Snake River would rather be weird than normal and boring

MUSIC by Hank Videoclip

Snake RIver - photo by Peter Scoular Photography

Snake River CD Release
The German Club
Friday 4

Reginald McKruski and his wife Jeanie McFeven-McKruski do bad things to each other, according to their creator, Chris Sleightholm. The frontman has been writing the emotional and adulterous McKruski narrative into Snake River’s psych-rock discography since 2012.

Snake River is something of a Regina super group. The band is made up of Sleightholm (from The Lonesome Weekends), guitarist John De Gennaro (Geronimo), drummer Dustin Gamracy (Spoils), and bassist Jeff M. Their third full-length album, Songs From The Adjacent Room, is a prequel in the McKruski plotline.

Songs From The Adjacent Room explores a single day prior to the penultimate track on Snake River’s 2014 album McKruski. I spoke to Sleightholm over the phone in anticipation for the Sept. 4 premiere of Songs from the Adjacent Room at The German Club with opening act Radiation Flowers. During the interview, I learned Sleightholm’s secret to staying relevant is to embrace his inner oddball.

Why did you go with a fictional concept for Songs from the Adjacent Room?

The idea [behind writing a concept album] is it’s easier to write from someone else’s perspective. You get to say things that you might not normally say yourself or necessarily agree with. That’s where the lyrical theme for the record comes from.

Are there any personal manifestos hidden on the new album?

Haha. No. It’s a portrait of a day in two people’s lives.

And this is a day in February, 1989. What’s the significance of that date?

The record previous, [McKruski,] is set a few weeks later than this record. There’s a song, [“Mr. McKruski Addresses the Crowd,”] on the older album where Mr. McKruski says a bunch of weird stuff during the speech and freaks everyone out. The new album shows where his head might have been leading up to that song.

I’m glad you used the word “weird”. A lot of articles describe your work as being weird. Is that a fair?

Sure! I’ll take it. It’s better than normal or boring. I don’t think we’re that weird.

The newest music video for “Hours III: Jeanie Says” — that one gets pretty out there. It looks like a Kids in the Hall sketch. How would you explain work like that to, say, a conservative uncle who only listens to AC/DC?

It’s hard to explain the band. I sometimes assume people won’t like it, but people do. You’re either into it or you’re not. There was a show in Winnipeg and a guy wearing a jersey — he must have just come from a hockey game — came up in the middle of a song and grabbed the mic. He started shouting stuff. We just let him say what he had to say — mostly curse words — and then he was escorted out.

Expand on the darker aspects of your characters.

I think they’re mostly harmless. Reginald McKruski is a dark and morose guy. He does a lot of shitty things to himself. On one of the tracks from the new record, he goes to the party of another contemporary author in the town [of Snake River Mountain]. Reginald is actually having an affair with the guy’s mom, who is 20 years older than he is. He just did it to get back at this author. Reginald keeps going with the affair. His wife Jeanie is also having an affair.

What’s the live show going to be like at The German Club on Sept. 4?

We’re doing a brand new set with the full band. Most songs are off the new record and there will be some even newer songs. People can expect to hear all new stuff.