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Snapcase | Designs for Automotion | interview | Daryl Taberski | hardcore | Lollipop


Designs for Automotion (Victory)
An Interview with Daryl Taberski
by Tim Den

It's hard to justify one's love for Snapcase. It's one of those things: you just love Snapcase, don't bother asking why. If you're into hardcore (punk and indie rock, even), there's no reason why you shouldn't be a fan. Snapcase invented and refined the New School metalcore sound: did it first, did it best, did it most intelligently, and with the most thought-provoking lyrics (which is a purpose of hardcore that many in the genre seem to have forgotten. In the end, hardcore without meaningful lyrics is just bad metal). There's not one band in the genre that can match Snapcase's live shows. Insanely infectious, Snapcase live can make the crippled get up and dance themselves silly. There's no testosterone contest, no uneducated onstage babble, no shout-outs to crews, just the most fun hardcore show. They're an intelligent unit, with well-informed opinions and well-structured songwriting. They're the purest hardcore band, hands down.

Designs for Automotion, although sure to alienate old fans with its many non-hardcore aspects, is exactly what I expected from this progressive and challenging outfit. It pushes the limits the band themselves set with their debut full-length Lookinglasself, replacing stop-and-go riffs with balls-out rock, the sound corrupted by old Fugazi records. Not a bad thing, mind you, and very interesting. Lessened is the ultra-crunchy guitar sound and breath-crushing heaviness, more prevalent are grooving tempos and dynamics. Still plenty of danceable parts, of course, but slowed down just a tad to attract those not fighting in the pit to take a closer listen. "But it's so slow," one might complain, "It totally loses the energy." Well... okay. That's the downfall of this record. But sacrifices have to be made for progress, right? I, for one, would rather see Snapcase give up a little bit of raw energy in exchange for further musical conquests.

Designs for Automotion sees Snapcase continue their reign as one of the best hardcore bands ever. They uphold the genre's often-ignored fundamental ethics like challenging the established, trying out alternative approaches, and making underground music refreshing. As long as they keep this up, Snapcase will always be a step above the others.

When are you guys touring?
We've been going out on and off. We're going to be touring non-stop from now until the end of the Fall. It's been short outings so far - heading out for a week or two, coming back for a week, getting a little break and heading right back out.

Are the short outings because of school schedule conflicts?
No. We're actually holding out to see if we can get on some other tours. We've been doing weekend shows to pass the time. We're going to be on the Warped Tour this summer, and we're going over to Europe before that to play on this NOFX package tour.

Are all your members done with college yet?
Our drummer, Tim (Redmond), is doing his dissertation right now. Getting his Ph.D. He teaches night school classes, so the shows that he can't make, we have a fill-in.

Who's that?
His name is Ben. He played with a few bands in New Zealand. We met him through Sick Of It All. He's their drum tech. On the Sick Of It All/AFI/Hot Water Music tour, he'd make a guest appearance every night with either AFI or Hot Water Music. He's worked out really well so far.

What's Tim getting his Ph.D. in?
Political Science.

And you? What are you studying?
I'm in Social Work. I don't know when I'm getting my degree... I have four or five classes to go. Hopefully I'll finish whenever I get back. Might be a while though.

You're doing your Bachelor's?
Yeah. Been working at it for over ten years.

Did that (school) have anything to do with your temporary break-up a few years back?
We broke up back then because we wanted to do other things. School, other jobs... also the band was growing faster than we had anticipated, and it started to lose the "fun" for us. We needed a break. Everything's cool now.

How long ago was that?
About two years ago.

What made you want to get back together?
We still had music we wanted to write. We realized we needed a break more than a break-up. Opportunities kept coming to us. People didn't initially realize that we'd broken up, so interviews were coming our way, tours were being offered... and in the end, we had ideas for songs that we wanted to see come to life.

But you lost your bass player along the way...
Bob (Whiteside) wanted to do other things. He wasn't that interested in music anymore. He wanted to go to school and work on his own stuff. That's how we ended up with Dustin (Perry, current bassist). Dustin's from Minneapolis, and he's doing an amazing job.

He played in Threadbare, right?

How was it to write another new album with yet another new member? You had to do that during Progressions Through Unlearning with Frank (guitarist who joined right before the album)...
Yeah (chuckle). The thing is, we wrote a lot of the new album without a bass player even present at rehearsals. Unfortunately, Dustin doesn't get to show much of his input because of this. But there'll be a lot more (of Dustin's contributions) on the next one, I'm sure. He had some moments on this album, but he was definitely restricted.

So how were the songwriting responsibilities distributed?
It took us a long time to write this record because we have a very easy-going atmosphere. Whenever someone has an idea, it's brought into practice and shown to the others. We try it out, see if we can structure it together. We've thrown away a lot of stuff, even complete songs.

I think a lot of your fans are wondering why the "change" in sound? Did any specific member have a direct effect on the alteration of the sound?
We didn't do anything deliberately. I think as individuals we've changed a little bit. We've been opened up to a lot of new influences as a group since the last album. The only thing we might have done deliberately was to try to not repeat ourselves. We don't want to be a band that puts out the same record over and over again. We always try to "change" in that we try new things, but the change in sound was definitely not deliberate. It's just what came out.

It seems a lot of hardcore bands are becoming stagnant. Was it a factor for you to try and break that trend? Do you still see yourselves as a part of that scene?
We do. The hardcore scene is where we come from, it's our roots. But at the same time, we're not that concerned about being labeled a hardcore band. That's not important to us at all. We try to keep our minds open to other styles of music, and we hope our fans will, too. You know, it's always been about trying not to sound like any other bands. We do our own thing. It's interesting because for this record, we had four to five different people doing the writing, whereas our previous releases had one or two people writing everything. I think that had an impact on the outcome, as far as diversity goes.

Have you guys been listening to drastically different kinds of music?
Oh yeah... We all listen to different music, and most of us have a wide variety of tastes.

What are some of the more worn out discs?
I'd say the new Refused, At The Drive-In... I liked the last Trans Am a lot. And the classics, of course. For punk and hardcore, we like bands like Drive Like Jehu and Fugazi. And for more or less the New York Hardcore, Sick Of It All and stuff like that. I personally listen to a lot of hip-hop, some British pop groups, blues... just everything.

I was going to ask you about Refused... A lot of people are saying how, to a certain degree, Designs for Automotion is the same step that Refused took with The Shape of Punk to Come.
Their last album definitely inspired us. We've toured with them twice, and they've definitely influenced us with their changes. They really took things to the outer limits. I feel we still have creative boundaries to push further next time around. I can't wait to see what we come up with.

Do you see a bit of irony in that your founding guitarist, Scott Dressler, quit the band a few years back to do a more "DC" sounding band, only to have Snapcase head down that road?
Well... what he wanted to do was a more direct interpretation of what he liked (DC-style Dischord post-hardcore ala Fugazi). We only bring it into our band as an influence and a way of trying a wide variety of things. We're still very close with him though. He came to our show in Pittsburgh a couple months back (he's going to school there). It was fun (chuckle). He came out, doing stage dives and singing along. It was totally the last thing I expected out of him, but it was a blast.

What does he think of the new material?
I don't know how much of the new stuff he's heard, but before Progressions Through Unlearning came out, he said he thought "Caboose" was the best song we'd ever written. It was cool for him to come and say our new song is better than anything he ever did with us, especially since the album before that he wrote 95% of.

What happened with the split on Equal Vision Records (with Boy Sets Fire)? Wasn't that supposed to be with Far?
Yeah. Then Far broke up. Matt at Equal Vision still wanted to put out a split with two active bands, so we talked to a number of groups. Boy Sets Fire just had an EP out, and we liked each other's music, so it worked.

Wasn't it originally supposed to be you and Far covering each other's songs?
No, we were going to do an original and a Far cover. We practiced four or five of theirs, and I remember us not being able to make up our minds. We liked so many of their songs. We were trying to find the right way to interpret just one.

It's hard trying to cover Far when you have to sing Jonah's parts.
Oh yeah. We would've really had to mess around with the song because I don't have the range he does. I've heard his solo stuff, Onelinedrawing, and it's pretty cool. The guitarist has a new band now, too.

You're playing this year's New England Metalfest, right?
Yeah. It's going to be an interesting atmosphere (chuckle). I know Cannibal Corpse is on after us, and those guys are originally from Buffalo (our hometown). I remember the bass player used to come to a lot of hardcore shows and be the only one there with a big head of hair (laughs). I have a friend who's close with him, so it'll be nice to catch up.

I just interviewed him. I got him to admit he likes No Doubt.

I'm dead serious. You gotta give him shit for it next time you see him.
Cool! It's funny, the Buffalo music scene - it's a fairly small town and not many acts go through it, but we have the claim to fame of Cannibal Corpse and - the biggest band to come out of Buffalo - The Goo Goo Dolls. Their bass player recorded our first 7".

No way! So, whatever happened to your original singer and second guitarist (who were on the first 7") anyway?
The guitarist, Joe Smith, moved away for school and got involved with a lot of animal rights activism. The singer, Chris Galas, was kicked out by Scott (Dressler). He wasn't working hard enough.

So the songs on (the debut full-length) Lookinglasself were written with the old singer?
A few of them were. We had to write a lot of it at the last minute. I had about a month to come up with lyrics and figure out how I was going to sing these songs (Daryl was originally the bass player). I had no previous experience being a frontman.
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