NYNT News Archive

08:11:2006: Deadly Snakes Break Up (and Belated GoGoGo Airheart Eulogy)

Earlier this week Deadly Snakes announced that they were splitting. While I could really give a rat’s ass about the demise of their fellow Canadians DFA 1979, the Snakes are another story. And since I never got arround to commenting on GoGoGo Airheart’s split a couple of months ago, I will take this opportunity to kill two stones with one worthless bird as this is a case of SSDG (same sh*t different genre).

Like GoGoGo Airheart, Deadly Snakes were an underground institution that never really got the notoriety that they deserved. Like GoGoGo, they were one of the best bands going, and hard workers that regularly toured and recorded, and were even on a great label (in GoGoGo’s case GSL and in Deadly Snakes In the Red). But after a decade of constant labor, both of these bands were lucky to get fifty people at their shows and I’m sure, particularly in this day and age, that they didn’t make a whole heck of a lot of money on record sales.

And while they quit because they weren’t into it anymore, the factor that made the difference in both cases was the lack of return they got for their hard work and the resulting financial difficulties incurred. I hate to be a such a Marxiwst about everything, but the indie world has always been very much about economics in the end. The Deadly Snakes’ Maxwell McCabe-Lokos (Age of Danger) explained:


I think that we're all getting a little tired of going on tour and playing in Ozona, Texas for two or three people. Some people can do that until their eyes fall out.

Ashish Vyas (Hash) of GoGoGo Airheart elaborated:


Depending on the size of the city, we'd play in front of 20-80 people who tended to be the 'hipsters' of their city... What I mean is the kids who are geeks about music and the culture surrounding it. There have been countless times where kids have come up to us and said they started their bands because of us, but my head is now way bigger than my wallet and I can't pay my rent with my ego!

I apologize for using Pitchfork for my source material in both cases, but I think both of these quotes accurately illustrate the frustration of these hard-working, critically acclaimed veteran bands.

One could speculate all day about both bands’ failure to achieve indie commercial success…

They weren’t with it, or of there times? No, quite the opposite. GoGoGo, despite being there first, and much better than most bands trying it, was never able to capitalize on either the post-punk revival a few years ago or the current Kraut rock resurgence. The Deadly Snakes, arguably the best of the new crop of garage bands when that genre was in vogue with youngsters, again, around five years ago, never hit it. And there are a number of both bands' contemporaries, many of whom they influenced, who've found much more commercial success.

They weren’t released, promoted, booked, etc. correctly? As I said, both bands were on excellent labels with substantial name recognition within the right niche groups and decent distribution. Both had decent PR firms taking care of them and got no shortage of press, particularly for their most recent releases. I remember complaining about the venues the Deadly Snakes were booked into last time around, but overall, they and GoGoGo played at the same general places in every town where similar bands play. They also both over the years had candy opening slots for a number of bigger acts. There’s really nothing that indicates that the people working these bands weren’t doing their jobs.

They sucked? That of course is highly subjective. While both were capable of a great show, GoGoGo could be really messed up (which I actually liked) and the Deadly Snakes weren't always as showmanly and exciting live as their contemporaries and one of their singers' voice was definitely an acquired taste. Either way, there's no shortage of big bands with these kinds of shortcomings.

If you want my two cents, it’s that neither GoGoGo or the Deadly Snakes were comfortable being lumped into movements. Both consistently explored new avenues and tried as hard as possible to be their own entity. They were reluctant to give people what they expected and I don’t think that either band sat still long enough for specific niche groups or trendmongers to grab onto them in mass. In other words, they were too restless and individualistic to become static commodities. AKA they were real artists... trapped in the bubble of the "geeks about music" fan-base.

Critical acclaim and no money. Lucky at love but unlucky at cards. As the Snakes said on their last record, “a bird in the hand is worthless.”

And, as the “American Pie” guy gushed in his Vincent Van Gough weeper that blared over the speakers in the deli a couple of nights ago, “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.” Well, I dunno if "beautiful" is the perfect word in either case. But they will both be greatly missed...

Adios amigos. Thanks for the sweat, the tunes, and, most of all, the inspiration.


Deadly Snakes, Comprehensive Collection of Great Tunes Stream (highly recommended!)
Deadly Snakes, "Gore Veil" MP3
Deadly Snakes, "I Want to Die" MP3
GoGoGo Airheart, "Mifi" MP3
(2002 - Jay Hough!)
GoGoGo Airheart, "Double Bummer" MP3 (2005)







about contact archive links

© New York Night Train , 2006