Opening words: I have known about snog for years, and was stunned when I found out he and I were like long lost brothers on opposite ends of the earth. Sure I am more goth and he is more from outer space. In all seriousness, when I finally got to hang out with him when he toured the usa a few years back, it was like I had found my long lost brother. We told stories and I realized how similar in thought we were. Both vegan, both really hate the industrial revolution, pollution, the politics of today etc. Both of us have a wide range of music we liked. We have both run record labels and both are signed to metropolis records. I first met him the first time I ever played a show as VAC in europe, he was playing the same bill I was in europe under black lung with sonar, suicide commando and a few other at this really smelly abandoned(turned into a concert venue) Slaughter house in Germany some where. Kultur fabrik or something like this. I was back stage and discovered someone eating off the vegan tray, I freaked out and yelled, flesh eaters stay away from my fucking food, go eat your meat, or something like that. He smiles and said, hey I’m vegan too or something like that. Any how, I have some history with this band, I am a huge huge huge fan of snog and black lung. I really wanted to help promote his projects by posting this interview on Electric Deth Trip Media, and Vampire Freaks. Hope you enjoy this thought provoking interview.
VAC: How are you?
SNOG: Hiya…yeah fine…chuggin’ along doin’ ma thang…
VAC: How do you feel about Obama winning the nobel peace award after dropping bombs on tan coloured people?
SNOG: Another victory for PR and ‘unreality’. It should always be remembered that Nobel invented Dynamite – and it is said that the ‘prize’ was invented to soothe his ‘conscience’. Bush/Obama really looks like good-cop/bad-cop to me, business as usual but with a different PR/psychological approach. I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that ‘our’ whole democracy thing looks pretty ‘staged’ from here, we had ‘our’ own good-cop/bad-cop in Australia too. Meanwhile, the big money/corporate/media estate really runs everything of any import.
VAC: Your Last LP “The Last Days Of Rome” has a really new sound – I hear a Goldfrapp influence, and also a big country influence. The LP before it seemed more electro clash and club oriented. What inspired “The Last Days Of Rome” Lyrically and musically?
Snog: Well, we are what we eat. I do like that Goldfrapp stuff musically (though I think their lyrics could do with some help) and especially the things that inspired it (The Rah Band’s The Crunch etc). Life and Art for me is just like a big blender, you put a whole lot of stuff in, press the button see what comes out. There might be some potential surprises in the mix – on the title track (The Last Days Of Rome) I really wanted an Ice Cube sound (I’m a big fan)…I fancied the idea of me waxing lyrical (…cough…) about the End Times (or at least the obvious downward trajectory of our ‘civilization’) over some phat ‘urban’ beat. With all modesty I think we did pretty well. Lyrically, I’m most interested in the external/internal ‘arc’ of us as individuals and as a society. Not the minutiae of every dumb ‘political’ event or neurotic fad (unless they add something to the ‘big picture’) but the direction we are all heading in. There are also doses of just plain old personal stuff and of course simple satire in there. Things generally look pretty ridiculous when you take a step back. Some of the lyrics are pretty old really – ‘One Grain Of Sand’ was written years ago laying on someone’s floor in Texas feeling exhausted and overwhelmed – ‘Lost At Sea’ was written in the studio while we were making a record – these things have a life of their own, I don’t ask too many questions or analyze it much.
VAC: What song was the most difficult to make on The Last Days Of Rome?
Snog: We put a lot of work in to the title track, but it wasn’t ‘hard’…’Whateverman’ was a tough ‘nut’ to crack…I recall three or four really pretty different versions (it started off as a more ‘straightforward’ song) until we got something decent. I really wanted it on the LP because I was fond of the lyric (which is kind of submerged in vocoder now – never mind).
VAC: What Songs do you like the most on The Last Days Of Rome?
Snog: I like ‘em all. So I guess any choice might depend on my ‘mood’. But One Grain Of Sand, The Last Days Of Rome, City, Christmas Everyday and Go To Sleep (Little Australia) stand out in my memory.
VAC: What do you enjoy doing more, Snog, or Black Lung?
Snog: It might sound odd, but they feel so different in process/creation and result that it’s hard to say. Snog is very deliberate – songs written around very precise song structures with a lot of time spent on production (80% of the time the lyrics come before anything else) whereas Black Lung is very spontaneous (people would be surprised to see how many ‘live takes’ and ‘one take wonders’ end up on a Black Lung record).
So I tend to bounce from one project to the other to maintain my sanity – sick of microscopically investigating every nano-sound/breath on the Snog record? Time to cook up some fresh Black Lung sound collisions – sick of sitting day/night in a darkened studio making weird squeaks? Time to go into a big studio with lots of people hanging around and make that new Snog album…and so it goes one bouncing off the other (and other stuff)…
VAC: Was making music more fun in the old days or now?
Snog: No idea really. The ‘making’ has always been fine. It’s the organizing/legwork stuff that’s really boring…
VAC: What do you think about analogue vs digital? Anything, photography, music gear, computers?
Snog: Well digital has won a lot of victories because of its convenience (or at least perceived convenience) but I still have doubts about it as far as sound/vision quality goes. Nothing sounds quite as good as a ‘mint’ LP from 1969! (though I think now digital [in the right hands] is at last getting close). That said sound is incredibly subjective, I think at least 50% of what you hear is what you ‘think’ you hear. And then of course there is that elusive thing known as ‘taste’. But I have a natural bias toward hardware over software (the new Black Lung album for example is 100% software free – and I think it does have a unique sound about it)…and another bias I have is against the perception that anything ‘new’ is automatically better than anything ‘old’. I would suggest that the current ‘human condition’ argues very strongly against ‘new’ being always better!
VAC: My favourite song lyric from snog is: “Microwave oven, economic rationalism, compassionless capitalism, fraudulent wargasm”. What are your favourite lyrics from snog?
Snog: Mmmmm…I never really thought about it. It really depends what you are in the mood for. On the one hand there are the Tom Lehrer-like satirical songs (“Al Qaeda Is Your Best Friend” and “Christmas Everyday” are obvious examples) which, while they may lack in ‘artistry’ do skewer their target quite accurately (modesty aside). On the other hand there are a few ‘subtle’ Snog songs like “City” (which has more than the obvious going on). people sometimes think that Snog is a one-trick pony (constantly beating on about “politics” – whatever that is) but I quite like the ‘personal’ songs like “Light, Yet Refreshing” and “Mind And Purpose”. Maybe “The Ballad’” and “The Human Germ” are quite decent – they tend to marry lyrics, melody (?) and music quite ‘easily’. But to answer your question…no idea.
VAC: Buy me, I’ll change your life is my all time favourite snog lp. That lp is so dark, and heavy. Some of the songs even make me cry. Your music since that lp seems to have lightened up and sound more fun and upbeat, sure there are exceptions I know. So why do you not make the darker heavier stuff anymore?
Snog: It’s not often I’m told Snog is ‘fun and upbeat’…so thanks for that! You might as well smile as it goes down the toilet surely?
“Buy Me…I’ll Change Your Life” was a crucial album for Snog I guess. I’d grown completely bored with banging club music and I wanted to ‘express’ myself in a different way. At the time I thought it might end up a complete disaster, but that didn’t really bother me at all. A lot of people like that LP but in Australia it was (somewhat ironically) hated/ignored.
I never saw “Buy Me…” as particularly darker than the other albums. What would I know? Surely “Beyond The Valley Of The Proles” and “Vs. The Faecal Juggernaut” are just as dark?…
VAC: What is your favourite Snog lp?
Snog: That’s like asking a father which one of his children is his favourite…they all have things I like about them. And they all have different “flavours” – which are a by-product of where and when they were made and who was involved.
VAC: Can you list your top 10 favourite LPs?
Snog: Rosemary’s Baby: OST by Christopher Komeda
Clockwork Orange: OST by Wendy Carlos
Lolita: OST by Ennio Morricone
Kill!: OST by Berto Pisano and Jaques Chaumont
Thaw: by Foetus
Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards by Tom Waits
Gli Occhi Freddi Della Paura: OST by Ennio Morricone
Il Clan Dei Sicilliani: OST by Ennio Morricone
The Cold Hard Facts Of Life: by Porter Wagoner
Malvina Reynolds by Malvina Reynolds
Live At Carnegie Hall: by Johnny Paycheck
Ring Of Fire: by Anita Carter
Partyball: by Stan Ridgway
Up Evil: by Front 242
VAC: Do you keep up on modern music still, club stuff, alternative, industrial?
Snog: Not really. Most of it is so vacuous and dull. But there are exceptions: I did like the last Alec Empire album, I loved the last couple of Morrissey albums, I keep an eye on Messer Chups, Pan Sonic and Felix Kubin because they do great things.
VAC: Are you still really into running your country music label?
Snog: Yeah, it’s kind of addictive. There is still a thrill in bringing forgotten diamonds back to the surface – digging them up, polishing them, re-birthing great great art.
VAC: What did you eat this week? Still hardcore vegan?
Snog: You betcha baby. Just had Aloo Gobi with Roti for dinner. Artichokes with balsamic for lunch. Tangelos, stewed apple and rhubarb for breakfast. Stuff like that.
VAC: What is the weirdest thing you do or have done in life?
Snog: Being a full time musician is actually pretty strange. When you get down to it most people don’t understand that life at all. And it was in some ways a strange choice for me. I was a visual guy, doing printmaking and sculpture at art school for a long time. But art school disturbed me so much and really burnt me out for a long time on visual art. There are plenty of other weird things I have done, but I can’t really tell you about those.
VAC: Strangest thing you have ever seen?
Snog: All the proles believing all those dumb-arsed lies that our society is built on. Believing all the bulldust like their lives depend on it – emotionally involved in believing total, provable nonsense. And the black magic that goes on right in front of our eyes – the TV, the money swindle – the whole deluded thing – that so beguiles us.
VAC: Do you think politics is just an act like I do? Like, I think its all a puppet show from the start, and all the politicians are in fact in on it. Or do you think it is more sinister, like, these people get elected, then once they get in office they get pulled into a dark room and given an agenda then told how to act, and if they refuse they are threatened with violence and scandal.
Snog: Kind of a combination of that: with a few other things thrown in, for sure. I find it kind of dull to argue with people who can’t or won’t see it. You either get it or you don’t. I guess the most obvious proof that the whole thing is a rort is in the results. When was the last time there was a policy or political result that didn’t favour big money/corporations? That didn’t line the pockets of the few at the obvious expense of the many? That didn’t involve carnage for the fun and profit of a tiny, powerful group? I think that is pretty good proof of who runs the show. The ‘accidental’ view of history/society/”democracy” is very unconvincing when all the money/power goes in one direction and all the pain/expense/work goes in the other direction.
VAC: I see the political system the same way the WWE wrestling sets up its good guy bad guy thing. They have the heel (right wingers) for a long time, then they throw a nice face at you(clinton, obama), the petty bourgeois apologist like all liberals. Its like the non apologetic pig will rule and make everyone mad, then they throw in the jesus like apologist guy up there to apologize. What is your take?
Snog: Sounds like reality to me. The whole ‘political’ arena is staged. You are probably aware of Project Mockingbird, if not have a read. Just the tip of the iceberg I would think.
VAC: In Australia, is there insipid brainwashing in the culture, you know the, if you work hard enough you too can be bourgeois mythos? I call it the petty bourgeois wannabe syndrome. Have the main public bought into that there like they have in america?
Snog: Totally. Australia is really at the cutting edge of the insipid consumer mythos. The lack of dissent here is truly astounding. Quite a few Snog videos and albums are “banned” in Australia, it really is that pathetic here. A lot of people have said to me, “Oh, you live in Australia but you write all these songs about America”. Actually 99% of our music is really taken from an Australian perspective, it’s just that people here are such brainless sheep they wouldn’t know/care. A friend of mine says that Australia is the “New World Order’s” playground/testing ground. They’ll try out any insane shit here because the people are just too dumb/obedient to make a squeak.
VAC: What pisses you off the most about the industrial revolution?
Snog: Haha. Possibly the whole thing! I really don’t like the way we have become so separate from nature/land/universe. I’m sure it can’t have always been that way.
VAC: If you could change 1 thing in the world, what would it be?
Snog: Mmmmmmm. So many things to choose from. I’m a very unenthusiastic capitalist – I’d want to dismantle capitalism (…I get the feeling that it will destroy humankind sooner or later…) and replace it with some kind of village/co-operative economy. But maybe the smarter thing to do would be to change essential human nature – make us all get along. Or maybe just remove the cancerous growth that is humankind from the whole equation – I might just get that wish one day.
VAC: What is your favourite synth?
Snog: Right now my Moog Voyager with the blue lights. Also very fond of the Mellotron. And the Sanner FuzzRite Pedal.
VAC: What is your favourite instrument?
Snog: Actually I love the Harpsichord. And the harp. And baritone guitar.
VAC: What is the future of Snog and Black Lung?
Snog: To continue to be as annoying as possible.
VAC: Do you like touring and playing live?
Snog: Quite like playing live. We have a lot of laughs with Snog these days. Somebody said recently that it was more like a cabaret show than anything else. Great. Don’t like the grind of touring much – you know, hotel – airport – gig – hotel – airport – repeat. But I do like to meet the people. You can’t win ‘em all.
Above photo, VAC hanging out with Snog at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Thank you for letting me torture you with all these questions. I will do my best to promote your band on the net. You my friend are one of my favourite acts of all time. Thank you so much for blessing us with your music and personality.
Please, If you like any of the above songs, go and buy their cds on amazon or Click here to buy online. My favorite snog cd is Buy me, I’ll Change your life. But the video collection is amazing, the dvd is a must have Click here to buy Video dvd.