Friday, November 30, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.
It's the holiday season and John Reis is in the giving mood, so rather than performing only as part of the headlining act Sunday at Alex's Bar in Long Beach with his group Hot Snakes, the guitarist is also opening the show with his band the Night Marchers. This doubling-up might not sound like such a big deal, but the matinee marks just the second time in his career - which includes stints in Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, the Sultans and Pitchfork - when he'll have played in two bands on the same stage. Reis isn't concerned about tiring during Hot Snakes' set and says he's looking forward to performing back-to-back.
"Most shows that you enjoyed playing," Reis says, "you kind of don't want it to end. We usually play for an hour, so there are 23 other hours in the day when we're driving or hanging around on our butts. The whole day is about this one hour when you get to do something cool."
Visually speaking, there isn't much difference between Hot Snakes and the Night Marchers. Reis plays guitar in Hot Snakes with singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, bassist Gar Wood and drummers Jason Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba, and sings and plays guitar in the Night Marchers with Wood (who switches to guitar), Kourkounis and bassist Tommy Kitsos. Sonically, however, Hot Snakes favor primitive, bashing rhythms and down-strummed cacophony while the Night Marchers deploy a straight-ahead, barf-it-out brand of rock'n'roll that would please both Bo Diddley and the Real Kids.
These overlapping lineups suggest a lack of downtime between sets, which be problematic for Kourkounis based on the way Hot Snakes' set lists are written. The drummer plays on the band's first two records - Automatic Midnight and Suicide Invoice - but Rubalcaba is featured on the group's final album, Audit in Progress. Since reuniting last year, Hot Snakes shows have included both drummers playing the songs they recorded. Recent Hot Snakes sets begin with material from Automatic Midnight and continue with songs from Suicide Invoice before Rubalacaba takes over. Considering the Night Marchers play for approximately an hour, Kourkounis could be on stage for 120 minutes.
"It's going to be harder for Jason," Reis says, "but it'll be easier for everyone else. We play chronologically, so I don't know what we're going to do."
As if a double dose of Reis isn't enough of a holiday gift, the 42-year-old San Diegan says the Night Marchers' set is comprised of about half new material featured on Allez Allez, the band's latest album slated for a Jan. 22 release on Reis' Swami Records. The songs might be foreign to audiences, but the Night Marchers are familiar with the songs as the quartet recorded the album approximately four years ago. The downtime stems from a combination of many things -Reis having a neck injury that left him sidelined for about a year, Hot Snakes reuniting in 2011, Kourkounis living on the east coast while the other three members living in San Diego and the fact that the members of the band have children.
"We tend to move slowly," Reis says, "but that's how it's always been since the beginning, so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal." For now, Reis say the main problem is finding gigs that work with all of their schedules, making their rare opportunities to be on stage all the more important. But a band addicted to the road will do whatever it takes to get their fix. "If this is going to be our only way to do that this year," Reis says, "then so be it."
Hot Snakes perform with the Night Marchers, White Murder and DJ Velvet Touch at Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Sun., 3 p.m. Sold out.