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Feature Interview: The Snowdroppers

Snowdroppers

I walk into Alhambra Lounge to interview The Snowdroppers. Some busy-body at the door shrugs and points me further inside. Clubs during the day are dank places at best, and they still stink like they do at the end of the night. You get used to it though. I walk over to Johnny and Nick, and Luke Monks from Gay Paris standing in the middle.

“Hey guys, my name’s Navarone, I’m here to interview you for AAA Backstage.”

They look confused initially, but shake my hand and mumble something about remembering they had an interview, but didn’t know when. I laughed.

“All good, probably not the highest priority when you’re setting up for a show and touring. I gotta tell you though, I was a bit nervous about meeting you guys, I saw you rip your last interviewer to shreds on Channel V.”

This is where the bonding began. Johnny and Paul burst out laughing.

“Well you don’t have the biggest fucking mullet ever, so you’re right. We’ll get on fine haha!”

If you haven’t seen the video… please watch it here.

Johnny decided everyone else had setting up to do and he wanted to field the interview. The ego on frontmen is always amazing, but they’re normally the most social, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ We tucked ourselves away in one of the booths parallel to the stage and spoke.

I was surprised initially. Johnny’s a frontman, so I expected lots of banter, and bignoting of the album. Instead, I got several funny anecdotes and some quiet, thoughtful reflection on life, the music industry, and the difficulties that budding rock bands have:

“Sorry, I’m hungover as balls.”

Johnny: “Respect haha.”

“So, Moving Out of Eden! Good stuff, awesome. A lot less American than the first album, how, why?”

Johnny: “Thank you. Yeah, I guess… what was it, three years between the first album and the second album? I dunno, you do a few kilometres in the van, and you just change, you evolve, you grow up. The thing we did the first time around was very much a pastiche, if you will. I don’t wanna say schtick haha, but we were a young band. We liked blues music and that’s kinda just what we did. We just grew up and realised that we’re an Australian band… we’re not even really a bluesy band, we kinda got lumped in with all that. We used to play all these rockabilly gigs, but we’re not really a rockabilly band, we’re not a blues band—we’re not good enough musicians. We’re just a rock band and an Australian one at that, and that became... not an important focus, but it did—it became more important than it was in the past.

“Triple J’s The Doctor, I know he’s really passionate about Australian bands being Australian—I know he gave The Growl guff about not sounding Australian—was it a critical response that caused the change?”

 “To be honest, we weren’t really paying that much attention. And if we did, then honestly, rightly so. I’m not gonna sit here and kind of defend it, because it’s probably a fair point. Not that I remember… and not that I particularly care either haha. I’m sure people gave a shit. I’m sure people still give a shit haha.

It’s such a stupid thing to give shit about; where you’re from, music is a stylistic thing you know.

“Well that’s fucking right, we’re talking about something that’s so subjective, you know what I mean, I’m at the point now… I used to take a lot of that stuff really seriously and really personally, now… I remember I was in Brisbane. Where did I play? We were here for Bigsound. And when we played the previous week with Shihad at The Hi-Fi, which is a great venue, and it was a good show… and I remember the following week the street press came out, and it was just a scathing review of us. Whoever reviewed us, he hated us. Well, he hated me haha… what did he say, he said, ‘They,’—I love it how I say I’m over all this stuff but I remember all of the bad reviews haha, he said that I’d obviously stuffed something down my trousers. Which I was kinda flattered, because I hadn’t haha. But that’s the thing, it’s so subjective…”

Big Dick Johhny! 

(laughter)

“I don’t care… so long as it’s constructive. I think that’s a lot of that… present company excluded, journalism… and music journalism these days, everyone, every knob and his dog wanna write for the local rag, Drum Media or whatever… what is it up here? InPress up here? Time Off. We copped it down in Melbourne man, fuck, you’re not really critiquing anything, or reviewing anything, you’re just saying, ‘This is shit.’ Maybe… well, you know, that’s a review in itself. But I digress! Haha. 

You guys are a performance based band… you’re a fun bunch of guys you know, so in saying all that stuff, because you’re a performance, it’s not necessarily about being great musicians—and you guys are good musicians—so because of that is it the performance and your personalities that critics don’t like, or what the fuck is it?

Yeaaaah… Look, I’ve seen this in interviews before… and you know what… my Year 12 music teacher said that music has to inspire a reaction. Be that positive or negative. I always remember him saying this, if it inspires a reaction… If someone loves it, that’s great, if someone hates it, well that’s great too. You know what I mean? But the worst music makes you go, ‘Whatever.’ And it’s usually at this juncture that I’d rail on bands haha. It’s… I guess for me, having been in the band for seven years, it’s hard to see bands get up—and I won’t name names locally or anything like that—but you see bands get up and you go, ‘Wow, that’s just really bland music and people are lapping it up.’ But then, you have to go back to what we spoke about before, it’s a subjective thing and apparently someone likes it, and is that gonna stop me making music? Fuck no. What am I gonna do, stop making music? Of course not. It’s tough… it’s tough to stay positive. But that’s what we wanted to do from day one, I was so sick of going to see bands that just stare at their feet. Even if you don’t like our music, we put on a show. And that’s what I’m interested in.

In music it’s started to trend that it’s about the performance as well—again. Whether it be audio-visual these days, or about the stage performance itself. You guys came in on that earlier than everyone else…

Well that’s what interests me. For me, that’s all there ever was, all there ever is, and all there ever will be. I’ve never understood that, ‘Oh, well they’ve got a good live show.’ What the fuck? That’s all you’ve got.

You can’t just stand on stage and do the Tool thing!

“That’s fucking right, you know, we were laughing about people that went to that last show and they’re coming up saying, ‘Oh it’s a religious experience man, I just went inward,’ WHAT?! I could just sit on my couch, get pissed and smoke weed and go inward, listening to a Tool record. And don’t get me wrong, we all grew up on Tool, but it’s kind of like… come on. You know, I wanna go to a show, I wanna laugh, I wanna be entertained, I wanna be emotive.”

Haha, cool. So, what else… The White Dress videoclip, the R18+ one, that’s a cracker! How did you go about that?

That… that was a long two days. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t really enjoy making videoclips, but the creativity behind it is very fun.

I know for the wrap-up for the Moving Out of Eden videoclip, you were going on about how legless you were,

“Haha, bloody oath we were. That’s because we rolled up at 10:30am and didn’t start recording until 2pm, and didn’t finish until 1am. And in the clip, I’ve got a glass of what you assume is a glass of dark liquor in my hand, and… some of the time it was apple juice, and then after a while… someone was bringing me the good stuff haha. Let’s get this party happening, I was getting a bit bored haha.”

So you’re wrapping up the tour in three weeks time, and then after that you’re back to the studio?

Yeah man, we’re just superkeen… we’ve started cracking back into the writing now. We’re well aware that we took way too long last time, we do tend to take our time with writing, which is just one of those things. We just started writing and we’re super excited for that.”

Writing! How do you get to it?

Writing music, I’m fascinated by it. It can be the subject of an entire interview unto itself, you know what I mean. I’m fascinated by song writing, and I wouldn’t call myself a good songwriter by any stretch of the imagination, but, it seems to be… Previously, Paul and I have brought stuff in separately, and we’re doing that again this time a little but, but we’re also working a lot more collaboratively… between everyone. There’s no rhyme or reason. Sometimes I’ll bring in a practically complete song, and other times someone will bring in a riff.  It’s kind of all over the shop.

You’re not the kind of guy that locks himself away and belts something out?

You know what, I’d love to be that guy. I tend to work in bursts though, like I’ll come up with a few things, a few semi-solid ideas, then I’ll leave it for a bit and come back to it and then knock out a bit more. But that’s the thing about collaborative song writing, I love taking it to the boys and getting their opinion and jamming with other people, that’s what it’s all about. I’d like to… We’ve got a couple of weeks off before we go on tour with The Screaming Jets, so it’d be nice to take time off… you know man, this isn’t our full-time job, so it’s hard to take time off and just get down to writing. I reckon I could knock out a song a day if I had the time.

You know it’s funny man, you know, people say, ‘Oh you’re inspired by what’s around you,’ but something just sparks and off you go. You know, it’s very earlier days… I think we’re edging… You mentioned that the first album was very Americana, and there was a lot of… I guess… three songs where we wearing costumes and telling stories. And we’re edging, ever so closer, to something that’s a little more personal. As we’re growing older, we’re not as afraid to bear our souls. But you know, that’s very early days. You’ll probably interview me again before then and I’ll be like, ‘Oh nah, fuck it, we did a techno album,’ haha.

Well, that’s what’s selling at the moment…

You know what, that’s been interesting. Realising that we are not cool. Listening to Triple J… you know, I turn thirty this year, and my finger is not on the pulse of new music. I rarely listen… I’ve never been a radio guy—never have been. I flick  FBI down in Sydney, or Triple J, I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on. I go, ‘Oh shit, I am not in the target demographic anymore. 

Okay, and finally I’ve gotta ask about the ABC tat on your arse? Was that just a, ‘I’m selling my soul so I’m getting branded?’

Well… selling your soul… that’s such an interesting turn of phrase… because if I were to sell my soul… I’d like to at least have some money for it! Of which I have none haha. So you can’t really call it selling your soul. No, it was just a joke, she was tattooing, and we thought, let’s do a video on… who can guess what’s tattooed on our bums? And whenever we do these stupid harebrained things, they never work out, no one cared. And now I just have a tattoo of the ABC logo on my arse.

You win some you lose some.

Fucking oath.

And that was it. We shook hands, Johnny went back to setting up, I left to go drink before they played later that evening.

Pictures: The Snowdroppers, Gay Paris, The Strums live at Alhambra Lounge Brisbane

snowdroppers

The Snowdroppers, Photo: Sarah Paddon

When I came back to Alhambra, Gay Paris were in full-swing, they put on a wild show and if you haven’t heard the buzz about them, they play everywhere all of the time so get along to a show of theirs.

Just before The Snowdroppers came on, Johnny wiggled in at the bar next to me. We chatted for a moment, and then he was off, up on stage. His voice, so musical and captivating, you can’t help but pay attention to him. He commanded the room with ease, and they rocked. The whole band is just cool, and they sing songs about cool stuff, like getting pissed, and being a chauvinist, or falling in and out of love in the messiest way possible.

The Snowdroppers have some seriously dedicated fans, made evident by their show, and if you’re not one already, you should be. Get along to see them if you haven’t before, or even if you have, and for fuck sake’s, buy their album. Apparently they’re broke.

snowdroppers

The Snowdroppers, Photo: Sarah Paddon

 

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