their music is immediately reminiscent of another classic Northwest band, Unwound. Unlike Unwound however, TAAS have fine-tuned their assault with razor-sharp precision, and have perfected the art of in-your-face-on-the-pavement intensity. Easter screams and buzzes with vitriolic urgency and slithers like a sinister buzz-saw that can—quite literally—leave me in a cold sweat. Careening from the frighteningly caustic on one end of the spectrum, TAAS slips effortlessly into the unworldly and ethereal world of bad dreams, only to bludgeon you again with their immediacy. Prog rock goes evil and teaches The Jesus Lizard a lesson or two. Easter is both gorgeous and essential. [Jade Tree]

CURSIVE W/ THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES

Cursive sired in the shadow of Fugazi, blasting jagged shards of rhythmic guitar and chunky distortion in tense, dynamic arrangements. Over a dozen years they’ve undergone a number of iterations, from guitarist Steve Pederson (’95-’98) and cellist Greta Cohn (’01-’05) to the current tour’s horns, brought on to re-create their latest, Happy Hollow. Frontman Tim Kasher’s always had a theatrical streak, but graduates from stage drama to cinematic tour-de-force on the religious-themed Hollow, where the horns are like a Greek chorus punctuating his take on sin, faith and hypocrisy. While there are moments when These Arms Are Snakes recall the tense pulse of Fugazi’s Repeater, they’re as informed by math rock and Northwest hardcore as they are D.C. post-punk. The clean, steely guitar doubles back on itself to ambush the galloping bass, while singer Steve Snere goes from slow, drawling malevolence reminiscent of Jesus Lizard’s David Yow to that hardcore hector/scream has become Henry Rollins’ musical legacy. Psychedelic breakdowns spice a tightly wound attack that will trap you in its endearingly chaotic squall. Exit/In

LIVE: Mastodon Bring Along Strange Combo Of Metal And Punk

May 15, 2007
Kool Haus
Toronto, ON

Without a doubt, this has to be the strangest tour of the year. Mastodon, Against Me, Cursive and These Arms Are Snakes are bands so disparate that you’d never imagine hearing them mentioned in the same sentence, let alone performing together on a high profile tour. But there they were, drawing a wide assortment of kids to the Kool Haus Tuesday night, despite none of the groups’ fans having much respect for the others.

Regardless of how radically different each of the bands are, shows like this need to happen for a variety of reasons. For one, they allow people to explore different areas of music they may not have heard before. For another, it lets amazing underground acts like These Arms Are Snakes play for audiences who would never get to see them otherwise.

TAAS opened the night to little fanfare, but they’re a band who are used to getting more odd stares than hearty applause. Opening with "Mescaline Eyes" from last year’s Easter, one of 2006′s most criminally overlooked albums, the Seattle quartet picked the most energetic cuts to play to a mostly jaded audience.

People started coming around towards the end of their set, however, as it was hard to deny the energy put forth by frontman Steve Snere. Blowing through older tracks "Angela’s Secret" and "Payday Loans," even the morons clamouring for Mastodon grudgingly applauded the band. It’s a shame TAAS didn’t get to play longer, as they were easily the most captivating of the four.

It came as a bit of a surprise that Cursive played before Against Me!, but Tim Kasher and co. didn’t seem fazed in the least. Dressed to the nines in suits and tuxes, Conor Oberst’s buddies were so confident in their playing that you’d think they were headlining.

They stuck closely to songs from their latest LP, Happy Hollow, and brought along two horn players to flesh out "Big Bang" and "Dorothy At Forty." The horns also adequately replaced the strings for Ugly Organ track "The Recluse," smugly answering the questions of how they’d pull off their older material without a string section.

The songs that got the most applause were the two from Domestica, "The Martyr" and "The Game Of Who Needs Who The Worst." Kasher seemed to know his followers were dying to hear these songs, as he let out his signature scream out the loudest during the more intense moments.

I guess I was the only person who thought Cursive should have switched positions with Against Me!, as the punks turned out to be just as big a draw as the headliners. They’re one of those bands I’m relatively indifferent towards, as I know they’re a righteous punk act, but they just don’t grab my attention.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what I think, as seemingly everyone else went insane the second the Floridians took the stage. Every song sounded more or less the same to me, but the kids stomped and moshed for the majority of the set. The collective energy between the band and the fans seemed to mellow near the end. Perhaps the crowd realized the quartet weren’t doing much more than yelling and pumping their fists? Either way, they didn’t do much to win over indifferent sorts, like myself.

With the release of Blood Mountain and its unanimous approval from virtually every major music publication, Mastodon have crossed over to become the indie fan’s metal band of choice. This bill seemed to represent that, and I fully expected the elitists to outnumber the metalheads. I was wrong. Everyone who booed the first two bands finally got their wish when the Georgian metal monsters finally took the stage to play what was easily the most boring set of the night.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with Mastodon’s live show, but the fact that they always manage to pick better live bands to tour with, mixed with their unbelievably mundane stage presence makes watching them a chore. They’re the kind of band you want to root for, as they’re one of the few who write genuinely heartfelt and innovative metal, but they’ve got to stop playing the same damn songs and start moving around a little more.

The crowd responded warmly to the headliners, as expected, but even they seemed somewhat disappointed on the whole. With a bill this diverse and bands who are undeniably talented luminaries in their respective scenes, you’d expect fans to embrace each act with open arms. Instead, the opening bands were generally shunned and ignorant audience members went out of their way to ruin it for fans of those bands.

Hopefully the attitude of a few mouth breathers won’t stop diverse tours from being put together, because this was one of the most refreshingly unique bills in a while. Kudos to Mastodon for taking along three fantastic bands and not buckling under the pressure of their metalhead fanbase.

These Arms Are Snakes Live Review

House of Blues

Monday, May 14

Mastodon is already toting a heavy burden. It’s been heralded as metal’s new champion, as it’s quickly risen from the underground to the delight of critics and headbangers alike. But on its current tour, it has a different weight to bear. Namely, it was the headliner on a bill with three bands that could have easily taken top-billing themselves. Opener These Arms Are Snakes got the crowd moving with frontman Steve Snere’s sultry, Mick Jagger-like finesse, guitarist Ryan Frederiksen’s Jimmy Page-meets-post-hardcore riffs and some spastic dance grooves. Cursive followed with a set that seemed to match the cabaret décor of the House of Blues. The band (which added two horn/key players for the tour) was decked out in three-piece suits, while singer Tim Kasher waved, shouted and stomped like a vaudeville showman. Against Me! may have put on the best performance of the evening, however, with pre-set sing-alongs showing that they had won over the crowd before even taking the stage. When the curtain did open, members of the black-clad band looked like they were having the time of their lives (despite their grim attire) as they blasted through a number of punk-rooted tunes with nearly no breaks. The band’s fervor translated into a faster-than-usual tempo on some songs, but none of their melodic charm was lost in the process.

Mastodon, then, had its work cut out for it, and while its musicianship trumped all the other acts, showmanship was lacking. From the psychedelic light swirls to the band’s near-lethargic attitude, it was as if the guys didn’t care. Luckily, after a few songs and a couple guitar changes, Mastodon seemed to hit its stride. Devil horns were thrown up, air guitars were shredded, and big dudes with bad facial hair tried to growl along. It was in the latter part of the set when Mastodon lived up to the hype, delivering technical and precise playing while emanating the type of presence that could rock an arena. — Matt Whelihan

These Arms Are Snakes Touring with Cursive, Mastodon, and Against Me

These Arms Are Snakes are currently touring Europe with Chicago noisesters Pelican, the band has been at it nonstop since the October release of Easter on Jade Tree. That tour will continue to slay coast to coast when the band returns stateside to tour with three AMAZING bands: Cursive, Mastodon, and Against Me! The band just finished a stellar video for their first single, Horse Girl, produced by Refused TV
13 May 2007 18:00
State Theater w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Detroit, Michigan
14 May 2007 18:00
House of Blues w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Cleveland, Ohio
15 May 2007 18:00
Kool Haus w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Toronto, Ontario
16 May 2007 18:30
Higher Ground w/ Cursive S. Burlington, Vermont
17 May 2007 18:00
Roseland Ballroom w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive New York, New
York
18 May 2007 18:00
Electric Factory w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania
19 May 2007 16:30
Avalon w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive _ EARLY Boston,
Massachusetts
20 May 2007 19:00
Buffalo Icon w/ Cursive Buffalo, New York
21 May 2007 18:00
Lifestyles Pavillion w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Columbus,
Ohio
22 May 2007 18:00
Bogart’s w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Cincinatti, Ohio
23 May 2007 18:00
Sonar w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Baltimore, Maryland
24 May 2007 19:00
Cats Cradle w/ Cursive Carboro, North Carolina
25 May 2007 18:00
House of Blues w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Orlando, Florida
26 May 2007 18:00
Tabernacle w/ Mastodon, Against Me! , Cursive Atlanta, Georgia
27 May 2007 19:00
Exit In w/ Cursive Nashville, Tennessee

These Arms Are Snakes: proactively unprecedented

?°»Unconventional’ doesn’t really do These Arms Are Snakes singer Steve Snere justice – the man regularly appears possessed while on stage, week in and week out, night after night after night. About him, a trio of musicians grind out electronica-tinged alt-rock from another dimension – elements of hardcore can be identified, but this is no chest-beating knuckle-dragging act. TAAS are innovators; they operate on a purely proactive level, resistant to writing their music in a reactionary fashion. Appropriately, they’re never likely to be vogue; this is music of few compromises, of jagged angles and twisted edges.

Yet in person – off stage – Snere is an absolute gentleman: in a north London pub he’s all smiles with DiS as said band mates – Brian Cook (bass/electronics), Ryan Frederiksen (guitar/electronics) and Chris Common (drums) – lazily sip drinks before yet another headline show, another exercise in executing the unprecedented. Hours from now Snere will be singing from atop a step ladder; at the moment, though, he’s entirely down to earth.

“We love it here,” says Snere of the UK, a country the band are steadily building a sizeable fanbase in. “We’ve toured the States so many times that we know people in every town, and they’re able to take you around to all the good bars. Here, we love London, and Exeter, but we don’t really know what to expect from anywhere. Sometimes we can play a town to loads of people, but return there months later and play to nobody. I just don’t know what that’s about. It can be really weird.”

Seattle-born TAAS are returning to the UK this month for a ?°»co-headline’ tour with Chicago instrumentalists Pelican – click here for our interview with them. Although billed as a co-headline tour, obviously one band will play last, and in this instance it’s the Hydra Head-signed lyric-less quartet. But attendees in prior to the main event are sure to be entertained: TAAS don’t do subtle at their shows.

“I think we are picking up new fans,” says Snere. “I’m seeing people at our shows these days that I’ve never seen before, especially since the release of Easter. We’ve almost always gone on tour as the support act, with bigger bands, so it’s taken a while for us to realise who our fans were.”

“It’s way nice to be able to play to loads of people at larger shows,” continues Cook, “but you’re never certain what percentage of those people care about you. That is changing, though. We did six weeks in the States with Isis, and that was cool.”

The aforementioned Easter, released last year, is the band’s second album, and the first to be recorded with the current line-up; its 2004 predecessor, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, saw the kit manned by Minus The Bear’s Erin Tate (production was handled by Matt Bayles, at the time also a member of MTB). Previous to that, the band released an acclaimed EP, with yet another line-up, called This Is Meant To Hurt You, and a split with Harkonen. The split aside, all the listed releases emerged via Delaware’s Jade Tree label.

“Even at this point, we’re never just going through the motions,” says Cook, returning to the subject of touring. “We never take anything for granted. I guess it is repetitious – you’re always out of your comfort zone – but we never wake up and just go through a series of motions. We have peaks and valleys – a lot of the time I think everything sucks, but then I’ll wake up one day and we’re in New York and it’s, like, waaaheeeey. Although we do associate Florida with that feeling of urrrrgh, I wanna go home?°¦”

“We are used to travelling now,” says Snere. “I feel totally at home coming over to the UK.”

“We constantly remind ourselves of where we are,” says Cook. “Some days, we’ve got it made. I could complain because we’re not playing sold-out theatres or that shit, but the Pelican tour will be our fourth time in Europe, and we’ve been to Australia and Japan and New Zealand?°¦ so when you think about it, everything’s cool.”

Easter is where much of the band’s current set is drawn from – as their latest LP, this would seem obvious, but anyone who has seen TAAS live already will know there’s a feverish demand for their older material at each show, particularly for tracks from This Is Meant To Hurt You. While TAAS have been known to sate the appetites of said hardcore contingent, rarely are songs played straight: the epic ?°»Drinking From The Necks Of Your Loved Ones’, the EP’s closer, is drawn-out and distressed, Cook and Snere contorting its frame into something significantly more nightmarish. The soundtrack to serene dreams these songs most certainly are not.

“We were surprised at how well Easter was received,” comments Cook, “although it did seem to split opinion more than the first album. I actually remember seeing a piece on DrownedinSound, with all these pictures. I don’t remember what it said, though! I just remember the pictures?°¦”

The mixed reception to Easter was easily predictable from a fan’s perspective – the band’s slightly altered line-up is obviously a factor in slight alterations in sound, but more than anything else TAAS are a band in a state of perpetual development. Their backgrounds – members served time in Botch, Nineironspitfire and Kill Sadie – imply that they’re unlikely to write music that repeats itself from record to record. It’s a truly tough record to second-guess on a first listen, even if you’re familiar with what it’s following.

“Some people get it, and some people don’t,” remarks Frederiksen. “It’s kinda balanced out. It is a record that I think people will come back to after leaving it after those first few listens. It’s tough to judge, really.”

“I am really, really happy with it,” says Snere. “I know people who have told me that it’s tough to take first time, unless you’re concentrating. It’s very different to what’s come before – we have a different line-up, and we had way more time to work on it. We had three months to really decide where we wanted to go, and having our own drummer was obviously amazing. We managed to determine what sucked before going into the studio, where we also had way more time. This time we had a proper idea of what we were going to lay down in the studio, whereas for the first album we were a lot more vague – that was really just about us getting this material we had on tape, just flushing things out.”

“For Easter there was more time to experiment. I’d be like, ?°»Oh, I want to try this pedal,’ and I would,” adds Cook. Common worked as producer on Easter alongside his band mates, meaning that the four-piece were able to work flexibly, without being in a room with a producer with ulterior interests, or rather with less of a vested interest in the eventual recording.

“We have made a record that you need to sit down and be engaged by,” concludes Cook, “and we deliberately made it more mysterious, more weird or harder at times. You have to shift yourself, and you do either get it or you don’t. It is a record you have to invest time in, and we’re excited that it works on that level. It’s not as immediate as the live shows, but the songs do take on other guises live – we’re totally different beasts when on a stage.”

Snakes and schoolgirls

These Arms Are Snakes slashes its way into Kilby Court tonight

"Angular" is an adjective thrown around ad nauseum when describing post-hardcore bands. It’s intended to illustrate the way that the genre’s guitar riffs — championed by the likes of Fugazi and Drive Like Jehu — often produce discordant sonic tones.

It’s a cliché.

These Arms Are Snakes’ angularity is anything but cliché. Its angles are so finely sharpened that witnessing a These Arms Are Snakes performance comes off more like a bloody knife fight than an indie-rock show.

Mic-slinger Steve Sneere’s quick snarls and haunting shouts ricochet off every drum stand and guitar pedal on stage as his body hurls itself without direction to the jolting riffs of guitarist Ryan Fredrickson.

The acute edges of the duo’s screeches assimilate into the perfectly syncopated beats of drummer Chris Common and ground in the guttural lows and atmospheric wails of bassist/keyboardist (as well as ex-member of technical hardcore legend band Botch) Brian Cook.

This interlocking of razor-sharp guitar and vocals with structural rhythms segues into the true beauty of the Snakes: the band’s ability to transition from chaotic and technical to eerily subdued.

Easter, the band’s second full-length release (out now on legendary indie-pacesetter Jade Tree Records), plays intermediary to These Arms Are Snakes’ dueling personalities — at times plaintive and spaced out in an almost progressive rock direction and at others sadistic and self-destructive, slashing dissonance into its listener.

The Snakes will grace and terrorize Kilby Court tonight alongside equally frenetic Seattle-ites Schoolyard Heroes — think The Misfits meets No Doubt meets These Arms Are Snakes. Both bands must be seen to be believed.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

Due to the force with which These Arms Are Snakes deliver Easter, it is safe to say that Brian Cook, Steve Snere, Chris Common, and Ryan Frederiksen keenly focused on both lyrical intensity and inventive rock to create an album that bypasses simple categories.

When you examine the lyrics of the album closely, you’ll feel one of two things: complete comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your manic thoughts about life, death, and the pain that comes with both. Or you’ll be intimidated and unable to really develop a connection to the tracks. Musically, These Arms Are Snakes are able to convey a very hearty, rich stew of guitars and drums. In this way, the album’s music is not lacking in any way. There are consistent chords and melodies that are imbedded into the music, appearing in numerous tracks, indicating These Arms Are Snakes have a simple but solid approach to create symmetry amidst their songs. What it brings to the album is a sense of completeness and focus. These fellows kept to a tight line and it shows within the composition and production of these twelve tracks.

Lyrically, the songs are extremely concentrated and quite severe. Which is undoubtedly the band’s intention, but for those music fans who relate more to a peaceful, introspective type of pop-rock, this album might be too much to take in. It’s very deep and gives the impression of a highly pressurized critique. For fans of very melodic, richly rooted commentary rock with a concentrated theme of blood and death, it’s sure to fit nicely under the hood of their musical tastes. Each song claims very dark, potent lyrics. For example, “Child Chicken Play,” intensely boasts: “It’s blood it’s blood / Your beast of a heart / The blood stained teeth you bare show a lot more than you’d care.” Other noteworthy songs on the album are “Mescaline Eyes,” “Lady North,” “Perpetual Bris,” and “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.” Along with the rest of the tracks on the album, these songs have a lot to say and do it with a very heated, gritty delivery.

Vocally, These Arms Are Snakes sting the palate. In keeping with the thematic composition of the lyrics, the only proper way to present them is by screaming them, right? It might be a lot to take for someone unfamiliar or on a different musical wavelength than artists and fans of harder, focused metal/rock.

The album itself is a lyrically charged, heavily graphic ride. It makes a statement and keeps strong throughout, but it doesn’t appear to be making any large strides with its music. The band is worth checking into and the album is worth a listen for the adventurous music fan.

Interview with: These Arms Are Snakes on December 20th, 2006

Some bands sound exactly like something else you’ve heard. Some bands sound like a revamped and updated version of something else you’ve heard. And some bands, the truly great or innovative ones, sound completely different and grab your attention from the first note. These Arms Are Snakes are one of those bands?°¦at least for me. Everything about TAAS screams originality; from the twisted language of vocalist Steve Snere, to the alternately brutal and dancey rhythms of Brian Cook (bass) and Chris Common (drums), to the spazzed out and riffy grooves of Ryan Fredericksen’s guitar playing, this band is trying something new. I was lucky enough to catch up with all of them when they hit the Beat Kitchen on their headlining tour this past October. Not only did I get to interview some incredibly nice and intelligent guys, but I also got to see one of the most passionate performances of music I have witnessed in a while. If you have not seen this band live, I highly recommend you do so.

You guys wanna go ahead and introduce yourselves first?

Ryan Fredericksen: Ryan, I play guitar.

Chris Common: I’m Chris, I play drums.

Cool. So how’s the tour goin’? You guys are out with Young Widows, Mouth of the Architect…

R: And River City Tan Lines.

How’s the tour been so far?

R: Great. It kinda just started, really, for us. Mouth started a few days ago in Denver but we played with Planes Mistaken for Stars for about a week?°¦it’s kinda weird; the bands kinda shift from region to region, so this kinda actually marks the first full show with the bands.

Cause it’s a four band package for tour?°¦

R: Yeah.

How long’s the tour for?

R: Six weeks total for us.

How did the Thrice/Planes tour go?

R: It was weird. It was fun. We had a good time. I think a lot of those people didn’t really get us, you know?

C: The Thrice crowd wasn’t necessarily into us, but, I mean?°¦

R: The Thrice guys were fuckin’ great.

C: They were really really awesome dudes.

R: Super cool.

That’s one thing I notice about them is that they seem to take great bands out on tour with them, despite the reactions from their fan base.

R: Yeah, totally.

Is this the first time you guys are tourin’ on the Easter material? Is this the first time you’re playin’ any of it live?

R: We’ve been playin’ it here and there for a while. Before we actually recorded, we did some dates with Isis and tried it out on that?°¦

At this point, bassist Brian Cook snuck up and sat down at the table we were doing the interview at without saying a word.

Who just sat down?

C: Uhh, this is Brian.

Brian Cook: Brian. Sorry, I didn’t?°¦

C: Bubbaguts.

B: Yup.

You wanna introduce yourself? Cause you can talk to, it’s totally cool?°¦

B: I’m Brian. I play bass.

Okay. How’s it been takin’ the Easter stuff out on the road?

R: Awesome so far.

How’s the crowd reaction been to the new stuff?

R: Really good.

C: Really good, yeah. With the new songs, people seem to be into it.

R: Yeah, even before the?°¦we started about a week before the record even came out and people seemed to know a lot of it already.

B: You can thank the internet for that. It leaked like immediately.

Yeah, I’m a culprit.

R: Ohh yeah, me too, I download shit all the time.

You gotta download your own record before it comes out, right?

R: I gotta see how it sounds!! I haven’t heard it yet!!

Do you guys have any favorite spots? Any spots on tour that you really look forward to hittin’ every time you go out?

R: Chicago, for sure.

C: Cleveland.

R: Seriously, I fuckin’ love it.

You guys playin’ the Grog in Cleveland?

R: Yeah. That’s gonna be fun.

B: I’ve actually come to like Detroit, which is really weird.

C: It is really weird.

R: Me and him used to fuckin’ loath San Francisco. Just fuckin’ couldn’t stand to even?°¦the thought of it and now I fucking love San Francisco.

C: Atlanta. The Drunken Unicorn.

R: Yeah, used to hate Atlanta. You just find ways to find endearing things about each city. You meet some great people, so it just kinda works out every time. You know, you see the itinerary and you’re just like, “Ahh?°¦ohh wait, fuckin’ Detroit! We go to fuckin’ CPT! We gotta go to that terrifying fuckin’ house he lives at.”

Well, you guys switched drummers last year from Aaron to Chris. What’s the difference been in the switch?

R: Well, for me, personally, it’s much more to my liking. I like his style a lot more. Aaron’s a fuckin’ phenomenal drummer but he [Chris] suits kinda the way the bands sounds a little better. Bigger sounding drums.

B: Aaron was all about never wanting to be in half-time. He wanted everything to be up tempo?°¦

R: Sixteenth notes.

B: Which is cool and is like sorta different for us, but at the same time, we kinda don’t wanna be?°¦

R: A dancey band.

B: Yeah, we don’t wanna?°¦maybe ease off on the high hat a little more, man. But it’s kinda cool, cause it makes you re-think kinda how you’re playing, so it’s kinda like “ohh, we’re kinda taking this band?°¦”

R: And he helped us out a lot writing that record.

And Chris, you produced the new record as well. How was that?

R: It was good.

Cause you worked with Matt Bayles before. How did the process change this time with keeping all the production within the band?

C: Well, first of all, Matt Bayles and I own a recording studio together.

Ohh, okay.

C: So it was very like?°¦there wasn’t any issue. It wasn’t like we decided to go with me instead of him. It was what worked out in our timeframe and for the budget and everything. You know, we could have taken our budget and spent a short period of time in a studio and still have done a great record or we could take that budget, self-produce it and spread it out over almost two months or something. Well, six weeks.

R: Thirty one days total.

C: And we had a week off in the middle. And it was nice. It gave us some time to tie up the ends that weren’t quite tied up when we were done writing, stuff like that, cause we had time to go back. There were also downfalls too, you know. You’re in a band and around a thing so much, especially for myself; there were times where I would just get burned out. But I think, all in all, that turned out really cool.

Well, I noticed that on Oxeneers it seemed kind of like a nice line between riffy guitars and this pounding rhythm section and on the Easter album, it’s even more atmospheric with even less guitar this time around. Did you go into the project with a set idea of where you wanted Easter to head as compared to Oxeneers?

R: I think we had a better idea this time around. I mean, having a real drummer in the band. With Aaron, he helped us write and then he recorded with us, but that was over?°¦we wrote and recorded that record in three months, so it was just blazing through songs just to get done in order to make our deadline to record. And with this record, we had so much more time to write. You know, we wrote it over the course of?°¦

C: A couple months?°¦

R: Yeah, six or seven months.

B: Yeah, we even went in and cranked out songs the first day we were in the studio that we wrote on the spot. This time it was a lot more, going in and instead of feeling like we have to go in and lay down all the tracks in a short amount of time, we were able to just feel things out and kind of see what works and what doesn’t. I feel like it was a bit more of an organic process in the studio as opposed to just?°¦

R: Write. Get it done.

C: Yeah. Also, on the production side, I went in not wanting everything to be like perfect and crisp and clear and like, you know, a modern studio recording. I wanted to do?°¦I wanted the drums to be like boxier and roomier and a little less of things here and there and there were times where I thought the bass and drums should really drive and the guitars are awesome and they set in where they need to set in and there were other times where the guitars needed to be up in there. So, I don’t know; every song had different guitar sounds and bass sounds and it was just kind of like a little more experimental, I guess, like the process.

B: It’s definitely one of those things where we were done with the record and it was like, we’re gonna have to relearn how to play all these songs because it was all written, but when you record, it’s like “well that doesn’t sound right, let me try doing it this way.” I don’t know. There are songs that got so changed around in terms of?°¦what kind of effects are being used?°¦

C: Subtle Body?°¦

R: Subtle Body was insane.

C: I recorded that song by myself and actually changed a part in the song by myself. The end part, but uhh, I mean, we actually lost the first take of it, unfortunately, so I had to lose my mind and we did it again, but it came out for the best I think.

R: Yup.

C: I think it’s one of the highlights of the record.

R: It’s one of my favorite songs.

When you guys play live, do you try and emulate the record, or is there more left up to the performance?

R: We try to do it as well as we can by stickin’ to the record, but I think playing live is such a different process in itself; it’s such a different beast. You can’t get away with controlling the sound as much as in the studio so I think live, we just try to have fun. Get close?°¦

C: If a sample gets off, a sample gets off, which?°¦

I actually saw you guys at the House of Blues on the Underoath/Hopesfall tour?°¦

[laughter from everyone]

C: I wasn’t playing then!

I know you weren’t. And I watched you guys and you were freakin’ out cause you had huge equipment fuck-ups on stage like power outages and the bass cut out in the middle of a song and all these people were just like, “who the fuck are these guys?” And I just wanted everything to work!

R: Yeah, that was rough. That was the first show of that tour.

Yeah, that’s right, cause you guys over lapped cause Fear Before the March of Flames was on that bill too?°¦there was like five bands on the bill.

R: Yeah.

C: Glad I missed that one.

B: It was?°¦like my head rush cut out in Angela’s [Secret], which is like all I use on that song for doing loops?°¦I think it fucked up in Idaho too.

Yeah, I was sitting upstairs in the House of Blues upstairs bar and there were literally like three people up there. You look down and it’s just a sea of sixteen year olds and I thought, “man, this is gonna be bad.”

R: Yeah, it was pretty bad.

Anyway, so where does the title for the new record come from?

B: Well, titles always seem to be a very last minute thing, I mean we were actually sorta having to come up with a title on the spot. We had done the record and there was no title and we were in mastering and we had to do it on the fly and we were throwing ideas around. And Steve [Snere] had been like, “well there’s a lot of talk about ghosts and the weird spiritual realm of things.” And he was throwing out all these ideas about ghosts and at one point, I think I was just like, “we recorded it over Easter and we want something about ghosts and rising from the dead, let’s just name it Easter.” Which was kind of ridiculous and we all sorta chuckled and were like, “that’s stupid.” Easter bunnies and pastel colors and I was like, “that’s actually kinda?°¦”

You guys are murdering the Christian ideal?°¦

B: Yeah! And it kinda sticks in some weird way and your kinda like, “actually, it kinda makes sense.” Cause this whole record kinda revolves around the idea of why, like, I don’t know. Like, the whole existence of the band in a lyrical form is, “why do we live this way?” Oxeneers is all about working and why we work shit jobs and this record is sort of about why we’re even here and like, do people really believe in these religions that we toss around and why we drive around and live these suburban lives and all this shit and I think it all kind of stems back from fuckin’ Easter in some weird way anyway. It’s all about western civilization and the way it sort of evolved in the last two thousand years to being this thing that we’re living in now and it all revolves around western culture and western civilization revolves around Christianity in some weird, convoluted way. So I just sort of see that as a starting point for where we’re at now and?°¦

You just took my next question right out of my mouth?°¦cause it seems to me, every time I listen to Oxeneers, there are a lot of references to American financial culture?°¦

R: Yeah yeah.

Which is great, but then it was nice to hear, on this record, a complete shift to something almost even bigger. Oxeneers seemed a little bit more personal, lyrically, to me, and then the new record seemed a little bit more, like you were saying, larger and about larger ideas, about how people seem to fall into lines almost?°¦

B: Yeah. I mean, I don’t wanna speak for Steve too much on his lyrics, but I know Oxeneers was definitely about being in your 20s and being a financially independent adult and just being like, “this is it? This is, fuckin’, the rest of my life? This is pretty miserable.” I think with this record, it’s stepping out even beyond that and being like, “why do we do any of this stuff? What’s the point of jumping through all these hoops?” And I don’t think you can ask questions that large without having some sort of weird, spiritual identity crisis and being like, “am I here for a reason? Is there a god?” And I think the most common, cultural answer to that is really sort of depressing. It’s like, “yeah, there is this big bearded man in the sky and if you do the right things, then you’ll wind up driving a car through the pearly gates.” And I’m just like, “really? I don’t know.” I don’t wanna just live life here on earth in hopes that I’ll have all the riches that I don’t have here on earth in some cloud city?°¦it’s a little too Star Wars.

[laughter]

Well, are the lyrics strictly Steve’s realm? It’s all pretty much him?

R: Well he [Brian] wrote?°¦

B: Yeah, I did “Perpetual Bris” for the record. I think that’s the only time that’s ever happened, everything else is always Steve.

Okay. How does writing work for you guys? How do songs develop?

R: I’d say it’s Brian and I that kinda come up with ideas and he’ll [Chris] put his two cents in on it; “Maybe you should do this instead and if I do this overtop?°¦” It just usually stems from one idea, you know, one riff and then we just expand upon it and do what we can to make it work or, sometimes it doesn’t work. “Subtle Body” is the biggest example of?°¦

C: That was Brian and I basically?°¦

R: It took forever to make that song work. None of the stuff that I was doing for that was working at all. These guys came up with most of it and then when I?°¦he actually changed a bass line in the song while we were recording and the one thing I liked the most out of everything I did didn’t fit anymore?°¦

B: Sorry?°¦

R: And what I ended up doing I liked a lot more, with the slide.

B: Yeah, we kinda write in pairs almost. When we’re all in one room and trying to do something, it’s just noise and it doesn’t really work, but when there’s two of us, it’s like, “alright, I’m gonna do this and you’re gonna do this and we’re gonna fuckin’ figure it out.” And everyone else is kinda like, “okay, I’m getting a feel for this.” But that dynamic is always different; it’s never just like me and Chris or Ryan and Chris or anything. It’s always just?°¦

R: It helps. Just that concentration where two people are feelin’ it and are like, “ohh, we’re gonna do this.” “Horse Girl” is the best example?°¦you and me went to town on that song.

C: Well even the day we were tracking and you were getting your guitar tuned and you were playing a very simple thing and we just jammed on it and I was like, “that could be a part.” Somehow it can sometimes just pop out of the most simple riffs and end up turning into really interesting pieces of music.

Was the record mostly written before you went into the studio?

R: Most of it was done. There was a lot of tweaking, but I think?°¦well, I guess there were a couple songs?°¦

C: Structurally there wasn’t much tweaking. It was mainly just having to modify a guitar part, modify a bass part or change a drum part I couldn’t play.

B: Yeah, there was that. The more kind of stuff where we like, “we need something right here.” I mean there was stuff done in the studio that was definitely geared to making a more listenable album as opposed to just a collection of songs that we play live.

C: “Desert Ghost” was originally spawned from a keyboard that I lost my mind on and was like, “guys, check this out” after being in the studio for like forty hours straight.

B: Yeah, he got all flustered and was like, “I needed some time to sort of express myself with sound.” And we were like, “okay?°¦” and he goes, “check it out!” And it’s all like [makes bizarre, high pitched squealing noises]. And it’s all these weird sort of bending noises and it was probably the most unnerving thing I think I’ve ever heard. And we were like, “that’s amazing, that makes my skin crawl.”

The big thing I wanted ask you guys about is the independent music scene today because you guys seem to be able to cross over the two more popular scenes. Independent music is the “hot” thing right now and you’ve seen both sides of that popularity. You’ve seen the Hopsefall/Underoath side and you’ve seen the Isis side. You’ve seen the thirty year old metal heads and you’ve seen the sixteen year old kids?°¦

R: It’s a blessing and a curse really. Yeah, this comes up quite a bit. It’s nice that we can play with Isis and then Minus the Bear the next tour whereas those bands could never tour together. But a lot of times, people just don’t know what to think of us at all, they just kind of stare at us and go, “they don’t really sound like Minus the Bear?°¦they’re too hard for me.” And then we play with Isis and they’re like, “ehh, those guys are gay?°¦those guys are fags.” And so it’s kinda hard, cause we teeter on that line and it makes it hard for?°¦you know, that’s actually why we’re doing this headlining tour, to get away from that and just kinda do our own thing and be like, “look, we’re our own band, we can headline our own tour.” And if there are thirty people there or three hundred people there we’re gonna be happy either way, so?°¦

B: We were talking and, you know, if we were like a Christian band or a straight-edge band?°¦

R: Built in audience?°¦

B: Or had scary, fuckin’ drippy band logos where someone’s like, “ahh, I totally get it, I know what they’re goin’ for.” Like, they’re X band. Then I feel like you immediately have a core, like a built in audience who will buy anything that’s straight-edge or anything that’s Christian or anything that’s fuckin’?°¦

C: Very fashionable?°¦

B: Yeah, fashionable! Or even if we’re a fuckin’ hardcore band. But we’re not?°¦

R: Unfortunately, we don’t wear make-up, we’re not Christians and?°¦

C: We’re definitely not straight-edge.

R: Definitely not straight-edge.

B: We get people who are like, “I don’t get what they’re goin’ for?°¦”

C: “Where’s the makeup?”

B: They’re clothes aren’t telling me anything, they’re just wearing jeans and t-shirts. I can’t get this”?°¦it’s just weird, you know; we sorta fit in everywhere and we sorta don’t fit in anywhere. It means that throughout the whole existence of the band, we’ve always sorta done pretty well but I still don’t think we’ve found our niche yet.

C: We’ve kinda fallin’ into the popularity crack, where you’re either on this end or this end and we’re kinda right in the middle there and there’s not too many cross-over audiences?°¦

R: Well, the International Noise [Conspiracy] tour?°¦

Well it seems to me that a lot of the people that like you guys are big on things like the Dischord back catalogue and stuff like that?°¦

R: Yeah.

B: Totally.

Stuff that’s noisy, but psychedelic at the same time?°¦

R: Yeah, this band French Toast, they’re from DC?°¦

Well, who’s the Botch alum?

B: That would be me.

I did want to ask you about the Botch re-issues cause right now there seems to be a LOT of attention being paid to the Botch back catalogue.

B: Yeah, it’s weird. Botch would go on tour and we would sell two hundred dollars in merch a night and there would be like forty people at the shows. And those people were into it and it was cool. And like towards the very end when we started touring with like the Murder City Devils and stuff and things kinda picked up. But for the most part, we worked hard without a lot of rewards, but we were always like, “well, but we wanna make something that’s cool and we wanna make something that feels like it has a shelf-life longer than six months.” Now I look back on it and it’s cool because people are still into it and the band’s been broken up for several years. I guess we did what we wanted to do, but the band sort of outlived its life, you know? It’s weird, cause that band fuckin’ broke up four years ago. And now I’m in a new band and I’m like, “you wanna check this one out? C’mon?°¦”

R: I think Norma Jean?°¦there are so many bands that fuckin’?°¦

B: Yeah?°¦

R: Rip Botch off blatantly and are fuckin’ making a killing off of it and I think that they always refer back to Botch as their biggest inspiration.

Well that’s what struck me as weird is that you have these bands regurgitating past bands and blatantly coat-tailing?°¦and now Hydrahead [Records] is putting out four Botch re-issues in the next year?°¦

B: Yeah, but a lot of it is correcting past mistakes. We just re-mixed [American] Nervoso cause everyone’s always been sorta unhappy with the way it sounded. And it was recorded really well, we just rushed through the mix, so it’s gonna come out and it’s actually gonna sound good so?°¦

Not to draw attention away from your current project?°¦

[laughter]

B: No, I mean, it’s kinda relevant. To me, so much of what happened with that band kind of mirrors this one, where it’s just like workin’ really hard and fuckin’ touring a bunch and fuckin’ doing the same shit and trying something that’s interesting and is it’s own, unique entity that doesn’t necessarily fit in a box. And people are sorta getting into it and being like, “I guess I like this.” But, you know, not necessarily blowing up and selling out venues across the country or anything like that. And I just wonder if there’s like a pattern to what I’m doing?°¦like, no one appreciates it when it’s around, but when we break up?°¦

You’re the kiss of death for every band you’re in?°¦

[laughter]

B: Yeah yeah!!

Congratulations guys!

B: We’ll start getting fuckin’ royalty checks when we’re no longer a band.

At this point, the interview wound off into some tour talk about Australia and which Australian marsupials were stoned all the time because they ate Eucalyptus. Also, singer Steve Snere arrived to see how the interview was going. Eventually we got back on course.

Yeah, this is so much better than five minutes of, “what’s your record, who did it?…okay, bye!”

B: Thank god, like thanks for knowing and having interesting questions.

C: As opposed to?°¦

R: We’ve had two fuckin’ zingers recently?°¦

B: Yeah, like “I need a quote. I’m not recording anything or writing anything down, I’m just gonna do it off of memory.”

C: She actually said she was gonna BS it. And we were just like, “then why the fuck are you asking us questions?”

R: “You’re gonna go far in journalism, lady!”

I did an interview with Limbeck recently and they were saying the same thing. Some girl asked them like three questions?°¦

R: I wonder if it’s the same girl!!

C: I read the magazine she wrote for and some of them are like four questions, like “How’d you get your band name? Do you have any quotes?”

R: “Do you have any quotes?” “Ehh, uhh?°¦dick? How bout that!? Quote me on that!!”

“Thanks for the badass interview?°¦”

C: The whole time we were kinda just like messin’ with her to. Like talkin’ about just bein’ drunks and she’s like, “well I’m not gonna write about you guys bein’ drunks.”

That’s the meat of an interview!

Steve Snere: I kept trying to egg her on so that at least she would be interesting and then she’d just get really uncomfortable and be like, “I don’t think I’m gonna put that in there.” And we were just like, “ahh, what the fuck are you doing?!”

So what’s your guys’ relationship with Jade tree like cause that seems sort of an odd label to choose?°¦

R: I think the reason we went with them is because they are so eclectic. When we first started talking to different labels and what-not, those guys seemed to be the most interested in us. And they flew out to come see us and hang out with us and took us out to dinner and shit like that. They just seemed like they had our backs the most and were the most interested in us. You know, it’s bittersweet. There are some times where it gets shitty and we get in arguments with them, but it’s more like a brotherly thing where they’re lookin’ out for our best interests while we’re goin, “what the fuck are you talkin’ about, that doesn’t make any sense?!” When it all comes down to it though, they are lookin’ out for our best interests and you can’t have anything better than that. And they’re super cool dudes, so?°¦

B: I think we all wanted to work with someone who was gonna be professional enough to send out statements and make sure the record stayed in print and make sure that it got into stores so that if you go anywhere, you can find your record. But it was still kind of a punk label, where it’s not?°¦and, I mean, you don’t wanna sign a contract like you would with Vagrant or something like that; you sign away your life basically. You don’t own your publishing, they can mix your record for you. I mean people always make jokes, like when Dashboard’s [Confessional] career ends, which I think it probably will very shortly, he’s gonna realize that he doesn’t actually have any money because he doesn’t actually own any of the songs. So with us, we don’t get tour support really and we don’t have big budgets for our records or anything like that, but we kinda call the shots. We make the records we wanna make, Jade Tree puts them out and if they decide they don’t like it, then they don’t have to put it out. It’s nice because it’s as professional as it needs to be and no more, you know? It’s kinda nice?°¦and those dudes kind of come from the same background?°¦

Well what do you guys see for the future of the band?

B: I don’t know?°¦

C: That’s a good question?°¦

R: I think we’re thinkin’ in terms of the next six months rather than?°¦that’s about as far ahead as we get. I mean, it’s based around writing a record, waiting for it to come out, touring on it, and then plotting out the tours for the next year?°¦and so I don’t think we’ve gotten too far.

B: I think a lot of what we do, a lot of the choices that we make are based on securing the longevity of the band. We haven’t done anything that’s the short, cash-out plan. We’re gonna make records that hopefully people like and if they don’t, that sucks, but we’re gonna put it out and we’re gonna tour on it and we’re gonna do it for really cheap so that we get fuckin’ royalties so that we can fuckin’ know that we can actually make a living?°¦

C: To tour without it actually having to come out of our pockets. It’s not a major thing to try and tour and to sell records to buy cars and shit, that’s ridiculous. But if, ideally, we can keep going and doing what we’re doing?°¦

B: We’re not writing music for teenagers, there’s not fuckin’ pop-core and parts for me to do windmills. You’re either gonna like it or you won’t, and?°¦I don’t know?°¦

C: I did a stick-twirl once and I dropped it, I remember doin’ it. That’s the last time I try to show-off.

http://www.thesearmsaresnakes.com/

www.myspace.com/thesearmsaresnakes

http://www.jadetree.com/

I’d like to thank Ryan, Chris, Brian and Steve for their time. I would also like to thank David Lewis at Riot Act Media for setting the interview up.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

Rating: 5/5

Do you ever get bored of what’s goin’ on in music these days? Then you search and find a band that restores your faith and hope in music? That was absolutely the case when I discovered "Oxeneers" about a year ago. Listening to that record made me feel excited again about music and gave me hope that there are still some talented/credible bands out there in a world where cliches are drowning out the airwaves and even the underground.

‘Easter’ is second full length from These Arms Are Snakes and it’s a great progression for the band. If you were a fan of "Oxeneers" or their EP "This is Meant to Hurt You" you’re guaranteed to like this one as well. It sounds a little post hardcore like "this is meant…", and a little electronica and progressive like "oxeneers", as well as mixing in a new fresh sound which I would say is more experimental and even a little classic rock sound.

Bottomline, TAAS fans are going to love this album. If you’re new to the band, "Easter" wouldn’t be a bad album to start off either. It’s just as good, and perhaps better than their previous releases. All their albums thus far are epic and no one else is making this kind of music these days. Very original and fresh. If you’re unsure about buying the album, download "Mescaline eyes", "Horse girl", and "Child chicken play", that should be all the convincing you need. I highly recommend this album to anyone.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES INTERVIEW

These Arms Are Snakes – Steve Snere, Brian Cook, Chris Common

Reyna interviews These Arms Are Snakes on their Tucson, AZ tour stop. Check out the ‘this or that’ segment, pretty interesting :)

Reyna Benavides: Please introduce yourself and the part you play in the band.
Chris Common: I am Chris and I play drums.

Steven Snere: I am Steven and I sing.

Brian Cook: I am Brian and I play bass.

When you first started your band what would you say was the point you wanted to get across with your music. Do you still want to send that same message out or does it differ now?
Steven: I don’t know if there was much of a point. I think it was playing music with people, we knew each other before hand so we just wanted to start to a band together. I think, I want to say like being creative or whatever but I think that is in our nature to be like that anyway. I don’t know if there was a whole like big point.

Brian: I think we were all musicians who wanted to play music. I don’t want to say there was one big point we just wanted to play music. That hasn’t really changed. It’s still pretty much the same.

You are referred to frequently as “art punkers” is that a title you like? What does that title mean to you?
Steven: It’s kind of true, I guess. I don’t know what to say, I like punk rock and I like art.

Brian: Anything is going to be kind of embarrassing. That’s what we’d rather be punk and art.

Steven: We are now post -preop core though. We were pre op core. Now we are post-op cure. We had the surgery and everything (laughing).

Reading your bio it says “More than anything from These Arms Are Snakes” back catalog, Easter was meant to hurt you.” As you went into the writing process was making such a brutal record premeditated or was that just the direction it went as you started writing?
Steven: I don’t think it is really brutal. I mean that was what our publicist wrote (Laughing). It’s a moodier record I think in ways. We write dark music. I don’t know if there is necessarily a reason why we writer dark music. We started writing together and that’s just what surfaced. We were beginning on that path towards finding a way to make an interesting record. We didn’t just want to keep writing the same thing over and over again. Keeping it interesting for us, hoping that other people find it interesting. I wish there was some more grandeous mythology.

Chris: We got together with our spiritual advisor and he told us we had to record these songs because they are séances and the devil is coming back soon. And you are all going die (laughing).

While writing your newest release “Easter” what had you hoped people would take from the album?
Steven: I don’t think we really think about what other people are going to think about it. Try to write a record that we all like, hopefully other people will like it and if they don’t , it doesn’t really bother us. We wanted to write something we enjoy playing..

Brian: I think we try to make records that sound like records we like. Typically, we like records that you hear it, and you’re like “ahh, what is this?” You are intrigued by it. We can listen to it and you hear it and you are sort of inclined to listen to it more even if you don’t necessarily like it the first time. You know, you listen to the whole thing as opposed to just listening to your favorite songs. I think that is what I want I want to get out of a record.

“Easter” deals with some pretty heavy concepts regarding faith and spirituality (and the breakdown or loss of it) we’re you apprehensive to release an album that has the potential for a backlash from listeners or right wingers alike?
Steven: No, because I don’t think or I wouldn’t expect that people who listen to it would be completely right winged. Like republicans or anything like that. Essentially, rock and roll or punk rock is not like doing it for the system, it is kinda going against it.

Brian: I like drawing a line, saying like we are all pretty opinioned people. I definitely don’t want to have an audience that is ignorant, you know. I’m not saying if you don’t prescribe to my political or spiritual beliefs you are ignorant. But, I don’t want to klan members, or frat boys, or groupies or homophobes to be fans of our bands. I want to draw a line of what we are going to do.

Recently, saw the video for Horse-Girl. Was it difficult coming up with a concept for the video?
(Group of boys walk by, screaming, swearing.)
(Laughing, “they are coming to the show”)

Chris: We didn’t come up with the concept really. We had a few directors come up with the concepts. You know, storyboards more or less. We went with The Artificial Army because we liked theirs the best. And we were pretty apprehensive about doing a video especially being in it, we weren’t supposed to be in it at all at first. But, they kind of came up with a concept and kind of won us over with us, they showed us bits and pieces of the early animated stuff and we were pretty much on board from there. Took a chance.
Steven: Then they came over and bunch of alcohol, like “ I know you are nervous so just drink all of this” So we did and we were like, “Yeahhhh.” (Laughing).

Here’s a list this or that. What do you guys prefer?
So, Def Lepard or Iron Maiden?
I’d say Def Lepard.
I’d say Iron Maiden.

Hilary Duff or Lindsay Lohan?

Chris: I’d say Lindsay Lohan.
Brian: I don’t think I’d know the difference between the two.
Steven: I’d say Mandy Moore. It’d say Kelly Clarkson over both.I’d say Hilary Duff cause she’s cuter, a little bit more sweet, she’s not showing her stuff all the time.
Chris: I don’t know Lindsay Lohan seems like she’s absolutely crazy. (Laughing)

Guns and Roses or Motley Cru?

Both: Guns and Roses.
Brian: Neither. Probably, Motley Cru. Man, I don’t like saying that. Neither.

Mixtapes or Love Letters?
All: Mixtapes.

Texting or Myspacing?
All: Texting.

Madonna or Cyndi Lauper?
All: Madonna.

80’s music or 80’s movies?
Movies.
Steven: I’d say 80’s music, I guess but they kind of go hand in hand.

Biggie or Tupac?
All: Biggie. We were listening to that today. By far.

Ashlee Simpson or Jessica Simpson?
Chris: Oooh, Ashlee because she’s also crazy. For pure humor value. She’s trying to find a guy drunk in Burger King. (Laughing)
Steven: I’m going with Ashlee because Jessica broke up with Nick Lachey and Nick Lachey seems like a nice guy.
Brian: Wait, what?
Steven: Jessica dumped him. So I don’t think that’s very nice. So Ashlee.

MTV or Fuse?
All: Fuse.
Steven: I’m guessing we have a better chance of getting our video on Fuse

Anything else you guys want to say? Any final words?
Brian: If you want to win us over, buy us drinks or bring us gifts. Shower us with presents. (Laughing) Not your demo, we are more likely to talk to you if you don’t bring us your demo. We are more likely to talk to you if you bring us drinks.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES INTERVIEW

These Arms Are Snakes Interview
Interview with Brain Cook

These Arms Are Snakes formed a few years ago out of the ashes of Botch and Kill Sadie. They recently released a new full-length (their second for Jade Tree) called Easter. And with that album, These Arms Are Snakes totally convinced me: playing with so much passion, groove and creativity, this band reaches far beyond the mud of post-hardcore bands. They have the same angular tension as Ink & Dagger, the passion of Refused and the inventiveness of Fugazi. This interview was done through e-mail with bassist Brian Cook. Brian spent years of his life making noise with the very influential mathcore pioneers Botch.

These Arms Are Snakes is still refered to as the band that formed after the break-up of Botch and Killsadie. Is Easter the album that needs to give These Arms Are Snakes more a face of its own?

We’ll probably always deal with people bringing up our past bands, and that’s fine. I’m glad people still give a shit. But hopefully people will begin to realize that this band is it’s own entity. Just as long as people don’t expect to hear something that sounds like our old projects.

I think people do more than just "still giving a shit" about a band like Botch… You inspired hundreds of bands all over the world up until today. Now Hydra Head is doing all these Botch re-issues. How does it feel to see Botch reach a legendary status more and more?

It’s flattering, but it’s in the past. The funny thing is that we really struggled as a band. We’d go on tour and play to 20 or 30 people a night. Now everyone wants to play a part in that history. I wish people would realize that there are great musicians playing to 20 or 30 people in their town as we speak. Be a part of that history now, don’t obsess over the past. Go see those bands. Go see us play.

Back to These Arms Are Snakes?°¦ worldwide press is really positive about Easter. Do you feel like this is the best record you’ve ever made as a musician?

No. I think it’s one of the best, but I wouldn’t claim that any record I’ve done tops everything else. I think it’s certainly my favorite These Arms Are Snakes album though. My goal isn’t to trump everything I’ve done in the past, but rather to make something that is representative of a time and place that won’t become out-dated.

And do you believe you succeeded in reaching that goal?

I think so. I kept listening to it over and over again after we finished it. I was trying to get my bearings on it; trying to figure out if I was satisfied with it. Eventually I realized that if I was still intrigued and engaged by it after that many listenings, it must be a halfway decent record.

What was the idea behind an album title as Easter?

I’ve kind of given up on explaining it. It just seemed to fit. Every time I’ve tried to talk someone through our rationale for the name it just seems to sound like we’re over-intellectualizing it. The record deals with a lot of big questions. And most of those questions stem from trying to understand why our culture behaves the way we do. Western civilization has defined itself by the Christian religion, which all stems from Easter. That’s the dumbed down answer.

Ultimately These Arms Are Snakes’ music is defined by western civilization as well. Do you see tradition as important when writing songs?

It’s a matter of finding a balance between tradition and innovation. I hate to see bands disregard either. Traditions serve as reference points by providing a common language. Innovation keeps things interesting. Finding that balance, or deciding where you think it should be, is what defines one’s music.

Isn’t it time for bands, labels and everyone involved in independent music to try and break those cultural boundaries? Would you ever consider touring in countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, Teheran?

It’s just not fiscally feasible for us. And on some level, I feel like it’s inappropriate. I feel like those countries have their own journeys to complete. I don’t like the idea of trying to impose our culture in countries that are fighting to shrug off the influence of Western values. I feel like it’s almost counterproductive. I like living in a world where you can travel to new areas with different identities. It’s frustrating when the cultural values of certain places are at odds with my own mindset, but I certainly don’t claim to have an infallible sense of right and wrong.

You’re touring Japan and Australia in 2007. Have you ever been there and what do you expect from it?

We’ve been to Japan and it was awesome. We were only there for 72 hours, so I’m excited to get a chance to experience more of it. Australia will be a new experience for us, and I can’t wait to visit it. I’ve always been very curious about Australia.

Is it more rewarding to you if someone gets into These Arms Are Snakes after seeing you live on tour, or after hearing your album?

I’d be happy either way. I feel like they are pretty separate experiences, so I would just hope that people that heard the record first would appreciate the live show, and the people that see us live feel like the record appropriately captures that energy.

Thanks Brian. Really hope to see you perform in Europe soon.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

If your arms are snakes then are you related to or somewhere within Medusa’s extended bloodline?

But seriously folks, anybody who is a frequent reader of Treble knows that our skipper Jeff Terich, when not stuffing people into gym lockers and vigorously bitch slapping those whose musical tastes differ from his, always manages to insert a witty and clever tagline under the album’s title when listed on the site. When TAAS’s previous album Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When It’s Antelope Go Home was reviewed here two years ago, the tagline was "Hardcore for grown-ups." That alone said it about TAAS. You don’t have to be "grown-up" per se to enjoy TAAS but it does take another kind of attention span than your usual hardcore fan—who’s about 30 pounds overweight and has hockey pucks in their ears—or those brutish dudes with no necks who think that you’re only as hardcore as the amount of tattoos you have. While they may take more than one listen to get into, this is a band that is most rewarding and is paving a new trail for the genre. There is something truly compelling about the protracted guitars and singer Steve Snere’s blistering take on melody. While TAAS’s members are in no way newbies at what they do, with Snere having been in Kill Sadie and with bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook having served his time in math rock pioneers Botch, all them (including new drummer Chris Common who also produced) play like they’re young and hungry and out to show everybody something different.

While not quite a concept album as much as a vibe that meanders around it, Easter is infused mostly with themes about the never ending locking of horns between honor and destruction with hints of the religious right being placed smack dab in the middle. Numbers include the fluctuant "Subtle Body" that amounts to a wobbly ass kicking and the scratchy "Desert Ghost" with a bobbling layer of feedback fizzing throughout. The most unified of Easter’s moments comes in the form of "Child Chicken Play" as the stringy guitars droop and fall while Common gets sparse with his drum patterns before the band as a whole crunches everything together out of leftfield to send a jolt to the listener as Snere screams "Like you always do!"

Even though TAAS is most consistent with jerky rhythms and punchy tempos, they can still throw down rallying cries and chants in the hooks that make the listener want to pump their fists in the air in the true old school hardcore fashion. Cook’s bass is pretty much at the epicenter in terms of how this band has evolved, as well as guitarist David Knutson, who seems to favor keeping his pickups nearby when executing a riff. It’s as if TAAS has gotten a massage, so to speak, within the last two years, which explains their looser and more sparse playing style. But like any good snake, its steadfastness makes it quick to bite when you least expect it.

Similar Albums:
Clutch – Passive Restraints
Waxwing – One for the Ride
Icarus Line – Red and Black Attack

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Seattle, Washington is a gold mine?°¦anyone who says otherwise is just foolish. It has been the birthplace of monumental bands like Botch, Deadguy, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Murder City Devils, Akimbo, Minus the Bear, Rocky Votolato, The Blood Brothers, and so on and so forth. Of course Botch split to form Roy, Minus the Bear, and These Arms Are Snakes (as well as Of Alaska). Now one EP, one split, and two full lengths into their career, These Arms Are Snakes seem to be on top of the world. With this new genre defying album called Easter, they work to solidify their place as one of the top indie bands in the US; Seattle Weekly Magazine agreed, voting them as the punk/hardcore band of 2006.

Being a big fan of their previous efforts, I was predisposed to liking These Arms Are Snakes, but they have far exceeded the standards set in that aspect. It became increasingly clearer with each album that TAAS put out that they were more than just a sum of their parts, they had taken on a life of their own and this record really displays it. Their sound is dominated by a low end heavy assault that teams up long time bass magician Brian Cook with a new drummer by the name of Chris Common, who is also a superb record producer (putting his touch on this album behind the boards). With a barrage of guitar effects, sludgy and spacey tones, and intricate riffs provided by Ryan Frederiksen (who may be one of my candidates for guitarist of the year) to be a companion to Brian and Chris, the album will draw you in like a sailor to a siren’s song. Add Steve Snere at the forefront, and there isn’t much that TAAS can’t do. The album lyrics are laced with a theme of religion, the desert, and ghosts that helps to tie the whole project together.

When talking about These Arms Are Snakes, you run into interesting situations. They’re a band that is groundbreaking, and often imitated by other acts. Like so many people have said before, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so it just goes to show that the world appreciates what TAAS is doing, and how could they not? These Arms Are Snakes are meticulous in their song creation, plotting each riff like it was brain surgery. Every song is a new experiment in sonic creativity, an aural adventure if you prefer to word it that way. It is clear that they worry about structure (or a lack thereof), transitions, and how the overall product will come out. They aren’t a band to say “oh that sounds cool, let’s force it into a song we already wrote”.

In conclusion: These Arms Are Snakes are an example of everything that is right with music right now: originality, creativity, talent, and heart. I consider it a privilege and an honor to review any of their albums. And you should consider it a civil duty to buy their album and support them.

Rocks Like: really… no one.

Rating: 100/100

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

The chilly month of October is half over, and while most people may be looking forward to the spooky thrills of Halloween, These Arms Are Snakes are giving us the gift of “Easter” instead- and their second full-length on Jade Tree Records was certainly worth the two year wait. Even though I wouldn’t say that “Easter” is a huge step away from the content of 2003’s “This Was Meant To Hurt You” EP or 2004’s “Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home,” it certainly embodies the spirit and passion of both previous releases but delivers every song to a new level of perfection. These Arms Are Snakes’ unique brand of raucous post-hardcore implements heavy side-winding guitars, Steve Snere’s menacing vocals, complexity of song structure and an overall chilling atmosphere that will draw listeners in for good. It’s about time this band gets the recognition it deserves.

These Arms Are Snakes was founded in 2003 with the union of ex-members from Seattle’s notable math/metal rockers Botch, as well as Nineironspitfire, and Minneapolis’s Kill Sadie. Because of the member lineup’s notoriety, the band has struggled in finding its own identity- but each new release has proved that TAAS is capable of creating music that has an influential sound of its own. Their live show is incredible as well- I got hooked on TAAS last year after catching them on tour with their Seattle buddies Minus the Bear. I was impressed by their formidable stage energy which included Snere climbing atop trash cans to spew his hostile message while towering above the audience.

Don’t let the title “Easter” fool you because it is most likely poking fun at religious enthusiasts rather than seriously referencing the resurrection of Christ. Snere is quoted in Rock Sound Magazine saying, “No guy who claims there was this huge flood and some dude built a boat full of fucking animals is in a position to tell me that my life is wrong,” while guitarist Ryan Fredericksen has told Alternative Press that, “It seems really odd to me that Christianity is such a big deal in punk rock right now.” But whether or not you’re into religion doesn’t make a difference because “Easter” is still an album meant for everyone’s ears to hear. TAAS spent the last year meticulously working on the record and their hard work has paid off. “Easter” was recorded in Seattle at Red Room Recording by TAAS’s new drummer Chris Common, who also took over the title of producer.

The album’s first track “Mescaline Eyes,” begins with a down tempo distorted intro that explodes into an aggressive rock ?°»n’ roll guitar riff as Snere’s spiteful snarls fill the air. This is the perfect track to set example for the rest of the album, and combines staccato guitar riffs with eerie synth to complete the package. The album’s single, “Horse Girl” continues in the same fashion with energetic guitar riffs, heavy bass, and technical yet groovy drum beats. I would say that “Subtle Body” is the highlight of the album because of the intricate guitar parts and grueling tension that builds as Snere wrathfully chants over and over, “Reorder / redirect / stop fighting / disinfect / cold skin / implements / warm feeling / in the neck.” Listening to this song makes me feel like I’m part of a fist-pumping riot as the chanting builds up into a tremendous breakdown and orgasm of sound. Commons does a stellar job drumming on this album; there are many drum fills where his talent is brought to the front and captured my attention. After “Subtle Body” the album breaks from the action for a slow interlude of distorted keys and drumming before hitting you with the pensive keyboard and guitar combo of “Child Chicken Play.” “Deer Lodge,” is a rollercoaster of dynamic sound with its competing layers of guitar and synth, along with Snere’s ever impending emotion. “Lady North” brings you back to TAAS’s dirty, grimy style displaying Frederiksen’s southern guitar riffs while “Perpetual Bris” is completely unexpected but shows how versatile TAAS can be with its slow wistful tune, melancholy accordion, and insightful lyrics. “You were born of sin / and if that ain’t a curse / then I don’t know what is.” “Easter” ends on a hard, direct note with the technical guitar work and drumming of “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.”

Overall I thought this album was a great follow-up to “Oxeneers.” These Arms Are Snakes have proved that they can retain a standout sound of their own, and have figured out how to improve upon that sound with each new album. This is one band that is truly distinguishable in today’s dying music scene of poppy emo/screamo artists- These Arms Are Snakes know how to keep it real.

Overall Rating: 8.5

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

In the past the guys in THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES have absolutely destroyed the limits of what one would consider to be post-hardcore. Both on the EP This Was Meant To Hurt You and then their debut full-length Oxeneers Or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, the Seattle-based band took elements of the genre and proceeded to twist, turn, and eventually disfigure them to form a sound so unstructured, so harsh and yet so pleasing and rewarding that it actually produced something magnificent. The same characteristics that made them so unique in the past are still present on their second full-length titled Easter, yet somehow they’ve managed to top themselves in the process.

Musically, Easter doesn’t stray too far from the path that was laid on Oxeneers, but there are certainly new, greater elements in place. With the arrival of new drummer and producer Chris Common, the songs on Easter carry a ton of rhythmic weight especially when considering Brian Cook’s basslines. "Horse Girl" is a prime example of this as Cook’s basslines hit so hard it sounds like he replaced his strings with muscles and tendons that vibrate with excruciating force. Moreover, Ryan Frederickson’s guitar riffs are as sinewy and powerful as ever, driving songs such as "Subtle Body" and "Abracadabra" with his signature distortions. The former is one of the album’s longest tracks at six-minutes yet THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES never come close to attention-losing territory. The riffs and basslines, when combined with Steve Snere’s uncanny shouting, sound absolutely ferocious during the last minutes of the song, escalating into an array of noisy distortions. Because their songs rarely contain anything resembling a chorus, the songs on Easter are short on hooks but do feature plenty of memorable moments, whether it comes courtesy of Snere or not. "Horse Girl" succeeds purely because of its dueling riffs and basslines whereas "Deer Lodge" stands out as one of the album’s most complete tracks as the pulsating riffs, tempo changes, and Snere’s singing all cooperate to form one amazing adventure. "Perpetual Bris" is the oddest track on the album as Snere turns in his normal vocals for a less-harsh tone that, when paired with an acoustic background, sounds as if though it could have appeared on any MEWITHOUTYOU album. I suppose the song’s references to biblical topics such as Abraham, Lazarus, and shepards doesn’t diminish the comparison either (even if the two bands seem to have contrasting opinions). In a sense, "Perpetual Bris" acts as an intro to the relaxed beginning of "Coporeal." Almost seven-minutes in length, "Coporeal" contains over three-minutes of added music that technically goes nowhere, but acts as a form of epic closing material despite the fact that it isn’t the last song.

With Easter, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES take their often cynical outlook on social themes to the next level. Whereas Oxeneers was focused more on greed and the life as a banker, Easter weighs in on deeper themes such as religion, deserts, and ghosts, according to the band. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything of the sort in Snere’s mind-boggling lyrics. Often hidden in abstract metaphors not unlike THE BLOOD BROTHERS, Snere’s approach is often so obtuse that conclusions are hard to come by. However, there’s a certain sense of darkness and unhappiness that runs through the release, culminating with these cryptic words at the end of "Crazy Woman Dirty Train": "though it was love that pumped through these veins, I was also loved once/ once/ there is a gaping hole there now/ there is nothing inside of compassion, of happiness/ it’s all black, onyx black/ I cut like scissors, make the wound deeper, and I work the hole bigger till I can see bone, blood."

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES may not be the happiest band playing in the genre they apparently represent, yet the music composed on Easter does little to leave the listener unsatisfied. Bold, meticulous, and out-right spine-tingling, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES performance on Easter walks a path into unparalleled territory, something the band has done since there inception and will hopefully continue to do as they progress into a monstrous force.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [I]EASTER[/I] REVIEW

It’s always great to see people step out of the shadows of their former bands. These Arms Are Snakes bassist Brian Cook spent years playing in mathcore pioneers Botch, but after the initial rush of people judging his new band by the standards of his old band, the time has come for those comparisons to be squashed for good. Not even operating in a similar vein as Botch, their objective is to create something original and new. Didn’t bands forget how to do that years ago?

Of course, These Arms Are Snakes owe debts to noise rock bands that have come before them, such as Drive Like Jehu, but what they really excel at is taking those influences and melding them into a sound that is truly exciting. No song on Easter is a better example of their confidence than the opener, “Mescaline Eyes.” Like a suave ladies’ man on the prowl, the song swaggers into your brain with some downright viciously danceable riffing, keeping the energy up for nearly five minutes. A big strength that These Arms Are Snakes have is their ability to have disco-influenced beats without sounding like a Gang of Four rip-off, as so many bands do today. They have enough sensibility to know that if you’re going to put rhythms like that in your songs, you need to offer the listener an extra bonus on top of it. And they do that in spades. Guitarist Ryan Frederiksen assaults the listener with lots of hammer-on riffs that are always so perfectly crafted to fit what Brian Cook is putting down under him. Occasionally switching to a distorted organ only adds to their variety, as they never go over the top with it.

Also stepping out of his own shadow from Kill Sadie, Steve Snere has upped his worth in These Arms Are Snakes by turning in his best performance yet. For a vocalist that doesn’t play an instrument, Snere plays the biggest role he possibly can. He seems to have a highly educated understanding of how to put vocals to the sometimes challenging songs that his band writes. Only sporadically does he do a full-on scream, and when he does, it’s electric. His favored style is switching from a blistering yell in the intense parts to a drunken but determined snarl in the subdued parts. This works really well, especially when it’s delivering the best lyrics Snere has written so far, providing another unique aspect of their package.

These Arms Are Snakes deserve to be one of the biggest bands in the world. Despite their tendencies to push the noise element of their sound to the extreme, their songs remain relentlessly catchy and always memorable. Easter is by far the best recording they’ve done, both sonically and musically. It’s going to be hard for them to ever top this, but with how much they’ve grown since their first EP, they might just surprise us all again.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

We’re a nation at war. Not just at war in far-flung Middle-Eastern hellhole quagmires, either; that’s just one battle in a greater war, a war that’s fought each day on the home front, in polling places and public policy. It’s a battle that has 21st-centry liberal thinkers pitted against the bibles-and-banks agenda of the right and it’s much deeper than blue-state/red-state voting trends. It’s evolution versus creationism, stem cell research versus a dark-ages fear of science, gay marriage versus homophobia. It’s enlightenment versus faith, and whether you know it or not, you know exactly which side is yours.

These Arms Are Snakes’ second full-length, Easter (Jade Tree), leaves no doubt on which side of the bed the Seattle art-punk noisemakers sit. They’re checking the box that says "Enlightenment." Moving past the one-sided atheist arguments that traditionally pit punks against the notion of spirituality, Easter walks a more slippery slope, namely that spirituality in all its colors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the fundamentalist rank-and-file that’s so often confused with faith and devotion is a mortal sin no matter what your denomination.

That might sound like Easter is a call to compromise. It’s not. These Arms Are Snakes lay out an agenda that recognizes the enemy, right-wingers who dangle the threat of eternal damnation over the flock to serve as an engine to drive a socio-political agenda. With the enemy identified, Easter launches barrage after barrage against it. "Perpetual Bris" challenges believers to test their faith as the band (singer Steve Snere, guitarist Ryan Frederiksen, keyboardist/bassist Brian Cook and drummer Chris Common) back away from the clamorous post-hardcore of its past to mix acoustic guitar and atmospheric ambiences for a decidedly low-key number. "Child Chicken Play" offers buzzing guitars that recognize intensity isn’t merely a function of volumes to deliver a creepy tale of misplaced faith, while "Lady North" picks up the pile-driving dynamics and firebomb guitars to weave a tale of spiritual breakdown and a loss of faith. These Arms Are Snakes want listeners to question their beliefs, and questions, as we’ve been told by hundreds of years of theologians, is anathema to faith. The gauntlet’s thrown down.

While Easter takes on an issue that’s possibly the most divisive and fundamental one in today’s cultural landscape, These Arms Are Snakes are keeping the battle focused and close to home. Easter may challenge the lynchpin beliefs of everyone from Focus on the Family’s inner circle and the evangelical/Republican voting bloc to eager youth-group recruiters and Sunday-school devotees, but it has a more specific target in mind.

"It’s about Christians in the punk world. Christianity has become a big part of, I don’t even want to use the term ‘punk,’ but all these Christians tend to be into punk bands," guitarist Frederiksen complains. "It’s just more about questioning religion and questioning yourself and not just blindly following whatever it is people tell you to do."

If there’s a band that has the perspective to comment on faith’s slow, steady infiltration of the punk world, it’s These Arms Are Snakes. Although the act’s still relatively young — it first came together in Seattle in 2003 — its members aren’t new to the scene. Keyboardist/bassist Cook helped draw up the post-hardcore blueprint in Botch, which ran its course between 1993 and 2001, while front man Snere is one of seemingly dozens of Kill Sadie alumni who popped up since the hardcore act threw in the towel in 2001. The band members, whose ages hovers around the 30-year-old mark, have been around the block — several times, in fact — and know a thing or two about punk, hardcore and its atrophying allegiance to independent thought.

Although These Arms Are Snakes turns its ire toward the punk underground on Easter, the scene’s nothing but a microcosm of American culture. From attempts to slip religion into school curriculum through the backdoor of intelligent design to rabble-rousing to enforce a faith-based interpretation of marriage upon legal definitions of love, hard-lining Christians aren’t content to keep their beliefs to their faith. They’re pushing them into any venue that will accept it.

"This record was kind of a backlash on that for us," Frederiksen says. "That’s what Easter is about. It’s about how Christianity seeped into punk rock, which is strange in itself, because punk rock, in its ideals, was always against religion. A lot of Christianity just seeped its way into the mainstream the past couple years. That’s totally insane to all of us. This is kind of our reaction to it."

Easter loudly proclaims its defiance toward the Evangelical right on every twist and turn, but it also sneaks in another agenda, albeit a musical one: The quest to keep the underground fresh, challenging and interesting. Where the band’s previous effort, Oxeneers, or the Lion Sleeps When the Antelope Go Home (2004, Jade Tree) reveled in angular guitars and noisy bursts of tortured rhythms, Easter showcases a band that’s grown weary of the race for hardcore bands to become the fastest, hardest, most spastic outfit on the block. TAAS still maintains a love for juggernaut post-hardcore riffs of its members’ previous outfits, but it supplements them with melodic, quiet stretches that don’t just make its louds seem louder by comparison. They also add textures, depth and dynamics almost universally lost in the post-hardcore arms race to become the loudest, baddest band on the block.

That approach to post-hardcore’s a marked change away from the increasingly juvenile sounds pandered by most of today’s acts. What was once a scene dominated by artistically minded punks making a conscious effort to escape the confines of the punk world’s expectations is now just another facet of the scene’s codified caste system.

Easter yanks post-hardcore out of the hands of geeky high-school scenesters and MySpace centurions. In fact, it’s one of those rare punk albums that sit better with fans who’ve reached their mid-20s better than the stereotypical hoodrat punk kid. The flavors of maturity that color the album are no coincidence Frederiksen explains.

"I turn 30 in a couple months," he says. "You start getting a little more jaded as you get older. It’s like ‘Where the fuck are the good bands? This fucking sucks!’ I just feel jaded by all these younger bands and all these little kids playing shit music. I’m totally jaded."

Maybe not totally jaded. After all, Frederiksen and company haven’t jumped ship and fled the punk scene yet. They’re making punk rock that’s as vital and artistic as anything else out there. That alone should be enough to scrape the frost off any jaded scenester’s heart.

The fact that These Arms Are Snakes have been able to build an audience of their peers — the sort of twentysomething and thirtysomething weaned, then soured on punk — should be an even better reason to warm your heart. There’s a troubling trend of aging punk veterans taking the stage and playing to audiences made up of fans half their age. Easter transcends the teenage thrills that hold most punk acts together, to find a sound that connects with These Arms Are Snakes’ peers.

"It’s weird, I just overheard Jordan from the Blood Brothers saying that they’ve been a band for 10 years now and their audience has not changed in age," Frederiksen says. "It’s been, when they started out, it was kids the same age as them, and then 10 years later, it’s kids still that age. It’s a bit disheartening because you want your audience to grow with you. I just don’t know why that doesn’t happen. Maybe other people get jaded before 30. Maybe they get jaded and move on. I think we kind of have a bit of an older audience which is awesome, but the problem is, they don’t buy anything!"

Easter revives the spirit, if not the exact sound, of classic punk. It draws a line, takes a side and forces listeners to do the same. It’s unabashedly liberal and humanist. Best of all, it’s not rehashing the same three chords again and again. When a band does that, there’s no questioning which side of the cultural war it enlists. TAAS is here for enlightenment.

But how realistic is it to hope for the pendulum to swing away from the religious tomfoolery that’s colored everything from the domestic agenda to the punk scene in recent years? Is These Arms’ message going to get heard?

Whether or not the band’s heard, change is inevitable, Frederiksen predicts. Politics will shift with fickle voters just as music and fashion trends will move on. The culture wars will rage on, and, after losing ground to a faith-based agenda, rational humanism will once again gain ground — and help bring balance back to the punk world.

"I think it’s going to come back around," he says. "I think it’s been such a shitty couple years for Bush, I think the backlash is on its way. Hopefully the next election, we’ll see a huge shift in politics and in turn, that’ll shift back to music and stuff as well.

"I think it is just a cool commodity kind of thing," Frederiksen says. "I think the cool thing to do is to be "into punk rock" for little kids. Eventually, that’s going to turn and people aren’t going to give a shit about these mainstream punk bands anymore. That’s exactly what they are, they’re mainstream. The mainstream is going to go a different direction and we’ll still be here."

GUILTY PLEASURES

Ours
Lifting weights
I know what you’re thinking: Since when is exercise a guilty pleasure? But bear with me for a minute here. I’ve spent the past few years of my life enmeshed in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. The underbelly, if you will. Pretty unhealthy place. When I’m not writing about bands, I’m playing in one. It’s the type of music usually performed by wispy, androgynous, stick-figure boys who stay up all night smoking and drinking too much, even — gasp! — inhaling every now and again. The only difference with me is, when the haze passes, I’m up at the gym the next day . And the next day. Compulsively. Now, the natural enemy of rock bands everywhere is the steakhead, those overly muscled guys in white baseball hats famous for their insensitivity to the nuances of indie rock, fashion, and all manner of taste. In the rock scene, where looking the part means almost everything, you can imagine the disconnect I feel. Almost as if having muscles were some betrayal of the rock ‘n’ roll code. But ultimately, like most artificial constructs, style is pretty meaningless. I can promise you, listening to Morrissey or the Decemberists or Cat Power will still break your heart, whether you’re alone in your bedroom or in the middle of a bench press.

Theirs (Ryan Frederiksen of the Seattle punk band These Arms Are Snakes )
Third Eye Blind
Do you remember that movie "Can’t Hardly Wait" ? Yeah, me too. I couldn’t wait for another Third Eye Blind (you heard me) song to come on the soundtrack, because I think they just put every damn song on there from that self-titled masterpiece. I even went so far as to claim "I was out of my head" on a trip to New York just to justify buying it. I needed it. I defy you to listen to "Never Let You Go" [from the album "Blue"] and tell me that’s not a brilliant song.

These Arms Are Snakes play the Middle East Upstairs tomorrow night. Doors at 8; $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Got a guilty pleasure you’d like to share? E-mail guiltypleasures.sidekick@gmail.com.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES: A STUDY IN ANATOMY GONE WRONG

After listening to Seattle foursome These Arms are Snakes’ raucous new album Easter, several thoughts will no doubt resonate in everyone’s minds: firstly, who are these intriguingly noisy rockers, why do they have snakes instead of arms, and most importantly, what exactly is the relationship between "suspect animism, impending otherworldly doom and the ethereal battle between virtue and ruin," as their MySpace page declares? "Oh" laughed guitarist Ryan Frederiksen, "[that] was mostly written by the publicist!…the writer went nuts. It’s totally rhetorical".

Spawned from the ashes of their former bands Kill Sadie and Minus the Bear, These Arms are Snakes is a powerful testament to all things heavy, abrasive and experimental. Critics repeatedly characterize their sound as post-hardcore (and their verbose publicist agrees), but elements of punk and industrial are also alluded to. "I can see the punk aspect, because [our music is] obnoxious, but I can’t say I see the industrial side of it. I don’t know why [people would say that], it’s not like we’re Ministry" remarked Frederiksen. Ministry they are not, but similar acts such as At the Drive-In and The Blood Brothers draw a close comparison. Call them hardcore, call them punk, but if you really want Frederiksen to like you, call them Abba. "NO!!" wailed Frederiksen with a laugh. Rather, Led Zeppelin is for him the highest praise you could ever bestow on them.

Despite coming from different bands and cities, the four eventually all got together in Seattle. "I’ve known [bassist] Brian for a long time, both our previous bands used to play together" said Frederisksen. "[Vocalist] Steve moved to Seattle with his old band, and that’s how we met him. Then all those bands broke up [by now] we went through four drummers We met [current drummer and producer] Chris through Minus the Bear. He moved to Seattle, we asked him to join, and he kindly obliged". Brian Cook, along with Frederiksen, take on dual roles of keyboardist and organist.

In 2003, the band released their debut full-length Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When its Antelope Go Home, followed by the 5 track EP This Is Meant to Hurt You. Three years later, Easter took shape, an album that promises to differ in that it is paradoxically more structured yet experimental: "We spent a lot more time writing and recording this time around, we actually had a real drummer, a phenomenal drummer; he helped us. We spent more time in the studio, [had] more time to reflect on songs, and if it wasn’t working we had the time to change it." That the album title connotes re-birth and renewal although the band described the record as "hostile", makes it clear that the notion of contradiction is something the band consciously wants to interpolate into the album. "This is the paradox. This record is a little more confrontational. Things have gone a little strangely in the punk rock world, Christianity made its way into the mainstream [it] seems ironic to us, a little weird. I guess this is our answer to that. We touch loosely on all religion, a lot of those subjects. [We] took the idea behind Oxeneers and delved a little further into the darker side of things."

Indeed, a lot of what These Arms Are Snakes do is rather somber, musically and lyrically, but this certainly doesn’t detract from the craftsmanship, which is tight, intricately layered and produced to near perfection. Equally impressive is the actual diversity of all 12 tracks, so you don’t risk losing interest too quickly. A song like "Horse Girl" rages with continual momentum while "Hell’s Bank Notes" provides a quiet 45 second mid-album interlude of sorts until the last second when "Abracadabraca" seriously explodes likes a dysfunctional clown crashing a children’s party. The only real deviation from the heavy formula is the acoustic "Perpetual Bris", a calmer piece filled with haunting organs and Biblically-referenced lyrics.

If you can’t tell already, Frekeriksen is a funny, laid-back kind of guy. In fact, with a band name such as theirs, it’s difficult to think that any of these guys take themselves too seriously, which begs the question: which one of them is the anatomical phenomenon with snakes instead of arms? "All of us! It’s very useful" Frederiksen said. "Other times, not so much. We all fully represent!" Given the unanimous success the band has seen with Easter, clearly it’s time to ditch band practice and go get yourself some snakes for arms!

These Arms Are Snakes play le Petite Campus Oct. 28.

57 Prince Arthur East.
Opening Acts:

Young Widows
Mouth of the Architect

Tickets are $13

THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES [i]EASTER[/i] REVIEW

Easter, the second and highly anticipated full-length from These Arms Are Snakes, is finally upon us. But just how anticipated was this album? Well it is no coincidence that the album leaked to the Internet three months prior to its official release date. It’s also no coincidence that every review that I’ve read has been written by a journalist smitten by Easter. People love this band, a lot. I am no different; I have been dreamy-eyed with These Arms Are Snakes since hearing This is Meant to Hurt You and am just as infatuated now as ever before.

It is often said that the first song on an album sets the tone for everything that follows. Though I doubt These Arms are Snakes took this into consideration, they really know how to get things rolling. These Arms Are Snakes begin with “Mescaline Eyes,” a nearly five-minute track composed of everything that makes this band so damn good: Ryan Frederiksen’s angular guitar notes, the vibrant bass playing of Brian Cook, tasteful drumming provided by newcomer and producer Chris Common that is never too overbearing but always prevalent, a variety of keyboard and guitar effects adding a whole other dimension to the sound, and Steve Snere’s emotive vocals – both sung and soft-spoken – that add to the atmosphere and mood created by the music. There is even a unique solo – it appears to be a combination of guitars, bass, and keys – at the halfway mark of the song that brought to mind 70′s psychedelic rock or recent stoner-metal groups like Witch.

“Horse Girl” follows with a bit more upbeat tempo than the preceding song. Common did an excellent job highlighting the bass work of Cook, which is what I feel is the distinguishing element of These Arms Are Snakes’ sound. Another interesting turn of events is in the latter portion of the song where Snere lets lose some intense screams. This is a little out of character for him, but it’s an addition that, if used more in the future, could take the band to a whole other level.

The highlight moment of Easter comes in the form of “Subtle Body.” The song opens with a rather ominous vibe provided by Cook’s keys. After that opening sequence, Cook’s bassplaying takes over and leads the music towards its final destination. His work on bass is truly impeccable throughout this song and the entire album for that matter. It is perfectly accented by Frederiksen’s guitars, which transition through a variety of different styles – twisting one moment, atmospheric the next – over the course of the song. At times its almost as though the two are dancing with each other.

This is followed up by “Desert Ghost,” an instrumental interlude that is comprised of a simple drum arrangement and keys that almost sound like bells. Mixed amongst the two is a multitude of swirling noise effects. These Arms Are Snakes throw in another interlude later, “Hell’s Bank Notes.” This one, however, is essentially nothing more than spaced-out atmospheric noise that elevates in volume as the seconds run off.

By now, as a seasoned fan of These Arms Are Snakes, I can say that I’ve got some idea of what the typical style of the band is. “Child Chicken Play” and “Abracadabra” are good examples of this, the latter of which is quite reminiscent of the sound found on Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When its Antelopes Go Home. But it is nice to see the band experiment with styles outside of those boundaries, even if they are hypothetical ones that I drew up myself. “Perpetual Bris,” is an acoustic number that features the use of an accordion (can’t remember the last time I heard one of those in music that wasn’t polka), something I never really would have guessed them to experiment with. It actually sounds quite a bit like brother-band Roy. The song also features the vocal talents of Cook; its really intriguing when the main vocalist allows one of his fellow band members handle the vocal duties. Cook’s contribution is different, but it still evokes great emotion; I was quite pleased with how the song came out.

On the other hand we have the album closer, “Crazy Woman Dirty Train.” It is here that These Arms Are Snakes are at their most frantic and urgent. Midway through there is a series of repeating riffs as Snere yells out repeatedly “Though it was love that once pumped through these veins, I was also loved once. Once.” Then the band cuts loose; the pace quickens to a rate I’ve never heard them perform at as Snere shouts out his words. And then it all falls apart into a mathy breakdown of highly distorted bass, keys, and guitars. It’s really a feat that needs to be heard; I know my words aren’t doing it justice.

Lyrically, Snere writes in a rather obtuse format. His thoughts seem to be a series of standards thoughts and metaphors arranged in a James Joyce inspired stream of consciousness. And while they are not nearly as bad as The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, they still remain rather vague in their meaning. It’d be an interesting conversation to sit down with Snere to decipher the words’ true meaning, especially since his vocals come off as though they are saying so much more than just the words that roll of his tongue. I actually feel bad for not understanding them at times.

Easter is truly a listening experience. Regardless of how it rates in comparison to These Arms Are Snakes’ other material, Easter is an outstanding record, one that should not be passed up by anyone.

9.0/10