Interview: Snarls


Recently I was able to chat with the band Snarls before they embarked on a comprehensive US tour supporting The Happy Fits and their label mates M.A.G.S. In this interview, we discussed what it was like recording their new EP What About Flowers? with producer Chris Walla, their direct influences in their sound, and what makes the direction they took on their new EP so exciting. What About Flowers? will be hitting all streaming services on November 12th, and different vinyl options are still available at their Bandcamp store here.

Thank you guys so much for your time today, and congrats on the upcoming release of the new EP called, What About Flowers? How would you describe the new direction you guys were going for on this new record?

Really intentional. Not that our first album wasn’t intentional, but we really wanted to have kind of a cohesive, more of a concrete message sent. I mean that’s very vague, to say the least…

Yeah kind of leaning into like a more, as far as tones go, kind of heavier, and keeping in touch with our emo roots type thing. And just trying to be rockin’, I know “Fixed Gear” isn’t a great representation of that, but the rest of the EP is pretty heavy.

I was able to get a quick listen to the advance copy of the EP, and I think that Joe <Urban> said it sounded incredible, and you guys are going in the right direction. Were you about to say something? I didn’t mean to cut you off…

Yeah, I was gonna say, numerically I feel like all the songs have their own specific message that’s a bit more clear than what it was on the first. Because I guess we were all just so confused when we learned, but in this moment we can have more of our thoughts together.

So I understand you’ve released two singles from it so far. Is there a certain one that you want most people to kind of gravitate towards from your fanbase perspective or would you have a favorite that’s gonna make it into the setlist for the upcoming tour out of the two singles?

“I’ll Follow You” content-wise, but pop is really hard for us to write so we don’t have as much of an emotional connection with ”Fixed Gear” yet. But “I’ll Follow You” just seizes my heart, and I was like,”oh this is just fun, you know?”

So whoever grabs on to it feels like you’re good either way, and “I’ll Follow You” is like super emo.

Yeah, that sounds like a lot of people are gravitating towards that sound too. It seems like it’s doing well on both, social media and things like that. So what have you noticed from the reactions from your fans just interacting with them?

I think we’ve got a really positive reaction from “I’ll Follow You.” That song is probably one of the more mature things that we’ve written. And I think that people are noticing that. I don’t know. It was so hard to describe like with words, but that’s all just has a different vibe from anything that we’ve ever done before. 

Yeah, like across the board, it’s brand new. And I don’t know if we’ve had a lot of really positive feedback and a lot of people sharing it, which is wonderful. And well, it’s so exciting. It makes me feel great about the release, because “I’ll Follow You” sounds great, but fixed gear is kind of like an outlier. So I’m hopeful that we’re rolling with the whole package.

I was worried that we were going to have more people grabbing onto the sound on “Fixed Gear,” the outlier, while the rest of the material is more slow, tender-hearted.

That makes sense. So tell me about this upcoming tour that you have coming up with The Happy Fits, and also your label pal M.A.G.S., that I also talked with not too long ago for an interview. What are you most looking forward to getting back on the road?

We look forward to M.A.G.S.!

I’m just excited to be in front of new people every night, playing in cities that we’ve never been to. Now that we have a clearer image of what we want to put forward, it feels good to put that in front of new people and new faces.

And how do you actually get feedback? Being in front of a live audience is probably the best feedback you can get on the new material. But is there like a trusted source you guys go to? To figure out if the songs are actually good or not? I mean, they’re all great. If you like to test out like an early demo, who do you trust?

I mean, yeah, with the writing of this EP, we definitely were sharing those demos with a few people, like Joe from the label, and our managers and stuff. It was the first time we kind of got feedback in that way where it was presented like, “Okay, what do you guys think? Should we go forward with this?” I mean we didn’t have a team when we’re writing, so that was definitely a different experience but they’re also supportive. It feels like sharing it with your friends.

Yeah, everybody at Take This To Heart Records has been great. Even when I first started <writing for Chorus.FM> one of the first emails I got was from Joe, just welcoming me into the family, and stuff like that. So it’s been a great experience from my perspective as a writer, but how would you describe your guys’ evolution?

Yeah, I mean, not in a condescending way, but we were kids. And we’re still kids. But yeah, I mean, obviously, as you get older, you write about more mature content, but also just with practice, and with working together. I’ve always kind of stuck to myself, but now working with people has helped me evolve personally, like miles and miles more than I ever would alone, I think.

But we’re still really finding a way to really dig into our songwriting. And hence when we were first writing Burst, it came together really well. But looking back on it, it has a feeling of we were just kind of throwing stuff together. We wanted to get an album together. We want to be serious. And now people were asking for it. 

So people waited so long for it. I feel like we were kind of scrambling at some point. But you know, given that we really wanted to just be very intentional with what we were writing, what the message was, and what it sounds like, and what kind of sound we want to portray. But yeah, just really kind of finding our own pocket and trying to stick to that.  

Yeah, that makes sense. It seems like the evolution that you guys have gone through from the early material versus the EP, it seems like a logical progression of people growing up, people that are coming into their own as musicians and people, too. So your band is definitely trending in the right direction from my perspective. 

Thanks, Adam!

Also, thanks so much for thinking of me and the other writers that you sent that beautiful care package too, that included a CD of Burst, and also the vinyl for “Fixed Gear.” What inspired that kind of idea for the mystery merch item that you were teasing on social media?

I think it first originated with…we were just trying to find ways to engage with our fans on a deeper level. Especially right now when many of them haven’t seen us play a show in a year and a half. We really just want to connect with those people who are quite literally keeping us going as a band. But I also totally have to give credit to Joe. He got us connected with the person who kind of created those types of records and it was his idea definitely too for writers and people that we admire. So definitely good on him.

It took me a little bit to figure out how that vinyl worked, because it didn’t play in a traditional fashion. But once I got it to work, I was like, “Oh, this is really cool!”

Yeah, and I liked that it was late, because you know you’ll only get like five or six plays out of that before it tanks!

Oh, man! Kind of like, “This message will self-destruct after five plays!” <Laughter> So I gotta be very strategic with my plays apparently. It’s a really cool item. So let’s talk about the new EP that you worked on with veteran Chris Walla. What was that like going in the studio, and how did he assist you with your songwriting? It was probably a trip, right?

Mind blown. I just don’t even have words.

I mean, he’s just the best, and he just has the greatest balance of his personal input and then also having the true integrity of our demos shine…He kept it very raw, but he just added layers too to add sparkle. That sounds dramatic, but he’s just an angel.

I think it was really interesting seeing him work with us because he somehow had as clear of a vision as we did for our music. He would have these little ideas and be like, “Yeah, well if we do this…” And when we heard it, we’re like…wow!

There were no moments of just not really feeling like he just totally enhanced, really took a look at our strengths. He didn’t want to put us in any position that we wouldn’t be very good out, or whatever. He really played off of our strengths and kind of brought up the mood that we were really trying to create, but couldn’t quite do on our own. It’s not too overwhelming, so I feel like this EP is very much like cinnamon rolls. With that hint of Chris Walla that takes it to the next level.

Sounds very collaborative too, because you’ve almost got that “fifth member” kind of vibe, just from your guys’ conversation right now…

Yeah, also a fun fact! He sings in the background vocals of “I’ll Follow You,” so he was quite literally involved in the song.

Is there a single vivid memory that kind of stands out from those sessions? 

The first time I ever saw him make a tape loop… I was like, dude, how did this sound so amazing? And the first time. That’s like his solo projects…that’s pretty much all it is…various tape loops. I mean, of course, he’s going to be great at it. But it was just amazing to see in person. And but I think the first thing that really blew my mind though was we recorded all the basic tracks to two inch analog tape. And there was one song where we really liked the first half of it. And then we really liked the second half of another take of it. And he sliced the tape together, and it was perfect the first time, and I was just like…”You are a master!” It does not get better than this!

That’s cool. So you actually recorded it directly to tape? Just from the nerdy perspective of recording directly to analog tape, the bands that have cut directly to tape, it sounds so much better on vinyl. 

Yeah, we spent the first three or four days just just working with the two inch tape and we did not look at any screens. And I think that had a huge impact.

So what are your expectations for snarls as you move forward in your career? And are there any dream artists that you’d love to collaborate with?

As far as a dream collaboration…Wolf Alice!

It’s strange for me because I don’t know…I take my life kind of one day at a time and not in a weird, philosophical way. Yeah, I put my whole heart into it right now for it to even pay off later on.

So what was it like for the pandemic for you guys? How did you keep your sanity throughout the whole thing?

We didn’t have rehearsal for a while, but then we eventually did. We took a long break. But honestly it was this EP, the opportunity of the EP happening, that kind of brought us back together because we needed to start writing. It was weird at the beginning, because we’re totally in the groove but in the beginning I was like I almost forgot how to play! So it was very weird to start practicing again.

Yeah, and you mentioned you guys have kind of different music tastes. What have you guys been listening to?

I listen to a lot of Kings of Leon and also 90’s rock. Like stuff I grew up on that everybody praises, like Queens of the Stone Age, and everything that Dave Grohl is involved in.

I’ve just been back on all that stuff just by listening to a lot of early Death Cab, and Tegan and Sara, plus lots of Wolf Alice.

Yeah, I love their new record. It’s almost as perfect as you can imagine for Wolf Alice to kind of peak to that point, and I think they’ll top it again on their next one…Anyways, when you’re back on tour, are there any plans to do a cover song in the set or is that not in the works?

No, on this tour it was hard for us to figure out our setlist because we only have 30 minutes on this run, so we wanted to promote the EP as much as we could. So we’re playing all those songs, and then we just had to pick the favorites from Burst, so we’re kind of limited in our timing.

That’s great. So it was so great to meet you guys. I wish you nothing but the best as you go on the tour. Stay safe, stay safe. I’m hoping to come to one of the tour dates.

Yeah, all of our dates are with The Happy Fits.

Sounds like a party! Enjoy your practice after this, and thanks for chatting with me!

Thanks, Adam!