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Music

Far Out Meets: The Snuts talk new single 'Zuckerpunch' and political second album

@josephtaysom

It’s been almost a year since we last caught up with The Snuts at Far Out. In that time, they finally released their long-awaited chart-topping debut album, W.L. Since then, they’ve been glued to the road as restrictions being lifted provided new and exciting tour opportunities. The wait for their politically charged sophomore album is now nearly over.

Last November, the Scots announced their comeback record just months after their debut with the in-your-face, anti-authority anthem ‘Burn The Empire’. It marked a significant shift from their debut and represented a new, more intense chapter. Last week, the four-piece followed it up with the slick, socially conscious new single, ‘Zuckerpunch’, and continue to distance themselves from their contemporaries with every release.

As the title suggests, ‘Zuckerpunch’ takes shots at social media and how we, as a generation, are letting our phones distract us from enjoying life’s pleasures. Unlike when most bands decide to show their political edge, with The Snuts, their sincerity feels authentic, and my conversation with singer Jack Cochrane confirms my suspicions that their stances are direct from the heart.

In 2022, the lines between being an artist and online content creators are as thin as a Rizla paper which The Snuts discovered when they had to promote their debut album solely through social media due to the pandemic.

“For me, I think it’s even deeper than that,” Cochrane says about ‘Zuckerpunch’. “I feel that people who are just trying to live their life feel they need to be content creators. They can’t sit down to have dinner without taking a picture of it and wondering if people are going to be impressed by that restaurant.

“People can’t go on holiday, the long-term break they are needing, without the first thing they do being a post on social media to look for that validation, and it’s so deep-rooted. I think it’s an artist’s responsibility to at least raise the point,” he passionately adds.

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While Cochrane has used his voice to highlight the issue, he admits that even he’s “terribly guilty of it” and blamed this on the pressure in the music industry to stir up “engagement”, which has become the key indicator that streaming services, and radio look towards.

“What’s been great about this song is being able to take a step outside that world, and start making content that is important, and avoid any of the bullshit that I think all artists are caught up in at the moment,” Cochrane says.

The past two singles have seen The Snuts take a step away from writing autobiographically, with Cochrane instead opening up his lyrical boundaries by putting a mirror up to society. The singer tells Far Out that this is a theme that dictates their, yet to be announced, second album. “On this second record, there was so much conversation and discussion,” the West Lothian native reveals. “The producers were working with are from totally different places from us and completely different cultures, so the sessions were a real melting pot of discussion, be it politics, society, religion, and ethics.

“The conversations then found their way into the songs, and after they were created, I felt a responsibility to learn about what I’m trying to say. The songs always come from the heart, but I think there comes a stage when you have to use your head too.”

Elaborating on what we should expect from their sophomore album, Cochrane adds, “There’s talk of culture, cultural differences on the record, the effects of poverty, there’s a couple of political songs, and I think the main thing is conversation, music should make conversation, and we’ve been lucky with this record that conversion made the music.”

Moving into the political sphere is a precarious game for artists, and it explains why most choose to sit on the fence rather than stand up for what they believe in. Not only does it risk coming off as corny or insincere if executed poorly, but it also divides your audience, which Cochrane believes is the main reason why the majority choose silence.

“For sure,” he replies. “If you’re trying to avoid saying what you actually want to see, all that happens is you’ve said nothing. You know, by no means I’m saying that we have we’ve been perfect so far, and I always look back and think, I wish we had said more on that, but I think this record is going to help us learn to do that.”

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When The Snuts announced a new era with the Tony Benn sampling ‘Burn The Empire’ back in November, they firmly post their colours to the mast with lyrics like, “Boris like a Morris Minor, Old and obtuse, Dazed and confused, Eton rifles, Gun sling loose.”

Shortly after the release, stories began to emerge about parties throughout the pandemic in Downing Street, and the contempt that those in power had for the general public became clear for all to see. However, Cochrane doesn’t believe the anger is being directed in the right places, and the whole saga just explained further to him why ‘Burn The Empire’ is connecting so mightily.

“It’s fucking crazy, I was flicking through shit TV in the hotel the other day with the boys watching this programme about shoplifters on Dave or Pick, and it was tossed up like some adverse poverty porn,” he explains. “It had these baldy, barely middle-class guys talking down to this shoplifter, and people fucking love watching that. I thought to myself, where’s that true fucking anger when Boris is having parties while people are burying their relatives on Zoom? It’s directed in all the wrong places.”

He adds, “It’s so much easier, in my opinion, for them to have us angry at each other rather than angry at them.”

Over the last few years, we first had Brexit, which divided people. Since then, we’ve had the vaccine debate, and the so-called culture war continues to rumble on, as does net-zero, with non-issues continuing to distract us from the more important pressing matters.

At first, Cochrane admits he was worried to release his attack on Boris’ boys club, ‘Burn The Empire’, and says he thought, ‘”Is that too much? Can we say that?'” However, that trepidation was quelled as soon as they performed it live. He recalls, “When we start singing it and seeing it back like that, we’re fucking glad we did (release it).”

After their debut album went to the top spot, it would be comprehensible for The Snuts to begin obsessing with chasing numbers and craving more, but, reassuringly, Cochrane’s attitude is solely focused on creating music that matters. Speaking about their ambitions, he says, “It’s not necessarily to become more successful, but just to make important music we love, other people love. It’s hippy-ish, but it feels a better way to look at it for us.”

Furthermore, when asked about whether the new album will arrive in 2022, Cochrane has some good news for fans and exclusively tells Far Out, “Definitely man, I’ll be furious if we don’t. It’s absolutely well on the way.”

Their next album looks set to elevate The Snuts further, judging from the strength of ‘Zuckerpunch’ and ‘Burn The Empire’. While Cochrane refrained from announcing plans to conquer arenas, things are falling neatly into place for the group. They’ll play a headline date at London’s world-famous Brixton Academy in April before a selection of festivals in the summer, including a huge hometown slot before The Strokes at TRNSMT.

However, the success that undoubtedly lies on the horizon for The Snuts dwindles in importance compared to their message. They are fast becoming a necessary band with an infectious social conscience with ‘Zuckerpunch’ and ‘Burn The Empire’ offering a rallying cry to a confused generation during ever-complex times.