The Amazing Snakeheads
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The Amazing Snakeheads

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
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"UK Tour Announcement"

The Amazing Snakeheads have announced details of a UK and Irish tour this spring.

The band will play a number of dates on the stretch, which will begin in Glasgow on March 28 and will continue through to a date at Ramsgate Music Hall in Kent on May 17. They then head off for dates around Europe before returning to the UK to play Secret Garden Party, which takes place on the weekend of July 24 to 27.

The Glasgow band will release their debut album 'Amphetamine Ballads' on April 14. Talking about the LP, singer Dale Barclay told NME: "I genuinely don't know where the music comes from. How I play music – live or in the studio – it is what it is and I struggle to know where it comes from. There's been a lot of things written about the band, people say we're angry and things like that – but to me it's just us. There's a hell of a lot of joy in the music."

The Amazing Snakeheads will play:

Glasgow Late Nights in Broadcast (March 28)
Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s (30)
London Bethnal Green Working Mens Club (April 3)
London Barfly (22)
Glasgow Late Nights in Broadcast (25)
Belfast Voodoo (29)
Dublin Whelan's (30)
Liverpool Sound City Festival (May 1)
Manchester Roadhouse (2)
Live At Leeds (3)
Preston 53 Degrees (7)
Birmingham The Sunflower Lounge (8)
Bristol Start The Bus (13)
London Dingwalls (14)
Bournemouth 60 Million Postcards (15)
Reading Oakford Social Club (16)
Kent Ramsgate Music Hall (17) - NME


"Interview"

The Amazing Snakeheads are gearing up to the release of their debut album on the prestigious Domino label, home also to Animal Collective and The Arctic Monkeys, so it seemed like an opportune time to fire some questions at the Glasgow trio’s bassist William Coombe.

Is there a full album in the works?

It’s done, coming out in April. It’s taken me by surprise: there’s more on it than just bass, guitar and drums – but it sounds evil, in a good way! It sounds menacing, a wee bit unresting. We’re all really happy with it and we can’t wait for it to come out.

I get a real sense of early Pixies from listening to “The Truth Serum” and I was wondering who your main influences are…

See, it’s weird for us when people say we sound like this or that – we like rock and roll, but when we all met we were listening to soul, R’n'B, all sorts of crazy stuff. I can’t hear it myself.

It’s down to somebody’s individual taste: some people might hear this, some people might hear that, which is great. But it’s not something we’ve ever really consciously thought about.

Did you consider making “Testifying Time” longer than 75 seconds?

No, never. That was one of the first songs that we learned to play together and it was meant for impact – it’s just balls to the wall, there are no airs or graces or anything fancy about it, it’s just a minute and three seconds of just going for it.

How did you come to the attention of Domino?

Laurence [Bell, Domino founder] came up to see us at Broadcast in Glasgow, there were a few other people there too. After the gig Laurence came up to us, we got chatting, then one thing led to another. It was basically as simple as that.

Other than that, what have been your highlights of being in The Amazing Snakeheads so far? The gig in Paris with Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand must have been fun…

Aye, Paris was an experience. Just to get an opportunity to go over there with your pals and play music – it’s not exactly a hard life, know what I mean?

On the NME Radar tour, we played Brighton and it was brilliant. To be honest, it’s all been great – it’s been a bit of a whirlwind this last year, so it’s hard to pick out best bits. Can’t complain.

Finally, do you have a favourite album from last year?

I don’t really listen to a lot of new music, it’s all old stuff. The last gig I went to see was The Stone Roses in Glasgow, that was brilliant.

William Coombe, thank you. - Rocksucker.co.uk


"Album review"

You don't need to have heard a note of music by, or indeed know anything about, The Amazing Snakeheads to work out what their debut album might sound like. You can get a good idea just by reading the tracklist. There, a cavalcade of death, violence and darkness awaits: I'm a Vampire is followed by Nighttime, Flatlining and the winningly titled Where Is My Knife? Likewise, you don't have to be an expert in the semiotics of rock to realise that songs called things like that are perhaps less likely to bear close resemblance to the oeuvres of Bastille or Eliza Doolittle than they are, say, the diseased-sounding gothic blues-rock of the Birthday Party. And so it proves. The first sounds you hear on Amphetamine Ballads are the crash of a gong, a piercingly distorted flailing guitar, a lumbering bass riff, followed by an anguished, thickly Glaswegian-accented voice screaming about how an unrequited love makes the owner of said voice feel like the undead.

The trio famously refuse to discuss their musical influences in interviews, but in fairness, they don't really need to. They exist in an occult lineage of dark guitar bands from Glasgow, most of whom made no real impact outside of Scotland – their most immediate antecedents being a quintet called Uncle John and Whitelock, who ploughed what must have been a very lonely furrow of bleak, frenzied music and performance art-influenced live shows at the height of landfill indie in the early noughties – and moreover, on the evidence of Amphetamine Ballads, their debt to Nick Cave's old mob is pretty clear. You can hear their echoes when the music's atmosphere suddenly heaves from an ominous rumble of drums and two-note bassline to all-out howling chaos; in the ramshackle, lurching swing rhythms that underpin Where Is My Knife? and Nighttime, and in the troubling lyrical equations of sex with violence. However, there's far more on offer here than just homage. For one thing, frontman Dale Barclay's lyrics replace Cave's drugged-out phantasmagorias with something noticeably more sensitive to real life, which gives their music a different power. There's also evidence of more esoteric listening on the part of the band, and intimations of different directions they might take in the future. The closing acoustic Tiger By the Tail is startlingly delicate, given what's preceded it; Memories is powered by saxophone to genuinely impressive effect; Here It Comes Again has a taut, motoric pulse at its heart.

The other obvious comparison Amphetamine Ballads provokes is with Fat White Family. The Amazing Snakeheads don't sound much like them, but the wilful scuzziness of both bands seems like a reaction to the increasing glossiness of alternative rock: certainly, you'll search Amphetamine Ballads in vain for any hint of an 80s-AOR inspired synth sound, a soft-rock influence, a knowing nod in the direction of contemporary R&B or any other currently hip "indie" signifier. That said, the Amazing Snakeheads are clearly a more stylized proposition than the Brixton collective. For all the visceral power of their live shows, it's pretty obvious that Dale Barclay's on-stage persona is a slightly knowing one that plays on the archetype of the sociopathic Scottish hard man, an eternal, pervasive folk devil that's fuelled everything from the novels of Irvine Welsh and Christopher Brookmyre to the character of Vyvian's pet hamster in The Young Ones. In fact, the genuine fear he seems to have instilled in a selection of live reviewers notwithstanding, Barclay's real skill may lie not in how successfully he manipulates that image on stage, but in capturing some of its power in the studio. On record, it's hard to project the kind of intensity that Barclay is after without slipping into sounding faintly preposterous, but on Amphetamine Ballads, he pulls it off. He has a way of offering to take you out dancing that makes it sound as if it would be an experience only marginally preferable to having your head repeatedly slammed in a car door: at one point, he howls "forget the rest, I'm your daddy", and the effect is skin-crawling.

Listening to Amphetamine Ballads, you get the feeling that the Amazing Snakeheads know they've struck on something powerful. For all the album's angst, there's a confidence on display: a band has to feel fairly bullish about its abilities to strip a song down as dramatically as they do on Here It Comes Again, which is basically nothing more than the title, screamed over and over again for three and a half minutes. Their confidence isn't misplaced. It's not the easiest listen in the world, but it's not supposed to be: at a time when most of what passes for alternative rock sounds desiccated, Amphetamine Ballads feels raw and potent and alive. - The Guardian


"Pitchfork Album Review"

Short bursts of anger snap into place in the dimly lit songs of the Amazing Snakeheads, a Glasgow band enamored with the well-worn fusion of punk and classic rock'n'roll. If punk represented a new year zero for rock to some, for others it carried all the hallmarks of a past worth digging up and fusing with its abrasive form. This is the punk that takes Jerry Lee Lewis as its starting point instead of, say, the Stooges or Suicide. It’s unashamedly backwards-looking, caught somewhere between the precipice gazing of Nick Cave in his Birthday Party days and the plastic Elvis front Jon Spencer took in the Blues Explosion. It wouldn’t work without the robust commitment of singer Dale Barclay, who’s spitting and cursing one minute (“I’m a Vampire”) then lost at the end of his tether over a woman the next (“Heading for Heartbreak”). The whiff of pomade may be palpable, but so is the air of commitment.

There are two distinct parts to Amphetamine Ballads, the four-piece band’s debut album for indie behemoths Domino. The first half is full of Barclay falling to the floor, lying prostrate, kicking against everything around him. By the album’s close, with an actual ballad titled “Tiger By the Tail”, there’s tasteful Spanish guitar and a deep air of surrender. Watching Barclay get there is this album’s greatest asset, setting an overall narrative to a series of songs that would otherwise be struggling for air amid the morass of greasy material by countless other bands in this vein. “Nighttime” is typical of the band’s vigor, with vicious slide guitar riffs overlapping pounding drums and the odd lyrical clunker (“I’m a soul sucker, I’m here to suck your soul”). Barclay’s not the strongest writer, but he overcomes it by throwing everything of himself into the music—on “Swamp Song” he dispenses with words altogether and simply screams, David Yow-style.

Cave’s Birthday Party era is going to be a constant comparison point for the Amazing Snakeheads, but most of the time they appear to be working through various descendents of Cave’s style. “Heading for Heartbreak” works along the same lines as Gallon Drunk’s distinctly North London take on Cave’s blues, recalling their standout track “You Should Be Ashamed”. Elsewhere, the band works in a bubblegum edge on “Here It Comes Again”, mirroring the pop-garage approach of the earliest White Stripes material, while “Flatlining” hurtles toward the MC5 with Barclay at his authoritarian best as he rips shreds out of his vocal cords. The join between the different sides of the band isn't easily glued together—when they stretch out into the seven-minute “Every Guy Wants to Be Her Baby” it feels like momentum gained has suddenly been lost, especially as nothing strong enough happens to sustain its runtime.

If the Amazing Snakeheads sound like a drunk stumbling around looking for the next bar at the close of this album, it’s at least an appropriate way for them to operate. This is music cast in the after hours world inhabited by the characters of Tom DiCillo’s Johnny Suede or Jim Jarmusch’s group of Memphis drunks from Mystery Train, if not quite (yet) breathing the same air of total fatalism as Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night. Amphetamine Ballads doesn’t come bearing a fully formed vision of a band, carving out insight with switchblades right from the start. At its worst, you can at least hear where Barclay is yearning to get to—that transient place where acrimony collides into reflection then rebounds back again. There are a handful of moments here when he turns himself inside-out over the course of a song, bringing him into the orbit of those artists he so obviously idolizes. Now he just needs to figure out how to emulate his starting position. - Pitchfork


Discography

'Testifying Time' Single. Domino Records, August 2013.

'Flatlining' Single. Domino Records, December 2013.

'Here It Comes Again' Single. Domino Records 2014.

'Amphetamine Ballads' Album. Domino Records, April 2014.

'Here It Comes Again' Single. Domino Records, June 2014.

'Can't Let You Go' Single. Domino Records, December 2014.

Photos

Bio

The Amazing Snakeheads are a Rock 'N' Roll band from Glasgow, in the short time since their inception they have received plaudits from acts such as Arctic Monkey's, Franz Ferdinand and Jack White. Their sometimes aggressive and unique style has been whipping UK and European crowds into a frenzy over the past 12 months since signing to Domino Records. Having been selected for last year's NME Radar Tour and The Great Escape Festival in Brighton the buzz surrounding the band has been building steadily also with TV appearances on Other Voices and Rapal on the BBC momentum is firmly with the Glaswegian 3 piece.

Band Members