We caught up with Jack Cochrane, frontman of Scottish indie-rock band The Snuts to chat about upcoming second album 'Burn The Empire' and touring the world again.
One of the most exciting acts in the UK right now, it’s time for you to get acquainted with The Snuts and their anthemic, euphoric and downright infectious brand of indie-rock ahead of album number two Burn The Empire.
When we chat with Jack Cochrane, vocalist and guitarist for the band, he has recently landed in Sydney where The Snuts would play two shows supporting Louis Tomlinson before heading out to Splendour In The Grass.
The visit marks the first time that The Snuts have played live in Australia, after debuting to fans Down Under as part of Splendour’s virtual XR festival last year. If reviews following these performances are anything to go by, (“The Snuts were probably my favourite discovery of the overseas acts. Polished songs, great frontman and top band. Check them out if you haven’t already,” – The AU Review) they’ll be back on their own headlining tour in no time at all.
In the meantime, the band are preparing to release their blistering second album Burn The Empire. Their record-breaking, debut album W.L. may have only dropped less than 18 months ago, but it’s clear from the powerful singles we’ve heard so far that a lot has changed for The Snuts since.
This time, they have a lot more to say and they aren’t holding anything back.
If you’re expecting huge singalong indie-rock anthems, readymade to ignite live crowds across the world, then you’re in for a treat. But aside from big hooks and euphoric, heartfelt songwriting, Burn The Empire is so much more.
A voice for the next generation, Cochrane and the band deep dive into topics affecting young people today – from protesting against corrupt corporations and politicians, to the negative effects of social media, the lack of mental health services, and the impact of poverty across Britain, Burn The Empire isn’t an album easily forgotten.
When Jack describes The Snuts as a family, he isn’t using the term lightly. Three of the band’s members – guitarist Joe McGillveray, bass player Callum Wilson and drummer Jordan Mackay – have been friends since they were three years old, with Cochrane the last to the bunch, joining the trio when he was 10.
Officially forming in 2015, The Snuts both carry a torch for UK rock bands of the early-2000s, while also aiming to shake up the genre. Anthemic hooks, stadium-sized riffs, and witty-meets-earnest songwriting are all a part of the package, and it’s a nice little reminder that garage rock still packs a mighty punch.
The Snuts’ Jack Cochrane chats album number two ‘Burn The Empire’ and getting to tour the world again
It’s currently festival season for The Snuts – recently you’ve played Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, TRNSMT, now you’re here to play Splendour In The Grass. How have the last few months been?
Jack Cochrane, The Snuts: “It’s been wicked, it’s been a real nice change of pace, since our last couple of years with no festival seasons. People are bringing a whole new energy to the festivals and the shows that we’ve been playing.
As an added bonus, you’re also looping back up with Louis Tomlinson, so that’s a bit of a change of pace from the festivals too
“The shows with Louis have been great. It’s a different crowd from what we’re used to but it’s been really exciting for us. It’s something that we try and do as much as we can with our music and get out to different people and in different places with different music. It’s really important to be able to share your music with as many different people as possible.”
When you’re supporting on a show like this, how do you work on pulling the audience into a The Snuts show?
“At first we thought it would be challenging. But I think the type of show that that Louis puts on is very guitar-music oriented. So, I think the crowd is ready for that as they walk in the building. We just try and choose songs that we think are going to work best in these venues. They’re big shows, so we try and pick songs that are going to get people in the mood for a big night of music.”
That same energy is sure to carry over into a festival like Splendour where you have new fans and curious others wandering over to your stage.
“That’s always a vibe, I think it’s one of the most exciting things about playing at festivals. You’ve got that chance to hopefully surprise people with what you’re doing. And you really have to work quite hard up there to let people know what you’re all about.”
Doing things a little differently and pushing the boundaries of what a “indie rock band from the UK” should do and should sound like isn’t foreign to The Snuts. Is that something you’ve always intentionally set out to do or has that sentiment grown organically?
“It’s something that’s been a bit of both, it’s probably 50/50 in that sense. When we were making our first record we made a conscious effort to start trying to make a bit of a difference in the guitar world – in the UK at least.
“We felt like things were starting to be regurgitated through the guitar music and we started to get bored with those types of songs that had been done before – and done well before – but we thought there was a chance here to make something a bit different, something that actually excited us as music listeners as well.”
You’re also a few months out from the release of album number two, Burn The Empire. It’s probably a strange situation that you’re still catching up on touring from your first album, but how are you feeling in the lead up?
“We’re really excited. I think what we missed out on last time with the record was the feeling of putting the record out and being able to tour it. This time round we’re really excited to be playing new songs and sharing the album in real time.
“It’s a big part of being a band, making a record and then being able to play it directly after you put it out. So it’s something I’m really grateful that the world’s in a place for us to do now. Can’t wait.
“We’ve [been playing] bits and bobs [from the new album] every now and again, we’re just throwing a new one in there and not doing it with any consistency. The way music is consumed now, you put out quite a lot of singles off a record, so we’ve been playing those.
“There’s such a desire for new music. It’s great to be able to keep putting music out there. There’s so much music out there, so you’ve got to keep up with the demand. It’s really exciting to be able to eventually get to the place where we’re playing the whole thing in its entirety.”
You’ve worked so hard on this record, it’s done and ready to go, but now is the time where you have to wait for your chance to release it to the world. What is this period of time like?
“It’s crazy. There’s no real time scale on a record when you’re making it, you never know how long it’s going to be, and I think when we sat down and decided we were going to make the second record we were pretty carefree about it, which was quite surprising.
“Second records can be a lot of pressure, but we were lucky enough to be able to just disappear in the middle of the lockdown and make a record. So it happened really quickly for us. I think we wrote and recorded it in four weeks and that feels like forever ago now.
“Waiting to get it out is good. It’s nice to build a bit of suspense for a record. I think that’s important. And it’s nice having a chance to explain the record as much as we can to fans before it comes out and it becomes their record as much as ours. I think that’s the goal for us.”
From the singles that we’ve heard so far, Burn The Empire definitely doesn’t hold back when it comes to its message and it’s songwriting. Did you head into this creative process knowing the things that you wanted to talk about and the things you wanted to say or did that grow throughout the process?
“With the first record, I think we were a bit more cautious. I think any messages that were in that record were probably buried in amongst some of those songs, and we weren’t confident enough to speak out around things that we were passionate about.
“On this record, just having a record already out and being accepted by the world, it felt a lot easier to use our voices in a more direct manner. At the time when we were making the record, in the middle of lockdown, everyone was opinionated and willing to have these conversations, which I think is really important.
“All the songs were born in amongst conversations that we were having with the producers that we were working with in the studio. It felt like the right thing for us to start doing, having those conversations musically as well.”
Is there a message or a feeling that you hope audiences take away once they get to consume the whole album?
“The tone overall of the record is a feeling of honesty and pure conversation. It’s digging into some of the things that I think we all face together as humans.
At the moment everyone is kind of polarised and separated in their opinions and I think this record is about having conversations and celebrating some of the more pure things in life. Looking at the world with an honest perspective. For me, that’s what the record is.”
Aside from what you hope audiences take away from the record, what does this album mean to you?
“We like to think that it’s a progression for ourselves as artists and as songwriters. First and foremost, I think I’ve got a lot more confidence on this record. It’s been written with a larger audience in mind, being able to explore and visit and tour places and meet different people. So it’s a much more global album.
“We’re not trying to just write for guitar-music fans in the UK. I think music genres can be tribalised in a sense, where people don’t like this type of music because this type of person likes it, or they don’t like this band because this type of person likes it. This record should be for everyone, it’s pretty universal and welcoming. That’s what the vibe should be.
Was that confidence part of the reason why you headed into your second album so quickly after the first?
“Yeah, I think it was. You write so many songs in a band, it’s something we’ve been doing for a long time. The fact that we’d lost time through the pandemic, we want to be writing and releasing records, that’s why we do it.
“Also the pressure of the second record, we didn’t want to sit on it and wait for people to start doubting it. I think we had the first single out about three months after the first record.
“We love making music. In the world that we live in now, as artists, there’s a lot of focus on everything else without actually making the music – there’s so many layers and fractions to what it means to be an artist now – online presence and stuff like that. So I think when we had the opportunity to jump in and make a record we grabbed it.”
What can Aussie fans expect from a The Snuts live show?
“Shows like this are great for us because we’ve never been here before, so we bring that in. There’s an excited nervousness that comes to these shows that I think brings out the best when you’re performing. You want to win the hearts of people, and that just spurs you on. It’s going to be big energy shows – loud, hopefully future Australian anthems that people are going to be hearing.
What is it that you love about making and performing music?
“I think just having a purpose is what a lot of musicians and artists crave, and having a place to use your voice. Most people that work in music are generally quite quiet and introvert and really just passionate about music and the things that they care about and music gives you a place to do that.
“That’s something I’m really, really grateful for every day. And we’ve been friends for our whole lives in this band. We were friends before we made music. The other three have known each other since they were three years old. So there’s a family element to what we do. And it’s heart warming and nice to be a part of…I’m a soppy git”
The Snuts’ sophomore album Burn The Empire will be out Friday 7 October.
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