Recently, I had a chat with American rockers Snew, talking about the tour that started with a closed bar and finished with a house party, their upcoming fourth studio album and, er, barbecuing salad…
For those who may not know who you are, introduce yourselves quickly.
Curtis Don Vito – lead vocals
Andy Lux – lead guitar
Mark Ohrenberger – drums
Lenny Spickle – rhythm guitar.
Describe your sound in as few words as possible.
The illegitimate stepchildren of Alice Cooper and the Ramones, home-schooled by Motörhead.
What’s the meaning behind your band name?
It means whatever you want it to mean. It’s all Snew to us.
Your fourth record You’ve Got Some Nerve is out on September 17th. Did you try anything differently this time around than with previous efforts?
We tried to go a little heavier in places. We took a stab at dismantling the standard verse , chorus, bridge, verse, chorus thing. We took some liberties there. Other than that the Snew stamp is all over everything.
You worked with producer Bobby Owsinski again. Why so?
He knows us so well. We wouldn’t think of going with someone else. He lets us be us or at least what we think is us. At this point he’s probably hypnotized us into being much better than where we started out. We also brought in J.J. Blair to engineer this record. J.J. is a Grammy winner. He got us an amazing sound.
Do you have any personal favourite songs on the release?
The first single is “UR Freaking Me Out”. It sets the tone for the entire new album. We’re living in strange times and strange times call for strange actions. There’s a lot of us out there that feel misunderstood. I say it’s high time we get out there and BE misunderstood. We’re not hurting anybody. If we freak you out then we freak you out. We can’t help it and you can’t stop us.
Explain the meaning behind the album title.
“You’ve Got Some Nerve” is something people say when you’ve shocked them with something you’ve said or done. These days you just gotta get out there and do what feels right. Do your thing, don’t rein it in. If that shocks some people then so be it. Whether it’s the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason. Who’s to say, it’s all point of view. Have some nerve, play it from the heart.
Do you have any dates lined up at present?
We’ll be playing Hard Rock Hell on November 9th; more UK dates will be announced soon!
What are your favourite songs to perform live?
Well, if we had to do a four song set it would be “UR Freaking Me Out” and “Acetylene Queen” from the new album, “The Juice of Power” which is a single we released in 2016 and “Pull My Stinger” from our album What’s it to Ya. That song has our most notorious video: a million bees and a girl pouring honey all over herself. Go to our YouTube channel to see it. You know you want to.
What are the best and worst shows you’ve played to date?
We’ve had lots of best shows. Rocklahoma was outstanding but let me tell you about the Thunderdog tour we did in 2014…
First date of that tour was in Las Vegas at this really great venue on the downtown strip. We set up, take a sound check on this amazing stage (just what you’d expect from a Vegas showroom), get ready backstage in a very nice dressing room. Then we hit the stage and the place is entirely empty. I mean nobody but a bartender and a couple of waitresses. We go through our set because that’s what we do but we’re like WTF? So we finish, go off stage and a waitress comes up to us and says “You guys were great but I don’t know why they had you play tonight. We’re normally closed on Tuesday”. The manager of the place apologized for the screw up and then he paid us. Awesome, a paid rehearsal.
Then the last night of that tour we are booked to play some concert hall in Northern Texas, some place we never heard of but that’s not unusual. So we’re driving and driving and driving and we don’t know where the hell we are. We’re looking for the address but it’s not showing up on GPS and we can’t get anybody on the phone. It’s all trees and forest. We didn’t even know Texas had forests. We get to an area where it seems like it just has to be it but again, nothing there but trees. We’re thinking we may just have to forget it and go home.
Then we see someone walking along the roadside so we ask if they have any idea where this place is. They say “yeah, follow me”. So we are driving slow following this person on foot and it leads to a house. We see tons of people all over the place but we’re looking at each other, WTF? Turns out it’s a house party that this guy puts on every year where he turns his garage into a makeshift club. Half the band wanted to leave feeling like someone was playing some kinda sick joke. But Lenny and I were all “No were staying. This is the perfect way to end the tour”. We ended up having a blast. 350 crazy Texans drunk off their asses, cheering, screaming, dancing. They loved us and I gotta say we loved them. So what started off as one of the worst gigs ever turned into one of the best nights of our lives.
If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
It would have been Motörhead. We hit up their manager several times before Lemmy’s passing but could never hook it up. Our only regret is not having that wish fulfilled.
You’ve never signed to a label; why?
We’ve never given much thought to going with a label. We live for the music and work for the audience. Some guys in suits taking a piece of that has always just seemed out of place. We honestly haven’t spent any time talking to labels so who knows.
Any comical stories from your time as a band you can share with us?
If it’s comedy you want go check out our web series “Live from the Snewdio”. We have special guests jamming with us, live burlesque dancers, we barbecue salad, toast and make nachos with waaaay too much lighter fluid, we have a guy who does album reviews but can never remember what album he’s reviewing. We play games, eat breakfast, drink beer, break dishes and rock our asses off playing songs we’ve never rehearsed. You want to know who we are? Watch these.
What’s the plan for the rest of 2018?
Tour the UK by the year’s end. That’s the plan at the moment. Hopefully we can extend that throughout Europe. After that it’s back to the States and the Snewing continues.
Any closing comments?
Let me tell you something about rock and roll: this kind of music does a better job at resetting your brain than anything else on the planet. Rock music keeps getting marginalized by the mainstream because it brings people together. It revitalizes you by sweating out your inhibitions and stress. It’s the single greatest form of meditation there is. Afterwards you feel like you can take on the world. This makes the establishment nervous. They don’t like that. It’s also why we are a completely independent band. We don’t get in their way, they don’t get in ours. Every time they think they’ve shut us down we come back swinging. You can’t kill rock and roll.