Snag is a screamo band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is a city in a unique moment right now where its social ills like persistent poverty and segregation belie the massive commercial development underway there. Snag can’t help but comment on this contradiction, like in their song “Who are those condos for, anyway?” where they lament, “they’re building up downtown/ they want to wake up in the clouds/ but we can’t sleep now/ with our heads on the ground.” Snag’s latest outing, a split with New Zealand’s Swallows Nest, is a track called “Violence” that features their most mature songwriting to date, where the members of Snag in turns reveal anxieties about the effects a violent society has on its youth. Snag is currently writing material for a full-length. Be sure to like the guys on Facebook and check out their material on Bandcamp!
BW: Bryan “Socki” Wysocki – drums/vocals
PM: Peter Murphy – bass/vocals
SS: Sam Szymborski – guitar/vocals
Where did the name of the band end up coming from?
BW: Sam came up with it. One of several definitions for the word snag is a standing dead tree in a forest. To us this is symbolic of being alienated in a society that is hell-bent on slowly destroying itself and its surroundings, which we hope our band represents both musically and lyrically.
What made you want to form a band in the first place?
SS: I think all of us were in a place in our lives where we needed an emotional and creative outlet. Each of us have been in multiple bands in the past but it just so happen to work out at that point where all of us were bandless. I was jamming on and off with Peter (someone who I’ve known for over a decade but never collaborated with musically.) And at the same point Sock was interested in jamming as well. All the puzzle pieces kinda came together effortlessly in that Peter and I were looking for a drummer and Sock wanted to jam the same kind of music. It was probably the easiest decision to start this band.
What made you decide to stick to the screamo genre?
SS: First and foremost, the reason why I think we stuck to the screamo/skramz genre is because of the 1979 cinematic masterpiece Alien directed by Ridley Scott. I also believe that the genre itself is very versatile. It covers so much ground. You are able to have pummeling plummeting riffs that to me can represent environmental destruction and demise. But also you are able to have beautiful and calming parts of your music as well. There are no rules or guidelines telling you what is or what isn’t screamo. I think it’s a genre that has a very versatile and wide range.
What kind of lyrical themes or meanings behind some of the songs?
SS: Destruction, environmental erosion, mental erosion, suicide, physical waste polluting our dying world, overpopulation, cerebral waste polluting our thoughts, global warming, extinction, car wrecks, wasting away, the oceans below the miles of ice located on the moons of Jupiter. We feel that lyrically we are able to address themes that are not commonly expressed within the genre. It seems to me that the genres’ most common themes are mental instability, frustration, or insecurities of one’s self as well as a group of people. And I feel it’s an easy cross over to add additional themes of climate change, and all the horrible disgusting damage that humans cause to the world and the environment. Sometimes it’s hard to fucking breathe in the city because of all the pollution pumped into the air. Days are getting hotter, there’s seismic activity all around fracking sites, everyone hates everyone, the world itself is fucking pissed and retaliating against the humans. It’s something that affects everyone, no one is an exception.
PM: Our songs are concerned with the many forms of violence that touch the lives of every living thing on this planet, from the banal styrofoam cup to the massive scale economic violence that afflicts entire generations including our own.
Have you heard about all the dead cicadas? I haven’t heard anything about them. I counted six on a walk last month. Six dead cicadas on like a 4 block walk. They all have this like white stuff on their bellies. Some of them seem like their insides have been devoured. Maybe it’s like an insecticidal thing, maybe it’s a fungus, I’m not sure. I’m too scared to google it.
My friend Sura has been watching bees die. Not for pleasure. I think it’s to exercise her compassion. She wrote about it and it was horrific. The insects are suffering. The most sensitive among us are suffering.
I worry that to say any of this sincerely immediately becomes a cliche. This doesn’t even register as a legitimate criticism anymore, does it? We live in a machine that is its own clown, its own caricature of itself. The whole social and economic order itself resists criticism because there’s no consistent moral framework and no limit to the sources of manufactured outrage to use as a legitimate lens through which to criticize. There’s a pervasive sense that there’s no hope and so everyone deep down has given up or decided to focus on something else, something that offers gratification on a shorter time horizon than averting a centuries-long global catastrophe that we’re already suffering.
BW: Y’all took the words out of my mouth.
What have you guys been up to since the release? Hopefully writing some new tunes!
PM: We came out with our EP on May Day in 2017, then a split with our best friends in Social Caterpillar in December of 2017, and then a split with New Zealand’s Sparrows Nest with the help of Dave Norman from Zegema Beach Records. We’re working on a full length right now and we have like 5 songs ready to go for that. Meanwhile, we’ve been playing a show or two each month.
SS: We are writing songs for a full length, talking about doing a couple weekends out on the road, trying to start a Snag Family Farm. Basically a self sustaining commune that would be a creative collective hosting music nights, self defense courses, night classes and family meals where the women and dogs eat first.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
SS: I think we draw influences from very different places. Obviously, our biggest influences are climate-change, plants, animals, and the extinction of those things and our planet. I think we draw influence from everyday experiences: hearing shit on the news, feeling upset about the condition our world is in. Musically my main influences are Mans (Illinois), Lion of the North, Beau Navire, Thou, Punch, and Daniel Striped Tiger.
I think the DIY screamo scene is something important to pay attention to. There are a lot of amazing bands that I think are doing great things and are incredible players in the game. Bands such as Coma Regalia, Soul Glo, Ostraca, .giffromgod, Flesh born, Swells, Social Caterpillar, Artorias, Amygdala, and Plague Walker. I wanna shout out these bands if you’re able to tag them or mention them. They all deserve to be paid attention to. Also labels like Middle-Man records, Zegema Records and Skeletal Lightning all play an important part of the scene.
Also, Ridley Scott’s 1979 cinematic masterpiece Alien is a main influence.
BW: Thou, CCR, Black Sabbath and Majority Rule are some of my biggest influences, but my biggest influence is Animal from the Muppets. Thanks for being the best drummer puppet that ever existed. Plants and trees have always influenced me, as well as learning about all the terrible things humans are doing to the planet and how we can at least try to alleviate some of that pain through activism. Another thing that influences me are the droning sounds of lawn mower and boat engines as well as whirring chainsaws. Really gets me in the mood to write music.
What were some of your most listened to albums while writing/recording?
PM: One thing that happened during the time that we’ve been a band that has been a really disappointing reminder to kill your idols is that Brand New became unlistenable without thinking about creepy male sexual aggression. Like as much as I used to love everything they put out, I now can’t listen to a single song of theirs without being reminded that a lot of men are absolutely terrible and your artistic or lyrical or musical ability has nothing to do with whether or not you’re a piece of garbage.
SS: I listen to a lot of Mans and Cougar Den.
BW: I listened to a lot of Thou, Cloud Mouth, Cloud Rat and Lautrec.
If you could tour with any 3 bands, past or present, who would you tour with?
SS: Active bands: Social Caterpillar, Plague Walker, Celebration, Thou, or Slow Mass. Hell, I’m gunna throw Majority Rule in this category, we played with them back in the spring and what up Majority Rule? Wanna tour??
Inactive bands: Kilgore Trout, Beau Navire, Nirvana lol.
BW: Thou, Social Caterpillar, the Beastie Boys in their prime, No Brainer. Basically bands with great personalities that are musically talented as well and that I can get into some trouble with on the road.
Whatʼs your favorite touring memory or experience?
SS: We haven’t had the opportunity to travel yet as a band, due to family and other obligations that keep us in the city. However, I think some of my favorite memories of the band are playing with Majority Rule, Seven Days of Samsara, and Plague walker back in the spring. We piled 200 people in a bar in the heart of the neighborhood and I was nervous as hell. Majority Rule is one of the main reasons I play the kind of music I do. I would listen to them when I was 16, 17 years old, not knowing that 10 years later I would share the stage with them. We’ve also played with Slow Mass and other amazing bands that I think just kick major ass. Another favorite memory is playing our first and second releases live on a local radio station, 91.7 WMSE. Oh shit, also putting out that split with Social Caterpillar, it was such a fun process to figure that shit out. They are our closest homies and it was really fun to collaborate with them and spend so much time with them. We also got to promote that split live on the radio as well. Shit was gnarly.
BW: I can safely say that almost all of our shows have been super fun and successful. I especially enjoyed our first show with Social Caterpillar where we packed the bar, which was a good omen for the rest of our following shows.
Anything youʼd like to tell your current or future fan base?
PM: Google Murray Bookchin.
SS: Watch 1979’s Alien, listen to the bands mentioned in this interview, play music, be creative, drink water, tell your friends you love them, make food with those friends you love, spend time outside, make art, pet the dogs you see on the street, be active politically and physically, spread love, be kind, take care of your body, laugh, constantly laugh, kcsw. Hang real hard and answer to no one.
BW: Be aware of what’s going on in the world and do your best to be a genuinely good person. Find your passion and stick with it until you die.