Deadly Snakes Break Up (and Belated GoGoGo Airheart Eulogy)
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).
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.
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:
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.
Vyas (Hash) of GoGoGo Airheart elaborated:
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
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.
speculate all day about both bands’ failure to achieve indie
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snakes, Comprehensive Collection of Great Tunes Stream
Snakes, "Gore Veil" MP3
Snakes, "I Want to Die" MP3
GoGoGo Airheart, "Mifi" MP3 (2002 - Jay Hough!)
Airheart, "Double Bummer" MP3 (2005)