Shortly after supporting The Libertines at the UK’s first socially distanced gig in Newcastle Jack Cochrane, lead singer of The Snuts, caught up with Benedict Watson to discuss the psychology of a frontman, bouncing back from lockdown and breaking down the “washed up and regurgitated” stigmas of the indie scene.
As a band teetering on the verge of a breaking throughout 2019, The Snuts must have felt that 2020 was surely going to be their year. The release of their long anticipated Mixtape EP, however, came just a matter of days before lockdown; a rich mish-mash of hard-hitting post-punk, moreish basslines and stripped-back emotional ballads, which showcases perfectly The Snuts’ expansive sonic potential. A headline tour announced for September and a host of the band’s biggest festival appearances to date were also left floundering by the pandemic, and put pressure on the band to maintain previous momentum.
“As soon as we know we can tour the album, we’ll be putting it out,” expressed a frustrated Cochrane when asked about the band’s hopes for the remainder of the year. The band’s rescheduled tour is planned for March 2021, and the frontman shared his grievances at being denied pivotal touring time before the release of the album. “Our debut record is so important to us that we feel that it is absolutely essential that we get a chance to get out there and play it to people as we planned to do.”
'Cochrane spoke positively of his first experience playing in front of a socially-distanced crowd... “it felt pretty natural."'
But despite the album release likely being a while off, The Snuts have done well to maintain, and even arguably heighten, the buzz surrounding them during lockdown. After being approached by Strongbow to record a cover of The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer In the City for their summer advert, the band released thumping new single Elephants in June to a welcomed reception. As restrictions have steadily lifted, Cochrane and the band have since been spending every day in the recording studio - “planning what we’re going to be doing when it all kicks off again.” And things have started to do just that for the Scottish foursome in more recent weeks, albeit in a socially distanced fashion.
August 30th saw the band support indie-rock heavyweights The Libertines at Newcastle’s Virgin Money Unity Arena, and Cochrane spoke positively of his first experience playing in front of a socially-distanced crowd. “It felt pretty natural,” he professed, “and the people were there to be focused on the music, which was nice.” The frontman also showered compliments on the headliners, describing the London foursome as “absolute heroes, such gentlemen, which is so rare in this game.”
When asked about the logistics of performing in the pandemic era however, Cochrane admitted that it had been more difficult to stoke an atmosphere. “Connection with the crowd is such a big factor,” he starts, “but it’s actually 50/50 between connection with the crowd and connection with the rest of the band.” After months of quarantine, he professes how joyous it was to feel that on-stage bond with his bandmates once more, and how that carried them through perhaps their most unusual gig to date.
Cochrane has long been praised for the infectious energy he brings to live shows, but the frontman speaks candidly about being “a lot more reserved off-stage” and “turning on-and-off his on-stage persona.” In fact, the Scot never intended to be a frontman, being perfectly happy playing the guitar, but having tried numerous singers whom he dubbed “pretty awful,” he realised that keeping his 14-year-old dreams of being in a band alive meant being the lead singer. “I started off awful but the important thing to realise is that not all people just open their mouth and god-like stuff comes out,” he laughed.
“We realised the hard way that as soon as you put boundaries and rules on your music then you’re only going to end up with what you started with.”
With a turbulent few months on the horizon, such optimism will likely be needed to maintain The Snuts momentum and keep the band inspired. “We’re always trying to do something different from our last release”, Cochrane divulges, “I don’t know whether that hinders us or not but it’s something we enjoy.” “We like to try and break that stigma around indie music that it’s all washed-up and regurgitated,” he continues shrewdly, “we’re so conscious of making sure that we’re always developing, challenging each other and challenging our sound to see what we can get away with.”
When asked how he sees the band’s sound developing in the future, Cochrane admits “nothing would surprise me.” “We realised the hard way that as soon as you put boundaries and rules on your music then you’re only going to end up with what you started with.” Collaborations are one avenue the frontman seems open to exploring, sharing that he has been recently listening to a host of female singer-songwriters who he “is certainly inspired by.” “There’s so many I’d love to do a song with,” he remarks jovially, “although collaborations have never been something we’ve really looked into in a lot of depth.”
London rapper Loyle Carner’s name also came up in discussions about dream collaborators, as well as mystery collective SAULT who draw on dub, gospel, reggae, and funk to raise a fist against oppression. It is clear the Scottish troop's inspirations and ambitions are vast. So as Operation Moonshot (regular mass coronavirus testing) provides a glimmering light at the end of the tunnel for artists and music venues, and consequently The Snuts long-awaited record debut, the band look like a strong bet for one of the biggest breakthrough acts of 2021.
Words by: Benedict Watson
Edited by: Olivia Stock