Scotland has always been a hotbed for artists setting the musical tone in Britain and beyond. From the days of Creation Records to The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream, the nation is known for changing the musical landscape.
Now, The Snuts are ready to follow in their forefathers’ footsteps by reshaping the state of the alternative British music once more.
The West Lothian band have built up a mammoth live following within the last couple of years—their only Scottish date on their upcoming tour at Edinburgh’s 3,000 capacity Corn Exchange sold out within seconds last week. But it’s not just their homeland where they are making waves with shows in both Leeds and Manchester being upgraded due to demand.
Far Out caught up with frontman Jack Cochrane—a singer who is a staunch believer in the old-school method of doing things: “It’s kind of always been our goal as a band to build a live scene right round ourselves and put out some demos fairly early doors so people could engage and be a part of the live shows,” he explains.
This live ethos is something Cochrane thinks is becoming a bit lost amid the desperation to succeed: “I think with the pressures because of the ways people listen to music now it’s kinda easy to just conform to that and looking at hitting the playlists, doing the numbers and that,” he continues. “I think it’s important that people can relate to you on a personal level at live gigs and that’s definitely part of our ethos.”
Another artist from Scotland who has built up an almost unbelievable live following through word of mouth is Gerry Cinnamon, an artist who crops up in our conversation as we discuss their upcoming support slot at his sold-out show at Hampden Park this summer.
“It’s crazy man, it’s [the industry] changing and I think everybody is still trying to work it out, especially with guitar music how to get through to people,” Cochrane says. “It’s a mind-field man. You see people like Gerry Cinnamon just absolutely crush it and there’s a lot of people ‘in the know’ who just don’t know why that’s happening.”
“It’s wild. I remember seeing him at T In The Park maybe like eight or nine years ago and he had nothing on the internet but had the King Tuts tent packed out with everyone singing every word, it does take a while [growing organically] but you can see artists like that reap the benefits of patience.”
This summer’s huge show isn’t lost on the singer. The opportunity to play to a 50,000 strong crowd at this point in their career is a huge one, Cochrane agrees: “I think there’s a definite similarity in the way people connect to our music and the way they connect to his. I think with us being Scottish there is a real tight knit scene up here, it’s gonna be good man, you don’t usually get to play a stadium at this time in your career.”
The scene which Cochrane remarks on isn’t one that The Snuts have always been involved in, the singer shared with Far Out how the group started off as outsiders: “What’s funny for us is when we were starting out we kinda avoided playing in and around the local music scene in Scotland because it wasn’t something that we felt included in. So we were trying to go out and do our own gigs and make sure it was all about us. “
A move which would prove fruitful as they developed their show and “towards the end of last year we slowly but surely started to make some friends in the scene. But we are so focused on making sure we have done everything we could for ourselves and on our own.”
Doing things on their own terms is something which Cochrane sees at the heart of what The Snuts do, aiming to take left-turns wherever possible the group are determined to forge their own path. The electronic influenced new single ‘Fatboy Slim’ is a perfect example of this. Featuring sampled drum loops and a baggier sound, it’s proof that they aren’t just another standard indie four-piece.
“It’s been magic been put into a lot of great places and better studios that’s really challenged us to bring out new music that’s fresh and exciting rather than copycatting maybe the 2008 indie scene that kind of died, reflected Cochrane saying in an attempt to stay fresh the band are “constantly working to make sure every song we bring out is different to the last and the next stuff we are gonna bring out is much heavier.”
Being more diverse sonically is something which Cochrane has become passionate about over the last twelve months, admitting when the band began he didn’t have the mentality he does today: “I think it’s something that only started for us at the beginning of 2019. Probably before that with our demos and stuff we were really undecided on what we were and clinging onto that indie sound. It was great to get us off the ground but to get the step further than that we knew we’ve gotta shake it up a bit and take some risks, especially with all the new music we’re planning this year we’ve got ready to go. There are some big risks in there.”
Cochrane didn’t mince his words when probed on whether he thinks other indie bands are playing it safe, ardently stating: “Indie bands are just super frustrated because they just can’t understand why that whole indie scene just isn’t happening and I think that frustration has led into like a bitterness, you’ve just got to keep your head up and out of that hole and make sure you’re trying new things and putting out new sounds,” concluding you have to make music that’s relevant when “you’re competing with such a diverse music scene in 2020.”
The way in which people listen to music in 2020 is one thing that Cochrane is taking into account whilst working on their debut and the difficulties that come with that: “It’s so hard to make a lasting impression with the way that people consume, even records like as a whole are completely deteriorating, less and less people are actually listening to the albums. One thing that I’m focused on with the album is that every track is different from the last one, all following a sort of theme but making sure each track can be enjoyed on their own which is a demand of modern music.”
It’s not just in the studio where the band have been challenging themselves of late but also in the live arena as they recently went out on the road with fellow West Lothian man Lewis Capaldi which saw them playing to thousands every night. Though the majority of the crowd were unaware of who they were it was a nerve-inducing experience that they have grown from. “It was intense man, it’s like going on tour with Jesus Christ man (laughs), there are people camping out just to see him and stuff like that.”
The onstage experience was afresh one too, “I was pretty nervous about how our sound would be received with it being a younger audience, it’s just a case of not wanting to frighten them with big powerful fucking chords”. Luckily, Cochrane and Co. had the nous to pick the correct setlist and see their music flourish “It was nice that it went down well with people in that construct cos of a lot of these guys that will be the only concert they go to, you know what I mean?”
Cochrane couldn’t be happier about his friend Capaldi’s success which has seen him become a household name over the last twelve months, admirably adding: “I went to school with him for a bit, we’re from like a super small town, I’m not sure how many people live here but there are only like five or six pubs that have live music on so we always found ourselves in the same pubs playing to absolutely nobody for absolutely nothing.”
It was a situation that provided both singers with a hefty dose of inner grit and determination. Cochrane shares, “It’s crazy [Capaldi’s success], he’s a hard worker as well you know. He’s very song-driven and stuff like that, all the other stuff that makes him ‘Lewis Capaldi’ all comes naturally to him,” confirming “it’s not put on or anything like that.” Beaming, Cochrane then proudly states, “It’s incredible the music coming out of Scotland at the moment, I feel like it sets the bar for the rest of the UK for the first time in a long while.”
After speaking with the enigmatic frontman, it’s clear that The Snuts are poised to carry on doing it their own way and not sticking to the rule-book of what a so-called indie band should or should not do. They’re avoiding writing to a formula we’ve all heard a million times before or caring about being deemed as cool for going out on the road with Lewis Capaldi.
The Snuts are firmly on their own path to stardom laying each carefully considered new brick as they go.
Check The Snuts tour dates below and their new EP Fatboy Slim is available on March 13th via Parlophone Records:
27th – Dublin, Button Factory
29th – Manchester, Academy
30th – London, Kentish Town forum
5th – Cardiff, Globe
6th – Leeds, Wardrobe
9th – Edinburgh, Corn Exchange