What better way to celebrate the launch of Impact‘s slick new website than by following four of the best new bands around the country for three gigs in a single week on the NME Radar Tour? This first diary entry sees Impact head up to Sheffield’s Leadmill to take in the gig and chat with The Amazing Snakeheads.
Most bands offer beer to journalists entering the sacred lair that is their dressing room. No band has ever thrusted quite so forcefully a bottle of beer into my hands, however, than The Amazing Snakeheads, even granting me a second before my 15 minutes is up. “There’s plenty of them,” states bassist William. Before the interview has even begun, the trio that make up Glasgow’s Snakeheads appear to be as friendly as their music is ferociously good.
Lead singer and guitarist Dale grew up with William, before fortuitously ending up living next-door to New Zealand-born drummer, Jordon. “I came over for a wedding”, says Jordon, “fell in love and just never went back”. It was only Jordon that had any previous band experience, “screaming in a couple of bands back home”.
Domino just want to make great records. And so do we.
“I already played guitar”, explains Dale, “but never in a band. The bass suited William better and Jordon looked better on the drums. And that was that.” Despite an initial reluctance to name-drop influences, the trio reel off the likes of James Brown, Iggy Pop and The Cramps before Jordon interjects that “everyone is quite different, and that comes across in the way we sound.”
Rock n Roll doesn’t come out till night time.
What continually comes across is The Amazing Snakeheads’ refusal to play by the book. When quizzed about the songwriting process, the trio give a unified “fuck knows”. When asked about festival performances, Dale explains how they refused an afternoon T in the Park slot because “Rock n Roll only comes out at night”. And when asked about their relationship with Domino Records, Dale reckons that The Snakeheads wouldn’t work on another label: “We need to do things our own way. Domino are happy for us to make music how we make it. Domino just want to make great records. And so do we.”
The Amazing Snakeheads class their music as Rock n Roll. No funny business, just “Rock n Roll done right”. Forget genres, they don’t even “give a fuck about any of that ‘flying the flag for the Scottish or Glasgow music scene’ bollocks”. The Amazing Snakeheads are finally a band to be properly excited about, a band with no pretentions and bursting with fresh ideas. Dale proclaims that “anyone who digs our music can be in our gang”, and boy do I want to be in that gang. Expect a stunning debut album in early 2014.
Fast forward two hours and The Amazing Snakeheads are watching labelmates The Bohicas from the venue bar. Whereas The Snakeheads actively seek to bend the rules, The Bohicas play by every rock n roll rule in the book. This is no bad thing, as their orthodoxy sets off The Snakeheads’ lack of. And buried in The Bohicas’ set are a couple of indie disco hits in the making; all mid-noughties indie hooks and eerie post-punk guitar.
The Amazing Snakeheads take to the stage early. Ten minutes early! They tear through a set that includes debut single ‘Testifying Time’ and forthcoming single ‘Flatlining’, but mysteriously leaves out b-side ‘The Truth Serum’. William’s bass is high in the mix, always simple, yet superbly effective. Dale snarls and spits his way through every word, leaving Jordon to drum as loud as I’ve ever heard anyone drum before. This is a set from a band that knows it’s on its way up, a band that has just realised what they could possibly achieve.
From that pinnacle, Cerebral Ballzy stand no chance. The sparse crowd offers little reaction to their fast-paced punk; every song sounding the same. On another night, possibly not when following The Amazing Snakeheads, Cerebral Ballzy could well be dynamite, but certainly not on tonight’s performance. There’s always next time.
Catch the second instalment of our NME Radar Tour Diary coming soon, where The Amazing Snakeheads and Cerebral Ballzy will be joined by London psych-garage outfit Fat White Family in Nottingham’s Rock City Basement.
…Alex is listening to Iggy Pop – ‘Lust For Life’…