By Poppy Tohill
The Snowdroppers are the epitome of a good time and when it comes to Australian rockers, there's no one better than these dirty, gritty, bluesy rock stars. With a busy past few years since the release of their second studio album 'Moving Out Of Eden,' the boys are finally back with a new album 'Business,' set for release on August 28th.
Recently releasing 'Love Letters,' the official single and first taster from the new album, I had the pleasure of catching up with lead guitarist Pauly K over the phone on a rainy Auckland afternoon & cold Sydney morning for a chat about the upcoming album, tattoos and their not so rock and roll injuries.
Pauly! First things first. For those in New Zealand who aren't too familiar with who you are and what you sound like. How would you best describe 'The Snowdroppers' in one sentence?
The best way to describe us to New Zealander's who haven't heard us before would be that we're basically the next Split Enz. (laughs). Dave Dobbyn is a massive fan of ours, I hear (maybe don't fact check that- laughs) but basically I think Slice of Heaven is one of the greatest songs ever written. I think it's amazing and if I could write a song as half as good as that I'd be happy. We're big fans of a lot of NZ bands.
But in all honesty, (laughs), I guess 'bluesy, rock and roll' would be the best way to describe it!
Righto, now let's get down to 'Business!' (pun intended) can you tell us a little bit about your new upcoming record and what we can expect from it?
When we were first setting out, before any of the songs were written, the one thing we had in mind was that we wanted to write a dance-able record. Not as in dance music, but something that you can dance to. We had this idea of every song having this kind of groove under-pinning it. I guess we'll always do something a bit different for each album because we're pretty consistently inconsistent (laughs, but it'll always sound like us, because it's us playing and us singing, but we just like to try different things, I mean why not?!
Talking about different, the first single 'Love Letters' has a bit more of a polished & pop-fueled sound compared to the grittier songs we heard on 'Moving Out of Eden.' Does the whole album take on this slight change in musical direction from you guys?
I don't know if 'Love Letters' would really be indicative of the other songs on the record. It's more of a Motown sound crossed with a pop vibe that has this big wall of guitars. When the drums come in there's something like five guitar lines that come smashing through and punch you in the face, but the rest of the album is more of a mix. There's definitely some stuff, which I think is still up there with the dirtiest and grittiest stuff we've done.
We actually had a decent amount of time in the studio this time round as opposed to the two weeks we had to smash out 'Too Late To Pray' and 'Moving Out of Eden.' So rather than just finding a sound on the guitars that we liked, dialing it in and playing practically everything on the record with that same sound, this time around we had a lot more room to experiment with different textures and it was a bit more relaxed in terms of the recording for us, because if we didn't like a certain sound we actually had the time to delete it and start again.
The music video for the single is wicked too! Obviously the bits of paper everywhere are to represent the love letters themselves. Did that visual idea stem from the album cover photo at all or vice versa?
We had a whole bunch of stupid ideas for that video. Jeremy [lead singer- aka Johnny Wishbone] basically came up with the final idea which was having all the props involved with writing letters and communication - so the old telephones, computers, pens and paper everywhere.
I had an idea, which unfortunately didn't get used. It was to have Jeremy wearing a big pencil costume. I drew a picture of it and everything but it got poo pooed on in the end (laughs).
Then Andy our drummer came up with the idea for the cover art with the brief case and the paper and all that, so I don't know who stole whose idea.
Before the release of 'Love Letters,' a couple of years went by where we didn't hear any new music from you guys. Obviously you've been busy touring your last record and working on this next one, but what else did you get up to in that time?
We had a couple of strange things happen, I guess. When 'Moving Out of Eden was released we did the usual touring around the country for months and months on end, but then after that Jeremy and I were involved in a theatre production with the Sydney Theatre Company. We were doing the music for that and Jeremy was also acting in a play called Mojo, so that took out a big chunk of the band calendar last year. We were tied up with that about six days a week so we couldn't tour, play shows or anything and the rest of the band had to take about four months off, which I think they all quite enjoyed (laughs). So then once that finished about mid-way through last year we got back together and basically frantically started writing the album before going into the studio to record it earlier this year!
No rest for the wicked! Can you tell us a little bit about the band's song writing process?
Exactly! Well we're not really one of those bands that just gets together and jams. Like we don't really write off the cuff together, which is maybe why it takes us so many years to get a record out! (laughs). But generally someone in the band, usually myself or Jeremy will bring a song to the group. Most of the time the song is completely written when it's brought to the others, but there may be a few things that we modify. Or sometimes it can just be more of a basic idea and we'll all work on it together, but even when the song is brought in fully written, most of the time it still evolves and changes once we start playing it and realise that something which worked in the demo format just doesn't work for us to actually play on our instruments (laughs).
So it was much the same with the songwriting process this time round. I took a few months off work, went away and just basically sat there until I was done (laughs). It's that classic thing where
starting a song is the easiest thing in the world but sitting there and actually finishing it is just the most painful and tedious process in the world.
Once the fun part of coming up with a new chord progression, lyric or idea is out of the way and you've then got to sit down and figure out how it all fits together like what the drums are doing here and what guitar part goes there, that's the worst part of songwriting.
Obviously no one's heard the full album yet, but is there a track on the record you think sums up the whole album or one that you're most proud of?
We've been rehearsing a lot lately to figure out how to play them and I think in terms of playing, everyone's favourite so far is 'Only Want The Lovin.' It's just really fun and energetic and there's something about it. In terms of a favourite for me, I'd probably say 'Love Letters' because that song has been around for quite a few years. We recorded it ourselves a long time ago and have just been sitting on it, so I'm really happy with how it turned out in this recording. Our producer Ryan really got it sounding the way it sounded in my head.
You're widely known throughout Australia, but haven't performed in NZ too many times. Do you have any plans to bring the new album here; we'd love to have you!
No concrete plans, but we definitely want to! We've only been there once, years ago. When we finished this album we definitely said we want to start looking into touring overseas next year more because we've done NZ once, played a few shows over in the States and spent a weird week in New Caledonia, but that's about it. We don't really have any excuses for not getting to NZ more, it's closer than Perth and we really loved it when we were there. We've got a new booking agency now though so fingers crossed we can come and do the Dave Dobbyn support slot in 2016!
Last of all ~ your live shows are known to get pretty crazy. What's the most insane thing that's happened at one of your shows?
(Laughs) Anything I can think of is just a bit lame.
I remember we did a show once and Jeremy smashed his head into a speaker stand and had to go to hospital. Which on face value sounds pretty rock and roll, but the thing is he did this after the show when we were packing up our gear so nobody saw it and we had to go sit in the emergency ward for 2 hours. The nurses were pissed off at him too because they didn't think his injury was serious enough that he should have bothered coming to the hospital. So that's about the most anti-climax un-rock and roll injury... I wish I could think of something better, like he lost half an ear!! (Laughs)
The quick fire four...
Which member of the band has the most tattoos?
It depends if you're talking quantity or surface area. I think our drummer Cougar would win in terms of number of tattoos, but Jeremy would win in terms of total body area covered. I myself only have a couple, both of which are band related and really stupid. We've all got an 'SD' on our leg which we got when we were really drunk in Texas and then I've got a squid on my butt from this promo thing where we all got tattoos on our arses and people had to guess which tattoo belonged to who.
Your number one go to alcoholic beverage is?
BEER. The plainer the better. I don't want any fancy floral hops, or lemon infused shit; I just like a beer that tastes like crap (laughs).
If you could play support for any band in the world who would it be?
Other than Dave Dobbyn. I'd say The Beach Boys. But not as they are these days, because they're not really the Beach Boys anymore. But the Beach Boys in their prime time would be my pick!
I recently interviewed your good friends Gay Paris and asked them this same question, so if Gay Paris & The Snowdroppers got into a bar fight, band vs band- who would win?
Oh man, we're both the wussiest, least violent bands you could imagine. I'd say us though because our bass player London is a wing chung master, he's also the most gentlest guy you'll ever meet, but I think if it came down to a life or death thing he would just five finger death punch everybody and heads would be exploding everywhere.. We'd fuck them up!