An interview with:
ZBR U.S.A. store
Middle Man Records (USA)
Dasein Records (Europe)
ZBR U.S.A. store
Middle Man Records (USA)
Dasein Records (Europe)
I have been an avid fan of Milwaukee's SNAG since their first EP was released back in 2017 (reviewed here), both because of the awesomeness of the music as well as the subject matter and lyrics. So much so, in fact, that I asked the band to do a split with the band I am/was in called Swallows Nest. Did they deliver? Good god they did, with the best song of 2018 (linked here). In late 2019 SNAG sent me their masters for the 'snag' 12"LP and yet again I was floored. Zegema Beach Records helped the band release it alongside Middle Man Records and Dasein Records with gorgeous art from Sammy (who also did the Swallows Nest split art/poster) and heaps of bonus goodies. They even made a music video for a song from it, which you need to watch right now:
What was the catalyst for the creation of Snag? Are you referring to the tree term?
PETER: I've known sam since we were in high school. in 2014 or 2015 we played a bunch of acoustic Brand New covers with a couple of other friends at a valentines day emo cover show. The other friends ended up moving to new york city but Sam and i decided we wanted to get together and play loudly at some point. he was friends with Bryan and so we got together in august of 2016 and it clicked right away. by February of 17 we played our first show, and it was around that time that we had a conversation about how depressed we each had privately been before starting the band. we all really needed it in our own way.
The name snag is something Sam came up with, and it has a lot of different applicable meanings, the tree term among them.
Was there discussion early about the band's sound? What were you collectively influenced by? Did you discuss about the band's identity and morals early on? Did that come later or has it kind of been unspoken?
PETER: if memory serves, we talked about mans, silver mt zion, majority rule, city of caterpillar.
i think we talked about having a climate change theme pretty much right away. since then, the term climate anxiety has seemed fitting of the sound and vibes. the difference being that rather than talking about climate change as a topic in and of itself, this music is reflective of the anger, dread, despair, feelings of helplessness, and glimmers of hope attendant to the climate crisis.
BRYAN: For me, at around the time we started snag I was at a rough point in my life and needed to be in a band as a sort of catharsis. Being in several Skramz bands before had helped me creatively and emotionally, and after talking with Sam and meeting Peter, we all started jamming and hit it off right away.
When we had first started jamming, much of what we were playing had somewhat of a pop punk vibe to it, quickly becoming much more darker and more hardcore/skramz as we were defining our sound. I think even listening to the songs from our first ep to our current full length you can definitely hear a large transition in our sound, whether it be darker and heavier, or more complex. Part of what makes us interesting is that we have no real boundaries as to what should define our sound, making it super versatile and appealing to many audiences.
Most of what Peter said summed a lot of it up well for me at least.
In addition, along with the climate change theme we touch on a variety of topics within our political realm as well as real happenings that have taken place. We touch on pesticides, homelessness, political and social violence, pollution, immigrant rights, etc. I think that an audience needs to be aware of some of the real ecological, economical and social crises that are happening in the world, hopefully sparking some kind of action.
SAMMY: like the other two said, snag formed during a time when we were all in a sort of personal dark period. It seemed that the three of us getting together was something to hold onto and look forward to.
snag as a threesome holds a lot of history...Peter and I have known each other for almost 15 years, sock and I have know each other for almost 9 years. Peter introduced me to a lot of things in my adolescence...music, troublemaking, vegetarianism, alcohol, humor. Socki's and mine relationship has always circled around the diy scene which also has to do with music, troublemaking and friendship. snag was a collision of music loving, troubled, desperate twentysomethings. snag as a band name means a lot of things. A snag in life, a set back, something holding you in place, as well as the tree terminology.
Early on we did speak of certain bands we were into and wanted snag to sound like. Common ground was Mans, Majority Rule, City of Caterpillar. But it also extended to Godspeed! You black emperor, kidcrash, desaparacidos, thou, etc.
In terms of the bands identity, that was something that Peter was pretty forward about right off the bat. Socki and I were completely on board. It was something that, yes had been an influence on bands and music in the past, but for us it seemed pretty important. Peter works for a solar company, sock is a certified arborist, I work for a certified Green brewery, we all spend a good amount of time outdoors. Climate change, the world, the environment, was all a prominent thing in our lives. But, overall, I think that Peter and Socki are a tad bit more intellectual than I am. It was hard for me to keep up with everything that is happening in the world. Famine, climate change, death, keeping the poor poor. so I started to think about all of this in a different way. I thought to myself how Skramz and Screamo is such a diverse genre of music that it would correlate with these subject matters perfectly. Skramz has really intense, heavy, dissonant sounds to it, that could represent the darkness and anxiety engulfing our world and society. At the same time, Screamo/skramz also has really beautiful parts to it, this could represent hope and solitude, and comfort, and that maybe if you put your trust in the people you care and surround yourself with that maybe the small changes can make a big difference. Maybe that silly though. Either way, with that, Peter is an idea man, I'm a visual/audio person, and Socks the perfect mix between the two.
I like to think that even if you don't know our lyrics, or can't decipher what we are saying...if you know the subject matter you can really feel what we are feeling. It's about passion, and friendship, and being together while this world is falling apart. Take care of each other, take care of animals, take care of the land your living on, protect those less fortunate and educate the youth, drink water, look up, and hold hands. ✌
PETER: Sam is making me cry.
Do you think your future material will continue to be darker? I still find your Swallows Nest split the darkest/angriest thing I've heard by y'all.
BRYAN: So far we have been working on two new songs that sound pretty dark so far. As far as content lyrically we are still working on that.
How did you go about figuring out the track order on the LP?
PETER: we were listening to iphone recordings of old practices trying to find this one riff the other day and we discovered that we began writing this full length in 2017. the album opens with these meditations on self immolation as climate protest, and suicide as something so so so many people grapple with and yet nobody likes to talk about. I think every song touches on the internal contradictions and tensions inherent to climate anxiety. i.e. i don't want to contribute to this terrible system/machine/economic order, but everything i do and love is somehow tied up within it. the song order basically has the album getting darker and angrier (with the exception of morning, which rounds out side a) until the end, where waiting injects the narrative with a glimmer of hope. "i can't wait for a new life" is something of a call to action. don't wait.
Can you tell us more about the art concept?
SAMMY: The record has a lot of treats to it. We really are into visual art as well and wanted the record to be a total package deal. The records include a “collage” booklet with the lyrics, a packet of wildflower seeds and a book of matches. Those that take the time to read the lyrics and think to themselves the correlation between the subject matters and the things included hopefully will find it as beautiful as we do.
You had some guests appear on the album, care to share who they are in relation to you in the real world?
BRYAN: K rad plays cello, she used to be in social caterpillar and was also in a band called winterbourne. Crucial homie. Eliah plays violin, super cool dude and has been really good friends with Sam for a long time. John Larkin plays trumpet and has been a staple in the Milwaukee music scene for awhile playing in many bands like cairns, gauss, ylla, and many more that I can't remember. All have become good friends and it's great that we have had the opportunity to have them on this record.
PETER: kaitlyn's other active band is called ardeidae, and John's other active band is called divine crush. John also played trumpet on our first EP and on Social Caterpillar's new album which is coming out soon. We did a split with Social Caterpillar back in 2017. Eliah and Sam and I all went to high school together, and Eliah and Sam were in a few bands together, Sam can list them if he wants 😉
SAMMY: We were in a band called Idiot:Asshole together.
What records do you own that have special visual treats?
PETER: F#a# by godspeed specifically and 13 blues for 13 moons by silver mt zion
SAMMY: I don't have too many records with visual treats. Idk Driving Spain up a wall had a poster with it, Absolutely's "Learns to love mistakes" had a nice booklet. Perfect Pussy had a tour photo booklet that was pretty nice as well.
When you play shows do you often talk between songs? If so, is the banter generally lyric related or something else?
PETER: we generally try to keep banter to a minimum. there's maybe a missed opportunity to tell people what we're about, but i think we do that in other ways.
SAMMY: our banter is pretty slim. unless we are at a homebase venue surrounded by our friends. If that's the case we might open up and talk. but for the most part we are pretty quiet on stage.
What are your favourite releases of 2019?
PETER: top releases of 2019 for me:
shadowmarks by lord snow
hourglass by ghost spirit
jaime by brittany howard
serpent's root by knaaves
Love Riddled With Conditions by slow fire pistol
nothing great about britain by Slowthai
BRYAN: My top releases are "2020" by shin guard, "a brief memorium" by frail body, "a gaze among them" by big brave, and "you will know the fear you forced upon us" by body void.
SAMMY: My top releases so far are the couple songs that Exhalents put out off "...and draws a crucifix down his arm...", the song Nerver put out on "Meditations of Affinity - Cultivation (4 way split)", Amygdala's "Our voices will soar forever" and Frail Body of course. Like damn. I also really enjoyed Carrion Springs self titled. Also like damn.
What are some of your most important life decisions? Have you any important decisions as a band?
PETER: most important life decisions is a very difficult question. i took some time off from music, not really deliberately but just got too busy doing community organizing stuff, and made a point to involve music in my life in a much more focused way with this band and it was kind of a revelation that i need to always do this in order not to get very very very sad. even if the work that might prevent me from playing music seems to be meaningful or like a higher calling type thing, i realized with snag that i can't let life get in the way of living, if that makes sense.
as a band, we recently moved all our gear out of my house and into a practice space so that we could practice more regularly and for longer periods of time. that was a good decision in my view. even though i miss having sam and sock over pretty frequently.
SAMMY: Important life decisions to me, are to surround yourself with people who care about you, have fun, learn, take care of the people you love, take care of animals, drink water, be creative, fight through the anxiety, feel the depression, be self aware, support those around you, hang out in nature, tell your friends you love them, die laughing. Those are the important life decisions I try to live out day to day.
Decisions as a band..we’d all like to tour, we’d like to keep creating, maybe start the snag family farm, start a hard core orchestra, be good, donate, get conversations started. That kind of stuff. I think I like to use this band as an escape from depression, an outlet for my own anxiety and creativity (musically and visually, both with the album art and the collage videos we project during our sets.) and also a way of awareness.
What're you excited for in 2020?
Sammy: 2020 is the year of the snag. Lol.
Is there anything else you wanna touch on?
Who played your release show? Was there a "most special" part of the night?
SAMMY: It was an mixed genre show, DaveKevinAdam is a hip hop artist who opened the night, our bffs of all times Social Caterpillar was second, they’re cosmic acoustic stoney beauty (we did a split with them), Knaaves was third, they’re metal core with OG members that go way back in the DIY scene and then us. In between each musician was spoken word poetry. It was eclectic and nice. The most special part of the night for me was during our last song “waiting” it’s what ends the record. We had our good friends John, Eliah, and Kaitlynn play the trumpet, violin and cello with us. We played on the floor, they played on the stage behind us and it was just a really nice wholesome experience. A really beautiful way to end the night. After we finished the whole crowd was hugging us and each other and it was kind, and sweet and wholesome.
Did anyone take any videos?!
PETER: Our friend Luke Mouradian took some photos. (below)