By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
"Those were all political hardcore bands," says Spiders guitarist Zach Chasnoff of his and his bandmates' previous musical endeavors. "This is way different."
Indeed, in less then a year of existence, the Spiders have become one of St. Louis' finest straight-ahead, balls-out rock & roll bands, bowing to the altar of the Stooges and the New Bomb Turks but living up to the punk-rock do-it-yourself credo. The band's loud-and-fast philosophy is summed up in the chorus (and pretty much the only lyrics) of their song "Faders Up": "Mr. Engineer, Mr. Engineer/Mr. Engineer, bring the FADERS UP!"
With no recordings yet available, the Spiders are building their reputation one manic, frantic, sweat-soaked show at a time. Guitarist Chasnoff (punk name: Sleazus Christ) riffs as if his life depends on keeping up with the beat, and he can let rip a gloriously incompetent solo that delivers in spirit what it lacks in any conventional proficiency while bassist Dave (the Athletic Spider) and drummer Chris (Buckethead) not only keep the band from flying off in all directions musically but display an appropriately spastic stage presence that keeps the band visually stimulating. The key to the Spiders' sound, though, is singer Jaxon (Combustible Jaxon) Nathaniel. Besides the requisite punk snottiness, his vocals have that hint of soul that separates the great punk-rock singers from the generic ranters and screamers. His voice and stage presence provide a powerful focus for the band, whether he's dropping to his knees, attacking the drums with his microphone stand or attempting to strangle his bandmates midsong.
The parts add up to a band that could save punk rock in St. Louis, provided that St. Louisans think punk rock is worth saving. The refreshing thing about the Spiders, though, is that they have no illusions about their own importance. Unlike Stooge worshipers of old the Ghoul Five, who seemed to think they deserved a six-figure record deal after their first practice session, the Spiders are keeping their goals reasonable. "We'd like to put out a full-length album and maybe tour," says Chasnoff. "We just wanna play a lot of shows," offers Nathaniel. Their humble enthusiasm about being in a band also manifests itself in their support of other bands. Members of the Spiders can usually be found front and center rocking out to whatever bands they're playing with, from touring emo bands to local grunge-rockers Sullen.
The Spiders keep getting better with every show, and they play out often, usually at the Way Out Club, the Creepy Crawl or Centro Sociale. Those who still believe in the hormonal rush of rock & roll are strongly encouraged to give witness.