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"I just liked anything that was hard, whatever came down the pike," Venom continues. "I was into Alice Cooper, Grand Funk [Railroad], Deep Purple -- anything that had loud, heavy drumming. It didn't matter what it was. Back in those days, there were no divisions. You either liked rock & roll or you didn't. There weren't all these different factions saying each other weren't cool.
"Well, not in Poplar Bluff, at least," he cracks.
The same maturity and long-term perspective keeps the band going in the face of frustrating nights in front of local non-audiences. "If it frustrated you too much, you'd just stop doing it and that would be the end of it," Venom says.
"One of the nice things about playing and living here is, we seldom headline a show," jokes Viper. "So we're almost never to blame for a bad night. We always get invited back." Indeed, in a common gambit to fight audience indifference, the band now plans to only play local shows that are headlined by touring bands. "You can say you're just doing it for fun," explains Cottonmouth, "but it's a lot more fun to play to a room full of people who are totally into it."
Each Serp has at least one kid (the band's offspring total seven, all boys), each owns a piece of property, and each has a career that pays the bills. Wouldn't Keith Richards say that these rockers have lost their devil-may-care edge?
"They say that only teenagers have angst," Venom says, "but people who are older just call it stress. Fuck stress: It's angst. I've got more angst now than when I was sixteen, a whole hell of a lot more."