The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
INTERVIEW 2013 The Snowdroppers Pauly K







If we had a bunch of money and were high-falutin' gamblin' men (and in my case women) we'd lay some green on THE SNOWDROPPERS being a name that you will be hearing a lot of in the near future. This is great Australian no frills Rock 'n Roll and it's all rather good! Catch the guys when they roll into a city near you...




It’s been 3 and a half years since your well received debut TOO LATE TO PRAY why so long? Bring us up to date?



PAULY K: Time just got away from us. We’ve been touring pretty much non-stop since the first album, and there were a few hiccups here and there on the “business” side of the coin... Also, we’re a slow band. Some would say lazy. I like to think we consider things a lot. We’re a considerate band. Bureaucracy takes time.



Where does the name for the band come from? (there’s not a lot of snow in Australia)



PAULY K: It’s an old reference to cocaine.



Tell us about the GOOD DRUGS AND BAD WOMEN burlesque show and the song?



PAULY K: Well the show was actually the whole reason for the Snowdroppers getting together, originally. A friend of ours was putting on this ambitious show and asked if we wanted to get a band together to play between the acts. We were just going to play covers and then I thought the name of the night would make a good cheesy song title. The song itself was written in an afternoon, with the idea of writing an offensive one-chord joke song based around what rhymed with “women”.  It wasn’t really intended to be heard outside of the show. It’s kind of a dumb song out of context.



What was the US jaunt like in 2011? You played SXSW and the Viper room as well as a few other dates?



PAULY K: It was fun – the gigs weren’t that great to be honest but it was just great to see some of the US. The Viper Room in LA is where every man and his dog does a “showcase gig” – so there’s “showcase gigs” running day and night pretty much. The Dream Factory. You wait outside til it’s your turn to be called in, play to a bunch of suits and fake tits who tell you how great you were and never hear from any of them again. LA was disappointing. New York was beautiful.







The new album MOVING OUT OF EDEN is less bluesy and more Aussie rock is that a natural progression for the band and was it a gradual change?




PAULY K: It felt natural – I think the songs that were written later in time for the first album were already heading in a less “trad” direction (i.e Rosemary, Do The Stomp) but we’ll always have that element coming through – that bluesy swagger.




You sound more AUSTRALIAN casting off the Americana feel of the first album?




PAULY K: I think a lot of that is Jeremy/Johnny Wishbone getting more comfortable in his voice and singing style.  Not so much putting on a character as the first album – not that I think that’s a bad thing – we’ve always been into the performance aspect of being a band – but I guess its trying to find that happy medium between sounding Australian enough but not sounding like some drawling bogan – which is an affectation itself (see much of Aussie Hip-Hop).




There’s a gritty realism to your lyrics especially on songs like the first single WHITE DRESS (There’s a touch of INXS there?) and SO MUCH BETTER do you draw from life experiences?




PAULY K: Neither of those songs was written from literal personal experiences, in fact I’d say very few or none of the songs on the album are completely literal, they’re either exaggerations and amalgamations of personal things, or things that happened to someone I know, or read about, or just plain made up. If I wrote all my songs about my actual life, all my songs would be about trying to write songs and going to woolies. And those songs almost always suck.

PAULY K: White Dress I wrote a set of lyrics based around the line “I don’t wanna get married to a girl in a white dress” which Johnny then took and rewrote to suit himself. I was just thinking about how it used to be that if you were getting married for the second time women weren’t supposed to wear white, like they were soiled now. So Much Better was like a collection of relationship based puns all stuck together, where the second half of each line changes the meaning of the first. I like that sort of thing. Silly little games within lyrics. One thing I hate is generic or vague lyrics. So many lyrics just make me feel like “what was the point of writing that?”




There’s also that great Aussie sense of humour too and we love the references to places like Marrickville bottleshops!




PAULY K: I like local references in songs, but you’ve got to be careful.  There’s a thin line between it being okay and it being not okay. Don Walker and Billy Joel did it a lot. Billy Joel basically made a fricking career out of it! I think he just wrote with a map in front of him. “Okay.. Cold Spring Harbor, Staten Island Ferry, Allentown, Hackensack, and we’re done.” More recently you’ve got the Mountain Goats and The Hold Steady who are two bands I adore, but they go a bit overboard as well. I think I did just a couple on our first album (in Great Western Highway) and then a couple others on this one. I think that’s an acceptable ratio.





I must admit when I first listened to the album I got the chills thinking these guys are the missing link to MIDNIGHT OIL Especially on songs like EXCAVATING the opening track which has a real feel of classic Aussie bands do you feel that in the music?




PAULY K: That’s a great compliment! Midnight Oil are one of my favourite all time bands. Excavating I thought might not fit in with the album originally, it’s basically just one low note over and over again. The drums really drive that one. I remember saying to London (our bass player) “hey I’ve got this new song.. uh, can you just kind of play one note for 3 minutes” and his face kind of fell. The idea I had in my head was like a steam-train nine inch nails.  I guess Johnny’s vocal approach gives it the Oils vibe.





MOVING OUT OF EDEN could only have been written by an Australian band with its earthy lyrics and laid back swing is that part of the real story of the band?




PAULY K: The original idea for that one was to write an anti –gospel song – I’m quite passionately atheist but I’m also fascinated with the bible and the paranormal and the concept of syncretism - the way beliefs are changed to fit different times and cultures. Not that I’m saying any of this necessarily comes through in the song – but that’s what was going around my head - so its like a break up story of Adam and Eve who live in a coastal town and become disillusioned with God and Adam rides away on a giant killer whale. I guess it’s about broadening your horizons.





SOUR GRAPES has a Paul Kelly feel? And a bit of laid back rockabilly in there? With so many interesting sounds how would you classify the style of the album? Or the band?




PAULY K: Is it too boring to say bluesy rock? I felt on this album we’d done a better job of mixing the different styles together, which was one of our few goals. Whereas on Too Late to Pray it was a little more like “here’s a rock n roll song” “here’s a blues song” “here’s a banjo song” I think we got something more cohesive this time around. I like “blues-punk”, I saw that used recently.





ANOTHER LOVER is almost HOODOO GURUS you guys have it all covered! (and a Prince lyric was he an influence!)




PAULY K: I didn’t know about the Prince song til another interviewer brought it up! I do reference plenty of other songs’ lyrics and am happy to admit it, its like a little quasi-hip hop thing I like doing, but that one I honestly had no idea about. I hope he doesn’t sue us. I heard he doesn’t use the internet so he’ll probably never hear it anyway. Just when you think you’ve come up with something clever a purple midget’s gone and done it already. Always the way.




JUST A MAN is about our favourite tell us about that...




PAULY K: That was one of Jeremy’s, it started off quite Hives-rock like, then we swung it, slowed it down and it got groovier and heavier. I wanted to get that same fuzz guitar sound on Edwyn Collins’ “Never Met a Girl like You Before”. I’m glad its one of your favourites, we ummed and arred about it for a while in the writing process. We haven’t got around to playing this one live yet but it’s got a great harp-solo into rock-out part that would be fun.





You can also cut it up SWEAT has a great punk vibe




PAULY K: That was another Johnny Wishbone number. It's taken us/is taking us some time to get that up to scratch live - its fast and gets a bit hard to hold together - but it's fun. That really came together in the studio.








You’ve a number of East coast launch events coming up to support the release including the Bluesfest who are you most excited about playing with?




PAULY K: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Bluesfest the most - we've played it a couple of times before and it's been some of the best gigs we've had. Huge crowds, and they treat you like stars - driving around in little golf carts and there's this amazing free food. The last time we played, Bob Dylan was the headliner. He sucked.





What’s the live show like we’ve heard good things and seen good things on YouTube?




PAULY K: It's kind of like YouTube, but you get to hear the angry comments in real-time. We like playing. I like to think we have a good time with the audience whether it’s a handful of people (and trust me, sometimes it is) or a festival crowd. I was talking to someone recently about how strange it is that being a rock/pop musician is about the only job where not only is it legal for someone to drink on the job, but the hirer is contractually obligated to provide the worker with a satisfactory amount of alcohol. Can you imagine a plumber going, "hey, I don't think I've ingested enough poison to be bothered doing my one skill for an hour and a half – this is unacceptable". We’re always trying to work on our live show and change things – to keep things interesting as much for ourselves as the audience. We don’t get radio play so we have to make sure we can cut the mustard live.




Do you feel that Australia Rock is going through a golden period at the moment?




PAULY K: Do you mean golden period in relation to its popularity or a period of exceptional quality of music? I would say no on both counts. Rock had its latest little ride up to the top of the popularity hill a few years back with Jet and The Vines and that stuff, now it's more electro-pop and pseudo folk. Pretty music to have a picnic to or shop at General Pants to. Not that I'm saying Jet or The Vines (or especially, the Snowdroppers) is any better or worse quality wise. But rock's not particularly in or out at the moment. It’s just there. Which is not such a bad thing. I think it’s easier to find good bands when they're not surrounded by a wave of noise and hype. Conversely I'm sure there's some great folky bands amongst all this Mumford and Sons, Angus and Julia Stone wallpaper music but I'll be damned if I can be bothered wading through to find it.


PAULY K: If you mean quality wise I'm tempted to say there hasn't been a solid run of great Aussie rock since the early 80s but that's probably just a combination of nostalgia and not hearing the crap that was around then.




What’s your take on the state of the live music scene at the moment what do we need to do to get people off their arses and out to see some great local talent?




PAULY K: I think that's such a complex problem that I don't know where to begin to answer, but I'll give it a go. I'm sick of seeing meaningless answers like "stop the venues closing" or "move funding from sports to bands". If it was as simple as clicking a facebook page it would have happened by now.


PAULY K: I think a big part of it is this ongoing displacement of the demographic in the type of locations that music venues need to be viable - i.e. high density, but non CBD areas that have typically been student or lower income areas - like Newtown or Annandale or Surry Hills - and at some point Sydney's population and geographical desirability shifted so that mass amounts of inner city/inner west gentrification started happening - the classic situation of how an area becomes attractive for cultural reasons, which pushes up the property value, which brings in the type of people who don't value what was going on in the first place.


PAULY K: So those people say, hey, I bought my house and I’m legally entitled to live here in silence, which is understandable; and the other view is, well you shouldn’t have moved next door to the Annandale, or wherever, and expected that - so it’s a clash of beliefs about who’s in the right, but it’s the home owners who have legal dominion currently. And none of them would say they’re against live music per se, they very well might go see Bruce Springsteen or The Eagles at the superdome, but they don’t want it next door. So you get people like this Andrew Woodhouse of the Conservation Society or whatever, saying that venues should cease live music at 10pm and have a blanket 45 decibel shut off level etc, and urging residents to complain as much as possible in order to get venues shut down. And this is happening. Its like a scorched earth policy – we don’t want live music in our backyard and we’re going to do everything we can do drive it into the ground. You are living in what is trying to be a vibrant, living city. If you want tranquillity and everybody at home behind closed doors – fuck off and move to Canberra.



PAULY K: I think that if pure market forces play out it will kill the live music scene beyond recognition – so if you place value on a good local music scene or Australian bands competing on a global scale (and lets face it – these type of people don’t) – then we need some sort of formal protection/stimulus to be put in place. Or at least an ease off on the restrictions that venues face. The bands in comparison have it easy in a way – write good songs, be entertaining, and make people want to come and see you.




What are your plans for the coming year after the launch?




PAULY K: We're going to do a proper national tour at some stage later this year, basically just play and play and play to get the new record out there. What we do exactly will in some part depend on how the album is received. We're being optimistic, but realistic! Aiming for somewhere between stadium tours and Rooty Hill RSL.




What’s you ideal package tour to play on – give us some bands?




PAULY K: I think our ideal tour would just be us and Gay Paris driving around being buddies - we try and get that happening as much as possible anyway. So if someone can organise that in conjunction with a Japanese tour that'd be just great.





If you could have been a fly on the wall to witness the creation of any classic album from the past what would it have been and why?




PAULY K: It’s definitely not a classic in the standard sense, but I would have to say Metallica & Lou Reed's Lulu - just to see if they did it with a straight face. That would have made such an incredible documentary – Some Kind of Monster already showed the world how unintentionally hilarious ‘Tallica can be. Imagine that plus Lou Reed plus the worst music ever made. Amazing. Like a real life Ricky Gervais series.




Catch the Australian tour...




The Snowdroppers       Moving Out Of Eden     Album launch tour

with Special Guests LITTLE BASTARD (except *)



Friday March 18

Barrio, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide SA*

wiith Client Liason



Friday March 22

The Standard, Darlinghurst NSW

with Little Bastard & The Pieter Van Den Hoogen Band



Thursday March 28

Byron Bay Bluesfest*

with various luminaries



Friday March 29

Byron Bay Bluesfest*

with total legends



Friday April 5th

Northcote Social Club, Northcote VIC

with Little Bastard & The Stiffys



Saturday April 6

Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine VIC

with Little Bastard



Friday April 12th

The Zoo, Brisbane

with Little Bastard & Moses Gunn Collective



Saturday April 13th

Woombye Pub, Woombye

with Little Bastard & London Bureau

Tickets through venue ph 07 5442 1155 (credit card)



Tickets on sale 9am Tuesday February 12th

Presented by SPA, The Harbour Agency & Aloha Management




Pauly was interviewed by Leslie Phillips February 2013





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