01 – Many greetings, Snowy! First of all, thank you very much for taking your time to answer the MetalCast Show interview. I have been waiting for this opportunity for years. I want to focus this interview on you and not the bands. As usual, I’d like you to, please, introduce yourself to our readers/ listeners.
Snowy Shaw – Hello yourself Markus and especially all you readers out there. My name is Snowy Shaw, I hail from Gothenburg, Sweden. I’m 45 years young and over the last 25 years been involved with more bands than I care to remember. You’ve probably heard about a few of them like King Diamond, Therion, Dream Evil, Mercyful Fate, Dimmu Borgir, Notre Dame, Memento Mori, XXX, Illwill, Opera Diabolicus and now most recently Sabaton,.. just to mention a few…
… and thanx for having me, I’ll do my best to behave, be polite, not curse and to the best of my ability answer your questions without too much interruption and incoherence despite my hyperactive head and probable letter combinations now so fashionably popular.
02 – I’d like to ask you what you consider your most memorable experience on your life, music wise. I mean the moment that actually brought you back memories of when you started getting into music at a young age, listening to Kiss, and made you feel proud? And as a fan? Also, when you started playing music, did you ever imagine you’d be where you are now?
Snowy Shaw – You’ve obviously done your homework pinning down my early obsession for KISS ( Not so farfetched I suppose as KISS was the starting point for 99,9% of today’s rock musicians of my generation) True, from the moment I discovered KISS -Destroyer as a 7 year old it changed my life forever. However, not so much their music as the whole phenomenon of their concept and visual appearance I must say. Nevertheless, to this day I basically measure everything I do as an artist with KISS.
If I understand you correctly you’re asking what glimpses of my career that I cheerish the most, am I right? There’s quite a few by now actually, but there’s always a first for everything though and usually that’s what makes the biggest impact and remains with you. First thing that springs to mind is when I joined King Diamond in Los Angeles in 1989, having succeeded where more than 40 established/name drummers before me failed. That’s a memory I’ll always cheerish because it was such a major turning point for me personally. And so is my first album release with Notre Dame, which in the truest sense of the word, was my own record. Another thing was having singlehandedly penned the hit record Book Of Heavy Metal.
As for longevity, I’d be lying if I’d claim I ever thought that far ahead from when I first started playing music as a teenager. I probably never expected I’d be alive at 40, let alone make music and tour the world and being successful at it. In many ways I feel both previleged and grateful for living such an adventurous and rich life, but then again I’ve never gotten anything for free and I’m responsible for making it that way.
03 – Connected to the previous question, after being active on so many bands, having a successful musical career, being regarded as a great musician and touring around the globe, what’s the driving force or a simple reason that motivates you on to continue? Do you feel like you’ve reached the goals you have set for your professional life?
Snowy Shaw – Hell no! On one hand I have tons of experience and routine and might be a tad jaded, disillusioned and realistic about this stinking business, while on the other hand I feel I’ve just started and I still have so much more to give, achieve and accomplish and I’m not even halfway there yet. I think because I’ve swapped instruments and bands with various styles as much as I have, it has been benificial in that sense that I’ve been able to maintain my passion and curiosity. If I would just have remained all those years as the skinsman behind King Diamond I think I’d be bored out of my skull. Although flattering, I tend to cringe a bit out of discomfort and embarrissment when people address me as a veteran, living legend or survivor of the era, It’s like what!? who are they talking about?
04 – Life as a musician isn’t just about fun all the time. What are your worst memories when it comes to your professional life, be it about a tour, recording problems, agents, whatever you feel like sharing…
Snowy Shaw – Phew, I’ve been through soooo much ups and downs on this crazy roller coaster ride at Tivoli Shaw that I don’t know where to start. I think I have to tell you to wait for the autobiographical book that I’ve been writing off and on over the past 5 years. I plan to wrap it up before the end of this year…
05 – In all these years of playing and writing music and, on top of that, working with other bands, what have you learned, not just for your own career, but also for your skills, thinking about music, as well as working with people and life in general?
Snowy Shaw –…that I hate working with people? Naw, I may have a misantrophic streak but I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know and work with a lot of fascinating and fantastic people. Most of them a bit eccentric and crazy but that only makes life more interesting and fun, ( Psst, don’t tell anyone but conventional and so called “normal”people gives me the creeps) The funniest part is that they consider me being the crazy one. Moreover, there’s so much more to music than the music itself, the organization behind the entity for one thing. 20 years ago I may have cared only for the quality of the music we’d make together but as time goes by, one re-evaluate things and the social aspects are just about as important. You spend an hour or two on stage every night and for the rest of the time you need to get along with the people. Life’s too short to hang around with assholes that you don’t like.
06 – It is a known fact that you like helping newer bands. Could you tell our readers a bit about your advices on creating good songs and/ or concepts?
Snowy Shaw – Yeah, that’s true. I always try help out if I can and have the time to spare. I also live by the motto; treat people like you wanna be treated, just sayin’. After all those years in the business, being a strong ambassador of the D.I.Y mentality, I consider myself having a fairly good clue and insight on most aspects of the music biz. And if people want my advice and honest opinion on things like why they aren’t more successful or what they might be doing wrong, I’m happy to oblige. On the conditions that they are willing to listen carefully and aren’t afraid of hearing my version of the truth, because truth hurts you know. For a while, on the side of everything else I worked as some sort of a consultant, advicer, stylist specializing in rock and metal acts. You might have heard of some of the acts I worked with… Ghost, Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat? … just kiddin’ 🙂 none such prominent artists on my bill I’m afraid, but Opera Diabolicus and several others. It’s one thing coaching others but unfortunately it’s a bit more difficult to be that objective about your own shit and I’m probably too stubborn to listen to my own advice… Hahaha!
07 – Being a multi-instrumentalist, what instrument was the hardest one to learn? Also, which of them do you prefer playing? When creating music/ writing lyrics, do you sit down and think something like: now I’m going to write some lyrics or do you think about the lyrics and melodies in no special occasion, like, for example, when you head back home?
Snowy Shaw – Generally speaking, and which is also the hardest part usually, I need to seclude myself from any disturbance in order to be creative and get in touch with my inner self. When I’m in a state of flow, I thrive on inspiration which in return feeds off on more inspiration. For me it’s almost impossible to go into writing mood when on tour and when constantly surrounded by interference and other obligations that needs taking care of. Sometimes one needs to force oneself to finish lyrics in time for a deadline or so, but as much as I possibly can I try to capture the moment of passion and inspiration. The ideas for songs and lyrics may pop up everywhere and anywhere triggered by something I may see, read or hear. What I usually do is to record or write it down on my iphone or laptop just as reminders to myself.
I really prefer to alternate between the instruments. For example I just finished off a 10 month tour with Sabaton as a drummer, the instrument I hadn’t frequently played or toured with for about 8 years before that, next month I’m off to Japan as a singer with Therion and if I know myself correctly I won’t be playing much drums, if any until next time I need to. ( Unless I won’t be making a guest appearance with King Diamond at Loud Park, Japan) At the end of the day, instruments is just another word for tools, and that’s how I look at them. Helpful tools in the process of creating your ideas and songs. On what was the hardest to learn, well, I still can’t play piano or keyboard anywhere near how I’d like to. You may think that as a drummer you’d automatically have the co-ordination and the advantage of separating your limbs, in theory perhaps but I’m afraid it doesn’t apply to me or maybe I just haven’t spent enough time learning it. 5 minutes every 3 years isn’t enough I guess.
08 – You are also very involved with other forms of art, such as photography, for example. Please, tell us your interests and goals you have concerning this.
Snowy Shaw – Like I mentioned earlier, I’m very much a D.I.Y kind of guy, and that basically comes from the fact that either I didn’t know who or where to turn to if I wanted something special made or else I couldn’t afford them and figured “how hard can it be”. I usually have a very clear and distinct vision of what I want and sometimes it’s easier to actually go ahead and make it yourself that to try explain and put words on your vision to someone else. When it comes to photography I was rarely satisfied having hired someone affordable to fulfill my wishes, so just like in several other cases I figured “How hard can it be”. What I may lack in technical skills and abilities I outweigh in great ideas. And that’s why I design and build stage props and sets, do photography, artwork, stageclothes and so on …. not mention singing by the way.
09 – Can you tell us a bit about TrailerMade Production as well as Snowy Shaw Productions? Are you still running both of them? And quite an obvious question, but I’d like to know, if possible, the reason to create them.
Snowy Shaw – I left TrailerMade to my co-owner partner having discovered that it was far too much hassle and time consuming making artwork, album covers and designs for other bands and artists in contrast to how little money you’d make. Plain and simple, my heart wasn’t in it. As for Snowy Shaw Productions I assume you mean the record company, which is basically just a little branch of my regular company that I started in 2008 when I was working with my glam/glitter rock band XXX and needed to have a label from which I could license the album “Heaven, Hell or Hollywood? to other territories like U.S, Japan, Mexico. However, in more recent years since the sad demise of the physical product we’ve mainly focused on digital releases, such as my own double live album Snowy Shaw is Alive! that’s available worldwide through Itunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. Having said that, it doesn’t rule out my idea of releasing super exclusive physical products like limited edition vinyl albums through my little underground label that will mainly be purchased via my own webshop.
10 – In a way connected to the previous question, this one regards the illegal download issue, as many bands complain about this topic. What is your view concerning this matter? Do you believe that illegal downloads harm the metal bands or is it irrelevant? What about the smaller labels?
Snowy Shaw – R.I.P – The record industry as we know it is dead,.. and we can bitch all we want but there’s nothing we can do about it. You can’t stop evolution from taking its course.
I must admit have mixed feelings about this thingy but it’s my firm conviction that Spotify has introduced the model for the future. I’m a subscriber myself and from a constumers point of view it’s so convenient and easy, but on the other end of it, as an artist it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s the deathknell to musicians who can’t get paid properly for their work, although the rates are better now than just a few years ago. One doesn’t need to download illegally anymore, this is a perfectly legit way of ripping off the artists, and I sure hope in the near future it will improve further so that a bigger percentage go straight to the artists. You ask it if it does harm metal bands. It hurts everyone regardless of genre. It doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that with lesser and lesser means for producing music, the quality becomes poorer production-wise. Luckily the metalheads are a very dedicated and loyal crowd compared to record sales on a whole ( with the exception of Country music in the US and the swedish cultural phenomenon of dancebands) but the mainstream audience don’t buy or collect physical albums anymore. And frankly I can’t see why one would unless you package your product in such a beautiful way with great artwork that you wanna put it on display the bookshelf as a proud owner of this collectable gem. In closing, the bottomline is, if you want your favorite band or artist to be able to continue making music and giving concerts in the future, you must support them by buying their products legally.
In general terms I think we start seeing all the seriously frightening downsides to internet by now, where everything is available and where sick sadist freaks can easily connect and together grow and satisfy their horrendously repulsive desires… but of course that’s another subject for another debate altogether. FTW!
11 – This is a question I always like asking musicians on my interviews: how do you feel when you get to know that a person indentifies himself or herself with your lyrics/ music and that your music has actually helped them to go through a rough time or that, at least, they forget about the troubles for a while? Have you received any messages from the fans with such content? I have to say that after a very brutal year on my personal life, your music (and from some more musicians as well, I should add) has helped me a lot.
Snowy Shaw – In my opinion that’s one of the highest forms of flattery or reward if you like. It happens every now and then that fans writes telling me about how a particular song means a lot to them or has helped them through a hard period in life. It makes me both happy and proud to be able to make a difference in someone’s life the same way certain bands music helped me.
12 – After being back from an extensive tour, what do you like to do at home to relax? Do you prefer a quiet time, focusing on reflections or just watching movies and listening to music or do you enjoy more the party till dawn lifestyle?
Snowy Shaw – When I was younger and single, once I got home from a long tour I preferred to hang out and party, but nowadays not at all. I just wanna spend quality time with my wife and our dogs, take long walks in the forest and listen to the sound of silence. I get enough wild life on tour where you’re constantly surrounded by people 24/7 in a very noisy environment for months in a row with limited private time and space.
13 – Since you are a big horror movie fan ever since a child, and myself being a huge fan of movies, raging from extremely low-budget horror to indie movies, to super productions, classics and cult movies (I believe I just don’t like romantic comedies, hehe), I’d like to ask you which ones are your favorites since the classics to the new ones. Do you enjoy modern horror movies? In general, which ones would you recommend?
Snowy Shaw – Actually last night we went and saw The Conjuring, which I thought was a fantastic new movie totally in my style. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s based on a true story either. But apart from that, I rarely watch horror movies these days or much movies at all for that matter. Occasionally I watch some on the tourbus and on flights just to kill time or distract myself a little, but last night was the first time I went to the movie theatre and didn’t fall asleep in several years. I work to hard and tour way too much these days.
In the past when I was doing Notre Dame I was almost fanatically into horror movies and especially the classics and film noir, but I sort of had an overdose of it all and haven’t watch almost anything since I disbanded Notre Dame in 2004. Now I can feel it’s all coming back to me…
I very much like Tim Burton’s movies, particularly the aesthetics of it is right up my alley. Regardless of genre, a few of my alltime personal favorite movies are Big Fish, Forrest Gump, Amelie from MontMartre, Omen, Nosferatu 1922. Happy Gilmore and Borat.
14 – What are your future plans concerning your music path? Any surprise for the year to come?
Snowy Shaw – Oh yeah, you’ll see. I won’t reveal too much at this point but stick around and you’ll see.
15 – Snowy, again, thank you so much for this opportunity. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan ever for many years. I know you may find this kind of silly, after being interviewed so many times, but I have to say that it was an honour to interview you. I really appreciate this. Well, I wish you the best both on your personal and professional life. Do you have any last words for our readers/ listeners?
Snowy Shaw – It’s me who should thank you man. I appreciate this too you know, and what can I say other than, stay connected. There’s a lot of cool shit coming up in the near future. In the mean-time purchase my live album Snowy Shaw is Alive! and hook me up and become friends on Facebook Snowy Shaw fanpage and check out my webshop with loads of super rare and exclusive stuff on www.snowyshaw.net
Thanx-A-Bunch, see ya all out there somewhere – Cheers!April 14, 2014