Snarls Interview: “We’ve always loved the DIY, handmade feel of art”

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Snarls’ debut album Burst is out now via Take This To Heart Records.

This Columbus, Ohio quartet may be called snarls, but their sound is significantly more melodic and soothing than that moniker might suggest. Their debut album Burst is literally bursting with fuzzy and jangling alt-rock gems that call to mind the slacker glory of outfits like the Lemonheads, the Breeders and Great Grandpa.

We caught up with the Mick Martinez (guitar) to talk about the band’s debut LP, vinyl and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Support Snarls by ordering Burst via Bandcamp!

Overblown: Last year Stereogum named your song ‘Walk In The Woods’ one of the best songs of 2019. On top of that, they named your band one of the best new bands of 2019. What do you take from those kinds of accolades?

Mick Martinez (guitar): Honestly, this kind of stuff still just doesn’t feel real! We are continuously admiring these media outlets and the bands coming out of them. We are so grateful to have their support, it’s something that felt like a distant dream to us.

O: Your debut album ‘Burst’ has very cool DIY artwork. Where did the concept come from and who created it?

MM: We knew we wanted to have some sort of visual that represented the word “burst”. Chlo came up with the idea of a girl in the woods shaking out her hair with glitter falling out, so she, Riley, and I went to the woods and I took pictures of Riley shaking out her hair while Chlo threw glitter in the air. I then printed out the picture and added more glitter on top of the physical photo since you couldn’t see the glitter all too well in the photo. Then we sifted through a few drafts with different types of lettering and colouring and eventually landed on what is the cover now. I physically created it, but it was brought to life step by step with input from everyone. We’ve always loved the DIY, handmade feel of art in that style and incorporated that vibe through all the art for the record.

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O: Your album is out on a couple of rather beautiful vinyl editions. What was it like to hold the album in your hands for the first time?

MM: Magical! I just got the test pressings a few days ago and sat in front of my stereo in awe. I’m very much into the physical mediums of music and have always been really interested in the process and technicality behind pressing vinyl. I’ve got a vinyl collection myself so it is pretty sweet to get to add that. And I couldn’t be happier with the colour variants we chose for the vinyl, I think they even further capture the visual message we are trying to share.

O: What are you doing to keep yourself occupied at the moment during the pandemic?

MM: Haha. We are all so bored. Most of us are just working our day jobs and writing music to stay busy. We really cherish the days we are able to be together for practice. But working on things like our vinyl release, live streams, our new merch line, and our new split with The Sonder Bombs has also kept us busy.

O: I really love the hugeness of your sound. It seems to me that many rock bands can somewhat shy away from sounding too ‘big’. What draws you to that sound?

MM: It all goes back to what we listened to growing up. Max and I grew up listening to the booming drums of old school hip-hop as well as grunge and rock bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Alice In Chains, etc. Riley was also raised listening to rock music, and Chlo has always been a fan of loud pop music. All the bands that we mutually love are heavy and energetic. We’re always saying “the guitars, man, those guitars!”

O: The title track on the album starts with the lyrics, “When I die, may I burst / With a crack of thunder and a lot of glitter”. I love that line. Where did that line come from?

MM: Chlo White says “Burst” is holding on. “Burst” is hoping that when you are gone, all the good pieces of you are scattered across the individuals you loved. It’s wishing that you are like glitter so that you stick to everything you ever touched. I know this is a rather selfish thought, but if I can immerse myself in things I do every day, I feel that I have true purpose. I want people to try to understand the sad truth that people move on from us when we leave this world, but we come out in subtle ways every now and then. Maybe your friend sees a double rainbow, or your favourite song plays in a bar at 2:22 am. We stick around that way, and that’s something I find very beautiful.”

O: Outside of other music, what else inspires your music? Books, art, people?

MM: We are very much inspired by visual art and fashion, and the people creating those things. We are constantly describing non-physical things like music with visual/physical attributes. Like, when we’re writing, it’s “okay, make this part some like a shimming glitter firework, and this part should feel like sitting alone in a dark room.”

O: I saw on your Instagram that you posted in support of Black Lives Matter. What do you think we can do to support the movement?

MM: First, listen to the people whose lives are affected on a daily basis by systematic racism. Too many people are just sharing their opinion without truly listening or understanding their neighbour, they just need their minute to talk. Second, use your voice to speak up for your neighbour. We also see too many people going silent. If you can’t go protest that’s fine! Use your platform, no matter how small, to encourage others to join this movement and call for justice. The world is already changing from this revolution and that momentum can’t be lost. Continue to uplift Black voices and never back down.

O: What other bands from Columbus, Ohio should Overblown readers check out?

MM: Van Dale, WYD, Girl Fox, Palette Knife, and Mouth Movements are some of our favourites!

O: What do snarls have planned for the rest of 2020?

MM: Honestly, we’re just taking this day by day. A few months ago I would have been excited to share about our year full of touring, but unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. At this moment we are writing new music and finding ways to use our platform for good, and we’ll see what tomorrow holds when we get there!

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