Snakehandlers rattle country music

Jessica Kenney

The general public may not be able to fathom music that could combine the influences of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson with The Sex Pistols. With their album, “Country Rock is Neither,” The Snakehandlers have taken the little known genre of country rock to an entire new level and the end result is nothing short of amazing.

The Snakehandlers were recently voted “Best Country Band” in LA, although country is only half of their sound. Their ability to be both country and rock at the same time allows for them to play with both country and rock bands, though they would most likely be suited to open for a band like Nickelback.

Their current release “Country Rock is Neither,” proclaims their defiance that such a statement is true. The Snakehandlers are one of very few bands able to make it past the typical cowboy-farmer image often associated with a country sound. Despite the title, country rock is exactly what you’ll find in this six-song EP and what you’ll continue to find when their full-length, live record is cut and released.

Unlike most bands, The Snakehandlers did not deem themselves a band at a specific moment in time. Instead, they slowly grew into what they’ve become over a long period of about ten years. One member would meet the other, recognize each other’s abilities in music, and occasionally “jam” just for fun. So, although they’d all been playing together for quite some time, it wasn’t until vocalist Bryson Jones had what he calls a “white light experience,” that he was inspired to write some original songs and bring them into the band.

“The band is not what I’d like it to be, and that’s a beautiful thing,” said Jones while describing how all of the members manage to come together to create their music. “Nobody plays exactly like any of us would like it to be. We just let everybody do whatever they do. There’s a lot of magic that happens when you just put people together and see what they do.”

Although Bryson was responsible for coming up with many of their current songs, his band mates Joel Siegerson, Brian Forsythe, Reeve Downes’ and Dave Raven were not excluded from the writing process. As a group, they consciously made sure to add more tastes of country if a song sounded too much like pure rock and vice versa. Their different perspectives about the way a song should sound are responsible for the unique sound that produces the end result.

While The Snakehandlers do not play shows or tour as frequently as most bands, they hope to spread their name in other ways. They’ve managed to sell a large number of records throughout Europe and Japan, though they have never toured in either countries as a band.

“It’s a strange thing how people find out about you in this world,” said Bryson, who hopes to build a fan base using Internet and live video before touring becomes a priority.

Such an opportunity was provided for them when Danny Bonaduce, on the “Adam Corolla Show,” picked the Snakehandlers version of the punk hit “People Who Died,” as his song of choice when they were all choosing the song they’d like played at their funerals.

The Snakehandlers’ reputation is strong and well-deserved one based on talent and originality. Their rock-based power and their country-based flare make their music appealing to a much broader audience than many artists today, and it would not be unlikely for their name to be on more tongues over the next few years.