Premiere: The Western Civilization Share New Single “The Snake and the Saint” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Premiere: The Western Civilization Share New Single “The Snake and the Saint”

“The Snake and the Saint” Is Out Everywhere on June 2nd

Jun 01, 2023 Photography by Jack Potts Bookmark and Share


The Western Civilization is the indie rock project of songwriting duo Reggie O’Farrell and Rachel Hansbro. After meeting while both musicians were playing in different bands, the pair struck up an enduring creative partnership, debuting in 2007 with their first album, Letters of Resignation. Though the band has been quiet as of late, they returned last year with a set of new singles from their forthcoming record, Fractions of a Whole.

“Stiches,” their most recent single, arrived back in March, and today they have returned with their follow-up, “The Snake and the Saint,” premiering early with Under the Radar.

With “The Snake and the Saint” O’Farrell and Hansbro take their cues equally from the intimate and anthemic sides of indie rock, beginning in a subdued folk space before ascending to a soaring climactic finish. The pair trade off lead vocals before joining together for some swelling vocal harmonies, bolstered by gritty guitar textures and a propulsive rhythm section. All along, the instrumental tone moves effortlessly between meditative, resolute, and euphoric states, mirroring the same thematic tensions within the lyrics: “Tell me am I the saint or the snake? / Am I the canvas or the paint? / Am I the crown so closely intertwined? / With the immortal / With the divine?”

Hansbro explains of the track, “Lyrically, this song came to me right after the passing of my Aunt. She was a really wonderful woman who had a strong devotion to her faith, her family, and her community.

At some point in the 90s, I went shopping with her, my mom, and a friend of the family. I had tried on a short skirt and the friend of the family said I ‘looked like a slut’ due to the length of the skirt. My aunt defended me and cussed her out in a polite Southern manner. I think my momma did too. Neither of them were a fan of that sort of language towards a teenager or a woman.

Afterwards, we were in the lobby of this store and my aunt sort of sighed and said as a woman (in society) that sometimes ‘we were the saint and sometimes we were the snake.’ Occasionally a Southern auntie type will have phrases that just sort of sums up a feeling. She was good at that.

After she passed, I was really saddened by the loss. Devastated is a more fitting word. I wrote it as a way to keep that moment of strength and that saying in my heart. She said it again on a call that we had before she passed. I think the context of it that time was about the duality of being a person. Sometimes you are “a saint” and sometimes we don’t make the best choices and we are “a snake” and I think it got even deeper than that. What’s really so bad about being a snake? We are all created to serve a purpose in this life, so let’s not judge ourselves so harshly.

I really never imagined it becoming a song on the album. I can barely play it without wanting to laugh and sob all at the same time. Reggie dressed it up a lot. He made it more upbeat and playful which I hated initially. But over time, I realized that she probably would have enjoyed that. She had a way of making mundane chores like ironing or cleaning fun, so it felt fitting. She had a way of making a sweatsuit look chic, and she had a way of speaking her mind bluntly, truthfully, and gracefully.

I imagine her listening to it and spinning her index finger in a circle, as her way of dancing. In a way, I genuinely don’t care what anyone thinks of this song. It’s a safe place for her memory to live. For her wisdom to sound and for me to say thank you for showing up for me in every way that she did.”

Check out the song below, out everywhere tomorrow, June 2nd.



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