Hot on the heels of the post regarding Glide, is another one from the archives about a band dear to my heart – Snout. I went to school with Greg who played guitar in Snout and I used to do stuff like go on tour to Adelaide (the glamour!) with them, lugging gear, selling shirts and so on. I also did two pieces on them for my fanzine. The first, you can read below. The other one was about rock music and pinball, which will probably surface on this blog at a later date.
After Snout finished in 2002, Ross went on to release solo albums. Most notably being nominated for the 2008 Australian Music Prize (equivalent to the Mercury or Polaris prizes) for Sympathy for the New World. Ewan drummed with Dan Brodie and the Broken Arrows, amongst others. While Greg put out a hip-hop inspired EP but then retreated from the music world.
This post is timely, as they reformed for a gig at The Tote on Melbourne Cup Day, in November this year, with perennial local favourites, Even. They have been persuaded to play with them again at one of Even’s Christmas gigs on Thursday 22 December at the Phoenix Public House. I’ll be there. I wonder what happened to Ross’ song “Stuntman”?
PS – Guess what? I have an Even archival article too.
PPS – If there are any typos, it’s the OCR software’s fault!
SNOUT – DEMOLITION MEN
There have been some pretty reasonable musical groups that have performed at the Evelyn Hotel over the years. When you get to read this magazine, it will have just been reopened after renovations. Ed speaks to Ross McLennan (bassist, singer and songwriter) who started the demolitions…while on stage.
“It was just the best. It felt great. Basically I was feeling very tired and dizzy and I was having difficulty standing up straight all night. Feeling really weird. Basically it was the strangest night out with someone fucking up the PA and we just soldiered on, thought it was going to be a fairly average sort of gig but it ended up really rocking out. And at the end, I was jumping all over the place! I nearly knocked my amp stack over earlier on. I wasn’t very sure footed…I just threw myself through the air, tripped over and I thought I was gong to stop when I hit the wall, but I just kept going. So I fell backwards, did a little bit of a roll) so I didn’t break my back and the bass was still feeding back everywhere and we were just sort of jumping around everywhere. It just felt awesome. I just wish we had it on film for a film clip or something, cos I’ve got this great song called “Stuntman” which it would go really well with.
It was the best feeling. It was the most freakish ending to a gig, people were just going berserk. It’s amazing to see logical adults actually freaking out and getting really excited, it’s a good feeling. It was one of those gigs that could have went either way — it could have been the worst gig ever because of the way everything was fucking up on the night, but it ended up being one of the best gigs we’ve ever done. It was definitely an event.”
We’re sitting in the living room of Ross’ cosy pad. I’m drinking black tea; Ross has soy milk in his. I’m getting incredibly jacked off at the cassette recorder because of malfunctions, but you can’t help but feel relaxed when you’re hanging and listening to David Bowie covering the Easybeats and other sixties heroes.
“I love the sixties. You go through the stages of things that you like, as you go through life…I liked the Sweet, just because it was around, but there was never a point at any stage of my life when I didn’t like sixties music.”
This is evident when you listen to the latest Snout album, What’s that Sound?, a tasty Au Go Go records release that has increased their profile all over the country of late. This has meant a series of trips north to Sydney, one with the Popsicle bandwagon, to promote the album and then even more recently. a spot on Big Day Out bill
“After the (BDO) set. I got a bit depressed, then did the signing which cheered me up because people were saying we played OK, I didn’t think we did. It was a weird, weird day. I went to see You Am I and the sound was really bad so I was depressed cos you could see them going off on stage and you couldn’t hear it translated. Why couldn’t they have it together enough for a band of You Am I’s stature? That fucked the day up for me. I went away and then came back at the end of the day. I’d been away and I sort of thought that our impact in terms of how we affected people over the course of such a long day was well and truly over and I’d be very surprised if anyone would even notice me. But at he end of the day, shitloads of people were coming up to me for autographs and photos and stuff; it was bizarre. I thought we didn’t play very well but apparently we did. It gives me heart cos I was depressed. It saved the day from being a total bummer.”
So he likes having fans come and say hi?
“It’s really good. I love It. Previously that used to happen, but I felt more insecure and I was a bit more unapproachable. Now it’s better, particularly at All Ages (gigs) where kids don’t give a fuck. They just want to come up to you and talk to you and if they want to they do. They don’t seem to get as embarrassed or are more prepared to embarrass themselves. I don’t know what the case is, but it’s good for me because they don’t seem distanced and you get first hand opinions about stuff which is really good. I like it”
So what does Ross do when he isn’t playing with Snout and doing other band related activities? Hang out?
“Oh most of my time is spent sort of like the Donellans (from a cheesy Melbourne tyre ad). I don’t eat tyres, but I eat, sleep and breathe music. It’s my biggest problem, I’ve gotta learn how to turn off from it and do other things. I do a lot of writing. I’ve got so many songs, it’s ridiculous. It’s almost like a pathological obsession. I’ve written enough songs that I never need to write another one again.”
Snout began life in 1991. Ross had just completed a stint in The Hybrid. New guitarist, Greg “Soul Train” Ng was cutting his musical teeth in ‘sonic noise popsters’, Afterglow, and drummer Ewan McCartney was in Ripe.
“Ewan was introduced to me by the lead singer of The Squad, a mod band, which was pretty cool. We just tried a number of people. We found Greg when one of the guitarists that auditioned for my ad suggested Dave, the other guy from Afterglow, so I rang their manager and he gave me Greg’s number to ring to make sure it was Dave’s current number. I said, “Does Greg play guitar too?”, and he said “Yeah”. So I said that I’d ask him. It worked out great, just the combination. Greg’s at a point in his life where he wants to play some harder stuff. He’s done one thing and he wants to try something different and it’s worked out really good, and the fact he’s just a total retro head is great for me.
When Snout started I was sitting around without a band and Wally (Kempton of The Meanies) who managed the other band as well, without me even knowing about it really, sent a whole lot of tapes around. I just gave him one and he dubbed it down and sent it off. Half a Cow Records wanted to sign Snout, not that there was a name or anything at that stage of the game. We got a band together really quickly because they wanted us to support The Hummingbirds down here and Redd Kross in Sydney. It was in ’92. We just had to throw it together. I was still with Rob who was also in the Hybrid, got a guitarist (Hugh) and just threw it together and played the gigs down here and up there and we were on our way after that basically and up to the present day we’ve just kept working on songs and building stature and that sort of thing…
Sydney has just built so much, like we’ve hit some type of exponential curve. You just don’t notice and then… phew ….very similar to the destruction of the Earth the way it’s not so noticeable at the moment and then it’s going to go “Boom”. Which is amazing, because the first couple of times we just breezed through without a whisper of recognition but now it’s just awesome, people know us now and we can headline and play a really good gig and have a great response. It’s great. It’s just an awesome time.”
So things have been looking up for Snout. They have a lineup which gels well together, a growing legion of fans and a reputation which builds by the minute, especially when feats such as the ‘demolition’ gig become part of local folklore. They are thinking about recording new material soon too.
“I started making my ideal album list and we’re bashing through new songs and they’re sounding pretty good. They are going to be different to the last thing, at least it sounds as if it will be, just because of different members.”
Watch out for them (Blast! Gig, March 10 Empress Hotel!) in the near the future. Oh, and by the way, he does have one other interest, besides music…
“On the song TVOD off What’s that Sound?, I talk about smashing my TV. I’d never smash my TV. Then I wouldn’t be able to watch the Simpsons…not that they’re that good anymore. It’s still got flashes of brilliance, but it’s just like it’s slopped together it doesn’t have that perfect kind of flow and the timing and the humour is spelt out in capital letters which is a bit depressing. It’s probably going to make it appealing to your average fuckwit. Which is bit of a shame. I consider myself to be a fuckwit, but not average.”
Say a last thing for the tape Ross.
“Um…Don’t worry be happy ?”