Snail - A Leisurely Journey From The Eighties To Now
Culled from members of seminal 80s bands, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Gene Loves Jezebel and The Soft Boys, Snail bring their varied background, influences and elder statesmen muso status to bear on their well crafted, punchy, psychedelic punk thrash grooves.
Three old mates and versatile and experienced players, Jon Klein (guitar), Matthew Seligman (bass) and Chris Bell (drums) came together as Snail some five years ago. Jon is adamant that Snail represents a new step for the members of the band. "The band's kept together by our need to make our music. We've all been sidekicks in our previous careers, but can make our own decisions in this instance... It makes for an interesting form of democracy!"
To go through the members' long form CVs over the last twenty years would become truly exhausting. Nonetheless the likes of Bowie, The Banshees, Talvin Singh, Grace Jones, Sinead O'Connor, Transvision Vamp, Thomas Dolby, Gene Loves Jezebel and more have all requested to work with these boys. Jon points to Bowie and the Banshees as the main highlights. "Matthew's experience with Bowie sounded very exciting. The Wembley 85 'Live Aid' show that Matt did with him was quite a groundbreaking moment. I played with Siouxsie on the 1st Lolapalooza tour in the U.S. During the Banshee's set in Denver, Gibby Haynes from the 'Butthole Surfers' appeared on stage during 'Helter Skelter' in a big floral dress and wig like one of the Golden Girls and proceeded to strip off revealing a Dr. Pepper can gaffa taped to his privates!! The whole stage erupted into a rugby scrum cum wrestling scene, a pile of seething bodies with guitar necks and mike stands sticking out of it, which kind of made that set memorable to me."
Since Matthew Seligman presently lives and works in Japan, which according to Jon can make Snail's arrangements somewhat "surreal", it comes as no huge surprise that a lot of their gigging and experiences have recently come in South East Asia. Whilst recording in that part of the world in 2000, Jon hooked up and toured with the infamous (round there anyway) 'Dr.Penguin's Magic Circus' which he describes as "a ramshackle Captain Beefheart meets Seargant Pepper trip all the way up the Meekong River into Laos, Thailand and Vietnam."
This in turn led to Dr Penguin's circus inviting Snail to perform gigs in China over the past few years. "At the last night of the Shanghai Carnival in 2002 during Snail's performance of 'Peng You' (friend), a cover of an old Chinese classic, the audience surged forward breaking the crash barrier resulting in the Chinese police shutting down the carnival a few hours early. The band were stopped constantly on the Nangjing Road by people shouting "Hey, you, Peng Yo!" This song seemed to stir emotions in Chinese people of all ages and was a good point of connection. They were intrigued about how Snail could know about it. In fact, we learnt about it from a waitress in our local Chinese
restaurant in London."
Onto now and Snail are signed to Xie records and are releasing their eponymous self titled album later in the year with a good deal of touring coming up in support. "The latest album is the more straight ahead rock than previously. Whereas earlier offerings are more like a studio based diary of our travels, this one is essentially a live three piece band." Tracks such as the thrashy, short sharp shock of 'Dust' wouldn't sound amiss in the current Camden pub scene vogue whilst the elegant lolloping breakbeat and ecological anthem of 'Everybody Breathes' recalls mid eighties Bowie and Talking Heads. As a whole album, it manages to marry their influences and background to the modern day, sounding in many ways more youthful than their combined ages (above 130 at last count).