Earlier in the year, The Snowdroppers were the first act I saw at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. It was a fun night, full of insane music and dancing, culminating in me almost drunkenly twisting my ankle multiple times each time lead singer Johnny Wishbone would command the audience to do some form of move. Fast forward to this month and the band have a shiny new single ("White Dress"), have been signed to Four|Four and are set to appear at this year's BIGSOUND conference. The Snowdroppers' Pauly K catches me up on what's been happening with the band since that night back in June.
The last time I saw you, I was incredibly drunk following your Adelaide Cabaret gig. It was a fun night. How have things been going since then?
Things have been good, we took a few months off the road not long after Adelaide to finish writing and recording the album and now we’ve just started getting back into the swing of things. We just finished a mini tour with SHIHAD and are soon doing a national tour with The Beards.
One of my more vivid memories from the night involved Jeremy/Johnny Wishbone being groped quite fervently and against his will (I’m guessing), after the show. How does it feel to have reached this level of rock stardom?
I don’t think you have to be a musician to have been groped in Adelaide! Having said that we’re not the kind of guys who are going to get bent out of shape with a bit of dick touching. It’s only fair that objectification goes both ways. We have had more requests to sign boobs as the shows have gotten bigger, but it’s still pretty rare.
You’ve released a new single, “White Dress” and it seems to be going quite well with your fans so far. Why did you choose that particular song to be the one to lead off Moving Out Of Eden?
I guess we thought "White Dress" was one of the snappiest and catchiest songs we’d recorded so we thought it would be a good introduction to our new stuff, a lot of which is quite different to the first album. It was probably also the song which was the hardest work of them all from conception to recording, so we were proud to finally get it finished and be able to say “fuck you, we finished you”.
How does the single represent the sort of music The Snowdroppers have made on the album?
I think it still sounds very much like us, to someone who has the first album’s worth of songs in their head as how we sound, but its also a good yardstick of what we were moving towards.
Can you tell me a bit about what to be expecting from this album? Sum it up in a nutshell, if you can?
I’d like to refer to a recent tweet which described us as “an awesome mix of the Hives, Nick Cave & Blues” and a recent review which referred to our bass player London as “Zack Galafianakis’ dad on a trip to the bank”. But the best nutshell summary of the album has been someone who said it sounds like the Young Einstein soundtrack.
This record’s a bit of a long time coming; how does it feel to be so close to releasing it?
Its actually really annoying, I just want it to be out already and for better or for worse find out what our fans and the general music listening public think of it. I’m sick of sitting on it whilst we go through the motions of single releases and videos etc. I’m very proud of it so I want other people to hear it. It’s a kind of purgatory until then – even if the consensus is that it’s shit, we can at least cry and move on.
The band’s live shows are something completely different in themselves. Is it hard to capture that frenzied and chaotic energy that seems to come so easily on stage, in the studio?
I think it’s easy to over-think about concepts like “energy” or “live sound” when recording. People fetishize it. Is it just moving your fingers or your arms in a certain way? Or singing with a certain inflection, or using a particular pedal or set of microphones? We made the album with Rich [Jackson] because he’d done some awesome sounding albums with Future of the Left and McLusky. The guiding idea was “if it sounds good, it is good”, and we stopped worrying too much about if it sounded “live” or whether or not we were all playing together in the same room. A lot of bands can get fixated on meticulously striving for their carefree punk rock garage sound which is the definition of irony to me - "we don't want to sound like we had good gear so lets import this 1959 reverb unit from soviet Poland". We were so restricted time wise that all my plans of experimenting with mic placement and guitar and amp combinations had to go out the window. "Does it sound good as is? Well lets get it down and move on" was the necessary MO. And that in it's own way lead to the album having a sense of urgency, in my mind.
Congratulations on being signed to Four | Four as well, it must’ve been great to share the news the same day the new single came out. I’ve read that the aim of the label is to cultivate the more ‘left of centre’ acts – it must be cool to be one of these bands, leading the charge.
Here’s hoping! As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so hopefully people will be eating our pudding in 2013. Record labels say a lot of things and over the last few years we’ve learnt to take a lot of that with a bathtub’s worth of salt , but so far they haven’t tried to sacrifice our newborns and they took us out for dumplings and paid for it.
The popularity of The Snowdroppers is only growing stronger; do you think it’s a case of audiences becoming more open-minded and willing to explore new types of music (and by ‘new’, I mean new takes on well-established conventions)?
Not really. I think people are more or less the same level of open or close-minded as they’ve always been. I think if we do have more fans as time passes it’s due to us slogging around the country trying to do all the things you do to play to new audiences, like support slots and festival gigs and the like. I think we've chosen a pretty hideous genre to try and be a success in considering the type of music that’s on trend or getting Triple J rotation. It was even worse when we started. Cool kids weren't into blues or pub rock. But I'm optimistic that good songs and hard work can always break through those kinds of prejudices.
Appearing at BIGSOUND will provide a whole heap of exposure for The Snowdroppers – both to a potential new lot of fans and also a whole group of industry members; does the idea of performing to audiences with a large percentage of industry folk affect you any?
I guess it does, but I like to think we always approach every gig with the mentality that even if you’re playing to an apathetic crowd, or an empty room, or a festival of metal fans, there’s could be people who came to see you or people who have never seen you before, and you owe it to them to perform as well as you would for your own sold-out headline show. I think the industry-people thing might make you a little more nervous before the gig but once you start playing it’s much the same.
The band headed out for some shows alongside Shihad through September as well; those shows featured a pretty rocking yet diverse line up of bands. What do you think you brought to these shows that will have left people wanting to look you up online afterwards?
Well we just did those shows last week, so hopefully whatever we brought was good enough to win a few new fans. We actually had a really great crowd all three nights. I got the feeling that diehard Shihad fans are a little older now, and going to the gig is a bit of an ‘event’, so a lot of people seemed to be there to go hard from opening band to encore. They have very passionate long time fans which is always a great thing to witness. Especially as a touring musician you see so many bands and gigs you can quickly lose that sense of the specialness of being at a show so seeing how those people react is kind of like seeing kids at Christmas.
One final query; the last time I interviewed Jeremy, he said he was going to send me a copy of his housemate’s EP and it never happened. What gives?
Jeremy says a lot of things that may or may not eventuate. He would have been talking about Ashes, I recommend you check them out live or Facebook them. They’re like the classic sound of ABC’s Recovery with the haircuts of today!
The Snowdroppers will be performing at 9:40pm on the QMusic Stage on Wednesday, September 12 at the BIGSOUND Conference. Head to www.qmusic.com.au/bigsound for more information.