Serpentfoot: Psych Rock on the Front Range

by Avalon Clare |

It’s early Sunday afternoon, and Jordan Twiggs, Michael Ross, and Philip Shellabarger are lined up on a couch in a house on a dead end street in west Fort Collins. American flag guitars adorn the walls as the three members of the psych rock band Serpentfoot bop around, barely able to sit still. They’re watching a video, pulled up on Twigg’s phone, of T-Pain’s Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

“Woah…that’s T-Pain?” Shellabarger asks as the three marvel over his singing voice, wondering why he bothers with auto-tune. There’s a grungy, teenage stoner vibe in the room—each of the bandmates has sunglasses, unkempt hair, and a slouch.

The band’s obvious leader is Twiggs, who followed a girl to Colorado from San Jose, California. Although things didn’t work out with her and he had to sell his truck for rent money, in his six years here he’s done well for himself. “[It] turned out great; I own my own business and I’m married,” he says. Ross grew up on an organic farm in Brookings, North Dakota, and has only played the drums seriously for the last two years, surprisingly. Although he’s the oldest member of Serpentfoot, he has his claws into the teenage lifestyle the deepest. Alternately, Shellabarger, the youngest of the band at 25, grew up in a one room cabin in Conifer, CO. It was in that cabin that his mother taught him to play the trumpet, which he still plays in The Great Aerodrome.

Together they’ve formed Serpentfoot, a band meant for the California coast who would fit perfectly on a label like Burger Records. Their sound is rooted in psychedelic-garage rock with surfy undertones, and their live shows are energetic, dancey, and fun. As Twiggs puts it: “The main motivation was between trying to make music that makes people feel like they’re on drugs when they’re not, and having fun.”

They got their start a few years ago while Twiggs was bartending at Crankenstein. He struck up a conversation with drummer Michael Ross who was reading a Dave Eggars book at the bar. After a short time of being friends, Twiggs asked Ross if he wanted to make “fun music.”

Since Ross was already playing drums in The Great Aerodrome with Shellabarger,Twiggs suggested he join them on bass. “[Serpentfoot is] Twiggy and Rossy’s brain child,” Shellabarger says, though their group dynamic makes it clear that each person is essential to the final product.

“We all bring our own influences to our sound,” says Ross. “I like Shania Twain and they like whatever they like.”

Although they’ve only been a band for a year, they practice twice a week—“sometimes too much,” Twiggs says. Their songwriting process is efficient, often resulting in a finished song in one practice, but it always starts the same way: with a guitar riff from Twiggs. Their upcoming album Serpentfoot Serpentfoot was recorded at Stateline Studios here at the Downtown Artery in Fort Collins. All of the vocal tracks on the album are first takes, Twiggs says, because “I want it to sound as true to what it is live.”

The six song album is set to come out in late January, with a release show at The Whiskey on Sunday, January 24.

Listen to their new album Serpentfoot Serpentfoot here: serpentfoot.bandcamp.com/releases.

Avalon Clare is an illustrator, DJ, feminist, and pop culture fairy. She is a resident artist at the Downtown Artery and a Colorado native. Social media makes her heart sparkle. Follow her at @UnicorneClare.

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