Snakland by Adam Seitz (3)-min
Snakland by Adam Seitz
New Music

SNAKELAND delivers dynamic fusion of melodic punk rock moods in ‘Panamerican!’ – track by track commentary

8 mins read

Buffalo-based melodic rock’n’roll punk rockers, Snakeland, has unveiled their exciting new album, “Panamerican!” under a partnership with Euclid Place Records. It showcases an eclectic blend of influences, from Americana to punk rock and beyond. The album was mixed by Dave Klyman (Restorations) and mastered for vinyl by Ian Farmer (Slaughter Beach, Dog), signifying a high-caliber production.

Snakeland sat down with us to give you a track by track commentary, offering insights into their creative process.

In our special feature below, they talk about the song creation, where individual members bring a snippet of a riff, and they all collaborate to turn it into a full song with everyone’s fingerprints on it.

Midlife Chrysler

BILL: Snakeland’s first song. The opener for our first live sets. The first track on the album. Midlife provided us a strong beginning and solid foundation.

The day I traded in six strings for four, I met up with Jimmy and Declan at Tony’s place. The boys had woven some guitars together with Tony’s vocals, and I dropped in a line. We met up with Steve a few days later in Jimmy’s basement and shook the bugs off the ceiling and the rust from our bones. After an acoustic session at Legitimate Business headquarters to round out vocals, we had our first song.

Spitting Teeth

STEVE: Years before I was a self taught drummer in a band in Buffalo, I was a singer-songwriter in South Philly. I was striving to distance myself from playing self-deprecating folk punk tracks and working on writing songs that would sound full and explosive and genuinely good (ideally played with a full band). A simpler form of the instrumentation you hear from 0:45-1:15 on “Spitting Teeth” is what remains from my failed attempts to play in a cool Philly punk band – but thankfully the core of the riff still slaps.

I spent the majority of my creative time before moving to Buffalo in an unfinished basement with my instruments alone, so creating this in a group setting was a step out of my comfort zone. I had thirty seconds of chords that we worked as a complete unit to extrapolate into a full song that was uniquely Snakeland. This experience essentially became the modus operandi for the Snakeland writing process: someone comes in with a little snippet of a riff and we collaborate to turn it into something that everyone’s fingerprints are all over.

Trust Falls

DECLAN: The music for this one started as a nod to some old friends in Rochester. We ended up reworking the whole thing after I brought it in. I remember the session where it turned into a real song – it was the only time we did an all-acoustic practice on Tony’s back porch because our rehearsal space was too hot to work in. He pulled the chorus melody and words out of the air and we had it down in a couple of takes.

This was one of the last songs we wrote for the record, but it was the first to get mixed because it’s got a big dynamic range. That turned out to be an important decision – I came in with a very stripped-down idea of what production would look like, and the plan was to make it sound as close to live as possible. But this song has a ton of details and little extra things that felt important to get down during tracking, and Dave immediately picked up on those and ran with them. That opened the doors for more creative production on the other 9 songs.

DAVE KLYMAN (Mix/Master Engineer): Trust Falls was the first song they sent for me to mix. In that first run, I leaned really heavily on an analog tape delay for the vocals. Like, really went for it. But since I knew this might not be everyone’s favorite heavy effect, I ran it in parallel with the much drier lead vocal on top. It gave me a quick and easy way to blend these two elements together instead of this wholly committed sound that now can’t be touched. This proved a prudent move as the general consensus from the band was I had indeed gone way too far! So I retooled and reblended, keeping the analog soul in a hybrid, digital domain. The first mix is always the toughest.

Once we got through Trust Falls I had that strong template that allowed us to make finalized decisions with less need to recall and reset any analog equipment. And the tape delay is present on every single lead vocal, which makes me happy. Perhaps it’s a lost art for some, but Snakeland is a band that just shouldn’t stay entirely in a computer.

Snakland by Adam Seitz
Snakeland by Adam Seitz

Do Dogs Think Seals Are Mermaids?

DECLAN: Shorter, faster, louder! From a guitar perspective this sums up everything that makes this album sound the way it does: there are no palm mutes, for example, and it’s got the big harmony in the middle. Jimmy nailed that part in one take on the record. We lost our shit when that happened because that day’s tracking session had been so rough, and he hit the most technical part in one shot.
The words are pretty old – it’s a series of images from my time living at a punk house and touring as a solo songwriter, going back and forth between being surrounded by people and alone in a car for hours. “A craft so long to learn” is from Hippocrates by way of Chaucer.

Because it didn’t come in with a melody, Tony moved a lot of stuff around and added lines to make it work. We re-tracked most of the vocals halfway through mixing, including those huge high notes at the end of each verse. It did not feel great to set up the mobile studio again after the project had been wrapped for weeks. But in the end it was worth the time we spent on vocals because it sounds awesome, and there is no autotune or pitch correction anywhere on this record.

Bone Flute

TONE: There’s only one thing worse than becoming a whole human being, and that might be helping someone it’s happening to. The most primitive instrument on earth is a flute, made from the bones of a beast that has been lost to time, but since their inception music and its tools have been the instruments of our hearts’ humors and tragedies. Cry out at the dark and rage against the cage that keeps you alive until one day you have the task of creating such a chamber for someone else you might love too much to tell them everything you should.

Snakland by Adam Seitz
Snakeland by Adam Seitz

The Legend of Sex Mountain

BILL: I remember Declan coming into the studio with the bass riff for this one, which he had to show me over and over because I kept swinging the rhythm. We already had a few rippers written at this point, so the goal here was to create some dynamic contrast within the song.

The instrumental came together first here. The rhythm section takes us through the verse as the guitars swell, and the whole thing crashes into a booming chorus. It really came to life with Tony’s vocals, which I believe are about dancing with the devil, as we do. Some of the recording and mixing techniques combined with a tremendous performance brought Sex Mountain to new heights for the record. The cherry on top was when someone found the sampled clip of the psycho TV lady proposing to change the name of a child’s rollercoaster to the name of our song.

Snakland by Adam Seitz
Snakeland by Adam Seitz

Dragging Out Stars

STEVE: As previously alluded to, about two years ago I left Philadelphia to move to Buffalo. As the move got closer; pangs of nostalgia had me turning back to a dusty old acoustic guitar to finger pick, sing softly and get my messy feelings out in a constructive way.

Dragging Out Stars was a song I wrote to keep me reassured I was making the right decision leaving a major city to move to a city a few hours down the road from my hometown. Ultimately, the goal was to find a space where I felt I belonged & where I could live on my own terms (and afford to be alive). It’s scary shit throwing everything you own in a uhaul and trying to feel like a person in a new place – but I think it’s safe to say the choice has paid off.

Unlike with “Spitting Teeth” where I came to the group with a little nugget of a tune, I sang and played this one from start to finish with an acoustic on the wall of the practice space. We got to work polishing this rustic folk song and reforging it in the Snakeland style of hard beats, soaring leads and thick riffs. Also, Tony wisely trimmed the lyrical fat and kept the best parts to make it a song so strong we decided to make the very first thing we showed strangers on the internet.

99 Broadway

JIMMY: I wrote the music for 99 Broadway at a time when I couldn’t stop listening to Signals Midwest. Specifically, “Tommy took a picture” made me realize that we didn’t have a song that starts with just guitar and vocals, and punches you in the face. The guitar lead near the beginning of the song was something that I was messing around with at home before Snakeland was conceived. Once introduced to the band, Declan modified it a little to fit it into the song when we were trying to figure out where to go from the opening riff.

There’s a little guitar lick in the second verse that was inspired by something I heard in a Hey Mercedes song titled “It’s been a blast” (The original name for this song was “hammer cities” because that’s what Bill heard anytime we said Hey Mercedes). There’s a short motif where the guitars sync up on four consecutive snare hits, and I thought that was a really cool concept.

Lyrically, I wanted to write about how my life had changed after my last band had broken up, and how music had taken a back seat to constantly partying with my friends (“blurred out by the high life” is a reference to the beer) The title itself is a combination of two venues that existed around that time (99 Custer, and Broadway Joe’s). Tony took the lyrics I had written and cleverly crafted them to fit the song.

Snakland by Adam Seitz
Snakeland by Adam Seitz

Iron Sights

TONE: Even in crowds you’re alone in your quest towards the expanse of forever. Regardless of your level of preparation the enemies of your lasting impression on this earth are hunting you ceaselessly. Every person, place, and thing you leave richer is part of the story you’re all writing, and the climax will be when you took your time to take your best shot. Fire.

This is the New Adult Contemporary

JIMMY: The main riff of this song is also something I had been messing around with before Snakeland. For much of the 90’s I was obsessed with Braid and Hey Mercedes, so a lot of what would come out of my guitar was influenced by those bands. This one was inspired specifically by “The House Shook” off the first Hey Mercedes EP. I loved how the riff of that song went so well with a more upbeat drum tempo, where most bands probably would’ve played it at half time.

It was really fun to play when we had finally put it together as a full band, but it took a while to iron out the timing. I think it’s neat that it really doesn’t have a chorus but has enough changes to make you not even notice. The little harmonized lead that Declan and I do in the second interlude made no sense to me at first, and that’s why I loved it immediately.

That jazzy riff that Bill plays alone while Tony sings “but I could never tell you that” came from something Declan had written, and (half-jokingly) kept trying to add to every other song we would work on. One day he tried it here and we couldn’t believe how well it worked. It felt so natural to let that lead us into something like a mosh part for the end of the song using the same riff from the intro.

The lyrics “maybe next year, one more time” came along around the time that the Bills had been eliminated from playoff contention. It’s a shout out to the spirit and the hope that us Buffalonians have. Hoping for better days knowing that we get so close to victory, but end up with the old “maybe next year” mantra.

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Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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