DEAD BANDS: THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES

by chuck bell

Since the inception of Quiet Color’s Dead Bands column, we have seen a few groups come back to life, including Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbox. However, it was only a matter of time before an active band died on our watch. These Arms Are Snakes are the first of the recently deceased, having broken up just two months ago. Originally formed in 2002, TAAS rose from the ashes of three of Seattle’s most prevalent hardcore bands – Botch, nineironspitfire and Kill Sadie. The core members of the group, bassist Brian Cook (ex-Botch), guitarist Ryan Frederiksen (ex-nineironspitfire) and vocalist Steve Snere (ex-Kill Sadie) teamed up with producer Matt Bayles to record their first EP, This Is Meant to Hurt You, in 2003. With Joe Preston on drums and Jesse Robertson on keys, TAAS debuted their signature sound, melding post-hardcore with math rock, while still maintaining the intensity of their previous bands. Following the EP’s release, they embarked on their first tour with longtime friends, The Blood Brothers.

Artist: These Arms Are Snakes
Song: Horse Girl


For their 2005 debut full-length, Oxeneers or the Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, TAAS enlisted the help of numerous Seattle-based musicians, including multiple members of their former bands. Erin Tate (former Kill Sadie and current Minus the Bear drummer) replaced Preston on the entire album. The Blood Brothers’ Mark Gajadhar contributed additional percussion. They also got some help on guitars from nineironspitfire’s Demian Johnston and Botch/Minus the Bear’s Dave Knudson. This album found the band exploring more prog-rock elements, with Snare occasionally toning down his monotone bark to the point where he was actually singing, as on album standout, ” Your Pearly Whites.” That same year, TAAS put out a split EP with their friends in Harkonen titled Like a Virgin, where each band contributed two songs, as well as their joint effort, “Touched for the Very First Time.” In 2006, Chris Common came on board as the band’s permanent drummer and producer. With their new lineup, they recorded their second album, Easter. With this record, they further expanded their sound with heavier use of synths and electronic interludes. They soon began touring with a wide range of bands, including ISIS, Mastodon, Cursive, Minus the Bear, and Hot Water Music.

In 2007, Brian Cook began filling in on bass for Russian Circles, after they parted ways with original bassist Colin DeKuiper. TAAS continued to record new material, releasing splits with Pelican, Tropics, All the Saints, and even Russian Circles. They released their final full-length, Tail Swallower and Dove, in 2008. Having done away with interludes and putting more emphasis on guitar and bass riffs, they had created the heaviest and most concentrated record of their career. However, in January of this year, the band posted a farewell to their fans on their blog. They did not state any particular reason for the split, but simply stated that they were “no more,” thanking their fans for everything they had done for them. Cook has since become a full-time member of Russian Circles, while Frederiksen is currently working full-time with Narrows, along with former Botch vocalist, Dave Verellen. Common has recently produced albums by Native, Giant Squid, and Pelican. Although the prospects for the future for all of these endeavors are very promising, the death of These Arms Are Snakes is still quite a tragedy. R.I.P.

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