These Arms Are Snakes

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These Arms Are Snakes
These Arms Are Snakes live.jpg
These Arms Are Snakes performing live in Barcelona. Visible are vocalist Steve Snere and drummer Chris Common.
Background information
Origin Seattle, Washington, USA
Genres Mathcore, experimental rock, math rock, art punk
Years active 2002 (2002)–2009
Labels Suicide Squeeze, Jade Tree
Associated acts Minus the Bear, Botch, Kill Sadie, Nineironspitfire, Crypts, Narrows, Russian Circles
Website thesearmsaresnakes.org
Past members Chris Common
Brian Cook
Ryan Frederiksen
Joe Preston
Jesse Robertson
Steve Snere
Erin Tate
Ben Verellen

These Arms Are Snakes was an American mathcore band that formed in 2002 and featured former members of Botch and Kill Sadie. The band was known for their intense live shows, which often feature vocalist Steve Snere crowd surfing and spending a large portion of the live performance in the audience. Before disbanding in 2009, they released three studio albums: Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home (2004), Easter (2006) and Tail Swallower and Dove (2008). Former members of These Arms Are Snakes currently play in Russian Circles, Narrows, Minus the Bear, Crypts, and Hooves.

They toured with such notable bands as Minus the Bear, Big Business, Mastodon, Cursive, The Blood Brothers, Engine Down, Hot Water Music, Isis, Pelican, Chiodos, and Against Me!.

History[edit]

Formation (2002–2003)[edit]

The band formed as a five-piece supergroup of sorts (though rarely referred to as such) in 2002 with Steve Snere of Kill Sadie, Brian Cook of Botch, and Ryan Frederiksen of Nineironspitfire in addition to Joe Preston and Jesse Robertson.[1] They chose the name "These Arms Are Snakes" as their band name because it was "ridiculous and [didn't] really sound like any other band name that's out there."[2] The group announced that they had signed to Jade Tree Records in March 2003,[3] and released their debut EP This Is Meant to Hurt You in August of that year.[1] This was the only release with a full-time keyboardist, as Jesse Robertson left the band in 2004 after having differences in opinion about the group's touring style.[4] They continued as a four-piece band from this point forward. Before recording their follow-up album to This Is Meant to Hurt You, Joe Preston also left the group and was replaced by Erin Tate who played in Kill Sadie with Steve Snere and Minus the Bear.[1] Preston and other members of These Arms Are Snakes got into a van accident with a semi-truck following his farewell show.[5]

Oxeneers (2004–2005)[edit]

Losing a full-time keyboardist had an impact on their sound and stage performance, though Cook would still occasionally perform keys throughout the remainder of the group's existence. According to Ryan Frederiksen, this move opened up more space on stage allowing them to "run free across the whole stage," allowing for a more intense live show.[4] The loss of Robertson also allowed These Arms Are Snakes to focus on their overall sound and create "stripped-down, spacious arrangements."[4] These changes impacted their debut full-length Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home (often referred to more simply as either The Lion Sleeps or Oxeneers) released though Jade Tree in September 2004.

In support of Oxeneers, These Arms Are Snakes joined the "Totally Badical Tour" with headliner Underoath and openers The Chariot, Hopesfall, and Fear Before the March of Flames.[6] The band was not warmly received on this tour. Audience members bought merchandise, though according to the group this felt more like an "empty gesture."[7] Band members also experienced friction between themselves and some of the other bands on the tour. Underoath is composed of Christian band members that would openly express their thoughts on religion and politics and would frequently conflict with the ideals of These Arms Are Snakes.[8]

These Arms Are Snakes followed up their debut album with Like a Virgin, a split EP with Seattle group Harkonen through Hydra Head Records.[5] The EP featured two new tracks from both bands, and one track written and performed by both groups. This would be the second and final release with drummer Erin Tate, who was replaced by Ben Verellen in 2005 before going on tour with Minus the Bear.[9]

Easter (2006–2007)[edit]

Verellen quit the band without an explanation given in 2005, and was quickly replaced by drummer and producer Chris Common.[10] Ben Verellen would later go on to form his own amplifier company called Verellen Amplifiers.[11][12] The group's previous conflicts with Underoath would loosely inspire their second studio album, Easter, released through Jade Tree in 2006.[8] While These Arms Are Snakes weren't trying to make a public statement about organized religion, themes about religion (most notably on "Perpetual Bris") were present. A more prominent lyrical theme throughout Easter was vocalist Steve Snere trying to examine the "bigger picture" of life and existence.[8][13]

At the end of 2006, they toured in support of their new album with Thrice, Planes Mistaken for Stars, Mouth of the Architect and Young Widows.[14] In early 2007, These Arms Are Snakes did a small headlining tour in Europe with various bands, and returned to America to open for Against Me! and Mastodon.[15]

Tail Swallower and Dove (2008–2009)[edit]

For their third studio album, These Arms Are Snakes signed to Suicide Squeeze Records—a label that far better supported the band than their previous record label, Jade Tree.[7] Over their former label, they praised Suicide Squeeze's treatment of the band and ability to market and sell records, in addition to being with more familiar groups like Minus the Bear.[16] Tail Swallower and Dove was released in October 2008. It was again produced by Chris Common and was only recorded in one month—the shortest recording period of an album for the group.[16] The album was seen as a departure from their more hardcore-sounding songs and took a more experimental approach, and also more traditional song structures.[2][16]

During this period, These Arms Are Snakes also released a number of split releases. They released PLCN/TAAS, a split release with Pelican through Hydra Head. A limited edition 12" split with Cook's side project Russian Circles was released on tour, and a split with Tropics, Meet Your Mayor / Future Gets Tense was also made in limited quantities. The band's final release before disbanding was a split single with All the Saints, which was originally released as a limited edition 7" vinyl through Touch and Go Records, but later released as a digital download.[7][17] Their contributed track "Washburn" was recorded during the Tail Swallower and Dove sessions.[7]

Break up (2009–2010)[edit]

On December 25, 2009 These Arms Are Snakes announced that they had broken up.[18] Though the announcement was made in 2010, the band had been inactive since late 2009 with most of the members focusing on their respective side projects and other groups. Guitarist Ryan Frederiksen formed Narrows with former Botch vocalist Dave Verellen and released their debut album New Distances in May 2009. Bassist Brian Cook continued work in Russian Circles and released their third album Geneva in October 2009. Prior to disbanding, These Arms Are Snakes expressed interest in taking their music in a new direction for a potential fourth studio album.[19] Writing and recording was expected to begin in December 2009.[7]

Also in 2009, the group announced they had recorded tracks for a split with Minus the Bear and a compilation covers album paying tribute to Nirvana's In Utero[19]—both of which were unreleased at the time of the band's break up. After seven years of "extended delays and legal wrangling," Robotic Empire will release In Utero, in Tribute, in Entirety on Record Store Day 2014, which will feature These Arms Are Snakes' cover of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box."[20]

Members[edit]

Final lineup

Former members

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

Split albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • Good Friday 7" (Suicide Squeeze, 2006)[21]

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Album
2006 "Horse Girl"[22] Easter
2009 "Red Line Season"[23] Tail Swallower and Dove

Other contributions[edit]

Year Contributed song Album Label
2006 "Old Paradise" Slaying Since 1996[24] Suicide Squeeze
2014 "Heart-Shaped Box" In Utero, in Tribute, in Entirety[19][20] Robotic Empire

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mason, Stewart. "These Arms Are Snakes – Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Schild, Matt (February 22, 2009). "These Arms Are Snakes: The progressive punk band stands up to Jello Biafra". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  3. ^ White, Adam (March 25, 2003). "Jade Tree Signs These Arms Are Snakes". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Schild, Matt (October 11, 2004). "Armed and Dangerous". Aversion. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b White, Adam (January 28, 2004). "These Arms Are Snakes lose drummer / split EP with Harkonen". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  6. ^ Paul, Aubin (February 3, 2005). "Tours: Underoath headlining The Totally Badical Tour". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Larson, Dwayne (September 18, 2009). "These Arms Are Snakes Interview". ThePunkSite.com. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Ramirez, Carlos (October 1, 2008). "Brian Cook Interview". SMN News. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  9. ^ Paul, Aubin (July 31, 2005). "These Arms are Snakes loses and finds drummer". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  10. ^ "For The Record: Quick News On 50 Cent, Ciara, Ashlee Simpson, Gorillaz, Dave Matthews Band, Jet & More". MTV. August 1, 2005. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Helms Alee Kick Off West Coast Tour W/ Boris and Red Sparrows". AltSounds. August 27, 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ Cook, Brian (May 21, 2008). "The Business of Booming". The Stranger. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ Reighley, Kurt B. (December 12, 2006). "Built on Symbols". The Stranger. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  14. ^ Paul, Aubin (October 7, 2006). "Tours: These Arms Are Snakes (UK, USA)". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  15. ^ Paul, Aubin (March 8, 2007). "Tours: These Arms Are Snakes (USA, UK, Europe)". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c D'Auria, Jonathan. "This Is Meant to Hurt You". The Grixer. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  17. ^ Paul, Aubin (September 10, 2009). "Media: These Arms Are Snakes: "Washburn"". Punknews.org. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  18. ^ Tate, Jason (January 12, 2010). "These Arms Are Break-Ups". AbsolutePunk.net. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c d Pfleider, Adam (November 4, 2009). "These Arms Are Snakes Interview". AbsolutePunk.net. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b Hudson, Alex (February 20, 2014). "Nirvana's 'In Utero' Gets Record Store Day Tribute Album Featuring Jay Reatard, Ceremony, Thursday". Exclaim!. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  21. ^ "These Arms Are Snakes Signs With Suicide Squeeze". Blabbermouth.net. Roadrunner Records. May 7, 2008. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  22. ^ ""Horse Girl" Music Video". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  23. ^ ""Red Line Season" Music Video". MTV. February 20, 2009. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 
  24. ^ MacNeil, Jason. "Slaying Since 1996 – Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved October 31, 2010. 

External links[edit]