The All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, which will be held this weekend at Pier 36, continues to honor the ever-nostalgizing indie world with reunions among the kind of small-scale and beloved acts that seemingly passed into the mist long ago. This year’s slate includes the Afghan Whigs, Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band (playing their first NYC gig since the Captain’s 1982 retirement), and snarling post-punkers Hot Snakes, who got back together for a December 2011 festival in England.
Hot Snakes was co-founded by guitarists Rick Froberg and Jon Reis, also of the profoundly un-reunited Drive Like Jehu. One can also catch Froberg’s current outfit Obits on September 28th at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. He reflected on the state of Hot Snakes’ reunion.
What’s it been like returning to the Hot Snakes’ catalogue?
It’s pretty easy. It seems like it’s still in the muscle memory. I think if I went back any further than [Hot Snakes] it might be pushing it. It wasn’t that long ago. The band broke up in 2005 so it’s not that huge a deal. I don’t think we’re probably going to get together and make a new record, there’s been no talk of that. It kind of doesn’t matter if there’s any clarity or distance. But when you start playing something you’ve played a million times, it’s automatic, you just lock into what you did before.
Does being a performer at ATP feel as different as it does being an audience member?
When we play, it’s not that different, it’s just the same. If it’s a good sounding place, and a good PA, or a vibe, then it’s great. But if it’s not, it’s not. People can try to come up with an all-in-one and sometimes it doesn’t work. It’s just a show. It’s kind of about the bands they pick and the way they make the event, especially when people stay on site. It’s definitely a cool thing. I think if it happened too much, it’d be bad. It’s too much like Club Med for indie rock. There’s too many festivals, there’s too many packages of 10,000 bands. Rock and roll like that is precious, and the only way to see it is in a small stinky club. I think with ATP it’s a good thing, and I hope people appreciate what Barry’s done. But it can also be just this big entertainment spectacle.
Yeah, seeing rock bands as part of a tourist package on cruise ships always sounded a bit odd to me.
Right, but for bands who get paid $300 a night to play, [gigs like that are] a weird thing. I’m not sure what the fancy word would be. I think it commodifies this band. And this band, and this band, and this band. And you put it all together, and it seems like it’ll be awesome. But if you go to an art museum and you try to look at the whole goddamn thing, it doesn’t sink in. I think with ATP, you have to pick a few bands and focus on them. I think it’s difficult to appreciate sometimes.
If you ran the proverbial circus, what bands would reunite?
That’s like the Pet Sematary thing. You bring the band back from the Pet Sematary, then they kill your family. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of seeing a reunion and it was awesome. If the band is still thinking like a band. I could see Wire, maybe. I saw Television and it was awesome. Sometimes you see a band that reunites and it’s like “why the fuck are you reuniting?” You never know with that kind of stuff. It is what it is. If you’re going to reunite, just do your best, and hopefully it won’t be like the Pet Sematary.