Olive Street, Jonestown, San Diego black activists, Sherley Williams, the blind, the fat, the author's family
Jangchup Phelgyal 8:30 a.m., May 26
December's All Tomorrow's Parties fest in Minehead, UK (December 2 through 4) will include a Hot Snakes reunion. "I'm super stokified on this," frontman John Reis posted online this week. "So far just ATP is confirmed. We are talking about maybe doin a couple more shows before hand. Not sure where but not West Coast. We will be hangin on the East Coast, so most likely out there or in Europe."
It's still unknown who'll be drumming. "Trying to figure out the scheduling and who is up for it and what makes the most sense. Please do not share your thoughts or preferences on the matter. Not interested in suggestions."
And lest you get your hopes up, "Night Marchers shows most likely will not coincide with this trip. Good times."
Hot Snakes, led by Rick Froberg and Reis, formed in 1999. Growing up, the duo played together in the local post-hardcore band Pitchfork from 1986 to 1990. Following that they formed Drive Like Jehu, which gained the attention of major labels and resulted in a record contract with Interscope Records.
By this time, however, Reis had become seriously involved with his other band, Rocket from the Crypt.
In 1995, Drive Like Jehu stopped playing together. Reis would continue to work with Rocket from the Crypt until 2005, while Froberg moved to New York to start a career as visual artist and illustrator. Later, Reis started on a new project with the Night Marchers.
Hot Snakes essentially began as a "side project" in 1999 while Reis was taking time off from Rocket from the Crypt, who was in between record labels and had lost its longtime drummer Atom Willard.
While searching for a new record label and drummer, Reis started his own label Swami Records and experimented with other musicians, resulting in the formation of both Hot Snakes and the Sultans. Hot Snakes originated when Reis recorded a batch of songs with Delta 72 drummer Jason Kourkounis, then contacted former bandmate Froberg to contribute vocals to the tracks.
Most of this recording session was released in 2000 as Hot Snakes' first album Automatic Midnight, which was the first release by the Swami label.
Hot Snakes represented a new challenge logistically: Reis lived in San Diego, Froberg in New York, and Kourkounis in Philadelphia. This resulted in sporadic and intense touring and recording schedules. When a full touring band was needed, Gar Wood (Beehive and the Baracudas, Tanner, Fishwife) was called in to play the bass guitar. After some touring, Reis returned to work full-time with Rocket from the Crypt.
In 2002 Hot Snakes reconvened to record the album Suicide Invoice and to tour the United States. The following year, Kourkounis left the band to play full-time with the Burning Brides, and Reis once again returned to work with Rocket from the Crypt.
When Hot Snakes again returned to the recording studio in 2004, Rocket from the Crypt drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Black Heart Procession, Clikatat Ikatowi, 411, Chicanochrist) was brought in to play the drums. The album Audit in Progress was released and the band extensively toured the U.S., as well as Europe and Australia.
While on tour in the U.K. that fall, the band recorded several songs for BBC radio at legendary British DJ John Peel's recording studio. Their performance would be one of the last for Peel's program, as he died shortly afterwards. This session was released as the Peel Sessions EP, which replaced a planned single for the song "Braintrust" in the U.K. market.
In May 2005, while on tour in Australia, Hot Snakes recorded a live in-studio performance at ABC studios for Australian radio station JJJ. On their return to the US, Reis announced in a July 7 hand-written letter posted on the Swami Records website that the band was breaking up.
Audit in Progress was named "Best Punk Album" at the 2005 San Diego Music Awards; shortly afterward, Reis announced that Rocket from the Crypt would also be breaking up. That fall, Hot Snakes contributed a cover of the Government Issue song "Time to Escape" to the soundtrack to Tony Hawk's American Wasteland video game. This was the last song recorded by the band.
Their live Australian radio session was released posthumously in 2006 as Thunder Down Under.
Following the breakup of both Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt, Reis focused his energy on running his Swami Records label. He continued to perform occasionally with Rubalcaba in the Sultans until that band's breakup in January 2007, and continues to run the Swami label.
Rubalcaba also plays in the San Diego band Earthless and is part owner of an independent record store called Thirsty Moon Records. Wood continues to record music and play in Beehive and the Barracudas, while Froberg resides in New York and works as a visual artist and illustrator.
The last time Hot Snakes reunited onstage was in 2010, for the encore of a show headlined by Night Marchers and Obits, Froberg's NYC band.