Fort Collins, Colorado isn’t exactly known for being a rock and roll Mecca, but seems well on their way to doing just that, consistently churning out some of the most radical and exciting new independent music in the Centennial state (and along the way giving Denver and Boulder a definite run for their money).
Enter into this fold Ft Collins three piece Serpentfoot. Like all of the great rock and roll trios in history, Serpentfoot manage to create tunes that seem so much bigger and grander than what you would think just three people are capable of. Marrying heavy and probably drug induced aural kilos of psych-rock a la the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the artsy proto-punk sneer of bands like Television and the Sonics is already a recipe for beautiful disaster. Easily. But the ‘foot doesn’t stop there; they then decide to add heapin’ helpin’s of noodly 60’s era surf and garage rock into the cake they’re baking, turning the whole mess of a into a new album and band that is so damn good you’ll need the recipe. Not that you could make it the same way, though.
PULP: Serpentfoot is all over the place musically. Elements of surf and psych-music are definitely on display, but there’s so many other genres at work it seems. Where does the band take cues from, musical or otherwise?
Philip Shellabarger(bass/vocals): I guess we all have pretty diverse musical backgrounds. Sometimes they overlap, and if there’s an element we all enjoy that fits well within the style we’re shooting for we’ll throw it in the brew and see what happens. There’s a lot of great psych rock out there that’s fun to take cues from, but sometimes I like to dip into my earlier punk roots like Bad Brains. Sometimes you just gotta scream or thrash around on stage a bit more than is necessary.
Michael Ross(drums): I grew up playing in punk rock bands, and I feel that we all merge with that and the heavier element in some fashion. We seem to have a mutual admiration for lo-fi garage rock, and the surfy and heavier parts sort of serve as foils for each other so the songs have a direction to move into.
Jordan Twiggs (guitar/vocals): A lot of this project initially came from my love of jangly, sort of choppy bands like Thee Oh Sees, The B-52s, Ty Segall, Fever the Ghost, etc. The raucous nature of the music makes it more interesting to play and listen to for the most part. I had done the singer/songwriter folk thing before this and I got really tired of not having folks like Michael and Phil to bounce ideas off and I generally just wanted to get loud and have fun.
Any particular reason for naming the band Serpentfoot?
PS: Well there’s the true version, and there’s the version I like to tell which is that it’s a reference to the biblical story of serpents being stripped of their feet and cursed to crawl the earth on their bellies after betraying God and introducing humanity to sin. That’s pretty metal.
MR: It has to do with a woman I stumbled across on the internet who lives in Rome, and was attempting to officially change her name to a phrase with like 40 plus words. One of the words was “Serpentfoot”, and she’s so wacky and I love her. The word stuck out at me. I hope she doesn’t sue us, but we’re loveable so I think we’re golden.
Your new album The Less You Hear, the Better it Sounds has a surf party from hell kinda vibe. Was it your plan to make something so damn fun?
PS: That’s an awesome description! From the get-go we wanted to make music that we didn’t have to take too seriously. Obviously some dark lyrical themes bleed through, and the mix if the two contrasting vibes is pretty spunky and spooky.
MR: Yeah, the combination of the poppy surf and the heavier or punk themes really melt together and help the songs move. We just want to have fun, and I think we’ve accomplished that.
JT: I’m stealing the first part of this as a quote. Haha. Honestly having fun is all we have ever cared about. And I know that lots of bands are going “we just like to have fun” but I hate when we can’t practice (usually my fault, truth be told) because playing music with this band is some of the most fun shit I’ve ever done.
How do you find Ft Collins as a scene?
PS: There’s only a scene here if you make one, and then it f*cking rocks. I think too many people want to leech off an existing scene instead of building their own, so they get discouraged and move to Denver or wherever. That attitude is destructive. There’s people in every town that wanna see great shows. You can’t make a baby without putting some work in, you know what I’m saying?
MR: You have to make your own scene in Fort Collins. The DIY ethic is here, but it’s sparse. Most get frustrated and move. There’s a huge scene here for other genres like bluegrass and jam (bands) etc. But there’s a huge hole in the less accessible garage/punk/weirdo scene, so we decided we want to help fill in that gap. DIY or die.
JT: It can be rough at times but there’s a lot of great folks around that are trying to build up the less represented parts of the music scene. I feel like we’re on the cusp of turning this scene into something really stellar but there’s still lots of work to be done. I mean Colorado is like this island in the middle of this Midwestern wasteland that bands can tour through and hit Fort Collins, Denver, Boulder, the Springs, etc. so it should be built up!
Where do you see Serpentfoot in the next 5 years?
PS: On a throne of dope ass vintage gear and our enemy’s petrified corpses.
MR: Hopefully just having fun and getting rowdy.
JT: Trying to pitch one of our hits as the new United States anthem. On the real, though, just writing dope shit and getting wild on more and more tours.
Real talk; what sucks about being in a band?
PS: Scheduling rehearsals and shows sucks so bad! Even with just three members, I get super stressed trying to juggle it all, and I suck at using a calendar.
MR: Time management. Philip and I play in other bands as well, and we all have full time jobs, relationships, etc. Staying busy keeps me out of trouble though.
JT: The business portion but it is what it is. If we want to keep doing it we have to be professional sometimes. We don’t let that hinder our rambunctious nature, though.
What do you wish people knew about making music?
PS: That it’s about artistic expression and not a cut and dried statement about personal opinions. I like to say stuff sort of tongue in cheek in songs or in interviews, and people often take it way too seriously and get offended. Just chill.
MR: It’s all about having fun. Some people take it so seriously. I have no delusions of grandeur. It’s really just the thrill of making music and playing live for and with friends.
JT: Just be a cool person. My biggest pet peeve is when people get arrogant. Even if you have the accolades it doesn’t give a reason to not take time out of your day to chat to and thank your fans. They’re the ones that matter. Never forget.
Bandcamp says TLYH,TBIS was fueled by psychedelics. Any cool drug stories? Don’t worry, I’m not a cop.
PS: It does? My mom’s not gonna be happy about that…
MR: I’ll let Jordan take this one…
JT: Why is everyone pointing at me?! I don’t know, man. I’m sure anyone who does psychedelics could write a book on their crazy stories that they think are hilarious. They have definitely contributed to the oddness of the music and lyrics for me, at least. If people feel like they’re on drugs when they listen to Serpentfoot then that’s a win for us.
Any bands in your scene you think we should be listening to?
JT: The Savage Blush is dope. Rebecca is a fucking workhorse that won’t be beat down and I admire that. The Sickly Hecks are coming up out of The Fort and they’re sick. Porlolo is rad alt-country shit. Bitter Suns is a band I haven’t seen but judging by their recordings, they sound like they’re gonna end up being rad.
How would you describe your live show?
PS: Super loud and high energy. Expect lots of dancing and twiggy burping into the microphone through his delay effects.
MR: It’s the best way to hear us. Generally too loud and with just the right amount of rowdy.
JT: Short shorts. Tall socks. Lots of flailing. Bring earplugs and friends and expect to get wild.
Trust us. Put on The Less You Hear, the Better it Sounds from Serpentfoot at your next pool party. It’s streaming now as we speak, direct from the band at serpentfoot.bandcamp.com or streaming right here v v v