The Snails: Slow and Steady

Nathan Hall

During my formative years in the cultural wasteland that is rural Texas, my buddy Dave and I thought we were the cat’s pajamas, in part because we were the only kids in town who owned everything ever put out by Amphetamine Reptile Records. We hung up Cows posters on our battered walls and sported Killdozer hats at our crappy fast food jobs, blasting Guzzard from crackling tinny Arco Delco speakers on the way to school. Am-Rep sadly went the way of the dodo roughly around the same time I moved to Minneapolis for college. Here, I suffered through the formulaic ska, inane pop punk, repetitive techno and crybaby emo at the local all-ages shows. Enter Snails, stage right.

On first glance, many would write off the power trio as simply the latest in a long and tired line of we’ve-got-short-hair-but-we-still-rock Helmet cover bands, following in the dubious footsteps of Filter, Step Kings, et al. Focus the microscope in a little closer, pal. Their self-released and self-titled EP is raw, beer-soaked axe-grinding and the enhanced CD even has some snazzy video footage to boot. The funeral dirge bass lines lumber in like a Chattanooga choo-choo train, before the song throws you for a loop with gorgeous stacked vocals.

The comparisons to what’s considered by rock critics as the classic Am Rep sound are inevitable. Drummer Pete Beeman is from Guzzard (not to be confused with the Airwalk sneaker). They put out their debut 7″ on Learning Curve Records that is a foster home of sorts to Vaz (former members of Hammer Head). Learning Curve is run out of Am Rep’s old office. Lead singer/guitarist Dan Beeman (yes, they’re brothers) started King Can and bassist Dan Riley honed his chops in Cooper, two other bands associated with the 1990’s Minneapolis stoner noise metal scene.

“I could understand the comparisons to Vaz, for sure,” Beeman says. “They’ve focused more heavily on songwriting this time around, and are a tad bit more accessible but still specifically extremely loud Hammer Head. King Can’s record was on Earmark Records but we draw the same crowd so in many ways this is the second generation of Am Rep.”

The striking mix of pop sensibility and metal marches is perhaps what sets the Snails apart from practically everyone in the current local scene, save perhaps Gnomes Of Zurich.

“I came from more of the dirgey stuff but Riley is more melodic … all three of these competing sounds fight for dominance which is the nature of that style of music,” Beeman says. “It feels unexpected because we’re pulling from disparate genres here … we’re not writing songs for the radio either. We’re writing songs for ourselves.”

As demonstrated by their recent raucous performance at Big V’s, the live show is a tad more raw than the recordings would imply. Jason Orris recorded the EP at the fabled Terrarium studio.

“The lyrics are important to us but we’re not making huge statements here either … I mean, even our name doesn’t really possess any deeper meaning,” Beeman says. “The main point I want to get across here is that we’re a unit, this interview is not about me. It’s all about the music for us.”

 

The Snails will appear on Off The Record on Radio K Friday at 4pm. They will also play a 21+ show Saturday at 7th Street Entry with the Dames and Swiss Army. Doors open at 8 p.m., cover is $6.