Hard-hitting rockers Snew released their latest album You’ve Got Some Nerve this past September. The album kicks off with the ultra catchy “UR Freaking Me Out,” a rockin’ track that sets the tone for the entire album. From rock anthems like “Holy Hell” to the trippy “Revolution Is A Closed Loop,” You’ve Got Some Nerve is the most ambitious record of the band’s career.
Rock Confidential has partnered with Snew to premiere their new video, “Acetylene Queen.”
Speaking exclusively to Rock Confidential, frontman Curtis Don Vito comments about the video: “It’s track three on the album. It just might be the heaviest song Snew ever recorded. Big and metallic. The video was all shot live at the Hard Rock Hell Festival in Wales on November 9, 2018. Some of the scenes in-between are us at various places along the way in England. It was the first time we played the UK and it was amazing. We made a lot of friends over there. The Brits are awesome and LOVE their Hard Rock and Metal.”
We caught up with Curtis Don Vito to talk about the new album, working in the studio with legends of the industry, and his motivations and influences as an entertainer.
Thank you for taking time out for this! How are things going?
Please tell me about how much time you spent putting your new record together, who was involved and your expectations for You’ve Got Some Nerve.
We spent a good year writing, working on the arrangements, doing pre-production and recording. We worked once again with our long time producer Bobby Owsinski, he’s been with us from the beginning. Grammy winner J.J. Blair turned the knobs and got us the sound on this record at his studio in the Hollywood Hills. It was an amazing experience I really enjoy myself. We all had a blast recording this one.
When you first started working on You’ve Got Some Nerve, did you approach songwriting differently than previous records? How would you explain your writing process?
We approached the songs the way we always do. Write songs we want to listen to for years to come. It’s as simple as that. After playing and listening back to the songs 50 times or so, if we still dig it it’s a keeper, if not we toss it. We hold ourselves to the standard of the music fans we are. If we bought this album from some other band are there any tracks we’d hit the skip button on. If there are any of those we don’t put them on the record.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
Get to the studio whenever “downbeat” is (downbeat is our producers term for when we are supposed to start that day), the guys tune their guitars and drums while I get some coffee. If it’s a new track with different guitars and amps or a different drum kit we spend an hour or two or three just getting the sounds right, selecting mics and experimenting with mic placement. Then we get to play. We run down the song a couple of times just to get warmed up then we do takes. We take each song three times in a row then listen back. If one grabs us as “the” one we move on if not we take it again. It’s all done live as a band at this point and add overdubs later. I usually do my “real” lead vocal after all the band’s tracks are laid and just do “scratch” vocals with the band during basic tracks but sometimes we keep some of the “scratch” vocals. It all depends. I could go on with every excruciating detail but that’s a pretty good outline of our days in the recording studio.
Four albums and a decade later, Snew has worked with several some amazing production personnel. As a music fan, what was it like working with people like Bobby Owsinski, Ed Cherney, and Ken Scott? How did they inspire you as an artist?
Those guys, all of them are the real deal music legends. Those dudes have recorded and/or produced some of the biggest albums in rock history. I could go on and on about each one individually but just look them up and you’ll see what I’m talking about. So just having their interest in the first place meant they approve of having Snew on their resume. For me it means somehow I’ve crossed the divide from being just a musician with the dream of being a recording artist to truly being one. As an artist, it’s not about popularity so much as creating something that matters, recording albums that stand up next to all those others I’ve spent my life in awe listening to. Working with Bobby, Ed and Ken means somehow I achieved that. Let me tell you, those guys didn’t do it for the money either, we didn’t have much. About all we gave them was enough to pay for gas and lunch and not much else. They each got involved because they liked what we were doing. There’s no bigger complement I could ever receive. How’s that for inspiration?
What keeps you motivated?
My love of music and performing and singing. It’s what I do and I’m addicted to it. To stop doing it would be like asking me to stop breathing.
Who are some of your influences? Was there a particular artist that had more of an impact?
Growing up my parents were jazz musicians so I heard lots of Wes Montgomery, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett and people like that. It definitely had an impact on my sense of melody and musical arrangement. Once I got a little older I found Rock, Hard Rock, Metal. Bands like Sabbath, Priest, UFO, ZZ Top, Motorhead, Dio and all those bands. But Kiss was the one that made me imagine being on stage and electrifying a crowd. They’re so big and loud and over the top. Something inside me said “I want to do THAT.”
What are your thoughts on how new music is promoted now?
DIY baby. It’s not only do-able but the only serious choice for an artist with a vision and is motivated enough to see it through. It used to be that you needed a major label to accomplish anything. That’s not true anymore. It also used to be that there were hundreds if not thousands of labels. Now there’s like five. Five mega corporations that control all of the musical mainstream and they want to keep competition to a minimum. So guess what? The decision has been made to eliminate Rock music from the landscape because we bands and fans are too hard to control. People these days think Rock is dying but we are far from dead. From what I can see there are more Rock fans than ever. The MSM is just ignoring us deliberately. If you’re in a Rock band you gotta go DIY.
What was the first album you bought with your own money growing up?
The Beatles, Revolver. I has like seven or eight and my parents were taking us on a camping trip and I was tired of listening to their music all the time on the tape player in the camper. I knew I wanted to get a Rock album but at that time the only Rock band I knew by name was The Beatles so I went to the record store and asked the guy behind the counter to recommend a Beatles album. He sold me Revolver.
What will SNEW be up to in 2019?
Writing more songs and playing more shows. I hope!
Thanks again Curtis! What would you like to say to wrap up?
Thanks for talking to me and letting me go on a tangent or two. And thanks for premiering our new video. To everyone reading this, find me and message me. I love meeting new people. There’s lots to talk about. The band and myself are all over the web so it should be easy to find me.