SNEW is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California. Consisting of founders Curtis Don Vito (lead singer), Andy Lux (lead guitar), and Mark Ohrenberger (drums), along with Lenny Spickle (rhythm guitar). SNEW has released four albums, numerous singles and has sustained a steady tour schedule across the US along with occasional major festival appearances. SNEW maintains an international fan base with critical acclaim from major publications and radio around the world. We wanted to find out more about this band so we arranged to have a chat with Curtis Don Vito, here’s how we got on…..
Great to meet you! Please introduce yourself to our readers!
Curtis Don Vito – lead singer for Snew.
How long have you been playing?
Snew formed in 2005, but each of us has been playing most of our lives. Don’t make me do the math I’ll have an aneurism!
We wouldn’t want that, could get messy!
Do you remember the record that made you want to pick up an instrument in the first place?
Kiss – Alive! I was just a kid but after hearing that album for the first time I knew I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be the lead singer. I still put on that album before a show just to pump myself up!
Given the choice, who is your dream producer?
Our current producer Bobby Owsinski, hands down. He ‘gets’ us, let’s us be us and somehow makes us better than we were when we started. He’s written over two dozen books on recording. He’s the master and he’s the most down to earth guy in the business.
If you had to pick your dream line up, who would it feature?
Motorhead, The Ramones, Chuck Berry and Mozart with us opening the show. I’ll get you a backstage pass.
The rider would be interesting!
When was the last time a piece of art shocked you, and what was it?
The cover of our new album “You’ve Got Some Nerve”. It somehow captures the very nature of taking risks and having the nerve to enter uncharted territory. It’s very abstract but somehow very succinct. The whole CD package art is otherworldly but somehow familiar.
Can you pick out a song that has a different meaning to you now opposed to when you first wrote it?
When I first wrote the lyrics to our song “Snew You” I thought I was coming up with a cheeky way of introducing our own slang. Instead of “Fuck You” it’s “Snew You”. I realize now that it’s not that at all. What that song is saying is I am you and you are me. By being together in this moment we are transforming ourselves into something new, something ‘Snew’. In fact I realize now that this is the true meaning of our band name.
When it comes to playing live, do you find it easy to get lost in the moment or do you become very self-aware?
When I hit that stage something comes over me and I’m lost. The music takes over and I’m not me again until after the show is over. There’s a force or an energy that fills every aspect of my being. It’s hard to explain but I am addicted to it. I look forward to every performance. I never get enough.
Could you envision yourself working in a different artistic medium, and if so, what would it be?
As a creative, I work in many different mediums but nothing compares to music. As a kid I used to draw a lot but when I found music I knew I had found my true self.
Pick two out of four; if you had to select a film, an album, a piece of art or a book that had an impact on you, what were they?
Any and perhaps every Marx Bros. movie. They were way before my time but they have everything. Crazy comedy that breaks all the rules and amazing musicianship. Chico plays the piano like nobody before or since. The way he plays is fun to watch but if you really pay attention he’s doing things that were way ahead of his time. He’s playing rock and roll. And Harpo play’s the harp like it’s an electric guitar. Seriously, by trying to play classical melodies in a way that sound and look entertaining he’s actually inventing a new style of plucking the strings that would take rock musicians decades before they started actually playing like that and he’s doing it on a harp. If you’re a guitar player go back and watch Harpo Marx then realize he was doing that in the 1930s. I’ve seen all those movies more times than I can count.
I don’t know if this qualifies as a book but Mad Magazine. They skewer everybody and everything. Nothing is sacred. They lambast themselves as well as everyone else. Personally I’m not big on making fun of others but in this context it is necessary. We all take ourselves and our institutions too seriously sometimes. The only way to balance the industrial powers and align the mainstream narrative is by having an omnipresent opposition that reminds us that no body is always right, always correct. No one is above ridicule. Popular ideas are transient. We’ll look back and say “What the hell were we thinking?”. Having a publication like Mad Magazine go after and lampoon every current idea, trend and social norm prods us to look at what is happening in the now so perhaps we don’t have to wait a few years to re-examine it in hindsight and wish we could have made different choices. Hopefully through satire we learn to laugh at ourselves by not taking our idols too seriously. This irreverence plays heavily into everything Snew does. Mad is a major influence.