New Band Of The Week: Schnarff Schnarff
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If you think the name of this Scottish five-piece sounds familiar, you probably spent your childhood watching the much revered classic children’s cartoon Thundercats. Snarf, you see, was the weird little creature who was always by Lion-O’s side, and the band name is a regionalised variation of that weird little character and the catchphrase he’d always utter.
“I’ve got to be honest,” chuckles vocalist Myles Bonnar. “None of us are actually massive Thundercats fans, but we wanted a name that was almost comical if said in the Inverness accent, which is where we’re from and where there’s this high-pitched Highland accent. So we took the phrase from that weird character from Thundercats and changed its spelling so it also represented Inverness, which people from there call The Schneck.”
Now based in Glasgow, the five-piece – who formed in 2012 and are completed by guitarists Andrew ‘Turtle’ MacLean and Richard Douglas, drummer Jamie Douglas and bassist Paul Tracey – don’t make music anywhere near as whimsical as their name, however. Rather, they deal in moody, intense and angular alternative rock full of attitude and gruff, ever-so-slightly atonal riffs.
“I’m really of the thought,” explains Bonnar, “that a band’s name comes to be associated with the music it makes. If we just keep doing what we’re doing, it won’t matter what our name is. I think Biffy Clyro is a good example of that here in Scotland. I’m pretty sure they named the band after a Cliff Richard Biro and just switched the letters. It’s just this ridiculous name, but it’s not ridiculous once the music starts happening.”
The same can now be said of Schnarff Schnarff. Ahead of the release of debut album The Evil That We Do… a lot of eyes and ears have been focusing on the idiosyncratic and distinctive sounds they’ve been making – and rightly so. It’s a brilliantly ambitious yet hard-hitting record which aims for both the gut and the heart and delivers powerful blows to both. At the same time, these are songs which force you to pay attention – both to the music itself and the powerful messages and ideas that are contained within them and, specifically, the album title.
“We’re all atheists in the band,” says Bonnar, “but what every liberal mind sees as being normal and just living your life is seen as sacrilegious – or even evil – in so many circles. Especially when it comes to playing music. As a band, we feel that that kind of stuff does more harm than good – it’s each to their own and all that, and everyone can believe what they want to believe, but when that starts encroaching on another person’s life, then that’s bullshit.”
Of course, the hope for Schnarff Schnarff is that their music does start encroaching on other people’s lives, but solely in a positive manner. And though it’s an obvious comparison to make, the success of Biffy Clyro serves as a template for what the band can do, how they should do it, and how far that might be able to take them.
“We wouldn’t say no to being at the top of the charts, but we don’t want to be pop,” says Bonnar. “We just make the music we want to make. If people like that, then we’re more than happy to go with that. Our ambition is, simply, just to be able to live off the music. If we can pay the rent and still be able to go to our little practice spot and stay there forever and actually make money doing that, that would be good. It’s all about the music – everything else is a by-product.”