Sexual innuendo, epic drug use and swing rock ‘n’ roll – the snowdroppers have come to spice up the blues, rock and punk, embracing (and bastardising) the sounds of America’s south. They will leave you shaking your head in disgust while desperately trying not to wet your pants, with their witty and hilarious lyrics and stage antics. Pearl Davies caught up with vocalist and banjo-player Johnny Wishbone to talk about swearing, the music industry and the band’s crush on Maitland’s Grand Junction Hotel.
With just a hint of sex and drugs (the band’s name refers to clothesline-raiding underwear thieves and 1920s cocaine addicts), The Snowdroppers hit the scene in 2007, before releasing their debut album Too Late to Pray in 2009. Receiving promising reviews, the boys began infecting Australian pubs with their foot stompin’, thigh slappin’, toe tappin’ hoedown showdowns - but in an ‘'oh my god these guys are so awesome’ kind of way. Preferring to perform in some of the country’s seediest locations, they pack the house and leave the punters soaked in (communal) sweat. “Shit fucking yeah’’ is a phrase that has become trademark amongst the Snowdropper fans. “It was just a bit of a catch-cry during the recording and it kind of stuck,” says Wishbone. “A bunch of guys came up from Toowoomba and wore [t-shirts with the ‘shit fucking yeah’ logo] to the show.
We were pretty blown away. People like swear words, obviously. Australians like to swear — they bloody love it! [laughs]” Wishbone describes the band’s music as a love triangle between three elements — “the raw blues sound mixed with 60s garage rock and 80s-looking pub rock.’’ So how did four redneck-looking hillbillies spruiking a genre-mashing sweat-fest get a break in the music industry and what advice could they offer young upstarts ? “I always think it’s an impossible question to really answer. Anybody that’s in a band that has some kind of success, it’s impossible to say how much was luck and how much was meeting the right people at the right time… There’s just so many variables you know. Believe in your dream — give it a shot and if it doesn’t work out, there’s always the dole! To be perfectly honest I think some things are always good to stick by. Support other bands — don’t see it as a competition, you’re on the same team. You get lots of bands that try and talk shit about other bands as some kind of strategy. Be nice and be good to your mother; write good songs and put on a good live show.’’
When it comes to live shows The Snowdroppers have a big crush on Maitland, which inspired their new single ‘I Haven’t Been So Lonely Now Since You’ve Been Gone’. “The Grand Junction would be one of our favourite places to play,” says Wishbone. “We could tell you some stories! That is basically what that song is about — being lonely since you’ve been gone. It’s kind of ambiguous, you can relate it to whoever you want - your ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, John Howard, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, (too soon?), the guy at the shop, Jesus, that boat that was stuck on the beach [in Newcastle]… channeling that into the voice of rock ‘n’ roll.”
The Snowdroppers will be popping in on Festival of the Sun, December 9-10, in Port Macquarie. Enamoured of its BYO policy (“you can go nuts!”), Wishbone said the band was looking forward to getting down with festival punters. “We love it! You get to hang out with a lot of your friends. It’s a bit more of a party vibe.