San Diego post-hardcore rockers Hot Snakes have a history with Australia. The last time they were Down Under they recorded the live studio album, Thunder Down Under, before disbanding shortly after. It didn’t look like we’d see them again – but thankfully Hot Snakes have come out of hibernation to play select shows, including Australian headline shows and a stint at this year’s Meredith Music Festival. Ahead of their tour, Killyourstereo caught up with guitarist John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Night Marchers) for a quick chat.
G’day mate. Can we start with your name, role in Hot Snakes and something that really pisses you off?
My name is John (Reis) and my role is that of guitar player and guy that does interviews. Something that pisses me off? When at a stop sign while driving, I always get pissed off by other drivers that wave or motion for me to proceed before them. I don’t like to be told what to do.
You’re heading to Australia to play a couple of headline shows and the Meredith Music Festival, which is the best fucking music festival on the planet. Did you go to many camping music festivals growing up? If so, do you have any tips for surviving a camping music festival?
I didn’t go to camping festivals. Camping is gross.
If you could have your own brand of cologne made from the sweat of your idols, whose sweat would you include and what would you call it?
Elvis, Taking Care of B.O.
Do you remember much from your last Australian tour back in ‘06?
Yeah, I remember it.
Last time you were here you recorded Thunder Down Under. Whose idea was this? Did triple j approach you to do it? Are you going to do a follow-up this time?
I don’t remember. We are not going to do a follow-up. It would just be the same songs anyway.
What’s the most fucked up thing you’ve seen on tour?
Mushrooms on pizza.
You guys have a brilliant, no-bullshit, warts and all sound going on. It’s very DIY. So what do you think about other bands who spend a lot of time tweaking their sound in the studio? Are things like Pro Tools ruining music?
I actually like some of that ‘70s coke rock, where bands spent a month in the studio just on a snare drum sound. I guess if I like the song it doesn’t bother me. I think bad music is ruining music. But, yes, computer recording technology has a hand in the prevalence of a sonic character that does not bode well with me. I don’t think it’s ruining music, though.
What are your musical commitments outside of Hot Snakes?
Night Marchers, SWami Records, and recording a band here and there.
What was the catalyst for the breakup and subsequent reformation of Hot Snakes?
It’s what we wanted/want.
What are your thoughts on the state of contemporary punk music?
What was it like playing Metallica’s Orion Music Festival? Are you big Metallica fans? You must have been pretty stoked to be handpicked by one of the biggest metal bands of all time, right?
Roky (Erickson) played and it was great to meet him. The festival was pretty cool. We went to the casino after the show with Red Fang and I taught them how to lose money. I was pretty cynical beforehand about the reality of Metallica actually having a part in us playing the show, but when we got there Lars introduced himself and told us that he has been a big fan of the band since his girlfriend turned him onto to us. He was very nice and genuine. James Hetfield was always a vocal supporter of Rocket From The Crypt as well, so my opinion of them is that they are cool dudes. I used to listen to Metallica when I was in high school, so yeah, there was some stokeage.
What’s one band that you’re really digging right now that we probably haven’t heard of?
Can we expect new Hot Snakes material any time soon?
I don’t think so.
If you had to drive from one side of the US to the other with only one mixtape to listen to, what are five songs you’d include and why?
‘Hallogallo’ – Neu!
‘Follow Me’ – Tully
‘The Warlord’ – Hank Marvin and The Shadows
‘Cosmosis’- The Dragons BFI
‘Simla Beat Theme’- The Fentones (This would be) an all-instrumental mixtape designed to enhance speeding.
Any parting words of advice?
Don’t listen to me. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Hot Snakes tour dates:
Sat Dec 8 – Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, VIC Tix: www.mmf.com.au
Tickets on sale now