Music, maybe more than anything else in the waking world, takes us away. We listen and journey into some new place. Perhaps on parade, or in the midst of some war between gods, into a bedroom (with or without some flavor of kink). Arriving, we recognize where we have arrived—even in places we never thought existed. Snuttock’s music opens a trap door, and we fall (Alice-like) into a weird and wonderful world, part toy box and part freak show.
The duo of Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee Simmonds comprise Snuttock. Since forming the band way back in 2003 they forged a new sound, or at least a new way to play and communicate and revel in sound. Like most really good musicians (or artists for that matter) pinning down what they do with words proves tricky. Certainly their creations do not fit into a mere single category. Synthpop? Industrial? Semi-goth? Dieselpunk? All of the above and more, as well as none of the above.
Endless Rituals marks the third album by Snuttock, distributed by Morphius Records. For years they’ve honed skills and experimented with different possibilities, in the meantime slowly gaining a bit of notoriety within niches of Baltimore’s music scene. Eventually they started to collaborate with filmmaker Laurie A. Smith, who directed more than a few of their music videos and in the process captured a ‘look’ in complete sync with the band’s signature sound and aesthetics. Like those earlier efforts, the promotions for Endless Rituals give a glimpse into a weirdscape as compelling as a new, unknown, and possibly foreign fairy tale. A haunted place, possibly by a humanity long gone but whose detritus have found their own life somehow. Broken dolls try to make old machines work. Memories of lives that feel familiar echo in the flickering sepia. Hands of wood and plaster, eyeless faces of plastic and no hair. But surely, these are not people. Are they? This is debris, rather than anything sentient or aware or curious. Right?
Right? Maybe. Maybe not.
Bryan Lee’s classical music training blends in part with Christopher Lee Simmonds’ engineering skills and the result feels very much like a visit to where memories retire and grow old, but then wake up. Even the title suggests as much—Endless Rituals. Rituals that have outlived those (humans?) who first began to don these masks and use these machines. Rituals with a life of their own now, unending and eternal, needing no breath nor blood to continue. Only time.
Previous titles suggested much in the same vein. In 2005 was Straightjacket Life, followed in 2008 by Carved and Sutured. Now, with even more experience and a bigger budget behind them the Band gives us a great variety of rhythms and feelings. This album with its eleven tracks (and a bonus four unavailable for digital download, only found on CD) has more of an upbeat or driving feel, as if we aren’t so much walking through Snuttock’s secondary cosmos as running, racing even. As if we search for something. Or flee from it.
A personal favorite is “Catharsis” in which filmmaker Smith’s music video lets us wander ever deeper inside what seems to be a room part of the Snuttockspace. Mia Regalado meanwhile gets the credit for the four minute Album Commercial now doing the rounds—complete with all signature details one comes to expect after discovering Snuttock for a time. The sepia. The artificial people (dolls, mannequins, etc.). Machines of all kinds designed to make sound or perhaps convey it would be the better phrasing. Even examples of discordance—visual, aural, emotional as well—somehow merge and bleed into a harmony. Here is not a world at peace. Not really. It seems almost to be dead, but again one cannot help but note signs of life amid inanimate objects. In much the same way, the machines that create this music have voices, even words. Background noises form part of the ambience of tune and tone. What follows fugues together. Into itself.
Het Amerikaanse Snuttock weet alvast onze aandacht te trekken met een bijzonder fraai verpakte cd in boekformaat. Hoewel, deze cd bestaat in twee versies, en wij hebben de Deluxe editie gekregen, waar ook nog eens vier bonusnummers op prijken. Dank u, Snuttock! Maar is de inhoud even goed als de verpakking? Wie beter dan Dark Entries kan hierover oordelen…
Snuttock is een duo bestaande uit Bryan Lee - een klassiek getrainde pianist en toetsenist, en daarnaast ook stichter en zanger van het project - en Christopher Lee, die gitaar en aanvullende toetsen op zijn rekening neemt. Ze zijn sinds 2003 actief en hebben tot op heden drie cd’s uitgebracht. ‘Endless Rituals’ is de laatste worp, waar niet minder dan twee jaar aan gewerkt is.
En het valt op dat er gewerkt is aan ‘Endless Rituals’, want het aantal instrumenten en lagen in de muziek is aanzienlijk. Gezien de samenstelling van de groep zal het niemand verwonderen dat de basis van de muziek in de elektronica en de toetsen ligt. Maar het is geen zuivere electro. Het is niet bijzonder hard en is eerder gericht op melodie dan op beats. Depeche Mode en Thomas Dolby lijken me terechte referenties.
‘People Too’ is mijn persoonlijke favoriet, een redelijk zacht nummer met een prangende tekst: ‘they say that nothing is forever… The worst thing about the saying is that it goes for people too…’ Het past volledig in het concept van de plaat, die blijkbaar gaat over de manier waarop mensen omgaan met hun dagelijkse routine. ‘Crawl’ heeft dan weer het dreigende dat Nine Inch Nails kenmerkt op hun tragere nummers.
Teksten en composities zijn dus dik in orde, maar wat me evenwel stoort is het excessief gebruik van stemeffecten, waarbij Brian Lee constant als een robot klinkt. Dit doet me helaas terugdenken aan Radio Donna (aan MNM werd ik gelukkig nog niet blootgesteld). Niet voldoende om een goede cd af te weren weliswaar, want ‘Endless Rituals’ bevat genoeg interessante elementen om je een aangename luisterervaring te bezorgen.
January 8th, 2015, Xavier Kruth
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Snuttock may very well be one of Charm City’s best kept secrets. With a musical palette rooted in the forceful textures of industrial and rock, rounded out with the lush melody of synthpop and lighter electro, the duo of Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee are in a class all their own. Founded in 2003 by Bryan, a classically trained musician, and later joined by Christopher, founding member of the metal band Thought Industry. Christopher, who also handles engineering and mastering duties for the band, gained his experience from Dave “Rave” Ogilvie and Ken “HiWatt” Marshall both of Skinny Puppy fame. The two joined forces and subsequently self-released Straight Jacket Life in 2005 and Carved & Sutured in 2008, making waves in the electronic underground. Now in 2013, Snuttock returns with a vengeance with the third album, Endless Rituals!
Distributed worldwide through Morphius Records in a special deluxe edition, Endless Rituals is Snuttock’s most accomplished and expansive work yet; the culmination of over two years of writing and recording. As the title stems from the unending routines experienced by people in daily life, each song plays as a soundtrack to any given moment or emotion. Presenting a wide range of styles and influences, Endless Rituals displays a dynamic electro/rock sound that is sure to appease fans of the likes of Depeche Mode, Thomas Dolby, and Gary Numan, all the while with a sound that belongs totally to Snuttock. From the gritty and robotic darkwave of “Single Cell Antennae,” the scathing industrialized rockiness of “Crawl” or “Attention,” to the funky bitterness of “Spitting into the Wind,” the piano-laden melancholy of “People Too,” to upbeat new wave bounciness of “Advice,” Endless Rituals is at once diverse and cohesive, offering something from every end of the electronic spectrum, as perfect for dance floor abandon as it is for thoughtful introspection.
As part of this special deluxe package, the CD edition comes complete with four additional tracks, including a remix of “Spiders” from Snuttock’s first album, Straight Jacket Life. Featuring guest vocals by Steve Boone and Mia Regalado, Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee prove themselves to be a veritable force to be reckoned with. Endless Rituals makes Snuttock a surefire up-and-coming hero in the modern electronic underground.
Ilker Yücel - Editor, ReGen Magazine
Dal sud degli States i synth del combo tornano dopo un lungo periodo a screziare di industriale senso della psichedelia dancy i solchi di un album elegante nella presentazione in DVD digipack, sostanzioso nell'offerta di un sound al passo con i tempi.
Se nelle precedenti release il senso di amore votato al pop synth-ethico derivante dalla fase lisergica dei Depeche Mode (quindi appendice frantumata un po' in tutta l'EBM europea ed oltre le cortine ondose dell'Atlantico), "Endless Rituals" ha in se potenti frammenti, scorie d'avanguardia ad alto tasso dancy ma non scontate, non banali per non perdersi nell'oceano dell'anonimato.
Il duo di Baltimora già nei precedenti "Carved And Sutured" e "Straight Jacked Life", ha dimostrato di avere personalità ed un grandissimo senso dell'amalgama tra linee space-oriented di synth e massicce componenti acustiche, giocando con le proprie voci, usando il vocoder o lasciando che sia naturale il fiato emesso, il canto se volutamente malinconico o invasivo tra beat acceleranti, plagio per trascinarvi sul dancefloor o lasciarvi in ascolto passivi nelle dolci ballate che intervallano la tracklist.
"People Too" è dolce e corrosiva, ha il potere di un sogno morboso ed il sapore dell'aceto sulle labbra socchiuse, così come "Crawl" è serpente che striscia leggero tra sterpi, veloce ma felpato, hype dancy senza sconvolgere, figlio di una new-dance ragionata e psicotica, un po' sulla scia di alcune opalescenze lattiginose ed acidule dei Nine Inch Nails.
"One Day" è pantera in agguato, ritmica attutita, micro-partiture sparse per accrescere lo spleen, così come "Advice" è future-pop con la semplicità disarmante di una ballata elettronica creata per essere ballata, un po' sognata, un po' incosciente perché innocente canzone senza fronzoli tra altre concettualmente più intense, brumose. Mi sono mancati gli Snuttock, la loro spontaneità nel decidere chi essere e come esserlo, leggeri o ossessivi, colorati o monocromi, ricchi o scarni, ossa grigie e desunte oppure carni tremanti ed impaurite. Storie di sentimenti, emozioni, suoni e colori, storie di musica dal sud degli States…
Baltimore's Snuttock sound like nothing else out there. A blend of synth-pop and industrial influences encased in an airy, ambient framework, they 're a strange band, but an interesting one. On tracks like opener "Attention" they sound almost New Wave, but then "Single Cell Antennae" kicks in with a distinctly darker feel and digitally altered vocals combined with samples that lend it the feeling of a dystopian science fiction film. "People Too" starts gentle and ambient and transforms into an ode to selfishness. "Nameless" sounds like it was tailor-made for a big, echoey club. "Crawl" is deliciously creepy, with an off-kilter rhythm and sinister, whispered vocals. The production on Endless Rituals is excellent, seamless and professional without rubbing off the rough edges that synth music needs to be interesting. This is all the more impressive given that Snuttock is a 2-man operation. While indie industrial and electronic artists can often fall into the trap of having one style that they repeat over and over again, that tendency is notably absent on Endless Rituals. It's an album that will benefit from repeated listening.
KIRSTY EVANS– Music Coordinator
Hello to Baltimore, how are you?
Would you please introduce yourselves?
I'm Christopher, been a musician for 30 years, I live to make music.
Hello, Bryan here, good to be working with Dark Spy again to promote our latest release.
Your new CD "Endless Rituals" is released this year. Could you tell us something about the music on it.
Bryan: I think Ilker Yücel (Editor of the online publication ReGen Magazine) sums it up quite well in the promotional piece he wrote for the album: "Endless Rituals is at once diverse and cohesive, offering something from every end of the electronic spectrum, as perfect for dance floor abandon as it is for thoughtful introspection."
How do you create your music?
Christopher: I make music in everyday possible. In the kitchen sometimes with utensils. I write on acoustic guitars and drums. I use virtual instruments in my recording software. I am constantly creating, kind of like an ever growing brain tumor, or a mental disorder… I can't control it. It happens when it happens and all I can do is capture it or just let it go.
I suppose the creation of songs is a bit more precise. Once the random ideas have matured into something memorable, I record it immediately and let it grow from there. This album Bryan and I did a lot of exchanging of ideas through the internet and complex songs grew out of simple song structures. I think the most important element of Snuttock is we inspire each other to create more all the time.
What does the name "Endless Rituals" mean?
Christopher: That's better for Bryan to answer, but I suspect it's his OCD!
Bryan: Ha! That would be correct.
You're an electronic Band. What gear was used to produce "Endless Rituals"
Christopher: It's all listed on the CD artwork actually. Too long of a list to layout here, but it's an equal blend of analog and virtual gear.
What kind of influences you used on this CD?
Christopher: Marijuana, red wine, India Pale Ale's and sleep! Seriously… But I try not to let other music I enjoy influence my creative process too thoroughly. I listened to a lot of Peter Gabriel as reference for this record.
Your last album starts in 2008, what has happened in the last 5 years?
Christopher: Well, Bryan has been quite the video producer. As well as writing this record, I have been writing and recording my other projects as well as recording, mixing and mastering for various rock and metal artists in the USA.
Bryan: If we had only released the album in standard CD format / digital download, it would have been out a year or so earlier. Once we decided to also release it in limited edition deluxe format and shoot a video commercial, that added a whole new dimension to the release.
Most musicians say that the third album is the most challenging album. Is it your opinion as well?
Christopher: For me it was easy. Snuttock records always seem easy because of the deep rooted friendship Bryan and I share. I did spend 100's of hours in mixing and mastering, but the creative process of the music was seamless on my end.
Bryan: For me, I just needed to wait until the time felt right, and then it was easy (another reason for the lengthy span between albums). If I feel pressure, then I don't want to do it, that's the way I'll always be. It doesn't mean I stop writing, you have to grasp the creative moment when it comes...or you may lose that particular musical idea forever. The fact that Chris and I have a mutual respect for each others ideas and input is also key to Snuttock. There are no power struggles that doom so many musical projects.
What was the main reason for you to make music?
Christopher: I am not good at anything else ;)
Bryan: A number of years before the birth of Snuttock, I was fed up with the whole band dynamic and had walked away from music. I didn't touch a keyboard, sing, or write for a few long and seemingly pointless years. Then a friend of mine asked me to join a southern gospel quartet, it was a great experience, and before long I was back behind an electronic setup writing songs that would end up on our initial release, Straight Jacket Life. What I learned from that journey is without the creative process I don't really feel alive.
Are there any plans to go on stage with "Endless Rituals"? Maybe in Germany?
Bryan: Not at present, but that doesn't mean we won't in the future.
One Statement of you: "It's invitingly creepy". Is that the main background of Snuttock?
Christopher: I believe it is. If you were to walk into Bryan's fortress in Baltimore, you'd describe it as invitingly creepy.
Some last words to our readers?
Christopher: BUY OUR CD!
Bryan: For the first 25 readers that took the time to read this entire interview, contact us through our website: www.snuttock.com, type "Dark Spy Interview" in the message body and you get a free T-shirt. Give us the following information:
- 1) Your favorite Snuttock song.
- 2) Your T-Shirt size (medium, large, or X-large)
- 3) T-Shirt style (Standard or Babydoll)
- 4) Address where you want the shirt mailed
We want to thank you for this interview and wish all the best to you.Thank you!
Well, we never say we know everything and here's a new one on us! Plus, what an extremely worrying (we don't know why) name…
We bring you - SNUTTOCK
Snuttock is the duo of Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee Simmonds (also a founding member of Thought Industry). Eerily concocting dark synth pop these depraved alchemists, twist together the darker side of synthpop with industrial rhythms not to mention a heady lacing of ambient interludes to produce a haunting electronic ether. Maybe not as aggressive as some industrial hoards but Snuttock have that feel that they know something that you don't…you really SHOULD…but you don't… Chilling but hypnotically addictive.
Creating dark, moody electronic dance music to a perfect tee, Baltimore-based duo Snuttock proves they can easily mesmerize without much prompting.
They just gave fans a teaser of their upcoming album, Endless Rituals. The video teaser includes various tracks hovering over dark goth to electronic dance and even industrial. Directed by Mia Regalado, the video features close-up images of rough wood, spinning doll heads and limbs that are all set in a Sepia-ish tone. The latter creates a moody and dark atmosphere to the video and goes nicely with the set of previewed cuts.
Endless Rituals is now ready for the taking! If you're looking for new music to sink your teeth into, then this is what your appetite is for. Enjoy!
Smalltime industrial musicians are a dime a dozen, especially these days with the advent of digital media and the relative affordability of professional quality equipment. But to truly make a mark in the ever expanding sea of underground music, one need possess a strong songwriting foundation above all else. Baltimore, MD's Snuttock is one such artist, and if his Straight Jacket Life debut wasn't proof enough, this Carved & Sutured remix companion is more than adequate reinforcement.
The minute-long intro, "Catharsis" begins us somewhat languidly with a distorted bit of poetry overlaying a simple synth and piano piece that could dubiously lead one to conclude that Snuttock must be some sort of mystical goth act. This is immediately put to rest when the thunderous guitars of "Bullhead's I" send us into full on industrial rock territory, with just a hint of power metal, courtesy of co-producer Christopher Lee Simmonds of Bullhead. The same can be said of "Frustrated," one of the few new tracks on the album, which is augmented nicely by a slice of danceable dark electro and Snuttock's alternating between robotic vocoder and natural soprano before the track ends with a sample from Japanese Noh. Strangely enough, the remix of this song is a piece of musical abstraction, running back and forth between twisted ambience, tribal rhythms, and avant-garde classical, making it by far the most creative track on Carved & Sutured. Things take a more melodic turn with "Like You," which is given the remix treatment not once, but three times by Roy Retrofit of fellow Baltimore act Red This Ever. On its own, the song has a morose melody akin to the darker moments of '80s new wave, particularly in the DJ Retrofit remix with its straightforward dance beats and pulsating synth sequences. The Rekombinant and Red This Ever remixes are no less rhythmic, but the beats are less frenetic and allow more space for the discordant synth atmospheres to take center stage. DjK's remix of "Everybody" maintains the '80s vibe, particularly in the vocals, which are somewhat reminiscent of a cross between early Depeche Mode and Information Society. However, some noisier beats perfect for today's industrial dance floor keep the song grounded in the here and now without sacrificing the classic feel of the melody. We return to more gothic tones with the mournful pad progressions of the new instrumental, "Gone," with a bedrock of industrial beats underlying the track for good measure.
In the end, the major downside to Snuttock's Carved & Sutured is that some might be put off by the various styles at play. Granted, that is not uncommon in remix albums, but the tracks presented here are so exceptionally diverse that one might feel a sense of musical vertigo. But then again, that is also the biggest strength of the album as there is such a seamless flow from song to song, despite the near constant shift in styles. Without having heard Straight Jacket Life, it's difficult to surmise just how much of Snuttockís actual individual style is coming through, but the one characteristic that permeates throughout the record is that sense of melody and songwriting. For this Snuttock's Carved & Sutured deserves to be heard.
Ilker Yücel - Editor, ReGen Magazine
The two man act of Bryan Lee and Christopher Lee, collectively known as Snuttock, deliver an infectious collection of industrial electronica with the band's second release, Carved & Sutured. The disturbing instrumental "Catharsis" begins the cd with an insane xylophone melody accented by static whispers. "Bullhead's I" and "Like You" deliver dark industrial grooves that are sure to summon club patrons to the dance floor. "Terribly Frustrated" is a nightmarish offering highlighted by symphonic crescendos, while "Empty" meshes sinister electronica with an irresistible beat. The CD also contains several remix tracks, offering alternative versions of some of the songs. Denizens of the darkwave dance floor who crave music with a demented twist will definitely want to get Carved & Sutured right away.
Richard Pickman, Dark Realms
I like to take pride in knowing most everything about popular music in general from its wildly varied history to the most significant bands and releases to what?s new and hot and what people should be listening to as opposed to what they are listening to. But every now and again a label sends me something that completely stumps me. I've been wringing my hands for a fortnight over a CD from an act called Snuttock sent to me by Dancing Ferret. It's a remix album called Carved & Sutured and since I'm not at all familiar with the source material I'm proceeding with caution in commenting on it.
At the very least, the promotional materials clued me in to the fact that Christopher Lee Simmonds had a hand in this project. If you are unfamiliar with him know that he was one of the founding members of a band I worshiped over a decade and a half ago called Thought Industry. He's been involved in a number of notable releases since then (including Filter's first record) and if you want to check out his credits then peruse through his MySpace page.
Snuttock was conceived by Bryan Lee in Towson, Maryland. It's very much a DIY project and really sounds like it, bringing to mind late Eighties/early Nineties Industrial along the lines of KMFDM, Pigface, Prick, etc. mixed with classic synthpop from Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo. The music is quirky, dry and a little warped. It can be dark at times, ambient at others and always intriguingly off-kilter. There are a few tracks from the debut, Straight Jacket Life, and the remix album on Snuttock's MySpace page but you won't find much else in the way of information there.
Clearly, presents the original material in a way that's more palatable to the dancefloor with remixes by Simmonds as Bullhead, Roy Brown as DJ Retrofit and Kevin Duffy as DjK.
Like You (DJ Retrofit Mix) has an eerie synth melody coupled with Lee's perverse vocal and a shuffling rhythm that would sound fantastic turned all the way up on the superior sound system at your local club. Terribly Frustrated is like a Carousel Hellride within a demonic Funhouse that's guaranteed to freak out everyone at your social gathering. Empty (Out Of Mind Mix by DjK) does the time warp with a familiar-sounding beat and percolating synth line seemingly ripped from a couple decades past. There are also moments like the bookending track Catharsis and centerpiece interlude Gone featuring ambient passages that cleanse your aural palate before more audio hijinks bombard your senses.
Don't let the unfortunate name (apparently a combination of two words and, as Lee states, Not the first ones that come to mind) dissuade you from checking out Snuttock, particularly if you're the type of old school fan who loves to pull out the classics because the newer material doesn't excite you as much. Carved & Sutured will definitely appeal to long-time admirers of Industrial as it retains a familiarity while still embodying a great deal of unique personality all its own.
August 2nd, 2008 by Christopher
Livid Looking Glass
Bryan Lee launches a twisted, solo-flight journey into what Radio Free Abattoir describes as a pathology of electronics with SNUTTOCK. The darker edge of underground synthpop loving literary rags praise SNUTTOCK for this one-man band's smoothly disciplined, innovative, and unsullied debut title, Straight Jacket Life, co-produced by Christopher Lee Simmonds (Thought Industry, Filter, Good Charlotte, Jimmie's Chicken Shack, Marcy playground, Hell Mary, Bullhead), who also contributes generously to the album as a guest musician. Technical globetrotting, hot on the heels of this head turning seminal release, Lee revisits Simmond's studio to focus upon a new remixes album spun from additional creative infusions woven into entirely new songs destined to grab abundant interest from both fans and critics alike.
Let's stop the elevator now in between floors, pressing forth a few inquiries. Take a listen as Lee and Simmonds respond...
Living the Straight Jacket Life...Now that the debut CD dust has settled, what is on the horizon for SNUTTOCK?
Bryan Lee: For the immediate future, it would have to be the remix disk (entitled Carved and Sutured) that you referred to above. Beyond that, just trying to get Snuttock into as many ears as possible, while working on a new CD.
Christopher Lee Simmonds: The next record!
LEE: At the dreaded DAY JOB! You know, the one that actually pays the bills, so that all us indie musicians, artists, and writers, can eat while we continue to chase the carrot thats always dangling just out of reach. Anyway, back on topic, we worked in the same department in an environment that was a bit stifling to the artistic / creative personality, so it was a welcome change to have a kindred spirit in the area. After seeing his artwork, I was convinced that he could present the visual "Snuttockian" image that I wanted, and he did just that. As far as I'm concerned, he's the permanent illustrator for anything Snuttock related.
What details might you share now about a remix album?
LEE: Hopefully it will be out by late November. Right now, it's shaping up to be around 80% remix and 20% new material. As a whole it will be much more "Dance floor" oriented than Straight Jacket Life, containing some great remixes by C. Lee Simmonds (AKA Bullhead), Roy Brown (AKA dj retrofit / red this ever: www.redthisever.net), and Kevin Duffy (AKA DjK: www.24productions.net/k/).
SIMMONDS: From what I know of it, it is going to be extremely eclectic.
How has SNUTTOCK plugged into Internet resources?
SIMMONDS: That's Bryan's chore
LEE: The first answer that comes to mind is: not enough. From the perspective of "getting the word out", there's Snuttock.com as well as the "must have" MySpace page. I also ran banner ads on a few sites based in Canada, Germany, and South Africa when Straight Jacket Life was released, and over time there are more sites carrying reviews of the album. The CD can be purchased online via Radio Free Abattoir's digital download service, or mail ordered worldwide from www.Isotank.com.
What gear was used to produce Straight Jacket Life?
LEE: Here's the quick list:
- Keyboards / Tone Generators:
- (no Soft-Synths for Snuttock!)
- Roland XP-80
- Roland Juno-6 (those wooden sides are so Damn Sexy!)
- Moog Rogue
- Yamaha P-80
- Proteus 2000
- Oberheim Matrix-1000
- Blue Baby Bottle
- Shure KSM44
- Roland VS-2400CD
- Spectral RM7000
- Avalon VT-737SP
- Avalon VT-747SP
- Empirical Labs Distressor
- Key Ingredient:
- Mr. Simmonds behind the board!
Any news brewing about SNUTTOCK live music performances?
LEE: Not at this point in time, but as for the future, you never can tell.
SIMMONDS: I will do it when ever possible...
Chris, what are your main vices, a.k.a. the "3M's"?
SIMMONDS: Well, I can not stop thinking/creating music. At work or at play it is always in motion in my mind. I realized at a very young age, long before we had heard of a.d.d., that my brain is over active, and when studying for tests and taking them, I did my best with a walkman cranking' in my head. As I got older I came to understand that I could just let my mind "compose" as I went about my daily tasks, even when on stage or in rehearsal with musicians, I could be playing one thing while mathematically creating something else. (Ok... sorry for the long preface, but to answer your question thoroughly it is needed.) once I got deep into the music business, I became aware of drugs and alcohol! ...and the dawning of the marijuana influence occurred. I love marijuana! It should be legal! It should be no different than alcohol. So I use it as a perspective adjustment. After 6 or 8 hours of mixing, my ears and mind are dulled. But with a fresh change of prespective I can listen to my 8 hours of work and hear it for the first time again. As far as the wine, if I were a wealthy individual that did not need to work to sustain my lifestyle, I'd be a wino! I love the peaceful buzz of merlot and cabernet... even a Guinness, or 4. And, as far as the 3rd M... well... we all do it. ...Those who don't… lie! I do it mostly with my instruments though. Constantly wankin' out a riff or more... haha! Hrmm...
No marijuana or alcohol was used, at any time, during the Snuttock sessions. Only wasabi covered cashews and green tea. Honest! Mmmmmm... WASABI! Memories...
Survey the dominoes scattered about the table... how did events unfold and lead up to being musicians in a band called SNUTTOCK?
SIMMONDS: Pretty simple... I was Bryan's sales associate at Guitar Center. The rest unfolded very naturally. He had the whole project written and ready to track, I just sold him the gear he needed to get the job done, and then tried to show him how to use it. Which lead to me doing it. It was awesome! Great memory. Bryan's a very weird man. I love him dearly.
LEE: It was December 30th, 2002, I walked into Guitar Center in Towson Maryland intent on buying a Roland 18 track digital recorder. The first salesperson I spoke with said I should wait and talk to this guy that would be right back from the stock room. Apparently this guy was a whiz with digital recording equipment and could answer all my questions. Well, that turned out to be the best advice I've ever gotten from a salesperson, as the guy was Chris, and the rest is history (in the making)!
What is the story behind this band name, SNUTTOCK?
LEE: Not much of a story really, just a combination of two words (and not the first ones that come to mind). Which mistakes would you now avoid if you could do it all over again?
SIMMONDS: There is no such thing as mistakes with Snuttock, as far as I'm concerned. Only happy accidents! What wisdom have you gained that you might share with other independent musicians?
SIMMONDS: Do it all your self, and ask for all the money upfront!
LEE: Well, I'm not sure how much wisdom I've got to begin with, but if pressed, I guess I'd have to say: Don't give up! Whether its putting out a CD, or putting together a live show, everything takes a lot longer than you think it will, but eventually... you'll get there. For example, initially I intended on having "Carved and Sutured" released by late July; here it is mid-September, and I'm hoping to get the mastered CD and artwork finished by mid-October. Other projects...
Bryan, what, if any, other interests outside of SNUTTOCK might consume your attention?
LEE: I'm also the keyboard player in e.joseph (www.myspace.com/ejosephmusic). The project has a very different vibe from Snuttock. I began playing keyboards in the live lineup after the release of his Absinthe Minded CD (featured on his MySpace profile). e's newer material (which we are about to head into the studio and record) has a somewhat different flavor than Absinthe Minded due in part to a revamped band lineup, as well as adding keyboards to the mix this time around.
Chris, please give us the Simmonds' nickel tour highlighting: From THOUGHT INDUSTRY to SNUTTOCK & BULLHEAD. How did music industry experiences unfold for you along that winding roadway?
SIMMONDS: Oh my god! This is not easy to do. Umm... battle creek Michigan... I started plain' guitar at age 13. I won best guitarist in my home town at 15. I was in a great high school band called DESACRATOR at 16. We changed our band name and became THOUGHT INDUSTRY when I was 19. Had a record deal at 21. Toured to hell and back with a couple hundred bands. Hated the record company and its lack of vision and support. Quit after 10 years of dedication in 1996, due to stress, and other typical band issues. Went to Columbia College Chicago for classical compostion in 1996 to 1997. Worked with FILTER during that time. Didn't pursue the corporate label band direction, due to the gunshyness I had acquired while in T.I.. toured as a singer/songwriter/one-man band gig for a couple years. Moved to the East coast in late 1998. Opened a studio in Annapolis, Maryland, and began recording all of my friends; Jimi's Chicken Shack, Good Charlotte, Marcy Playground, etc... the list is very long. It's on mypsace.com/christopherleesimmonds if ya gotta have it. Had various gigging bands through out the 7 years that I lived in the Baltimore area. Sometime, in 2003 I think, I met Bryan. And, as life would have it, I am now in the Boston area, re-assembling BULLHEAD to finally release a full length collection of my songs and such, and gig... loudly! Proudly! Stubborn as a bull.
Chris, in referencing "bad habits"... you wrote: "I may be a grown man, but in my heart I'm still a child." What's the story here?
SIMMONDS: Well... I am 36, and I am of course surrounded by the people who I relate to most naturally. Whether it's friends, band mates, or females... they always seem to be 10 or more years younger than me. I feel that my musical passion and my desire for new influences has kept me from acting my age. In a good way. And bad. I believe this to be true of all natural musicians. Look at Keith Richards, old as fucking dirt and still as immature as can be. Shine on...
At the end of the day, what matters most?
SIMMONDS: My health, my friends and family, my hands, and my hearing...
Interview by Jett Black
Courtesy of Nocturnal Movements
Black Angel Promotions
Digital/Industrial with heart, attitude, and emotion! That's right. It's a rarity when this happens, but in the case of Snuttock it has happened. And Straight Jacket Life only goes on to prove my theory.....either you have talent or you do not. I'll explain: Snuttock is a one man project with a liner note stating "all songs written, sequenced and performed by Bryan Lee". He enlisted one guest musician and an engineer to bring the release to life. So, let's recap. One musician, one engineer, one guest musician and eleven great songs. Thus, proving Boris' theory of "you either have it or not."
The production on this album is slick. Layers of music and sound are mixed and panned, giving the listener the illusion of being in it. The song writing is very good and original. One standout quality with Straight Jacket Life, is that it doesn't try to be anything in particular. It is what it is....damned good. There is a wide dynamic of tone and personality here: some songs are darker, some are sad, some ambient and soaring. The instrumentation seems to harkens back to the days when digital/electronic music was in its prime. A lot of the tracks remind me of very good Depeche Mode songs with the vocals following suit in a David Gahan-type way. But, overall it's pure originality here. Tracks such as "Spiders", "Like You", "Daydream", and "Life" will grab you right away. I'd also like to point out that Snuttock's website is every bit as slick as this album. Make sure you check that out.
Fans of Depeche Mode, Oingo Boingo, Thomas Dolby, Peter Gabriel and the likes, pick up Snuttock's Straight Jacket Life. You won't be disappointed.
"As indie as possible," says Bryan Lee, sole member of Snuttock. Him and an engineer is all it took to put Straight Jacket Life together. Unsullied by the "too many cooks" analogy, Lee has one guest musician on the Straight Jacket Life release, Christopher Lee, and an engineer, C. Lee Simmonds, and that covers all the involved folks. The mix is clean, well thought out and doesn't suffer from an over-barrage of different people's different sounds.
Snuttock, in a weird way, reminds me of China Doll. A bit tongue in cheek, pop-centric styled but with a latticework of darker intentions. Like You, which kicks off Straight Jacket Life, has a weirdness about it. A lament about being different than anyone else - a common theme, yes, but treated in a tongue in cheek, interesting and strange manner that I have to appreciate it. Life on the other hand takes a more techno track but keeps it downplayed and subdued. Wander is an ambient instrumental stuck in between Life and Why.
I dig Why for its smooth nature and bright sound. Reminiscent of work by I, Synthesist or Esion, Why is a synthpop trip through a field of fun. But it ends quickly and leaves us in the slightly darker Spiders, but the flow of the music between the two tracks is virtually perfect as Why's X-laden romp spills you into the acid-laced Spiders. I gets more stompier with an industrial flavor without the overbearing deluge typical of the style.
Empty is nearly another instrumental; spooky pianos and strings melding together to create an interesting dark atmosphere following the previous brighter tracks on Straight Jacket Life. Bryan will occasionally show up to complain about "times like these." A surprising low key guitar shows up in Lifeless taking the album in a darker, newer and just as interesting direction. The lyrics here can use a bit of work though, being a bit underachieving.
Everybody gets weird with strange synthetics and an unpredictable vocal score. I got worried at the opening of What as a common-beat stock drum machine starts clipping away. The mixed in guitars and synthetics do a good job of interesting-it-up somewhat. Not the best track on Straight Jacket Life, but still decent - underachieving lyrics again and the stock beat do combine to make it a little blasÈ. I dig this CD for its panache, humor and clean style. Unafraid to borrow effective tricks from pop radio and infusing it into a darker elemental groove, Lee's Snuttock project has dropped a good release on my desk. Very well produced, great engineering and solid mixing and Bryan doesn't delve too deeply into the "press all the buttons" syndrome of a one-man electronica outfit. Just enough weird and just enough groove makes Straight Jacket Life both fun and unusual.
By Marcus Pan, Legends Magazine
Snuttock is the solo project of singer, songwriter and musician, Bryan Lee, who blends synthpop and industrial dance music to achieve a captivating and surreal sound. With his first release, Lee delivers an eclectic mix of styles that meld together, forming an innovative and cohesive work. Songs like "Life", "I" and "Lifeless" have heavy driving pulses and definite dance floor hooks."Wander" has a more ethereal sound and gives you the feeling of passing through the veil between dream and nightmare. The upbeat "Why" has a lighthearted synthpop groove, while "Spiders" is a demented track of whispered vocals and creepy-crawly sounds. Straight Jacket Life is a solid debut, offering a diverse collection of twisted tunes far outside the mainstream.
Richard Pickman, Dark Realms
Snuttock`s album "Straight Jacket Life" is a slightly obscure look at life from the restraints that people put us in..."Why must you put me through these things". Bryan Lee writes, sequences and performs dark Synthpop with Industrial influences and ambient elements. The cozy melodies are mutated by unprocessed sounds and the rhythm fluctuates from danceable to moody. Christopher Lee Simmonds (Thought Industry) features as guest musician and also engineered and co-produced the album.
Rating: 4 Skulls Morticia Devine
Your album which is entitled "straight jacket life". What does the title mean to you?
For some reason, I frequently feel that wherever I am is not where I really belong, and as such, I always seem to be restraining my personality to fit in. At times this makes it seem as if I am going through life in a straitjacket. Since many of the songs on the album are quite autobiographical, I thought this title fit quite well.
You combine very strange sounds with really great melodic sounds...how did you find it out, that it works?
I've always been drawn to music that mixes instruments, sounds, and vocals in new and inventive ways. Not just to be different, but to create melodies, textures, and rhythms that are new and unexpected to the ear. I am a big fan of music that layers soft melodies over top of raw, dark sounds; the whole experience becomes both soothing and unsettling all at the same time, very different. My first recollection of hearing this sort of texture was on the album "Strange Times" by The Chameleons UK. There is a short instrumental, all done on a very ethereal sounding guitar with lots of delay. I always really liked the piece, but there was something dark about it I couldn't figure out. After paying close attention, I realized that mixed way in the background, was a sort of screaming sound, as if a person were wailing very slow and long, the two sounds together were perfect.
Your record starts with very slow and harmful melodies in the song "like you". How would you describe your record Is it slow, hard or soft?
The album does cover a wide range of moods and tempos. Overall it has a definite dark quality and direction to it, with a few breaks from the gloom. The tracks on the album are arranged in such a way that there are groups of harder up-tempo songs followed by a slower, moodier piece, then back to a few more up-tempo, and so on. I did this to keep the journey interesting.
The sound and of course the artwork remembers of skinny puppy... did you get inspirations by them and what did you expect from your cd? Consciously or unconsciously, I'm sure I have been influenced by Skinny Puppy, I've been listening to them for years. However, the biggest Skinny Puppy influence on the album most likely comes from Christopher Lee Simmonds (engineer, co-producer, guest musician). His first band, Thought Industry, had their first album mixed, engineered, and produced by David "Rave" Ogilvie, and their second album mixed, engineered, and produced by Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall, both of Skinny Puppy fame. In fact, Thought Industry was also the opening act on the Skinny Puppy Last Rights Tour. The album artwork does have a certain ohGr flavor to it, but the entire concept comes from the very talented graphic artist Michael Riley.
As far as what I expected from the CD, simply to end up with a musical description of my world, and hopefully create something that other people could relate to on some level.
Your music is definitely something I haven't heard before in many ways. Why did you start to make music?
I needed a voice, a way to create something out of all the noise, thoughts, and feelings that live inside. Playing piano and violin while growing up, and later as a classical piano major in college, I was always playing someone else's music, being told how the composer intended it to be played. While I will always have great respect for classical musicians, and learned a great deal from the training, in the end it just wasn't for me. I much prefer a musical world where the only boundaries are those of your own imagination, no rules, no incorrect interpretations.
You have worked with your voice and touched the sound always in another direction... why did you change things so often?
Probably because I view the vocals as another instrument, and the albums that I enjoy most are those that change their instrumentation and effects from one song to the next. On "Straight Jacket Life", I had an idea of how I wanted my vocal on each song, for example, an angry vocal sound on "I", an evil/whisper vocal on "Spiders", but it was Christopher Simmonds that brought the vocal effects to life. The man is a genius!
Why should someone buy your cd?
"Straight Jacket Life" is for the listener that likes to travel through a range of moods and tempos when listening to an album. It encompasses everything from harder up-tempo danceable songs, to moody down-tempo melodies dancing over dark soundscapes (with quite a few songs somewhere in between those two extremes).
Interview by Micha L.