Snuff are a British punk band formed in Hendon in 1986. Having survived the release of nine studio albums, various lineup changes, a breakup in 1991 [and a subsequent reformation in 1994], the band’s career has had it’s fair share of ups-and-downs. Mere days before the band arrives on Australian shores for Hits & Pits 2.0, we sat down with founding member, drummer and vocalist Duncan Redmonds to chat about all things punk.
By Kate Nagy
Are you excited about playing Hits And Pits 2.0?
Yes, very much looking forward to it. We haven’t played as a band in Oz for over a decade, so hopefully some of the old galahs will turn out.
How did the band get started?
Friday night after work, making a racket we enjoyed. It all came together after two bands ground to a halt.
What were your early musical influences and have they changed throughout the years?
Rock, metal, 77 punk, early eighties punk, mod, 60’s soul, ska,reggae, folk. I still listen to the same old stuff. I still prefer music played naturally live.
Describe the moment you first knew you wanted to play music as a profession?
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to play music. I remember a very early music lesson at primary school when the teacher asked who wanted to play the snare drum; my hand shot up first and I never looked back.
How has your music changed over the years?
It’s gotten worse. I’ve gotten slow, fat, bald and old [laughs] ..but the outlook stays the same. Try to make something powerful with some melody splashed over it.
What are the best and worst things about touring?
Getting a crowd going. Not getting a crowd going. No sleep. Endless mind numbing travel and hanging about. Seeing somewhere new. Catching up with old friends. Trying a new type of cheese or fish. Getting a game of table tennis in. Being away from the family.
You’ve released 9 studio albums so far in your career, what are the processes you go through when recording your albums?
Collaborate with riffs on a sofa, get them up loud, mumble along with a melody then fit words to it. Occasionally it works the other way round, with a lyric coming first and fitting a song to it – but normally it’s riff fist.
How have the band dynamics changed over the years with line up changes that have occurred?
The dynamics are different, each musician has their own style and fingerprint. Different line ups have different dynamics. We’ve gone from a three-piece to a four piece, to five and even got to a 7 piece on one tour. Now were back to a five piece with keyboardist swapping to second guitar on a few songs.
How do you think the punk music scene has changed in Britain since you first started and do you think these changes are a good or bad thing for bands such as yours?
Punk had already changed a lot before we started. The mid 80’s were a kind of transitional period where punk/metal was crossing over. The original wave had lost momentum. The early 80’s saw the hardcore bands(as we used to call them) like Discharge, GBH and Exploited and a big separating out of the skinheads and nazi punks from the more left-wing elements. Lots of bands were grunting and screaming. We wanted some melody back, and definitely wanted to stay away from the right-wing elements. If I look back to those days it is completely different, but the idea of DIY and making something happen still holds true.
There are some people who would say that ‘punk is dead’ due to the commercialization of it, do you think this is true?
I think if there are a million punks, then there will be a million ideas of what punk is. If a band becomes successful then who am I to knock it? If you don’t like a band don’t go and see them, or listen to their music. My view of punk will differ to everyone else’s. People were saying that punk was dead in 1978? The spirit of DIY and cutting the bullshit out still exists all this time later. Pussy Riot showed that punk can still be relevant and be everything but commercial. On the other hand, I was unfortunate enough to watch a bit of MTV the other day and they had a “pop punk” programme that had the most bland nonsense I’ve ever heard. It even had Nickelback on it! If that’s for anything to do with punk then I’m a mod!
The band had a brief beak up in the mid 1990s, what was it that eventually brought you guys back together?
We missed it. Simon and I started jamming again, and Andy was up for it, so it was game on. We were going to call it something else so we didn’t have to play the old songs, but Fat Mike persuaded us to call it Snuff again.
How challenging is it to stay relevant and keep the momentum within the group going as the music scene changes?
Snuff is just part-time these days, which does have the effect of keeping it exciting. As for staying relevant, we don’t care what everyone else is doing, so hopefully we will stay irrelevant.
Your records have always been released on independent record labels, including your own, ‘10past12records,’ was staying ‘indie’ a calculated decision?
Yes. We avoided major labels through choice. They seem to just be doing it purely for money – to stick their oar in and change stuff. We couldn’t deal with that!
You’ve built up a pretty solid fan base since you started in the mid 1980s, how has the dynamic between the band and the fans changed over the years?
There have been different phases. The first few years we only did underground scene gigs. Then there were bigger gigs when we signed to FAT – plus girls started going to gigs! Now we get all sorts, including the grown up kids of older fans!
Where do you see the band future heading and are there any specific goals that you have for the band that you have yet to achieve?
If we can keep doing the same old shit where possible, then I’m happy.
Massive thanks to Duncan for taking the time to chat to us. Snuff will perform as part of Hits & Pits 2.0 Festival, which kicks off next week.