It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
There's an underlying animal theme to this column you may or may not have noticed. I'm always interested when bands attach themselves to lions, tigers, bear, ponies and even the Loch Ness Monster. So when I saw a band called Silver Snakes was sneaking into town from Los Angeles, I perked up and wanted to find out why they found the serpent so worthy a herald.
First the band itself... if you like Fugazi you'll like these guys. It's a pretty nice combination of social themes, straight rock and experimental flourishes that land it in the category of uncategorized. The beats are strong, the guitars tend to ballroom-dance in and out of each other's lines, and singer Alex Estrada commands a pretty impressive presence. He's what alt bands used to sound like before whiny purveyors of victim music started trying to growl as overcompensation.
But that name...
Silver Snakes? Snakes aren't silver. They're Leave Me Alone Green or Poison as Fuck Multicolored. The last time I even heard of Silver Snakes it was because they were one of the teams in the Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple, which by the way was awesome.
Why don't we put kids into danger for our amusement anymore? That's life in Obamastan for you. You'd think that expanded health care would mean we could let kids bounce off the walls in a fake temple once in a while, but I guess not.
Itching with a need for knowledge, I sent a series of messages via carrier pigeon to Estrada to ask what was up with his slithery name.
"The name just came to me one day in 2005 when I was hanging out at my mom's house," he says. "I had just started working on new music and desperately needed a name for it. I thought it had a cool ring to it and even though I didn't do much with that particular project at the time. The name always stood out to me."
"It's fairly ambiguous," he adds. "I just think it sounds cool and looks cool on paper. I wish it had a better back story!"
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So once again I stumble across a band that puts less thought into their name than they do into selecting a McDonald's combo, but that's OK. That's where I come in and dive deep into the band's own mind in order to try and unearth the real, hidden meaning underneath their base motivations.
Lots of people are afraid of snakes. In fact, some scientists believe that fear of snakes is actually a genetically ingrained response left over from our poo-slinging-in-the-grass days. Hell, even Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes, and he was a badass and should've been immune to fear since he wasn't real.
Wait... looting ancient ruins for treasure and a connection to snakes? Dammit, we're back at the game show again. Estrada assured me that one had nothing to do with the other, so I tackled the binds between him and Indiana Jones in the only way my ridiculously immature mind could contemplate... by asking him who would win in a fight between Indiana Jones and Silver Snakes.
"Let's set up the scene," says Estrada. "I'm somewhere deep in the desert exploring an abandoned gold mine for precious gems, an original pair of Levi's etc. After hours of backbreaking labor I unearth an ancient chest full of gold and denim. I raise my hands to the heavens in celebration when out of nowhere a whip strikes me in the wrist and coils itself around.
Dr. Jones swings down from the upper shaft of the mine and pretty much dropkicks me onto a pile of debris. I stand up and dust myself off just in time to dodge a punch directed at my jaw. I knee him in the stomach and run out of the tunnel while he's hunched over in pain.
"I trip over an old box of dynamite left over from a century before. I pry open the lid only to uncover one stick of TNT. I strike a match on the wall, Light the fuse and toss it into the tunnel just as Indiana regains his composure.
I dive out the entrance as the explosion obliterates the tunnel behind me. I jump onto my unicorn and ride off in to the sunset. I win this round. His greed got the better of him."
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That was oddly specific. Also badass. The guy that envisioned this scenario settled for Silver Snakes as a band name? Hell, he could have called it Gold and Denim or Unicorn Sunset Ride or I Kicked Dr. Jones. Such a waste.
Silver Snakes (n) 1. A team of intrepid children explorers. 2. A Los Angeles rock band. 3. Whipping Indiana Jones' ass had a lot more cachet before Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Silver Snakes play Friday, August 24 at Walters with Defeater, Hundredth, Rotting Out, and Blase.