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Hardcore Snuggling

A band with a very misleading name comes to Alexandria.

Picture this: You and a loved one are frolicking near the ocean when none other than the Prince of Darkness himself strolls by and lays his towel on the sand right next to you.

This nightmare scenario is depicted in "Satan on the Beach," one of the many bizarre apocalyptic songs by the Northern Virginia rock band Snuggle.

Snuggle specializes in songs about fantastically bad things happening: unknowingly consuming human organs, being attacked by a gang of demented Leprechauns and, yes, encountering Beelzebub in a coastal area.

These are fairly peculiar topics for a band whose moniker conjures up images of a high-voiced teddy bear trying to get your clothes to be as soft as humanly possible.

As Snuggle guitarist Adrian Muñoz recalls, the name appeared as a sign from, if not God, then perhaps some other entity.

"We took it from the fabric softener," the Herndon High School grad said.

Prior to their current incarnation, the band was known as Full-Blown AIDS. Perhaps somewhat predictably, they found it difficult to win fans and convince club owners to let them play.

So, in 2003, the band gathered and decided that a name change was in order.

"We said, ‘Let’s go in the opposite direction,’" Muñoz said. "When we were discussing [it] there was a commercial on TV. We thought it was a sign."

HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY Gwar, Primus and other bands with a "Did they really just say that?" sense of humor, Snuggle could never be accused of taking itself too seriously. They most closely fit into the metal genre, although Muñoz rejects that classification.

"We’re not really any genre or any scene," he said. "Our music is so weird and touches on so many genres… We don’t sound anything like other bands."

Ryan Hill agrees. As the owner of Strangeland Records, a music store in Annandale that specializes in the unusual and obscure, he has featured Snuggle on a recently released compilation of local metal acts.

"I know that they’re technically within the metal realm," Hill said. "But they’re more rock/metal."

Despite this, he said that Snuggle is a part of a growing number of bands in Northern Virginia that are leaning towards the hard and the heavy.

"There’s a pretty good size scene cropping up," Hill said. "It’s not just death metal, but doom metal, black metal, experimental metal. There’s a lot of talent in D.C.’s back yard that people don’t realize."

However, the band, whose members hail from Herndon and Chantilly, has already made several enemies within the D.C.-area music scene. Snuggle’s rambunctious friends that follow them from show to show have whipped up flurries of violence that have gotten them banned from several clubs.

"We have friends that come out and get really drunk and [then] there’s chaos," Muñoz said.

Snuggle even managed to get banned from one club twice, a truly remarkable feat.

As Muñoz tells it, the owners of the Washington tavern The Red And The Black, as well as the band itself, forgot that Snuggle was banned and booked them for another show.

At the performance, a mosh pit started and Muñoz’s younger sister was thrown into drummer Ryan Vann’s kit. This prompted her to empty the contents of her stomach on stage and, while Muñoz maintains that his sister was not intoxicated, the club’s manager thought otherwise and excised the group a second time.

"The Red And The Black sucks," Muñoz said.

AT SHOWS THAT DON’T result in excommunication, Muñoz said that audience reaction tends to range from confused indifference to indifferent confusion.

"Sometimes, if you’re playing with all metal bands and you do the weird stuff we do, people just stand there with their arms folded," he said.

One of Snuggle’s favorite venues to play is the Laughing Lizard Lounge in Alexandria, where they will perform next Friday. Unlike other clubs, the Laughing Lizard’s bar is close to its stage and this demands the audience’s attention.

"I like the Laughing Lizard," Muñoz said "Because the set up forces everyone to listen to the band."

While Snuggle maintains that it is not trying to get kicked out of any clubs, the band’s manic style and fervent following preclude it from offering any guarantees.

"It’s never the band," Muñoz said. "It’s always our entourage."