Contributor’s Note: Snowhaus’s new album is fucking terrific blend of kick ass White Denim guitar work and infectious pop-punk song writing. The songs go beyond basic pop-punk conventions. I would not be surprised to see Snowhaus opening up for Mac DeMarco or Parquet Courts in the near future. I talked with Nathan, guitar, and Andrew, drums, to talk about their new album. Fans can find Snowhaus at the following locations:
Tell us a little about the recording process. How long did it take you to record this album? What was the process like? What were some of the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome while working on ‘They Don’t End Pretty’?
Andrew: The short answer is “longer than it should have.”
We tracked the basics live in a room playing together in like two and a half days, which was great, there was a lot of fun energy in the air. After that we got kind of got bogged down in recording guitar overdubs, vocals, percussion and what not. There were scheduling issues with band members and also with the studio. I think there was construction going on there, and we were recording all this stuff ourselves and using the space for free, so like actual customers paying for time obviously got priority over us. We were also being really picky about how things sounded too, and a lot of times go back to redo a part that had already been recorded. So We ended up recording like 70% of the album in two and a half days and the remaining 30% over the next 7 months. Haha. Those 7 months of on and off recording were pretty stressful. The project had started out feeling great, but there were a lot of sessions that were really unproductive where we went home feeling kind of dejected, and pretty much everyone had at least one meltdown where they just walked out and wouldn’t be seen for an hour or two.
Nathan: Hell, we finished tracking and promptly lost two original members of the band. The release date hadn’t even been set yet. It was a crazy time. We were trying to mix the record, plan the release, and get new band members all while playing 2-3 shows a week for the next 6 months. It was a wild ride, feels like we’re finally on the other side of it now.
I remember when we got the first set of mixes back. They sounded SO bad. Turns out something had gone wrong as they were exported and our engineer didn’t know – but we had no idea about that and I remember being so afraid to tell them that I hated how they sounded- I’d never been in that position before and I love the way this person mixes so I was really confused! Turned out fantastic, they fixed the problem and did a killer job.
What was your favorite piece of equipment that you used while making this record? What piece of equipment surprised you as being more useful than you thought it’d be?
Andrew: Just like… the arsenal of different snare drums at the studio. I’d never thought of doing that much swapping out of different snares between songs and in the middle of songs, but I ended up using a ton of different snares to get the right tone for each song.
Nathan: Zach’s light green danelectro guitar. Sparkles, lipstick pickups, the whole shebang. He’s had it for as long as I’ve known him and I’ve always loved how it looked and hated how it sounded. He handed it to me when tracking the solo for “Deep Sea Divers”, I was skeptical. But when I started playing it felt like weilding a martian ray gun. Can’t get that sound on this planet.
As a guitar player myself, I fucking love the guitar work on this album. From the White Denim style leads in ‘They Don’t End Pretty’ to the pop punk-esque bendy lines on ‘Housatonic’ you tackle a wide range of styles. Were you trying to incorporate a lot of different styles on this album or did you just play what felt good?
Nathan: I think I speak for all of us when I say we listen to a TON of different genres/styles of music. I was definitely inspired by a wide range of music during the LONG process of writing/recording this album. These songs span a pretty wide range of years so there was a lot of phases. I think it all kind-of happened naturally from us playing what we wanted to play, and we gradually became self aware of being all over the place and decided to embrace it.
I know you’ve had some line up changes over the past couple of years. Can you tell me a little how your sound has changed with each new member?
Nathan: As the only original member, I’ve seen a ton of change over the years. We spent a long time changing drummers, going from a more math-rock/ emo sound originally, to a more alt/rock sound, and then a more maniacal, gritty sound with the addition of andrew. The guitar work on this album that isnt my own is very Zach Bloomstein. He’s got his own thing going, nobody plays like the Blooms. You can certainly say the same about Nick on bass as well. Both really unique and special musicians that make this record what it is.
Andrew Well the biggest thing is that everybody has their own flavor and feeling that they bring. Especially playing live, the songs are the same but everybody has their own interpretations of the parts, and a different style and attitude about the performance itself. Since recording this album the band has grown to include a lot more backing vocals and harmonies as new members have joined; with our current bass player riley there’s way more interplay between the drums and bass, just cause he’s so easy to lock in with, I feel like we can side eye eachother and exchange so much information onstage, which is a really comforting feeling. He’s also always channeling so much energy when he plays that it inspires me to match him.
The song ‘Thumb War’ is one of the sweetest songs I’ve heard this year. You sing ‘One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war with you if it means I get to hold hands with you.’ Is this song about someone specific? Can you tell us the story behind the song?
Nathan: Hah! I wish I knew. I feel like I never know what I’m writing about when I’m writing. Could have been anyone, I have a certain person in mind; but it’s really hard to say because that one specifically just kind of spilled out and then it was there. Funny, although seemingly a cute love song, I really don’t think it’s actually about anyone, I think that more serves to drive the imagery, fun, and nostalgia that the song is really all about. It reminds me of getting dropped off after my first day of kindergarten. Maybe it’s about a forgotten elementary school crush. Who knows.
In ‘Deep Sea Divers you sing, ‘I wanted to be something you couldn’t find on a Walmart shelf… I think I’d be a bargain,’ which is a perfect example of your cheeky, romantic, and fan-fucking-tastic lyrics. What is the story behind ‘Deep Sea Divers’?
Nathan: It’s funny so, the song talks about the ocean but it’s actually more about a lake. Playing the song always brings me back to the summer I picked up an old sunfish sailboat off craigslist free and spent the summer attempting not to sink while putting way too many of my friends on it and partying on it and misc canoes day & night. Before I had the sailboat we used to just bring paddles at night and find an unlocked canoe and take it out. When I actually wrote the song, probably at the end of that summer -I was definitely having some sort of “awakening” if you want to call it that. Trying to figure out who I was. Guess I wanted to feel unique? To answer your initial question, hah. I was working on star island, there’s some real ocean for ya, when I actually wrote it – so it also feels really tied to that place. High up in the old hotel listening to the gulls
What did you learn while making this record? What will you do differently the next time around?
Andrew: I learned a lot about what I want and don’t want my sound to be for the project, and what kind of space I should be occupying in the compositions and I’m sure everybody else feels the same. The big thing though was that we are most definitely a live band.
Nathan:This is sort of a follow up to the first question
I learned how important it is to get it all done in a timely fashion. I think there were a lot of moments that we started to lose faith in the record because it had been so long since we had started the process, that things had changed and evolved a little too much along the way. It made it difficult and frustrating to push forward. Next time, I’d much rather get the album recorded in a week or two, mixed over the next month or two, and then mastered shortly after. If I’m going to take a year or more to release a record, I want to spend more time planning/fleshing out the release and less time booking recording sessions and stressing out.
To do this it means you really need to make the time when its time and not drag things out. And it also means compromise. Make the record everything you want it to be, but at the same time don’t get hung up in minute details.
And there you have it! Thanks to the guys in Snowhaus for taking the time for us! They have recently released the music video for “Kitchen Knives”. Check it out!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3lDJNefb78