Snõõper Are A Force Of Nature

All hail our Egg Punk overlords...

There are very few things as good as a truly great punk gig. The kind where sweat drips from the ceiling, crowdsurfers pass by in rapid succession and the band’s energy is in direct parallel with that of the audience. Even at SXSW, a festival swamped with hundreds of acts who are determined to stand out in their own respective ways, the simplicity of the great elements of punk made bands such as Folly Group, Humour and Been Stellar highlight acts.

For one group in particular, this year saw the audiences fall in love with energetic live shows. Snõõper, the Nashville based DIY punk outfit, performed a series of intoxicatingly fun sets at many of the festival’s best venues, from the psych inspired Thirteenth Floor to the iconic Hotel Vegas. They succeeded in making an often difficult to inspire, industry heavy crowd pack into venues and leave gleaming with sweat and buzzing with excitement. This is a band who are difficult to ignore, with their wild, short track lengths (their self-titled EP showcased five tracks and still came to less seven minutes in length). Their prop filled, energetic sets were some of the best on display at the festival, and today saw the announcement of their debut album ‘Super Snõõper’ on Third Man Records this July. Prior to this announcement, we had the opportunity to speak to them in the midst of SXSW, and ask them how such a brilliant, eclectic band came into being.  

Their story, it is revealed, began during lockdown. Although the guitarist and lead songwriter Connor “was in lots of postpunk and hardcore bands for a long time… when COVID happened we couldn’t get together to practise or play shows, so I had been doing some recordings on my own.” At the time him and, now vocalist, Blair were living together, so she suggested they tried making a track. As the two worked together on more and more songs Blair began to make music videos and even craft props for the act, leading to the paper mache puppets which have since become synonymous with their live shows.

“There was one show,” she explains. “I think it was in Charlotte, where we brought out a paper mache head. It wasn’t a full puppet yet but people went crazy for it. This guy on TikTok was like, Snõõper was awesome… so we had to start bringing this mascot.” Their sound might have been multifaceted and exciting when they started in lockdown, but as the props began to develop and Blair and Connor became more confident, their live shows started to bring them increasing levels of attention. The props underwent an evolution, Connor explains, “first Blair built up a weight effect for one song, and then we were like maybe someone should wear a tracksuit.” The situation escalated until “we were like ‘maybe we should all wear tracksuits, or maybe matching shoes’, then let’s do a kick or something, so we started building choreography, but it all happened very naturally.”

The puppets may have begun as a bit of a joke, but they are now central to the band’s reputation. Blair explains that she makes them, drawing on her experience as a visual artist and animator. “They’re just cardboard” she explains “so they’re super lightweight… but yeah, if it’s a crowded venue they just get destroyed. Which is fine, I’m always like what happens happens.” This year they are slightly more prepared for disaster though, which Connor laughingly explaining that “Blair has an emergency bag of all the stuff to put them back together.” Connor was in part reluctant at first to involve the props too heavily, explaining “There are some insecurities at first like not wanting to seem lame. But we’re really into it now, it’s the coolest thing ever. We think it’s like, if bands don’t have props or stuff, it’s hard to enjoy it as much”.

For Blair, “I think the props in a lot of ways came from a place of being insecure playing music. I thought, okay so, I’m not a singer really, even though I’m doing the vocals in the band. I don’t know too much about music, but when the puppet and the props come out I’m like, I did that, that’s my contribution to the band.”

This ability to reassess and toy with identity within music is crucial to understanding the ethos of Snõõper, who care more about what sounds good and is enjoyable to audiences than catering to specific genres or expectations. They are often described as ‘Egg Punk’ which Connor explains as being “loosely like a nerdy style of punk. It’s more upbeat and snazzy.” The group are however wary of using the term too much, saying it is limiting and often dismisses bands within the genre as being derivative of acts such as The Coneheads or DEVO. The reality of ‘Egg Punk’, according to Connor, is that it “is really anything that’s fast and recorded onto an eight track. It kind of all has the same tone but I would say that some of the bands are very different.” The joy of the genre then, can perhaps be related to the way in which “Egg Punk was kind of like a response to the more macho, hardcore scene, like we’re nerds, we don’t want to be like that.”

This fusion of knowledge and passion is integral to understanding the identity and nature of Snõõper. As Blair explains, “Connor has done music forever, so he can watch a band and be like ‘that guitar tone was awesome’, and I’m like, I didn’t hear that at all.” For Blair, the puppetry and elaborate nature of the visual aspects of the act helped her to overcome anxieties and assert her own importance within the act. “Connor writes all the music and then I do the vocals” she explains “so that’s where the prop generating thing comes in.” Often the ideas for the props and the visuals of the song inform her approach to the lyrics, and “that ties in my end.”

Identity wise Snõõper are  a far throw from the personalities associated with more traditional hardcore punk scene. Frontwoman Blair is a full time elementary school teacher, who describes calling her mum “immediately after” her first crowd surf at the Oh Sees show a few days prior to our chat. She explains how she needs to fit touring around breaks in the teaching schedule, and reveals her anxieties around parents realising she’s in a band and thinking less of her as a teacher for it. But perhaps that is what makes them such a refreshing presence in the music scene. In many ways they embody some of the best aspects of punk, from their short, unpretentious track lengths, extremely high energy performances and culty following to their fundamental reliance upon, and significance within, their localised DIY scene. They also serve to highlight many of the aspects of classic punk that are overlooked within popular conceptions, from openness to outsiders to mutual respect between the band and audience. 

They band have changed rapidly since they came into existence in a world of lockdown just a few years ago. No longer just Connor and Blair, they boast five incredibly talented members who were all found through a mutual passion for the DIY scene. The most novel story of discovery perhaps is how they found their drummer, Happy. Blair met Happy while working at a library, and he was just a teen at the time attending a local programme for young people In music. “A couple of years went by and it was COVID” she recalls “and I saw him video of him playing bass and I was like, it’s got to be Happy. He’s just the coolest person ever.”

The album is, in part, an ode to the band, with Blair explaining that at the start “it was maybe strange for them, because it was always centred around us. But now we want to bring them into it.” On stage the group bounce off each other’s enthusiasm as much as that of the audience, explaining “we feed off the energy that the crowd gives us. We definitely prefer all ages venues where the kids are going wild versus a bunch of people who are standing with their arms crossed because that just sucks the energy out of us.” Connor reflects “the Snõõper ethos is just energy. It’s kind of just, go as crazy as possible for 30 minutes.”

Their debut album will see them bridge the gap between their live shows and recorded output. Many of the featured tracks have already been released, in what the band now consider their early demos. As Blair describes “we’ve been playing together for like a full year now. The songs are so much faster now in comparison to those early recordings, the energy just isn’t the same on the demos.” Today sees the release of their new, brilliant single ‘Pod’. Its experimental, visually spunky video is a fantastic insight into the weird excellence of their live shows. Swarming with vibrant imagery, humour and a celebration of the DIY, it perfectly captures the essence of Snõõper. 

‘Super Snõõper’ will be released this July.

Words: Eve Boothroyd
Photography: Elinor Jones

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