Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s Hayley Helmericks
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A lot has happened for Denver’s Snake Rattle Rattle Snake in a relatively short period of time. The five-piece dance-rock outfit has gone from being a local supergroup (featuring members of Monofog, Mr. Pacman, and Hawks Of Paradise) to being one of the most buzzed-about bands in the scene right now, exceeding the confines of the supergroup tag. And the band did it all in about two years’ time, with only a handful of recorded songs to its redundant name. Just before the release of Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s debut full-length record, Sin Eater, (Saturday, Aug. 20 at the Bluebird Theater) The A.V. Club talked to vocalist Hayley Helmericks about the new album and what comes next.
The A.V. Club: Can you tell us a little bit about the new album?
Hayley Helmericks: It’s, for the most part, songs that we’ve been playing over the past couple of years and haven’t gotten recorded yet. Our main purpose in recording them is that we needed to document them. We decided we want to record the whole thing ourselves, so starting in January we just recorded when we were able to. As people with full-time jobs, you have to just pack it into the weekends or the after-hours [time], so it takes a little bit of time, but I think recording it ourselves allowed us to experiment and get things sounding the way we wanted, without the pressure of having a timeline.
AVC: How would you say it’s different from the EP?
HH: Only two songs from the EP made it to the full-length record, and they’ve kind of shifted and changed over time. I would say the songs themselves have just matured into something more fully realized than the EP—which, looking back on it, felt like more of a demo, really.
AVC: What sort of things influenced the new album?
HH: Jeez, I don’t know. Figuring out how the electric drums were going to fit in and out of the album was difficult at times, and also made us have to think about how we wanted the songs to be represented a little bit. Once we started laying down the basic tracks, it became very apparent that it’s kind of a dark album, not only in subject matter, but just the sounds themselves. I think once we figured out that’s where they were naturally leading themselves, we just kind of went with that.
AVC: What can fans expect from the release show? Do you have any surprises lined up?
HH: Maybe a few. We’re really, really excited that the album is done and it sounds as good as it does. I think we’re just going to be pumped up to have a little party and get it out into the world, because it’s been consuming so much of our minds and energy for the past several months. We’re just excited to put it out [there]. Land Lines and A. Tom Collins are good friends, so I think it’s just gonna be a night of good music, and we’ll see what kind of surprises we can work out. We’ve got a few ideas.
AVC: How did you guys get involved with the Greater Than collective to put out the album?
HH: The idea had come to work with Virgil [Dickerson] in some capacity, and he and Andy [Thomas] and Pete [Turner] were trying to come up with some idea of how to help local bands kind of take it to the next level, [to] get their music into a more national market eventually, and spread the word a little bit using their resources and the DIY bands that are doing everything themselves. After having a few conversations with Virgil, we met with everybody and realized that we’re a pretty self-sufficient band and we’re motivated and do a lot of things for ourselves, and they were able to supplement the other things that we needed help with. It’s been great. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation, and hopefully through them we’ll be able to get this record into people’s hands who wouldn’t normally have been able to get it.
AVC: Do you think you’ll continue doing things yourself, or do you eventually hope to be picked up by a record label?
HH: Yeah if the situation was good, I don’t think we would shy away from that at all, but for our purposes now this is the best possible situation. Honestly if some badass label wanted to pick us up, I don’t think we would be opposed to that, but we’ll see.
AVC: What are your plans for after the record comes out?
HH: We’re working on a West Coast tour right now. It’s time to start pedaling it and playing for new audiences. For us that means getting out of Denver and Colorado.
AVC: Do you think you’ll eventually make this a full-time job?
HH: That would be ideal. We’ve all been doing this for such a long time, and balancing being in a band, being an artist, and working can be hard. I’d love to be able to devote all of my energy to making music. That would be great!
AVC: How does Snake Rattle Rattle Snake compare to the other bands you’ve been in?
HH: It’s by far been—I think for all of us, people have been very receptive to this band in a way that some of our other bands didn’t really have. All of our other bands have had their audiences, but this has just been a little more far-reaching in terms of people that like our music and come to our shows. I don’t know if that’s an issue of accessibility or I don’t know, but it’s been pretty exciting to play the shows that we’ve played and have the opportunities that we’ve had.
AVC: Do you ever get tired of having your music described as dark or brooding?
HH: Like I said earlier, there is something dark in our songs, but I’ve noticed that sort of language popping up when people are describing us. I don’t know; it could just be the music and people picking up on my weird lyrics and my deep voice sometimes. It’s not something we consciously do; it’s just that that’s what we’re all drawn to when we’re making music, and I guess people are picking up on that.