Hot Snakes’ new album, Jericho Sirens, is a complete and total ass-kicker.
To say the San Diego-based band knocked it out of the park on their recent 10-song effort for Sub Pop Records is an understatement. This record is vital, frantic, and full of the beautifully psychotic guitars of John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Drive Like Jehu) and lead singer/rhythm guitarist Rick Froberg (Drive Like Jehu, Last Of The Juanitas) that Hot Snakes fans have grown accustomed to while being punctuated with the intricate rhythms of bassist Gar Wood and drummers Mario Rubalcaba (OFF!, Earthless) and Jason Kourkounis (Burning Brides, Night Marchers).
The talented Reis, who formed Hot Snakes in 1999 with Kourkounis and his friend and former bandmate Froberg, put out all of the band’s early releases on his label, Swami Records, before switching over to Sub Pop Records in 2017.
So far, according to Reis, the transition from being in charge of releasing the band’s recorded output to working with one of the most formidable independent labels in rock and roll history has been going well.
“It’s still kind of recent. They (Sub Pop) reissued our first three studio albums last year and rolled out the new one about a month ago. Sub Pop is a great record label. They have a staff of people who are a well-oiled machine. It’s really exciting to see them take our music and release it and see what they do with it. I’m very happy with the way things are going,” says Reis.
While there is a certain cachet to being involved with Sub Pop, word would have gotten around about Jericho Sirens either way. The title track kicks off with a forlorn, bluesy riff before exploding into a foot-stomping powerhouse with Froberg sounding a bit like the Pleasure Club’s great James Hall as he sings/shouts about an “auditory parasite boring a hole in my head.” Other standout tracks on the album, which was released on March 16, are the propulsive opener, “I Need A Doctor,” and the aptly titled “Psychoactive,” but make no mistake — there is not a weak track on the entire record.
It seems getting back to business has been good for Reis after a 12-year layoff between full-length Hot Snakes releases.
“I was in a part of my life, having a child, and you don’t really know what to expect. I knew my life would be different, but I didn’t know how,” says Reis, who became a first-time father in 2006, right around the time that Hot Snakes and Reis’ better-known band, Rocket from the Crypt, decided to call it a day.
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“For the first three or four years, I was pretty immersed, but after a while, I thought, maybe things don’t have to be too different in how I work or what I do. I was suppressing something that was part of who I am. I felt like I had to break out of that and had to be able to scream and play guitar and yell and rock and make noise,” continues Reis.
Luckily for Hot Snakes fans, Reis and company have a newfound appreciation of the opportunities their band affords them.
“Now I know everything is important ... even the spaces between the spaces. Not just the show, but even looking out the window on the way to the show, even if I’m just falling asleep, it’s somehow fun and cool. I can’t really bitch about anything,” says Reis, and for those curious about who is on drums for the Phoenix show:
“It’s going to be Jason (Kourkounis),” says Reis over the phone before continuing, “Mario’s out with Earthless. They actually had a record come out on the very same day (as ours).”
Hot Snakes are scheduled to perform at Crescent Ballroom on Thursday, May 10. Tickets are $25 to $29 via crescentphx.com.