This is a series is which people are asked to write about bands they ike that other people didn’t really catch on to. This week, Jimmy Watkins writes:
In 2001 I finished school and went to Sydney for a year. It was okay. Got a bit boring in the end. I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with apart from other Brits on their gap years. You know the type: guys with jeans and flip-flops on and their school rugby tops, with the collars up. Always the fucking collars up. I still see them walking around Tesco now and again, buying dry pasta and bargain bread. Different generation, same model. I came home in 2002. Britain was going crazy for the ‘THE’ bands: The White Stripes, The Vines, The Libertines, The Hives, The Datsuns, The Strokes, The Kills…THE list was endless. MTV even had days devoted to THE bands. I liked it. It was rock and roll. It was different to all those hippy gap year students I’d been hanging out with. It was loud. Raw. Dirty. It was ‘fuck you pop music.’ I lapped it up. I bought all the THE records I could. Piles of them. I bought a distortion pedal and played my guitar loud. It was great. It made up for being too young to remember Nirvana. Someone on the radio said “You’ll always remember where you were when you first heard the Hives.” Damn right I thought…but then…well, then 9 years came and went, and I ask myself now “Where was I when I first heard The Hives?” God knows. What I do remember though was where I was when I first saw Paul Mccartney wearing skinny jeans and converse trainers in a music video. “Hang on a minute Paul. Skinny jeans are for trendy kids. Kids in rock bands. Cool rockbands. You wrote Eleanor Rigby, and it sucks.” The next thing I know, he’s skipping down some psychedelic corridor with a ukele and wearing the same skinny jeans and Converse in an iPod advert. Argh. It was all a marketing scam. Rock and roll didn’t really return in 2002 to save us. We heard some loud guitars, got excited and then got told to go out and get store cards at Topman. We were fooled. All those THE CD’s that I bought are now in a shoe box under my old bed at my parents house. They’re next to a wooden tennis racquet and a Zoom guitar effects pedal. Where they belong.
One band did bring out a true rock and roll record in 2002, and they were Hot Snakes. Hot Snakes are a band that I was completely oblivious to until 2010, when a friend recommended them to me. I checked them out and thought they were okay. A few months later I checked them out again and thought they were still okay. I kept listening to them on Spotify and gradually got into them. Eventually I bought their records, played them loud and discovered one of my favourite rock bands! Since then, I’ve kind of become obsessed with Hot Snakes and in particular their 2002 album ‘Suicide Invoice.’ I listen to it, and find it hard to believe that it came out at the same time as The Vines etc. I find it harder to believe that I’d never heard of them. Why weren’t they on the cover of NME or Q. Why hadn’t I seen one of their videos on MTV? The first track ‘I hate the kids’ out grooves and bludgeons Queens Of The Stone Age, who released ‘Songs for the deaf’ in the same year. This is heavy music with no distortion, no messing around with backing vocals. It’s all frantic downstrokes on the guitar, stampeding over one lone vocal deep in the mix which is trying its best to get out and rip that trendy fringe off your puny head. The drummer sounds like he’s playing inside a cement mixer. I love it.How different it could all have been for me if I’d got my hands on this record in 2002. In a year when people were singing ‘Someday’ by The Strokes, or ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ by The Rapture, it would have been infinitely better to be in some sweaty rock club in Cardiff shouting ‘Pay the Present in cigarettes’ or ‘Ressurect Ben Gurion.’ I’m absolutely gutted that I may never get to see this band play live. There are a handful of video’s on the Internet. Check out this one for a taster:
p.s I don’t mean to name drop, but I will. I wrote this article in work, and James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers popped in. (I work in a shop). We had a chat and I mentioned the Hot Snakes. Not even he had heard of them! I urged him to go check them out. I like to think he has. Maybe we could start a cover-band together one day
Jimmy Watkins plays in Future of the Left and Strange News from Another Star. They’re both pretty ace.