By Brad Lopez
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"In Monofog, I felt like some of us wanted to rock so hard," she says. "Sometimes I was like, 'I think I have a pretty good singing voice, but I'm sick of screaming all the time.' That was a pretty minor concern, but it did drive a wedge into things."
In 2007 and 2008, Sweet Tooth Meat Tooth played a few shows. The modest duo, though, soon outgrew its format. Warner and Wilson Helmericks were gradually added to the mix, and it wasn't long before the band realized it had turned into an entirely fresh entity. The newly dubbed Snake Rattle Rattle Snake began playing in early 2009, and the expanded roster — including Yardley and Peltzel, whose electronic drums intertwine with Warner's acoustic kit — built on the seething, shadowy music of Monofog while somehow streamlining the whole sound.
"When Snake Rattle Rattle Snake started practicing and writing songs, we were like, 'Oh man, this is kind of fun. This is where we want to put our energy,'" says Spencer. "Everyone in the band really adds a lot. The idea was, let's make this a fun project. Let's make it physical and base it around that."
And although Spencer is hesitant to use the word "dancey" to describe the SRRS sound — captured beautifully on the band's self-titled debut EP from early this year — Helmericks is less shy on the subject: "If someone's inclined to do the d-word while we're playing, that's great."
Both of them, though, are a bit more leery of another oversimplified tag: goth. As Helmericks explains, "Doug has always written weird, darkish things, and that's what I've always attempted to write, for whatever reason. We're not big fans of the major chords. The music's not so weird that it's inaccessible, though."
"I'm always trying to be a creep," adds Spencer with a laugh. "There is some goth leaking out of us. Oozing out."
With a new, two-song single being released soon — one that features the slashing, syncopated "Dead Man's World" and the hauntingly spacious "Ornament" — Snake Rattle Rattle Snake has already staked a claim for itself far outside of any easy pigeonholes. And with a full decade of playing together behind them, Spencer and Helmericks are able to look back and appraise their long, ever-evolving past — not to mention their future.
"If anything ever happened to this band, we'd still keep doing some kind of music together," says Helmericks. "This music just feels natural to us."
Spencer seconds that emotion. "Making music together is a big part of how me and Hayley's relationship works," he says. "I remember we were up at Black Hawk once, and we saw this old couple in the casino playing some show tunes together. I told Hayley, 'Get ready for this. In twenty years, that's you and me.'"