Today is a sad one, we’ve found out that Dale Barclay has died. The frontman of the incredible, Amazing Snakeheads, part time member of the Fat White Family and more recently And Yet It Moves, has effected the underground community more than he’d probably ever comprehend. Dale had recently been suffering from a rare Brain Cancer and fans alongside those around him helped to raise over £40k to help save the man. Whilst it has ultimately failed, the reaction to his suffering is a true measure of his effect on the world. Dale Barclay terrified me, his music, his face and his conviction were chilling. The first and only time I spoke to him was at Josh’s flat where we had arranged an interview for Issue Five. It was around 12pm and we’d rescheduled a call from the day before. I’d had 24 hours to sit on my questions and the hope i’d receive more than the odd snarl in return. To prepare, I’d sunk two ciders and a small vodka whilst locking myself away in the kitchen. It all seems silly now as Dale was one of the most genuine people I’ve interviewed, truly passionate about his work. I’d caught him in a time where rumours were circulating that ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ would be the bands first and only record due to fall outs in the band and Dale had no qualms about getting emotional about what was going on. My brief encounter with Dale was scary as fuck, but I’m very pleased it happened. In tribute, we’d like to repost our review of Dale’s first complete body of work with the Amazing Snakeheads as well as the interview we did for Issue Five. Within that interview you’ll see just how proud he was to release that. RIP Dale Barclay, A True Original.
The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads
Words By Dan Jones
Why is ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ by The Amazing Snakeheads such a significant record?
The Glaswegian trio seem to have crawled out from near-nowhere. Rising from the shadows of Nice N Sleazy, you can see them coming a mile off. The silhouette they cut is one of contradictions: the collars of dazzling shirts pulled straight from Marc Bolan’s wardrobe pop above robust leather jackets, leaving them looking like a gang of garage-glam rockers, born somewhere between the ghetto and galaxies far away. It’s beautiful, really.
And while their choice of attire is one of admirable quality, it’s not the crux of this article’s quest. We’re far more concerned with ‘that sound’. At first it slashes through a tirade of guttural shrieks and haunting roars, grossly eroding the boundaries of urban blues and garage-punk. It’s minimalist, though, and that’s not something you gauge from the initial choking. Listen again. Dale Barclay and co. play to their strengths, and their strengths lie in making each moment count.
‘I’m A Vampire’ sets the scene as bass lines of epic depth plod along before making way for the explosive guitars and thundering vocals. They catch you in those subdued seconds; the silence is essential. ‘Swamp Song’ is the same. Pounding drums are all that exist for a brief time, quickly extinguished that obligatory eruption, and the theme continues.
Things are simple on ‘Amphetamine…’, not over complicated or congested with unnecessary pretension – and that’s why it rocks. Each note is indispensable and carefully selected to hit you with all the impact it can. The Amazing Snakeheads pick their battles very carefully, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is perfecting the art of war. Let the battle commence.