The Young Snakes are:
Doug Vargas on guitar
Aimee Mann on bass
Dave Bass on drums
BGN - Why The Young Snakes?
DB - It was a bad dream I had once.
AM - It was Dave's idea! This is how we got the name; he called up the Underground, asked for a gig and
gave the tape to the guy. He asked Dave "What's the name of the band? - and he said The Young Snakes. I was really against it but Doug said "I kinda like it." and I didn't have anything to say, so it doesn't really bother me now.
DV - No one refers to snakes as young. You refer to them in more descript terms. Nobody talks about their
age. They're all just snakes. So, to say the Young Snakes is so ridiculous.
DB - And we are all young as a matter of fact.
BGN - What are your ages?
DB - I'm eighteen.
DV -We range from 18-21.
BGN -Are you snakes? Are you slimy?
AM -You see, that's where the name does apply, because Dave might be, but
DV -I'm working towards it.
BGN - How did you get together? You're all Berklee students, right?
AM -Oh! It's already out! It's just that people think that. ·cause we're
from Berklee, we have lots of training ooo which is really rubbish. Like, people say, Oh! You must have had tons of voice lessons! Which is untrue because I was a bass major at Berklee, and I didn't go there that long. '
BGN - So you're not there now?
AM - NO. Me and Doug went there in the summer of '79 for the seven week program,
and we palled around for about a year.
DB - I was only there for a semester, then I dropped out because I hated it.
DV -We were the only punks.
AM - Yeah, so we latched onto each other.
BGN - You and Doug were playing together first?
AM - Yeah, we were practicing together.
DV -We sang on the streets. We did covers with acoustic and bass guitar.
BGN -Why do that?
DV -Because they were very fast. You take,like, a Jim Croce song and just
rock the hell out of it. Then I don't have the stress of writing, and at the same time I'm out on the street playing songs that people know.
AM - He's a VERY good arranger.
DV -We took some of those songs and portrayed them absurdly. We did a Christian Ballad.
AM - It's a song called, "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Loving" and he arranged it in 7/4 ... it was great.
DB -While all that was going on, I was in 12th grade of high school playing in a band in Philadelphia called The Ecstatics. We were a bunch of kids playing "Psychotic Reaction" and all
these obscure 60's songs. We played "Little Girl" by the Syndicate of Sound. We played at the HOT CLUB with groups like The Mutants and The Speedies. So, I was a kind of teenage pop star at the time!
BGN - So,Dave, you're from Philadelphia. Where are you from, Aimee?
AM - Richmond, Virginia.
BGN - Doug?
DV - Louisburg, Pennsylvania.
BGN - All three of you came up here to go to Berklee?
DV - Yes.
BGN - So, who said, "Let's get a group together?"
AM - Doug and I had the idea within a month after we met. We started writig songs ... really crude songs. "Carl Canine" was the first one. That's gonna be a flexi-disc in Boston Rock. Then we ran into Dave this past summer. Doug said, "Hey, I met this drummer, we should play with him."
BGN - Aimee, why do you sing the way you do?
AM - For some reason I have this ability when I sing high, to put a lot of vibrato on my voice. It makes it sound operatic and trained…but it's just a trick. I don't even think I'm doing it right.
BGN - Did you sing as a kid?
AM - Oh, I was totally stone deaf as a kid, I always wanted to be a singer, but I couldn't sing until I was about 16, then I had a passable voice.
BGN - So this is a new thing?
AM -The high voice I had, and when the punk thing was still going, I realIy tried 'to suppress it and yell, but it didn't work.
BGN -Now, Dave, you really changed the way you played after you joined the band, right?
DB - I change my style as I change the way I act. My mood changes from hour to hour. 1'm kind of a schizoid.
I was playing a tape of this obscure old: band called the Psychopaths and Doug happened to go by my room at Berklee, when I was playing it and he was amazed.
AM -Every band he ever mentions is "an obscure old band". All his records arereally old and obscure.
DB - In fact, I got some in the mail today. I got the 13th Floor Elevators I the HBR label, which nobody in this town has except possibly Eric Lindgren. ALL this wierd stuff like hopelessly obscure 45's". Even the song we do now
that I sing, "Stroke of Dawn" is by the Psychopaths.
BGN - Where is your overall sound coming from?
DV -I have no idea.
BGN -Who's writing?
AM - A few songs Doug has come in with on his own and taught me the base line I'll add some lyrics and then I'll figure out a melody. I go to Doug with that and he put's his guitar to it, we figure out an arrangement and then we throw it on Dave, and he just drums away.
BGN -How would you describe your overall sound?
AM - I don't know, sometimes it sounds really mean...dissonant. What I try to keep in mind when I do melodies and bass lines is to make a melodic counterpoint so the piece all sort of clicks up and down.
BGN - Doug your guitar sound is very angular.
DB - I'd say it's more rectangular.
DV - It's as clean as I can make it. I try to get as much ... chords and as
much of a wall as I can.
BGN - You listen to Captain Beefheart at all?
DV - No..
BGN - Aimee, who do you listen to?
AM - I like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Public Image, LTD., Gang of Four.
BGN - And Dave, you listen to a lot of 60's music, right?
DB - l listen to the Zombies a lot.
BGN - Do you practice much? I hear you don't.
DV - We used to practice a tremendous amount, but not anymore. We can't find
BGN - Do you think you're artsy?
AM - I've heard people call us an art band, but I think that's strange.
DB - I'll it's an out and out lie.
BGN - Dave, everyone talks about how you stand up when you play.
DB - Only when 1 get excited.
BGN - I hear you practice standing up.
DB - Oh yeah - because I don't have a seat. Seats are like something you souldn't have to pay for; they should just be there.
BGN - Dave you're a real record collector. You probably out 'mono' Monoman. What's your most obscure record?
DB - Probably the New Colony Six, "Breakthrough". But I'm not gonna leave this town till I get an album-by this group called, "'The Rising Storm". You can only get it around here.
BGN - Have you had any weird things happen to you at gigs '?
DV - One of the weirdest things is transit to and from.
AM - We have to load everything into a Checker cab.
BGN - What do you think of drugs?
AM - Drugs are absurd! If you want to alter your mind, there are so many ways of doing it other than drugs.
DB - Drugs are for abusing only.
BGN - Oh yeah, what sort of drugs do you take, Dave?
DB - Obscure 45's.