John Reis' musical résumé includes at least four defunct bands that people would pay lots of money to see today. One is Hot Snakes, a San Diego-based quartet that blends the simplicity of three-chord garage rock (à la the Wipers) with the downstrummed aural assault championed by Johnny Ramone. But just because the 42-year-old guitarist reunited Hot Snakes in 2011 doesn't mean he feels the same about his other broken-up groups, which is a shame when you consider they are math-rock pioneers Drive Like Jehu, criminally neglected pop band the Sultans, and Rocket from the Crypt, a six-piece outfit also known as the best group of all time.
Hot Snakes singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, bassist Gar Wood, and Reis released two albums with drummer Jason Kourkounis before he left the band. Needing a new drummer, the threesome enlisted the help of Mario Rubalcaba (who at the time was playing with Reis in Rocket) for 2004's Audit in Progress. When Hot Snakes were offered the opportunity last year to play at All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England and Texas' Fun Fun Fun Fest, it made sense to Reis and company that both drummers should participate.
The inclusion of Kourkounis and Rubalcaba playing their respective material makes this Hot Snakes reunion authentic, but Reis says having all the former members is not the sole reason the group sounds better than ever. For that, the guitarist thanks Froberg's time in Brooklyn-based Obits.
"I really like the way his playing has evolved because of his time playing with Obits," Reis says. "I can see the effect on the way he approaches Hot Snakes songs, and it's really great."--Ryan Ritchie