Crab Legs: A Crab's Life

Tucson’s Crab Legs explore a weird new world on their first album

Dimitri Manos and Ben Schneider are more than just friends, they have also seen behind the red curtain and their minds have melded to become Crab Legs. It’s that special breed of friendship that can sometimes involve writing songs about crabs living amongst humans and still more crabs that work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Their first ever release under their aquatic band name is called Side 2 Side Fantasy, and it’s a garage pop odyssey with some killer catchy choruses. Expect some Frank Zappa-esque arrangements going on here behind the odd façade of a crab’s tale.

Manos and Schneider are both prolific writers and forward-thinking musicians in the Tucson scene. You likely know Manos as one of the songwriters in Golden Boots or perhaps his solo project American Monoxide, or, more likely yet, his work with national indie darlings Dr. Dog. Schneider, on the other hand, plays with Katterwaul, Lemon Drop Gang and Whoops, as well as Golden Boots.

Despite both men being clearly busy, about two years ago, the duo set off to start work on Crab Legs when they were on tour working the lights for Acorn Bcorn. At a stop in Las Vegas, they were told by a bartender that if they were to play a set, they could get an extra hotel room and more drink tickets and Crab Legs was born.

According to Schneider, the name was more of a gimmick than anything else, intended to draw a crowd in the show.

“We thought it would be pretty funny to see a flier in Vegas that said ‘Free Show! Crab Legs!’” Schneider explains. “Also, the thought of someone coming to a show with the thought they might get free crab legs is where the hilarity kicks in.”

“It’s already up everywhere, so we didn’t have to advertise for it,” Manos adds.

It’s been two years since their first show in Vegas and with only a handful of shows under their belt, they are ready to release their first record, made at Dry Liver Studios.

“The whole record was recorded in four days but we only had two or three hours for each recording session. So it’s basically busting through as many sounds and material as quickly as possible,” Schneider says, “You just have to remember the parts and lyrics come second.”

Manos explains that improvisation, live recordings and letting the album form its own voice was a big part of their recording strategy.

“I think it’s great when you don’t plan for it to mess up, but when it does it’s the best moments for me. Two or three songs are second takes, but the majority of the songs are first take with no editing,” Manos says, adding, “Everything you’re hearing is exactly what we did. We kept in a lot. It’s very organic. Live, it’s just the guitar and drums and two vocals, but the recordings are peppered with more instruments so they provide more of a sense of chaos.”

For the future, music videos and even a comic book could accompany this first Crab Legs release.

“There’s a story but we don’t really know it yet. Our idea is to get Lana Rebel from Hermanitos, who is an incredible artist, to do it for us. The comic book is going to be key. We’re going to go for it,” says Manos. Oddly enough, the CDC does play a big role on the album after the crabs try to join human society but end up grossed out by how humans are eating their crustacean brethren.

“They get offended by the rate of consumption of crabs by humans,” Schneider says, “So they work for the CDC to understand diseases and then they go from there.”

“Yeah, they’re trying to hang out and become part of something bigger, but they’re also experiencing massive culture shock, so they try to understand it,” Manos chimes in. “But this disgust just grows and grows until they snap and fight back. So it starts out positive but it just disintegrates into really disgusting revenge.”

“But initially we come out of the water because of our love for rock and roll,” Schneider says.

“Yeah, we want to rock,” says Manos. “This is probably the most we’ve ever talked about this.”

You can catch the saga of crabs rocking in the human world when Crab Legs play their tape release show on Saturday, June 4, at The Flycatcher with The Pork Torta and Headlock, who will also be releasing a tape at the show.