My first exposure to Toronto, Canada's the Deadly Snakes was through their 1999 debut album "Love Undone". I was drawn to the cover art, a picture of six scruffy looking ruffians that looked as though they would kick your ass if you should happen to look at them the wrong way. They have since gone through a few line up changes and released two more albums. The Deadly Snakes interview was conducted on May 13, 2004 at Costello's after party in Chicago following their performance at the Chicago Blackout. Interview by Mike Fungus, all photos by Jeff Fungus.
FB: How do you think the band has changed from the first album to the last two?
Andre: We just grew up a little bit. I don’t know, maybe we can play our instruments a little bit better, but ultimately we haven’t changed that much. We’re just more able to play the songs that we want to play the way that we want to play them now.
FB: Do you think the line up changes had any effect at all on the sound?
Andre: I don’t know, maybe a little bit, but only in a subtle way. Like the same four core members like Andrew and Max, and Matt, the trumpet player, and myself, who write all the songs are still there so everyone else--we’re just really lucky that the guys that are playing with us right now are just really good musicians. But maybe it’s changed us a little bit, but not that much, like it’s always been the way we wanted to do it.
FB: One of the words people don’t like to use, but I kind of see it in your case, maybe you’ve kind of matured in a way. Maybe in just the overall sound that you guys have?
Andre: Maybe, yeah, okay sure, like it’s kind of a cliche that we’ve matured but, yeah fine, (laughs) we’ve matured a bit. I mean we’ve just--we don’t want to keep making the same record over and over again, and we always want just to try to write better songs. Like I always think of records as something you listen to at home or in the car or something like that, and you should be able to listen to them and they should be good and the songs should be good, there should be something to hold on to when you’re listening to it. Whereas live it should just be fun and crazy, and we haven’t ever changed live, we’ve always been the same. But the records have changed over time.
FB: The liner notes on the first album was that all true, or was that kind of a myth about what happened during the recording process of that album?
Andre: Oh, the snow storm?
Andre: That’s true, yeah it was like the worst snow storm in 25 years, or something like that. We were completely snowed in, I mean we could leave, but we couldn’t drive anywhere hardly, like a little bit. Yeah, the snow banks were up past the windows of the studio, it was crazy, we were pretty locked in. But it made for a really great recording session because we couldn’t--it’s not like we wanted to go out anywhere else because we couldn’t get anywhere else. But yeah, that’s right, and Greg came down--because of the snow storm he was late, so that really added to the feeling of the recording because we had to wait for him for a day and we were getting more and more stressed out that he wouldn’t be able to show up. We were really excited about him coming, and when he finally did it was kinda like an elastic band that finally got snapped and we just played and played.
FB: Is it true that Greg joined the band because of that recording session, that he was so impressed by what you guys were doing? Or is there other circumstances?
Andre: Well you’d have to ask him. I’m sure like it had a lot to do with him not having a band at that time, the Oblivians had broken up, the Reigning Sound had not started yet. I think we got along, we got along and I don’t know it just kinda came up one day that like Greg wanted to come tour with us. We did a tour with him, and he was never supposed to join the Snakes, it was always the Deadly Snakes and Greg Oblivion playing with the Deadly Snakes, and then while on the tour we had a great time and we just decided that he would play on the next record and become a member of the Snakes, just for that one record and that’s what we did. It was actually kind of tough because he’s so far away, like he lives in Memphis, we live in Toronto. And you know maybe the record kind of suffered for that, because it’s not such a cohesive record because of that. But what ever, it was still a great experience, it was so much fun to work with Greg, we learned a lot from him.
FB: How do you feel about Long Gone John’s contribution to the exposure of Canadian music? Obviously not only you guys but Les Sexareenos….
Andre: The Spaceshits.
FB: The Spaceshits, Del Gators, and all that stuff. He pretty much opened the doors for a lot of that music to be heard South of the Canadian border.
Andre: He really did. I know that before the Spaceshits got a record put out with Sympathy no Canadian band has ever felt that they could. It didn’t feel like you could ever get a record released in the States, you know. But the Spaceshits did, and the Spaceshits got us hooked up with Long Gone, and the Del Gators, and Sexareenos, I don’t know, he’s done a great job. Actually there is gonna be a record that comes out and we’re on it, it a compilation and it’s “The Sounds Of Montreal”. We’re not from Montreal but we went to Montreal to record, and it’ll be all those bands and a few bands that you’ve never heard of. That will come out on Sympathy maybe within the year some time, I’m not sure. We recorded it like two years ago, it’s just taken forever to come out.
FB: I think that because of that people like me searched out some of the more obscure stuff like the Sultan Records stuff. The Sultan comp that came out & I was turned on to bands like the Scat Rag Boosters….
Andre: Oh, they’ll be on the (new compilation).
FB: Because of the stuff that I heard from Sympathy it was a gateway to open me up to a lot of other Canadian bands.
Andre: Well he took a chance, but like Long Gone puts out a record like every two weeks right, so he takes a lot of chances. So I would recommend any one in a band to send him something, you know chances are he’ll put it out if you’re any good.
FB: I take it Larry Hardy is a really big fan of music, from some of things I’ve read and through interviews that he’s done that he really cares about the bands that he works with.
Andre: Larry’s the best, yeah I love Larry. He cares about music, and it’s just him running that business. He’s really easy to deal with and he’s great, it’s the best label we’ve ever been on. Compared to Long Gone, Long Gone’s great but he doesn’t support his bands, he just puts out bands, he just manufactures records, he’s a machine. Whereas Larry cares, he puts money in to a bit of promotion, he always helps pay for--he pays for the records, he helps us, it’s great.
FB2: It’s like Sympathy never really promotes a band, they just promote the label.
Andre: Totally, absolutely, which is great. It’s why Sympathy is a great label to put out your first record on then move to In The Red.
FB: I heard some thing about you recording a solo album, is that out yet?
Andre: The solo album, oh yeah, I put it out--it’s out in Canada, it’s suppose to come out in the States, I don’t know like some time in June? But I’m sure the distribution is gonna be like completely fucked and it won’t get out all that much. It’s basically a Canadian album, I guess you haven’t heard it?
Andre: It’s a lot quieter, it’s mostly just acoustic guitar and piano but it kinda has a Snakes feel, like some of the quieter Snakes songs.
FB: The latest album came out not too long ago Is there anything over the next year that we can expect?
Andre: Yeah, well we’re gonna record in July and our plan is to record a double album like eighteen songs or more. ‘Cause it has been a while actually since the last record and we’re ready to record a lot. I don’t know, maybe it will just be a single record but right now we wanted to record a lot. We’re going to record up at our drummer’s cottage, it’s just a shack, and it’s gonna be great. I’m really looking forward to it, it’s gonna be a great record.
information on the Deadly Snakes visit www.intheredrecords.com