Screeches cycle through the drone and reverberate off the cratered concrete walls of [venue name redacted] as Fake Snake frantically claws through their set. We're out among the dilapidated shitholes of Phoenix's industrial parks, inside this warehouse shed doubling as crashpad and venue for several underground acts. Here, the Phoenix post-industrial trio fits in nicely with a small but entranced collective of weirdos who flock to this kind of noxious, somehow rhythmic experimental noise. The drilling and the pounding and the screaming is far more titillating than agitating once you get it in the right context - and a garage down the street from a mechanic's office gives everything just the right echo.
Hard to justify to an audience of twenty-something hipsters used to Phantogram clones, too dainty to mosh and too unversed in primal rage. But in its own way, the aggression is kind of beautiful.
Fake Snake have been called the "white Deathgrips," maybe because the band's O.S. D'vil operates a turntable, scratching out samples from obscure speedcore and noise bands from the '90s while drummer Scott Mead, wearing a deathly Halloween mask, thrashes at a drum kit. Lead vocalist David Turner, who flails about while growling into his battered microphone, describes his band as "warm and menacing," but there's far more menace than warmth. Turner filters his screams through a beat-up old DOD FX pedal held together with duct tape that he scored at a thrift store. As you can imagine, the sounds he squelches out are fucking nuts.
"That just insane kind of sound, I'm drawn to it. I guess it's challenging to the audience, too, at times," Turner says. "I'll play that kind of shit, but still keep a song structure and not have it be complete noise... there's shit underneath all the shit you hear on the track, there's still song structure, there's still pop elements, and things like that seep through, even though we don't really want people to know that, but it's just gonna happen."
The grimy reverbs of fax machine dialups pulled through electrical teeth isn't all Turner is familiar with. He comes from a guitar background and has found himself in other various projects, including playing keyboards in synth-pop bands. He does all åthe mastering work himself, starting Fake Snake two years ago as a recording side-project kicked around in Ableton and Logic Pro. Turner runs a small vendor space down at AZ Collectors Marketplace, where he sells bizarre knock-off action figures, such as Masters of the Universe or other weird '80s shit, plagiarized in Mexican and East Asian marketplaces. That's also where you can find Cryptic Passage, Turner's label with D'vil for their many chaotic projects. They've put out posters, cassettes, VHS tapes and, hopefully soon, some other releases with people Turner has met online. He says multiple folks are looking to him to help release their records, including some interest from the guys behind Grindcore Karaoke.
Among Cryptic Passage's projects are Melted Cassettes, a more lithium-rimmed industrial band, and Coyote Amulet, a darkly ambient witch house outfit. Cryptic Passage mostly releases cassettes, a scratchy, lo-fi aesthetic that only adds to the listening experience for this kind of sandpaper noise. Put Fake Snake's self-titled debut on when you need to just turn your fucking head off; song titles like "Soma Park South Suicide Watch" and "Stabbed On LSD" should help.
Turner believes Phoenix is ripe for an esoteric noise wave to sprout, but he says it can still be hard for Fake Snake to get a reaction. "It's been different in different areas. More up north, everyone's just stoned out of their minds, wherever, it's just great," Turner says. "But, I feel like there needs to be a lot more attention on the shit that we're doing and what other people are doing in this type of genre, whatever it is. I think it's going to come around a little bit soon, and they're probably just waiting on it right now."