There are few acts in Australia that harness the raw vitality and inexplicable panache that The Snowdroppers exude. They seem to come from a different time with a name that immediately conjures images of prohibition-era punks, with bowler hats and tattered suits, engaging in acts of wanton carnality and uninhibited drunkenness – fuelled of course by their addiction to cocaine. But The Snowdroppers are musicians, and they take their art seriously, which puts them in a realm that ebbs between the precarious and the irresistible. In the end, the latter prevails, which makes the band a force to be reckoned with.
Before we catch them on tour this February, we examine the vitriolic beast that is The Snowdroppers and why they are a live force to be reckoned with.
The band were mischievous scallywags from the get go. They formed back in 2007 as the musical entertainment for a burlesque show Good Drugs and Bad Woman – a story that has almost become synonymous with the band and their identity. It turned out that they were actually pretty fucking good so they stuck with it, going on to release three albums and three EPs to date, the latest being the booze-soaked, sex-driven Business.
Led by the enigmatic Johnny Wishbone (hopefully his real name), the band wade between seas of early rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly to crooning blues, bluegrass and punk. In many ways they were born into the wrong era, where amongst modern bands that are shrouded in mystery and darkness, lights and mirrors, they stick out like a sore thump. But one could argue this is a very good thing – they are a band that scream to be heard.
Their live show is a melange of unbridled energy; Wishbone thrashes about on stage backed by vicious bluesy guitar work and an unrelenting rhythm section, jostling audiences and howling like a madman. He is a classic showman, soaking in the crowd like a drunk, feeding off their screams and intoxicating with his.
With song titles like Do The Stomp, Bitch Done Left Me, Swear It On The Bible, The Snowdroppers aren’t ones to dwell on deep feelings, or the state of politics in Sudan. They spurt stories of hard luck and hard love, of booze and sex and everything that goes with it. It’s upbeat, vicious and fun. Wishbone unites the crowd with mountains of charisma. In many ways he feels like an MC, rallying the audience to his side, making sure that what the band are doing is being heard, and what the crowd is doing is dancing.
Their new album Business saw the band take a less blues-driven approach with everything being a bit smoother, with softer edges and a callous centre – much like an aged rye. The tracks are more focused, with big vocals and harmonies driving melodic guitar work and bold, yet simple, drums. What is left is a band that are at their peak. They have built a fan-base with their unavoidable charisma and manic live shows that people want to go to purely to watch. Now they have an album under their belt with songs that are more widely accessible, and when combined in a live context, with make for a truly inebriating experience. Just don’t pass out before the end.
You can catch The Snowdroppers on their Gluttons For Punishment tour, supported by The Hard Aches, The Strums and Twin Fires, at the following dates:
Saturday, 20th February – The Foundry, Brisbane
Friday, 26th February – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Friday, 4th March – Howler, Melbourne
Get tickets here.
Business is out now.