The Snips’ Year Zero – No More Standing On Ceremony

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

For some bands, the loss of a key member – say, the singer, for example – would qualify as a devastating blow to morale and place the group's future into question. With the singer would go an identifying, recognizable trait from the band and the loss would immediately cast the group's future into question; if the remaining members allow themselves to view it that way. On the other hand, if the group in question embraces the change, recognizes the challenge it represents and elects to move past it undaunted, there is the chance that they may end up stronger than ever before. Such is the crossroads that Ceremonial Snips faced earlier this year. Prior to January, 2009, the 'Ceremonial Snips' raged with  a unique power as, driven by a potent mixture of punk and hardcore as well as a horn section (it made them in no way resemble a ska band – rather, envision a hardcore version of Chicago), the band lit up audiences as they cut paths across Canada and made some inroads into the United States. The band split an EP with The Flatliners for Paper + Plastick, and business continued to ick up as the band was asked to join the Warped Tour for selected dates two years running. Needless to say, things appeared to be going well and Union 2112's release of the band's debut LP, Check Your Audio, was starting to make noise outside of Canada. Things weren't going as smoothly as they appeared though. Last January, when priorities seemed to be diverging for singer Mike Podio, he and the rest of the band parted ways; signaling a forced stall in the momentum that the 'Ceremonial Snips' appeared to be building. “We were just having difficulty getting things together and it ended up that half a year's worth of nonsense and Podio's own admitted non-involvement just came to a head,” explains trombonist/guitarist Chris Accursi recalling the events. “We were actually planning on recording and releasing a full-length album last year – we started recording it last year – but it was delayed and just kept getting pushed off until we were finally forced to throw him out.

“I don't exactly know how else to say it. Mike Podio's still a friend, but Mike Podio – the guy in the band – wasn't doing what needed to be done.”

With their singer out, the band decided to take stock of what they wanted and where they wanted to be. They re-tooled the group a little – Accursi picked up guitar duties in addition to his continued trombone contributions and the band shortened its name to just 'The Snips' – but the biggest turn and surprise came when trumpet player Ricky Pridmore stepped up to fill lead vocal duties, thus changing the face and direction of the band in so doing. The band embarked upon a couple of short tours early in 2009 in order to check if their edges were still sharp and, confident in the results, they resumed work on new material when they returned home; recording a new EP, Black Outs, with new songs that showcase the band's new-found energy.

And, for older fans, the difference in that energy is profound. The only way a listener wouldn't notice the change registered in the five songs on Black Outs is, frankly if they were deaf. The metal that galvanized Check Your Audio and pushed songs like “Gazebo Of Love,” “Sans Inspiration” and the hometown anthem “Fuck With The Rose” has been scrapped or parted out and sold and in its place rests a true surprise: The Snips didn't need it to work! From note one, songs like “Tired Tires,” “White Ghost” and the title track all bounce, swing, punch and connect with listeners as the three-guitar assault remains tightly wound every step of the way and Pridmore (no Slick Dick Pussybanger, not anymore) turns in remarkably strong vocals his first time out. In this case, while obviously much friendlier than the band's previous work, The Snips don't lose a step in the lightening up – the songs are good, the hooks are better than they ever have been before, and Pridmore's improved sense of melody from Podio's proves to be revelatory. Black Outs succeeds in the band's plan to tease audiences with their new sound certainly but, more than those previous efforts have implied before, The Snips prove they can have fun without necessarily starting a bar fight too.

According to Accursi, the transition from one decade-long way of operating to another was surprisingly easy. “We've sort of lessened on the metal edge that we had on things and we're a little closer to light-hearted party punk now, but we're pretty happy with it,” explains the guitarist contentedly. “Ricky has always written a lot of the lyrics and everything anyway, so now it's just a matter of the fact that he's singing his words now as opposed to someone else singing his words.

“He has really stepped up and we're really happy with what he's doing,” continues Accursi, audibly getting more excited at the promise the band's new material and stage presence is showing. “The first couple of shows were a little nerve-wracking but, since getting back from tour, he's found his groove and he does the job. He's definitely the man on stage – that's for sure. We did a US run, some dates with Black Lungs earlier this year, and then we went out to Eastern Canada last summer. Through all of that – and granted, we haven't been as active as we have been in the past – it's been Rick up front, but this is the first thing we're really going to push.”

With the Black Outs complete and the band's plan to have their sophomore full-length album out – whether self-released or on a label – in 2010, all that remains is for the band to roll up its sleeves and dig into the task of re-presenting themselves to as many sets of ears and eyes on as many stages as they're able; a task that, according to Accursi, the band is only too happy to begin on. “We're ready to go,” enthuses the guitarist plainly. “We've done some shows with Ricky upfront already this year, as I say, but this will be the first release with him up there and that just makes it seem more real. I think we're doing it the right way – this is just a five-song banger to get people primed on the new stuff because we've kind of taken a new direction – but we've already started work on the full-length and we want to have it out in 2010. It will have been four years since we put out Check Your Audio – we put it out ourselves originally in 2006 and then Union re-released it in 2007 – so we want to get the new one done and out and we'll shop it around to labels, but if we have to put it out ourselves first, that's what we'll do. We want to get it done, get it out and get on the road – it's just as simple as that. We're not going to wait; if something comes along as we go, that's great and we'll appreciate it, but we can't wait.

“That's the plan; we're newborn as The Snips and this is our Year Zero. We are The Snips – the ceremony's over.”


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