The Snuts are coming straight from the heart and straight out of Scotland on their debut record, ‘W.L.’ The four-piece have rewritten the songsheet for British indie bands with their open-ended and genre-merging record, which stormed to chart success.
Stream: ‘W.L.’ – The Snuts
Scottish four-piece The Snuts released their first single, “Glasgow,” in 2016, and it’s been more than a decade since the West Lothian boys started playing music together. Some may question why it took until 2021 for these resurrectors of guitar music to release their full-length project, W.L.
However, for The Snuts, there’s never been a better time.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on for a long time. Some of the tracks that made it onto W.L. were written 10 years ago when we were still kids, but now it’s reached a stage where we feel enough people want to hear the album, and we were ready as a band to put out a record. I think nowadays the record almost feels like it’s a dying thing. So, we wanted to make sure that when we put ours out, it held up on its own as a full body of work.”
This considered timing has clearly paid off, because The Snuts have just landed a number one in the UK albums chart – making them the first Scottish band to do so in 14 years. Speaking of the impressive chart success, lead vocalist Jack Cochrane told Atwood Magazine excitedly, “It’s magical! It’s something we always believed in, and I think that’s why we took so much time making the record. We wanted to try and perfect it and put it in a place that it would be accessible for as many people as possible. We’ve tried to avoid it being a down the middle indie record. It was always supposed to be something that could bring more to the table for people.”
It’s no industry secret that, of recent, indie guitar music has failed to succeed in the way that it once did, but The Snuts are bringing something special to the table, and it’s paying off. “We were really put off by the thought of joining that indie rat race where everybody is trying to achieve something that we felt had already been achieved with indie music. With this record, we were trying to feel as though we were making a difference to the genre, and inspiring the genre to have a bit of a boom period that we feel like it’s been lacking for several years now,” explains Cochrane.
With that thought in mind, this quartet has produced a record that pulls inspiration from a range of genres and pushes the boundaries set by indie music.
Although, Cochrane also suggests that pushing those boundaries can sometimes take listeners too far away from their comfort zone: “The problem we find is that sometimes UK indie listeners can be quite protective and aggressive with the type of music that bands put out. A lot of bands will have a great first record and they try to change it up on the second, and everybody hates them for it.”
Fortunately for this band, despite the distinct differences in sound between tracks like “Top Deck,” “Somebody Loves You,” and “Juan Belmonte,” there is one thing that unites them all: They all always sound like a song by The Snuts. That careful balance has established the four-piece as sonically experimental from the outset and allows room for future growth, “We felt that by leaving this record so open-ended, we have the space and opportunity to keep trying new things and keep surprising ourselves and listeners.”
W.L. is a step out of the box, however, that’s not to say The Snuts have never felt pressured to adhere to the typical indie formula.
“The pressure started to build when we knew we were going to be making a record. Before we actually made W.L., we were getting a really good response live to some songs. It can become quite easy just to write and play for that reason and just play for the atmosphere at a gig, with people throwing pints and everything that goes with it.”
Cochrane expands with refreshing self-awareness, “We find we do our best writing when we have that comfort zone taken away from us. For the record, we were in a studio in LA recording with a guy called Inflo, who is, by the way, an absolute enigma. I don’t think there’s even a picture of this guy on Google Images. How do you do that in this day and age? But, he had such a unique way of making music and being in that position forced us to write in a different style that allowed us to be a better band.”
This session with the infamous Inflo led to some of the most distinctive sounds on W.L., including the bass-driven “All Your Friends” and the sensitive ballad, “Microwave.”
Reflecting on the pressure musicians feel to conform to genre-specific constraints, Cochrane highlighted the social media dilemma artists often find themselves in. “I read something that hit home with me about artists being hyper-focused on social media attention and momentum, everything has become focused on releasing music. That takes away from the time you need to develop your sound as an artist.” With gratitude for his own unhurried experience he continues, “We had a lot of time to try these things out, and although the pressure was on us from ourselves, we never really felt external pressure from fans or anyone. People were very patient with us. One of the most important things is just allowing yourself time to develop and focus on the longevity of music rather than the right here right now.”
One track on W.L. that shows The Snuts in their most authentic stripped back form is “Boardwalk.” Placed right in the middle of the record, “Boardwalk” is intimately emotive and flaunts Cochrane’s vocal ability in its finest light. With humble pride, the lead vocalist admitted that this is the song that has his heart, “Boardwalk just feels like my song on the record. It was a total bedroom song and I felt like a young guy with no prospects when I was writing that. Then, when it came to the production, the vocal was one take, the guitar was one take, and the whole thing sounds super emotive. That’s the kind of music that I love making the most; after so many listens, it still evokes emotion. It’s like all the music that I listen to when I’m alone comes out in that song.” A similar sentimentality and warmth can be found on ‘Sing For Your Supper’ and the festival-ready sing-along song, “No Place I’d Rather Go.” However, The Snuts aren’t afraid to bring their playful bravado to the table on the tongue-in-cheek offering, “Don’t Forget It (Punk).” With booming energy and jovial lyrics, ‘Don’t Forget It (Punk)’ proves that The Snuts aren’t taking themselves too seriously, and they’re ready to embrace that classic indie swagger.
Unfortunately, recently, The Snuts have been unable to show off this playful confidence in front of an audience, and boy are the band missing live music. “The thing I’ve found that I miss the most is the connection that we have with fans, but also the connection that we have together as a band. That’s something that you only really get when you’re performing,” the vocalist admitted. Never one to dwell on negatives for too long, Cochrane continues, “But, there has been a real sense of togetherness and positivity in the live music sector. I think this year has shown a strength in music, especially in the UK; people have managed to stay positive about it.” Continuing on a positive note, the frontman explained how the band used this unique situation to hone their performance craft, “We know it’s not ideal for people to just be sitting in the living room, but there’s also kind of a beauty in it,” Cochrane began in reference to the band’s recent performance at Stirling Castle. “The biggest upset for us was not being able to play this record for people yet. So, we felt like we got to do that in a sense. Energy-wise, it brought us on leaps and bounds as performers, having to dig a bit deeper to find that confidence in front of cameras, rather than crowds. Crowds are incredible, they’re really ego massaging and full of praise, but cameras, they show the worst of you.”
Now that The Snuts have completed their long-awaited debut, the band have turned their thoughts to their next project. “I think next time we’ll be more prepared for what we’re up against. Making a record is such an evolving experience, one day, I say to myself that it’s going to be a record about one thing that’s important to me, and other days, I just want to collaborate with as many different musicians as possible.” Something the band seem steadfast in, is their desire to collaborate with other creatives. Cochrane explained, “When we started, we were very protective and we wanted it just to be us. We didn’t want any management, any label or anything. We thought we could do it all. But we’ve opened ourselves up and taken ourselves away from any ego-based attitude. We’ve been trying to build relationships with people and artists, something that a few years ago we wouldn’t do. Nothing ever felt like a forced or corporate move on any of the songs on this record; I’m hoping that’s where these future collaborations will find themselves, very naturally and organically.”
So far, 2021 has been a huge year for The Snuts, and they’re just revving up.
“We’ve got big plans for this year,” Cochrane revealed. “Today, as it stands, I’m keen to work with as many talented people as possible, bring as much good music to the table as possible, and just see what happens. I try and focus on the momentum in music and not the organisation over it.” With a debut number one album under their belts and hoards of industry support, The Snuts are diving head-first into the next stage of their career, and who knows where it will take them?
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside The Snuts’ W.L. with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!
W.L. is out now on Parlophone Records.
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Stream: ‘W.L.’ – The Snuts
:: Inside W.L. ::
I wrote the first verse and chorus when I was 16 years old. It feels like a really honest way to open the record and it’s a peek into my head as a writer and as a human. It’s a song of pure teenage emotion. For me, it’s lyrically poignant and it contains genuine social commentary when you analyse it in detail. It’s a simple acoustic tale of how I watched drugs ravage through the minds of almost everyone I knew in one way or another and how that left lasting scars. ‘Is there enough hands on the topdeck’ – is an open statement to my friends to ask: can we get through this shit together?
Second up, Always is written in a style that is completely true to The Snuts. On this one, I wanted it to be known I was singing from the soul; it’s a precise, honest track and a heartfelt admission of learning to truly love someone before being able to love yourself. The band prop me up as I lay it all on the line with this track, just like they always have.
Juan Belmonte was the first single we ever tested our new sound with. It’s written and recorded in a fashion that was completely alien to us and it has a swagger that made it deserving of appearing third on the record. We knew instantly that this track would open the floodgates for us and completely change how we would go forward creatively. After Juan Belmonte, The Snuts were no longer interested in only making music for specific fans of the UK indie genre, and we became sure we could take our music to every corner of the world.
All Your Friends
All Your Friends was our first single from the indescribably mad sessions that we had with the infamous producer Inflo and it’s a song that reinforces a recurring theme and message close to my heart. When we were recording this track in L.A I found myself spitballing lyrics on the spot about a cocaine epidemic in central Scotland. How did that happen?
This song really cemented to me why I make music because it felt like the first time I really had a platform to speak about issues that I felt nobody had already. I think it’s cool that this song is received, 9 times out of 10, as a bassline that kids want to jump about and lose their fucking minds to, but I know the roots are much deeper, there is a dark irony in that for me.
Somebody Loves You
Somebody Loves You was the last song to make the cut for W.L. I was desperately trying not to write a lockdown song, but it was always going to be impossible. I moved to the city on day 1 of lockdown and as the days disappeared into months, I noticed myself and everyone around me scrambling to stay in touch and check up on each other. There was something really special about that to me. I don’t think anyone had seen that coming and it shouldn’t take a global pandemic to remind us how important the people we care about are, but I’m glad it did.
During lockdown, I wanted to take a break from writing because I was uninspired and unsure of what the future had in store for the career I had always held on to so tightly. Every morning, I explored the city of Glasgow and I hadn’t been alone that much in my entire life. I think I needed it. Then, new graffiti started appearing in the city overnight, every night. It was a free-for-all. The words ‘somebody loves you’ were painted onto brick and boarded windows and stayed etched in my brain.
Glasgow was the first song we ever demoed and threw out to the public in the hope that 4 school mates could become a real band. The song is so sentimental to the rise of The Snuts. It was important this made the record and sounded amazing because we wanted to do the people who supported us from the very beginning proud.
No Place I’d Rather Go
This song to me embraces the very spirit of this band; trying to evolve from nothing to something. Lyrically, it’s about home: the people, the places, the good and the ugly. It’s a celebration of a place that’s sculpted who you are today. Home is something that never leaves you, and I wanted to document it in the bright light it deserves.
Boardwalk is a song that I’m so glad will be solidified in our first record. Everything on this track was recorded in one take, which is bullshit industry language, but sonically translates to pure, untampered honesty. Boardwalk describes an inner determination to overcome the darker thoughts we all have; it’s the tranquillity of the waves crashing underneath a boardwalk.
I’m so grateful to have been able to create this song because I broke through a lot of barriers recording it and I learned to be myself when face to face with a microphone. I think I even learnt how to be face to face with life.
Maybe California is a track I started writing over in L.A. I was lost over there and I really had to take a step back to look at what I would have to do to become a stand out writer and artist. It’s an ode to hopefulness and appreciation of the good times and the important people in my life. I wanted to tell a story basked in the sunshine of how we all desperately want to be a better version of ourselves, no matter how frustrating it can be.
Don’t Forget It (Punk)
Don’t Forget It (Punk) was demoed in Brooklyn with Inflo, another unorthodox and painstaking recording session. For me it was attitude and it’s a fuck you to any band that felt they had a right to comment on The Snuts. It encapsulates the primary mindset of the band’s determination to be out in front.
Coffee & Cigarettes
I like to think Coffee & Cigarettes is some of my truest work, writing-wise anyway. The lyrics were written on the spot freely and without self-critique. I remember feeling like I was drowning in pressure that day. I don’t think that’s too uncommon for young artists to feel that way, but nevertheless, it is still overwhelming.
It’s one of those tracks where I get to unload a weight off my shoulders and it’s a clear cut representation of our love for the art-form we practise, regardless of fame or success. It is truly original and I could talk forever about this song. Making Coffee & Cigarettes is the closest I’ve ever felt to being as good as Bob Dylan.
There’s a confidence with this track; I think we felt like we could do anything when we were putting this song together. I definitely wrote this song on a day where I was convinced I could do anything I wanted.
Elephants took influences from all different types of music that we love. I don’t think you get to do that much, or maybe you don’t get to agree that much! We wanted to create something universal and I think this is one of the first times we ever did that willingly.
Sing For Your Supper
Sing For Your Supper has already become an eternal anthem for fans who started this journey with us. It’s a song of curtain calls and teary eyes and it depicts loss and grief, friendship and memories. This one is an open-ended song free to use as anyone sees fit. We always play this last live, and we always will. I feel like I need a thousand people singing it back to me to feel it now. I really like that feeling and it’s important for me to be reminded sometimes.
Another song commenting on youth culture from the outside looking in is Blur Beat. It’s important for me to write songs like these because the world is never short of a love song, so I enjoy stepping out of that zone for 3 and a half minutes. Blur Beat describes the ever-accelerating party-driven crazed youth; the dangers and benefits of it. We’ve all been there and I feel like I wanted to take a more mature stance on the topic without condemning it hypocritically.
4 Baillie Street
I see “4 Baillie Street” as a tribute. I think everyone has that mecca of all nights and parties with people you love and miss; ours is the loft at 4 Baillie Street. On this track, I describe the common theme that runs throughout the album again, but with more detail. The lyrics and melodies are delicate and this is a more reflective piece where I accept the fact that those days may be over, but they continue to live with you forever.
Waterbirds documents a time in my life when I was in total limbo. It’s a song that started and finished in two different mindsets, which is something I do quite a lot, and I feel like it allows me to find a conclusion in a song. From heartbreak to finding new love, this song can be interpreted however you want it to be. It’s a ‘hold on I’ve got you’ kind of song. I remember a weird period a couple of years ago when I was convinced I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing ducks. So, I started to take an interest in their behaviours and found out they are almost all completely monogamous. It’s pretty weird, but it turned into a dark love song, So I’m cool with it.
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