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Published: 2012/01/05

The Barr Brothers, Low Anthem and Jesse Lauter Introduce Snake Wagon

The members of The Slip offshoot The Barr Brothers, fellow Rhode Island band The Low Anthem and producer Jesse Lauter are tight knit group of musicians. So when a mysterious new Low Anthem-approved group claiming to be from Youngstown, Ohio called Snake Wagon quietly released their debut album— a selection of twisted songs called Have Fun With Snake Wagon —we weren’t surprised that the musicians collectively got behind the gospel-comedy band. And while we’re not quite ready to call them out on their Andy Kaufman routine quite yet, after a listen the musicians on Have Fun With Snake Wagon—credited as such historical figures as Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin—sound suspiciously like the above-mentioned bands. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if who is playing which instruments or if our third President has just been practicing some guitar in the White House basement.

As Snake Wagan explains:

After nearly three decades of playing the Youngstown circuit, Providence, Rhode Island’s folk outfit The Low Anthem discovered Snake Wagon in a rest-stop 57 miles outside Columbus, where Snake Wagon was amidst their four-year residency at that rest-stop’s Tim Hortons. “I wasn’t too sure what I was hearing. I was literally relieving myself when I heard this ungodly sound,” said Low Anthem bassist/drummer Jeff Prystowsky. “I wasn’t sure if I loved it or hated it. I think I hated it, but after they played for nearly four hours, we all sort of warmed up to it. Maybe it was the endless supply of Tim Hortons’ sasuage patties that helped.” In that rest-stop, the two bands formed a friendship based on their love of our nations 11th President James K. Polk, midwestern songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, and hoagies.

The Low Anthem proceeded to invite Snake Wagon to their studio, a 40,000 square foot abandoned pasta sauce factory outside Providence. It was Snake Wagon’s first time outside of Ohio and their first time in a proper recording facility. In a creative rage, Mr. Jefferson locked the doors to the pasta sauce factory, holding the Low Anthem, their friends The Barr Brothers, and producer/engineer Jesse Lauter hostage and at gunpoint, forcing them all to record ten of his crowning works in a matter of 48 hours, literally interrupting the recording of the Low Anthem’s album Smart Flesh. They even managed to kidnap ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons from his Brookline, Mass home in order to fulfill his dream of including his idol on his debut record. In the process, Zarkanius became jealous of Thom’s new musical mates and fled the studio, effectively leaving Snake Wagon for rival Youngstown band The Devil’s Daughter. But the record went on… and the result is Have Fun With Snake Wagon, a legendary record, as the long-lost second-cousin-once-removed of David Byrne says, “It’s as good as they’ve ever been, and maybe even better.”

Perhaps David Letterman will find out a little more about the band when The Barr Brothers appear on The Late Show tonight.

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