Charming Snakes

Seattle Weekly: Everyone in the band is a Texas transplant. Did you know each other there and plan to migrate, or did it happen naturally?

Lacey Swain (bassist, vocalist): Kellie [Payne, drummer] was from Seattle and moved to Austin for work with her husband. Joe [Arnone, guitarist] had moved there a long time ago and was working in the UT [University of Texas] library. They were in a band together called the Mermaids. Kellie hated Texas, so she came back to Seattle in 2000, and Ruben [Mendez, guitarist and vocalist] and I came together that August. Joe came back a year or two later.

The two cities' music scenes are so different, but it's ironic that Austin is considered more relaxed, since you always hear about the laid-back West Coast.

Swain: Well, Austin is the "third coast."

Swain and Ruben Mendez (in unison): And the "Live Music Capital of the World."

Mendez: Here, you can count the clubs that most bands play on one hand, but there's lots of different places to play there. I think that's why a lot of bands here have their act more together. They seem more professional about what they're trying to do.

Swain: They're not just doing it for the free beer.

Mendez: When we started playing here, we were bummed out because we never had a lot of fun; and when Joe moved here, he was disappointed, too. [In Austin] it was more like a party, but partying all the time also stops people from being super productive with their bands and going on tour.

This year's Ammunition, your first album, has been compared to early Sonic Youth and the Fall, but it also reminds me of the Hot Snakes. I've noticed people seem to categorize it as noise-pop as well.

Mendez: Yes. It's weird, though—we once played with Tractor Sex Fatality, whom we like a lot, and after a couple of our songs, their singer goes, "Yeah, indie rock!" In my mind, I didn't think of us like that, so now I'm trying to get away from the pop stuff and be a bit noisier.

Swain: [Our sound] is actually reverting now, getting a lot simpler. I think you start off going, "OK, let's write this song," and trying to put something together; and then you start beefing them up, and then somewhere along the line it's, "Fuck it, let's go back." So actually, all the new songs we're playing aren't much like [Ammunition] at all. Someone recently said to us, "I didn't realize you guys were a punk band."

A reviewer called the record "dangerous and perverted." Is that surprising, or are you into it?

Mendez: Yeah!

Swain: I'm for perversion, totally for it.

rshimp@seattleweekly.com

 
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