On Tour: Hot Snakes | 03.14.18

w/Meat Wave and Duchess Says | The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar Blvd. | All ages | $22 advance, $27 day of show

Any discussion about Hot Snakes usually starts with guitarist John Reis and guitarist/vocalist Rick Froberg. High school classmates, their musical partnership started in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s with a band called Pitchfork and continued with the way before their time Drive Like Jehu.[1]   In 1995, after releasing two LPs and a 7”, the band stopped playing shows, though they never officially broke up.

While Reis kept busy musically with Rocket from the Crypt and other side projects, the Reis/Froberg collaboration went silent for four years before it started up again with the aforementioned Snakes.

In their initial six years of existence, Hot Snakes released three studio LPs, a Peel Session, and a live performance on Australian radio. And while they did tour in support of those releases, St. Louis was skipped over both times, so there are no apocryphal memories from their blowout at Rocket Bar. Nor were there recollections of sweating off five pounds at the Creepy Crawl or the Hi-Pointe. Zero.

They did, however, play Lawrence, KS, both times.[2] Yes, regional pride does exist even in the world of booking punk rock shows. Unfortunately, St. Louis didn’t get another chance as Hot Snakes broke up in 2005. Reis returned to side projects and running his Swami Records label. Froberg, meanwhile, continued was graphic design work while he played in and recorded three LPs with the Brooklyn outfit The Obits.

But then in 2011, Hot Snakes returned as a live act. Not exactly a full touring schedule, but definitely a mortgage-core[3] schedule. The band hit the festival circuit, both at home and abroad, and played one-off gigs in larger or prestige cities. And then in late summer 2014, Jehu happened.

On a Sunday night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego, Drive Like Jehu played a show with Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams in celebration of the venue’s 99 years. Close to 2000 people came out that night to see a band that many (read: ME) thought would never play again. It was quite the return.

Whether the band meant it to be a one-off or whether the group was testing the waters in a no pressure situation, the offers for more shows flew in and Jehu was back.  Thusly, Hot Snakes schedule diminished.  Eventually, however, Hot Snakes returned to the studio and recorded enough material for multiple LPs.

On March 16, Sub Pop Records will release Jericho Sirens. Bassist Gar Wood, on the label’s website, stated, “We wanted to come out with this one using the more mainstream sounding stuff to give people a chance to catch up.”[4]

I’ve heard the new disc and, in this case, Wood’s statement means Hot Snakes aren’t screwing with formula just yet. Jericho Sirens is more of what Hot Snakes has done wonderfully in the past. Three minute bursts of Wipers worship and repeat.

To paraphrase an old football coach, “Be a tomorrow person, not a yesterday person.”  Meaning: Don’t dwell too much on yesterday and focus your efforts on tomorrow.

While I MIGHT bring up egos bruised fifteen years ago, I am willing to guess that most folks don’t remember nor care about the past. This is a healthy and productive mindset to have.

For area Hot Snakes fans, tomorrow arrives on March 14, as St. Louis has, for one night at least, Hot Snakes all to themselves. With them is the stylistically similar Meat Wave (Chicago) and the stylistically not similar Duchess Says (Gainesville, FL). Crank it or spank it, St. Louis.[5] | David Lichius



[1]   Drive Like Jehu were great, like one of my top five bands ever great. Refer to the magic Google machine for evidence. SERIOUSLY, someone seriously put together a two-hour podcast on iTunes about the history of the band.  It’s called Do You Compute?  It was done by Vish Khanna. He of the Kreative Kontrol Podcast, which was named after a Hot Snakes song of the same name. How many bands who released only two LPS and a 7” and have a 120-minute podcast about them done by a dude in Toronto?

[2] I know, because I took days off from work and made the trip cross state both times to see them and wrote about the 2004 show for the Mother and Father of this  site, PLAYBACK:stl.

[3] I first heard this term used by Jay Ryan (he of Chicago’s wonderful Dianogah) to describe the genre of his recent band, Whelms.  Dudes, who used to be young, now with kids and house payments, still playing rock outside of their actual mortgage-paying jobs.

[4] This is a perfectly constructed press release quote. I could end up being wrong, but it sounds like Hot Snakes might move in different directions on future releases. Smart to not mess up fan expectations quite yet.

[5] That is what is referred to as an Easter egg.

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