Sunday, December 13, 2009


Originally published in: Chord Magazine

Random thoughts: A really good band who I remember being excited to interview, just on the basis that their music was so interesting and it wasn't another Warped Tour interview (this was around the same time I was interviewing multiple Warped Tour bands for Chord.... uggh).

These Arms Are Snakes
A different kind of Easter

By Jason Schreurs

One of the most noticeable things on Easter, the latest from Seattle art-noise rockers These Arms Are Snakes, is the expansive guitar work of Ryan Frederiksen. He’s a bit of a guitar god on this, their second album, with an impressive array of solos, crazy noise sections, and melodic interludes.
“Um,” chuckles Frederiksen, “thanks… I think. I made a conscious effort to not do the exact same things I did last time. It was important for all of us not to rewrite [2004’s] Oxeneers. We got to demo a lot of this record and it enabled us to take a step back and decide what worked and what didn’t. As a result I got to think about my guitar parts a lot more.”
Another big difference on Easter is the variation among the 12 songs. Oxeneers felt a little samey, but this one is all over the place in sonic experimentation.
“It was way more thought out,” explains Frederiksen. “We made a conscious effort to slow some parts down here and there, and we tried to make it as varied as possible, whereas Oxeneers was all go, all the time.”
It helped that the band had a new recruit within their ranks. Drummer Chris Common joined Frederiksen, vocalist Steve Snere (ex-Killsadie), and bassist Brian Cook (ex-Botch), bringing more than just his drum sticks into the studio. Turns out the band not only landed a new member, but also a worthy producer. Common and his new band teamed up to record the album in Seattle at Red Room Recording.
“We had a lot more time with this record and actually having a real drummer this time around, when we didn’t before, we were able to say, ‘Well, this record seems to be lacking this sort of song… maybe a little breather here. We should consciously explore that and write something.’ It was just a little more prepared when we went into the studio to actually record it.”
While past fill-in drummers included Minus the Bear’s Erin Tate and ex-Harkonen dude Ben Verellen, These Arms Are Snakes are excited to finally have a permanent skin-beater, especially one of Common’s caliber.
“He’s a phenomenal fucking drummer,” gushes Frederiksen. “He has insane technical ability and he’s able to really wrap his head around a part. He brings tons of ideas to the table without being too over the top. It’s a perfect fit.”
Despite the changes, fans of These Arms Are Snakes can still expect angular, challenging arrangements and piercing Snere screams. Another thing intact is that eerie feeling given off by the classic albums by Chicago noise rock purveyors The Jesus Lizard. We’re not talking copycat at all; just a similar sound and vibe.
“I loooove The Jesus Lizard and that definitely comes through in my playing,” confirms Frederiksen. “Yeah, I’ve always loved that band, and continue to love that band.”
A deep admiration of such a monumental band is one thing, but it must be a little difficult being constantly compared to other bands, especially considering These Arms Are Snakes are still creating a sound very much their own.
“It’s an honor, but we do have our own thing going on, so I don’t think about it too much. Obviously The Jesus Lizard have a big place in my heart musically, but I also have a huge hole in my heart for bands like Doves, who I try to take a similar approach to. It’s not like we sit there and figure out how to play their songs and then say, ‘Alright, let’s change one note and then it won’t be us ripping it off,’” laughs Frederiksen. “We just try to take similar approaches and ideas to songs, and then apply our own ideas to them.”
Being part of the Seattle scene is something the band relishes, with many great bands currently coming out of a town notorious for its music over the years.
“It’s definitely a great place right now for music. It’s flourishing,” says Frederiksen. “It became dormant there for awhile, no bands were really doing much of anything, and it sucks that we lost bands like Botch and Murder City Devils. But so many bands just popped up out of those ashes, and more and more people started moving to Seattle.”
One band in particular has always shared a kinship with These Arms Are Snakes, and that’s Minus the Bear. Members of the two bands are the best of friends.
“We’ve all shared bands with them in the past. It’s good to be lumped in with those guys. It’s an honor because those guys are all awesome.”
But are the feelings mutual?
“Um,” laughs Frederiksen, “well, you’d have to ask them…”

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