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Hot Snakes



At the end of the '90s, John Reis saw that his rock and roll machine Rocket from the Crypt was starting to stall. The group's relationship with Interscope Records was ending and their drummer Atom had left the group. So the prolific Reis quickly regrouped with a new record deal (with Vagrant Records) and new drummer (Mario Rubalcaba of Clikatat Ikatowi and The Black Heart Procession) for Rocket. Soon after, he wrote a new batch of songs with former comrade-in-arms Rick Froberg specifically in mind. Those songs became the first Hot Snakes album after the two developed a plan to make the record with Froberg in NYC and Reis in San Diego. To make matters even more logistically interesting, the duo tapped Philadelphia resident Jason Kourkounis (The Delta 72 and Burning Brides) to play drums. Reis formed Swami Recordings, a new imprint of Sympathy For The Record Industry, to release Hot Snakes' debut.

Froberg and Reis first played together as guitarists in the San Diego band Pitchfork and later in Drive Like Jehu. Those were two of the most influential bands to emerge from the legendary '90s San Diego hardcore sound that blended punk rock with intricate guitars and complex mathy song structures. Amazingly, Drive Like Jehu and Rocket From the Crypt hit their creative and popular peaks around the same time and both signed to Interscope. Rocket re-released Circa Now and toured, Drive Like Jehu recorded and released Yank Crime and also toured. The symbiosis was short lived as Jehu soon stopped playing together. Reis got busy gearing up for a new RFTC album, 1995's Scream Dracula Scream, while Froberg opted to pursue his distinctive works of art and Jehu drummer Mark Trombino began laying a foundation as one of the most reputable rock producers on the West Coast, soon becoming known for his work with Jimmy Eat World. Thousands of Jehu fans felt slighted by the split, longing for another album, but it seemed the two would never play together again.

The Hot Snakes released the raw and Automatic Midnight in 2000 on Swami, mixing the songwriting of RFTC with the energy, guitar riffs, and punk rock of Jehu. To the elation of those bands' fans, Froberg opted to sing again, bringing his emotive and captivating screams to the forefront. The album was poorly promoted and the band played few shows, so Automatic Midnight was only a modest success. The trio then added longtime friend and tourmate Gar Wood of Tanner on bass and made plans for a second album. Suicide Invoice, released in 2002, was just as powerful but more cohesive, more melodic, and better produced. The band also took the time to properly tour the United States and fully promote the album, also enlisting support for the label. Their efforts earned an enthusiastic response from press and fans both new and old. The Hot Snakes are a very special rock band led by a duo who share an obvious chemistry and vision to make great music together.