Ears Wide Open: Snakearm, ‘This Is It’

Tory Murrah and Taylor Whiteside of Snakearm
Tory Murrah and Taylor Whiteside of Snakearm

Eight years ago, Troy Murrah started a one-man band with no intention of playing fancy venues, but suddenly found himself, his guitar and a junkyard drummer playing country-punk on license plates and turned-over buckets at places like the Troubadour. He called it Restavrant, sort of a joke name that he was stuck with but seemed to suit his fuck-it-let’s-party attitude towards music. He recently laid that band to rest and has re-emerged as Snakearm. It’s still Murrah and Tyler Whiteside, his drummer for the last four years, and the gutsy, dust-kicking, energetic sound has not been altered so much as enhanced by a deeper vision. “Now, there is a goal to create music with integrity. Every song will be substantial. They will all have a place, make you dance, make you pissed, make you cry, make you laugh. You will feel something,” says Murrah. The band’s new EP “Concrete” drops July 24 via SmallHOLIDAY Records.

There’s a bittersweet story behind the band’s new name and the lead-off single,
“This Is It.” Here, Murrah shares it in his own words:

“Throughout my twenties I lived in an area where I definitely was the only gringo I’d see for weeks. I became good friends with a dude that was still involved in that hood’s gang. He was too smart for it and knew it. He had an old stereotypical jailhouse tattoo of a crudely inked snake on a dagger. He was then given the name ‘Snakearms.’ There were a bunch of bad nicknames in the midst of this “tribe.” ‘Sports’ (he liked sports), ‘Joker’ (he was funny and always playing practical jokes), etc. … Coincidentally, this was at the same time I gave myself the one-man band name ‘Restavrant.’ Anyway, ‘Snakearms’ was done and wanted a change. I did what I could to give him work whenever possible, learn a bit of carpentry, make better decisions — ones you won’t regret while sitting in jail. All of this is inspiration for the track “This Is It.” Eventually, he turned his life around, got a job doing maintenance for the school district, got married, and had two beautiful kids. He still hung out with the old crew, but didn’t “run” with them anymore — no more nightly regrets. I still would hang out with these guys too; just have some beers, BBQ, and help out with organizing funeral fundraisers for any of their fallen. All was good until “SA” / ‘Snakearms’ was chillin with the “old guard” at the wrong place and wrong time. He got hit with drive-by ‘overspray’. He managed to make it up the hill to his house and motion to his wife through the kitchen window to open the back door. He made it into her arms, but there he died. The band name SNAKEARM is there in remembrance of my good friend. The lessons learned from his story are obvious ones, however, sometimes a real-life reminder keeps you in check. I keep this in mind with everything—with my music making, my art, my work, my family, my wife, and now my new baby. Create things that are crucial and spend my life doing things that are substantial to me, ’cause it can all be taken away in an instant.”

||| Stream: “This Is It”

||| Live: Snakearm performs July 24 at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, Aug. 15 at Echo Park Rising, and Aug, 30 at Grand Ole Echo.