These Arms Are Snakes

posted by / Sounds / January 6, 2008

We wish you could see them live. It’s a sweaty, energetic and often-bloody ode to ‘70’s stage demons like Iggy Pop. Aggression at its saliva flying best. With a sound that is both virtuosic and thrashy. (Think Beethoven collaborating with At the Drive-In). Each song is tug-of-war stalemate between snarling vocals and hostile guitar riffs. Tension building rock that threatens to snapback at any point. It’s music that’s meant to hurt you. –Travis Ferr

SURFING MAGAZINE: HOW DID THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES COME TOGETHER?
RYAN FREDERKISEN: Well, we got together about five years ago now and started playing together after the demise of our other bands Botch and Kill Sadie. We recorded a demo of songs and just sent it out to some labels we knew about like Hydrahead. Then, being the geniuses that we are we didn’t put any contact info in any of the packages. We just sent them out and said, “Here ya go.” Luckily Jade Tree Records ended up tracking us down through a mutual friend here in Seattle and they seemed the most interested and ended up signing us. Now we’ve been writing and touring ever since.

HOW DID YOU GUYS AGREE ON THE STYLE OF MUSIC YOU PLAY?
That was a little difficult at first. It took us quite a while to actually figure out the first couple songs. We didn’t really know what we wanted to do yet. We just kept f—king around with different ideas and ultimately what ended up happening was we’d write one riff and then it would take us about a month to write one song. Just going from one riff to the next riff and just trying to figure out who likes it and who doesn’t. Early on everyone’s kind of timid so nobody wants to step on anyone’s toes. It becomes quite a long and arduous process. But eventually, riff-by-riff, it came out and became what it is. It’s gets easier after that. Now nobody’s timid anymore.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SOUND?
I’d say we’re a rock band that’s got punk ideals behind it. It’s weird because it depends who you talk to. It’s different for everyone. A lot of Brian’s influences come from bands like No Use For a Name and No Means No. There’s a lot of stuff like that in his playing. But a lot of my favorite bands are like Zeppelin, Jesu and The Jesus Lizard, which I think comes through a lot, too.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIVE SHOW.
We’re usually pretty crazy live. Somebody always gets hurt. More often than not it’s either Steve or me. We’ve broken ribs before and once I accidentally hit him in the head with my guitar and he was bleeding all over the place. We just like to have fun and go a little crazy. I think our music kind of suits it.

YOU GUYS SEEM TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON THE ROAD. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU ENJOY –– BEING OUT FOR SO LONG?
Yeah, definitely. With this most recent record we did, which came out like a year ago, we kind of tried to keep it down a little bit more and its funny that I say that because it doesn’t rally make sense because this will be our 3rd U.S. tour we’ve done, there were two European tours and we’ve been to Japan and Australia this year. So it doesn’t really make much sense. I guess we try to be just a little smarter about how we tour. Before we just said yes to anything and everything. So we’d be in the U.S. for like a year and a half and then do Europe for six months straight. So we just tried to be smarter about it, we broke it up a lot more this time and kept it in smaller chunks

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR VAN.
We’re giving up on it. Spartacus, That it’s name. It’s sitting in front of my house right now, actually. She doesn’t do so well anymore. We’ve had her for almost as long as this bands been around. We’ve put over {{{200}}},000 miles on it, put two transmissions in, tworadiators and multiple water pumps. On the last U.S. tour we did with Mastodon it broke down four times during one tour. It’s been stolen. Lets see what else. Most recently we tried to go to Portland in it and it broke down outside of our practice space. We couldn’t even get it out of Seattle. We had to have it towed separately because it had a trailer attached to it as well, and its illegal to tow anything with a trailer in the state of Washington. So we had to call two tow trucks and have the trailer towed to my house and the van towed to the repair place we take it to. We left it there on a Friday, they didn’t get to it until Monday and they called me up and said yea we don’t know what your guys are talking about it starts up perfectly forus. So we finally gave up on it. We had to get rid of her.

WHAT ARE YOU GUYS GONNA BE RIDING IN NOW?
We’re renting from a guy that has a two van rental thing here in Seattle and we’ll have our trailer with us. We thought we were going to be crammed in there like a very small band with all of our shit, but its got a trailer hitch so well be alright. It’s reliable so we can’tcomplain.

WHEN YOU GUYS ARE ON THE ROAD FOR SO LONG WHAT DO YOU GUYS DO TO STAY OCCUPIED?
I guess everybody reads and listens to music. Well, with our van after it got stolen they stole the stereo as well, so we had one of those little mini I-pod connector things that you couldn’t really hear anyway so we tried to blast that, but it wouldn’t really work, so the driver usually drove in silence. And then everybody’s got laptops at this point so just watch movies or whatever. As far as music we’re listening to lately, I just went and saw Joanna Newsome and she played with a huge orchestra, I don’t know how many people were in it, but it was amazing. That’s kind of all I’ve been listening to regularly

SO WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU GUYS?
Back to Seattle, and then were going to keep writing. We’re doing like a couple one off shows in Chicago and Austin in December and then we’re gonna try and record sometime early next year. We thought we could start recording in December but we just have too much going on. Like Brian, he’s also helping write and record with this band called Russian Circles. They start recording in the beginning of December so that kind of kicks us out of it a little bit.

WHAT’S YOU GUYS RECORDING PROCESS LIKE?
We usually try to write as much as we can before we go in. We like to do some kind of improv stuff or just have a basic skeleton for a few songs when we go into the studio. That way it kind of makes us think a lot less about what were actually trying to put down making it a little more natural. It kind of keeps it fresh for us as well. Weusually try to have like eight songs totally done and then do like three or four in the studio.

IS THE SEATTLE SURF SCENE ANYTHING LIKE THE MUSIC SCENE?
Actually we do have surf. You have to go out to a place on the OlympicPeninsula called La Push. From what I hear it gets pretty f—ing good. I haven’t been out there before but my brother goes quite a bit and he loves it.

Easter
(2007, Jade Tree Records)
Hostile. Venomous. And addicting. This album bites the curb and then asks for more. Listen to it before you surf and you’re bound to get in over your head. http://www.myspace.com/thesearmsaresnakes

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