The Snake The Cross The Crown played/slept/ate/worried/hoped in a single house for four years. Some worked the 6a.m. shift at a corporate bookstore. One sold groceries, once giving Paul Hogan the wrong Marlboros. All of them loved music and each other. They carpooled in a big white diesel van, which was very loud and very spacious. Their half ton of equipment had made a habit of staying set up in the garage.
It was the first time any of them had lived in their own house, the first year they had ever handled gas/water/electric bills, the first time they wrote music collaboratively, and it was the first time they played a show as The Snake The Cross The Crown. They were all from Alabama, they all missed Waffle House, and they all moved to Santa Barbara, California to play music.
Songs were written and occasionally performed in the placid musical environment of Santa Barbara. They recorded a 6-song EP – Like a Moth Before a Flame – and started playing more often, even trying some self-booked tours, which built a lot of momentum for the band (in the way that basement shows and a single recording give a band momentum). Parents and peers both were fond of the songs. They liked its contemporary youthful melodicism, contrasted against the band's innate desire to pursue a more mature artfulness. Management made its services available and solicited a recording contract between the band and Equal Vision Records.
Equal Vision likes to make records, so they decided that their new band, The Snake The Cross The Crown, needed to make one. In the warm sun of California, the band started writing their debut LP. They had allowed their burgeoning adulthood to lead them to Radiohead and The Beatles and they wanted very badly to learn from these bands. They absorbed as much new music as they could and passed it through the synthesis of what many locals lovingly nicknamed "The Snake House." Ten songs were written, recorded, and eventually titled Mander Salis.
Reviews were excellent. The band liked to read them because it was hard to believe they could get so many good reviews. People said they were creative, which was nice to hear. People said they sounded mature, which was also nice to hear. And the nicest thing of all was hearing people say they enjoyed it. Mander Salis sounded like a lot of music influenced by contemporary British bands, but somehow this album stood out.
Then the band started touring. This is important because touring is tough, and places like Poughkeepsie, NY are hard to spend time in when you're used to the ever-blue skies of Santa Barbara. The band toured with mewithoutYou, Mae, Hot Rod Circuit, Decibully, and Armor For Sleep, but eventually realized they weren't happy with how things were going. They frustrated their label, manager, and booking agent by canceling all the remaining tour dates and going home. They went back to books and Marlboros and walks on their secret beach. They wrote another batch of songs because like most artists, they thought they could do better.
And they did. The Snake The Cross The Crown spent their fourth year in California writing their most poignant album. They had unearthed even more music to help them create their own. Bob Dylan, The Band, Pink Floyd, and Louis Armstrong were just a few names in the torrent of music coming into The Snake House, and of course songs from The Beatles' remained stuck in their heads.
They listened and played and sometimes didn't play (because sometimes music is no fun if you have to do it). They didn't clean their dishes after they were done with them. They often forgot to take the trash to the street. They would get mad at one another for the reasons roommates get mad at one another; they would get mad at one another for the reasons bandmates get mad at one another. They had never been more of a family.
They finally went into the studio in April 2006 and created the last album they would make before moving away from California. When they were done, they decided to call it Cotton Teeth: ten songs reflecting the family/frustration/hope/worry/love that they all shared in their time under one roof, with two cars and one good shower. They played to be honest. They played to be heard. But most of all, they played songs to be with each other, because the world simply sounded better that way.