What’s My Scene: Hot Snakes’ San Diego
Once upon a time to be from San Diego was to be musically damned, but once Hot Snakes’ JOHN REIS discovered Battalion Of Saints he found there was more to his little “fishing village” than he initially thought. Ahead of a December tour (dates below), he lists his five favourite bands from his hometown.
Well, San Diego isn’t exactly New Orleans, Memphis, or even the Pacific Northwest in terms of musical history and significance. There have been lots and lots of good bands from San Diego. Far, far, far more than five. Good bands, great friends, amazing times happened and are happening. But since my assignment is to pick five, on this day these are the five that come to mind first. People and their fuckin’ lists!
Obscure even to most San Diegites, The Nephews conceptual take on garage and psychedelia is the product of the isolation of exceptional taste. The band seemed to be in a constant state of evolution. I got turned onto them around 1993 and at that point The Nephews had already been around for at least eight or nine years. They released a record at this time titled The Heliocentric Sounds of the Nephews and although an obvious nod to Sun Ra, few were name-checking him at that time. Singer/guitarist Tim Ellison’s zine Rock Mag/ Modern Rock Mag, was/is similarly cherished by me as one of the finest exports from my fishing village.
Beehive and The Barracudas
Without a doubt the kinkiest of all bands from my fishing village. Six full-length records to their credit and all of them feature flamboyantly, weak sonics and stiff beats. Twenty years from now their sound will still be out of time with the rest of civilisation.
Battalion Of Saints
To say they were revelatory would be an understatement. As a young fisherboy in the early ‘80s perusing the local rock options, I found supplies were limited. The punk music reflected the navy town aesthetic and reality of San Diego. That is to say, most of the bands that were of immediate access to me consisted of the punk equivalent of Marine recruits. It gave me the sense that to be from here was to be musically damned. That was until I saw the Battalion Of Saints. They were brutal, metallic with a turbine velocity. They were more than adept players, shredders even. They were intimidating and looked like pock-marked teddies from the future. They made me believe that being from here was a good thing.
I was seven years old when they started and still listening to mostly AM radio. I didn’t get turned on to The Zeros until much later. Unlike now (where click click and you have The Zeros ‘Don’t Push Me Around’ in your ear) as a young fisherboy, it was impossibly hard to find their records around town. Thank goodness the good people in charge place importance on these good things! Everyone should spend a summer afternoon with their debut record. Details such as The Zeros being the first punk band in California are minuscule, for this is as close to perfect as any teen rock’n’roll record can be.
Something new. Released this year, Mrs. Magician’s ‘Strange Heaven’ is the best thing outta San Diego in some time. Obvious comparisons to Jan and Dean aside, it represents new concepts in embracing from a distance the beach culture of our fishing village. Their songs are massive, hook-filled laments; anthems in solitude. And a new orange sun rises over El Cajon and heats the orange groves and avocado trees of the most south-western corner of the country.
Hot Snakes tour
Thursday, December 6 – Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Friday, December 7 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday, December 8 – Meredith Music Festival, Meredith
Tickets on sale now