These Arms Are Snakes Interview


Band tightens sound, creates a sinister aura

The ambient versus the straight forward. It’s what separates the mainstream from the underground at times. No one ever said an artist can’t be creative while keeping their audience at bay and tightening their sound.

Two full lengths deep, These Arms Are Snakes have just released their next record Tail Swallower and Dove, and according to bassist Brian Cook, while on tour this past summer pulling bass duties with Russian Circles, said These Arms Are Snakes’ new disc would be more “to-the-point.”

“It’s something we did consciously,” says guitarist Ryan Fredericksen. “We did the extreme jigsaw puzzle where we had about five parts to a song and it was just arranged extremely complicated. This time around we want to just chew away some of the fat and take a more direct approach to it and just kind of tie it down.”

Fredericksen isn’t lying. Though the album clocks in under just a few minutes of the last two records, There’s not much space to breath. Fredericksen even solos on three tracks, something new to him.

What’s most notable about the new sound is how dense, yet dynamic, everything is. The opener, “Woolen Heirs,” seems like another long form for the band, but every instrument is heard, and Snere’s voice is as melodic as it has ever been. The closing “Briggs” is also a crescendo builder that doesn’t explode, but falls straight off the cliff, like a build up a mountain and a settled sense of accomplishment.

Besides the brick of sound that lies across Dove, vocalist Steve Snere has changed his voice into a mechanical force, sounding just like another layer of the house that Snakes built.

Snere spent more time at home, with demo versions of the new songs, singing into a laptop. He played around with vocal effects, and orchestrated and mapped out his sound before going into the studio.

“I had been stuck in what I’ve been doing for awhile,” he says. It’s Snere’s day off, and he’s relaxing a bit before the band’s CD release show and embarking across the Atlantic for a full European tour in support of the new record. “It just felt like I wanted to evolve a little bit and do some more singing, and push myself a little bit more to do something different.”

Snere says the guys in the band were a bit “stand offish” when he started recording, but they were more than happy with the final product.

He also says the band was trying to get the vibe that early post-punk bands had created. “We wanted that sinister kind of sound.”

Fredericksen says Snere records his vocals after the music is done, but has his own ideas as far as arranging. “We wanted to make [our music] as interesting and dynamic as possible, and I never think we’ll be able to shake that.” he says in regards to the tighten sound of the new record.

Fredericksen cites recording conflict as another reason for the mapping of the new record. “It was kind of a jigsaw falling into place as we record it,” he says refering to previous records. “This time we were a bit more prepared. Now are bringing back kind of the straight forward punk aspect.”

While most of the other albums possessed certain themes, Dove is no different, but hard to pigeonholed. Snere started reading a lot on theology and mythology and says things just started to click.

“It’s the basic idea of spiritual being,” he says. “There’s a ton of that going through the record. Contemplating who we are, and that was the vibe I was tending to write about more. Some songs don’t touch on that, but that was the general idea.”

Snere says the songs that do center around the theme are more personal than ever. “This is me working out where I stand in my life. It’s more religious without being religious in some ways. It’s more about the big questions like, ‘What happens when I die?’ or ‘Is there something more I should be looking for in my life?'”

Cook is also pulling many duties across the record as well. Fredericksen says Cook played guitar, bass, keyboard and did back-up vocals. “We’ve always written collectively. We each have our own pepper to add to the process. All of us together, it creates one thing creative but not four separate, and that idea will always sound like [us].”

[photo: Robin Laananen]


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