As Australians, we don’t have much to do with literal snowmen, for our climate far from allows the opportunity to build these jolly icons, with mischievously misplaced carrots and ripped coat buttons for eyes. But a band from Perth, where it never snows, are melting these fluffy images of Christmas glee with the unbridled assault on the senses they create. Their sound buckles your knees and leaves you dribbling from every orifice, begging for more, like a recently released electro shock patient.
We are Machines.
And this, is Snowman.
It is a busy world we live in – and finding the time to pay attention and comprehend is difficult for all of us – but Snowman makes you want to stop and smell the mess that we’ve created and demands you pay them more then attention whilst doing so.
They are an Australian band, without an Australian amongst them. Olga Hermanniusson (vocals, bass, sax and clarinet) is Icelandic, Aditya Citawarman (vocals, guitar, keys, violin and percussion) is Indonesian, Ross Di Blasio (drums and percussion) is Italian, and Joe McKee (vocals, guitar, keys, harmonica, theremin, trumpet and percussion) is British – and it is beyond co-incidence that they found each other on the shores of Perth to form this creative unit.
“We are like a family. We are not four strangers who have got together – we have known each other for a long time – I met Andy when I was 13, Olga when I was 10, and Ross when I was 15. We have our differences and issues but what we are doing is far bigger then all of those petty differences and arguments,” Joe McKee laments. “If we didn’t enjoy each others company it would be fucking pitiful. You don’t want to go on tour with people you hate and that happens to plenty of bands. Egos get in the way but you have to be tolerant of each other and each other’s differences, and I think we do that quite well.”
And they do. Who knows what forces saw them gravitate towards each other, but regardless of the cause, you can’t argue with the well-made and polished onslaught that can be heard on their latest release – The Horse, The Rat and The Swan. This record expects you to engage, make an effort and stop being a passive recipient. A work evidently expunged from the bands collective psyche.
This dedication to the album understandably took its toll, and if not for a freak motorcycle accident, could have seen the demise of the Snowman empire.
“The whole process of writing this album was quite a tense period of time and we didn’t think we would continue the band. We kind of got consumed by it and like anything, if you consume yourself with one thing, you get affected by it. While I was feeling that way, it affected the way the others were feeling and I was not enjoying it and going through a not happy period. I hit this wall that I hit and I had to really let go and take a step back but then we had to record the album and I had to get back into that head space which was another fucking kettle of fish. We really needed a break, then just after we finished recording, Ross fell off his motorcycle, which was not good for him – but great for me and the band. Maybe it was sabotage”.
“We really needed a break, then just after we finished recording, Ross fell off his motorcycle, which was not good for him – but great for me and the band. Maybe it was sabotage”
Drummer Ross’s broken limbs, which are all healed up nicely now (save for a metal plate still in his arm), provided the band with the time off that they craved and a good few months to recover from the recording process. “Ross falling off his motorcycle was superb timing. He could not play drums for some time, so we had a good few months with out having to think about the band. Recording was not easy, but in hindsight, we sacrificed things, including our sanity and we made something that I believe is quite apt and real and it captures what was rattling round in my head and our collective headspace. I am proud of that – even if it was difficult to make at the time.”
The Horse, The Rat and The Swan is testimony to this realm of thinking that separates the Snowman from the majority of sphincter-wince inducing bands playing today. “I was having these apocalyptic dream visions, a lot. If you tune into the media too much you are barraged with these visions of different ways the world is going to end and I wasn’t getting out of the house much, just writing and breathing and inhaling and consuming these fucking visions and that is where this kind of apocalyptic thing came about.”
“When you explore a particular dark crevice of your mind and you follow that too far, it affects you in a way. And that is ok, you can come out of it. However, you need to do that in order to create something – the unknown, the mysterious and the dark that turns me on in a way – that turns everyone on in a way – and I wanted explore that.”
“The Horse symbolises the apocalypse, The Rat is the betrayal and The Swan is the release or letting go – letting go of those things and realising ‘fuck there needs to be light in the shade, there needs to be balance.’ With the rat there are a lot of personal and global issues,” he stumbles. “I don’t want to preach, but these issues were running around in my head at the time, but I mean… I don’t want to make a political statement.”
Towards the end of the year Snowman will be relocating to the United Kingdom in an effort to challenge themselves, experience something new and refuel the writing process.
“Being in a band is a strange thing, you meet a ridiculous amount of people whether you want to or not. Everyone has something to say and obviously the more you play shows, the more you are introduced to new sounds and new people and inevitable you get introduced to more music and you get hungry and you want to explore.”
“This is something that has become engendered in the band because of cultural backgrounds. We have all been through change and moved countries and all done things like that. All of us have had big changes in our lives and because of this; I think we are not afraid of uncomfortable situations. The reason for the move is to put ourselves in a new context and to avoid being comfortable and falling in a rut. It is very important for us to always be moving and challenging ourselves – we don’t like to stand to still.”
There are no words to describe their live show, but Cassady Maddox managed to find some, and you can read them in the review section on page 15. The aural landscapes created on their own terms of conduct and rules for engagement are what make Snowman
stand aside from the standard fare that trundles down the production lines of mass marketed music. They are splendidly mesmerizing and capable of catapulting you into a catatonic state. There is something out of our control-taking place, which marks a musical departure into an interesting and vibrant new direction.
We are the plague. We are the virus. We are machines. Disconnected.