Being ballsy: That’s a mantra that a lot of people wish they lived by. Artists that take the most chances are either rewarded by huge fame or huge infamy. Some don’t give a shit either way. Storytellers are nothing new in America. There have been plenty of them that have achieved success. The likes of Bob Dylan, Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine, Johnny Cash and Jim Croce are some of my personal favorites. Who carries that torch nowadays though? Who speaks their mind, while challenging yours? My answer to that is Todd Snider. Todd blends a bit of each of those artists and throws in his own flair for good measure. He is currently on tour promoting his 12th album, titled Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, which with a title like that, you know the man is ready to throw some fuel on some fires.
Luckily, we’re joined by the man himself, Mr. Todd Snider. First off, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and welcome to the Unsung Melody family.
You have a ton of irons in the fire so to speak, so let’s jump right in. Your newest album, Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables, has more balls than all the bulls in Texas. It’s a twisted, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes cynical, sometimes pissed off, always inspiring look at life that’s obviously resonating with people. Was there a particular incident that sparked the idea for this album or were the songs written over time and amassed as a collection?
Collected over a couple of years. I don’t know the themes and stuff till somebody else tells me.
While I don’t agree with everything on the album, there is a lot of truth there and I can certainly appreciate that. I’m always curious how a songwriter is struck by inspiration. It takes a different perspective than most to even write a song, especially ones that are thought provoking. I can point to individuals who have shaped who I’ve become. Who inspired your perspective on life, that ultimately led to the storytelling side of songwriting?
It was a guy named Kent Finlay. You can find him in Martindale, TX or in San Marcos at a place called the Cheatham Street Warehouse.
One of my favorites on the album is Big Finish. There’s blues. There’s Americana. There’s fiddle. There’s great harmonies. Give me a little insight into how that song came together.
Lately people have been reaching out in different ways to me because they think I am on some drug or something. I do take as many drugs as I act like I do, but when people ask questions in the interviews that we have asked them to do, often times the only way to answer sounds pouncy, ’cause it’s like, open your heart, etc. ….boring. Then people babble about the music business all the time too, and ain’t nobody got time for none of that. When my burnout friends read other bands’ interviews, we agree that all of us, including ourselves, are almost as pretentious as a root note and the wisest and most soulful answer that you can give in response to how some music got together is just words. Words like kick, ass, party, rock, and roll, and fuck, and rock, and drinking, and roll, and drug, titties, and fuck a bunch a gateway bullshit. High as all fuck, all get rocked, be wasted and throw fucking goats, and party balls, ’cause what else really? You know? Besides the fucking Fonz like good times. We were going for great, only better, and missed again. That’s the point.
I also thoroughly enjoy the sarcasm in Precious Little Miracles. Your music isn’t the only thing you’ve been involved with recently. You are appearing in a documentary style film titled East Nashville Tonight. How did that come about?
My friends, the Barnes brothers from Brooklyn, come to our neighborhood a lot and wanted to make a documentary. In all honesty, you could only really call it a documentary of me and my friends being goaded into shit by two of our other friends, who were also filming, and we end up putting on a show. The movie reminds me of ‘Lil Rascals.
Will there be any new music or a soundtrack from the film that the fans can expect?
I think so. There are about ten or so full songs in the movie.
East Nashville is a bit of a growing Mecca for the outlaw, alternative, Americana style songwriters. Could East Nashville be the new or next Greenwich Village?
It’s the new great, only better… but like anything cool, it was cooler before. Quaint little drinking town with a smidge of a musician problem.
You’ve also written a book that’ll be released next year. It’s titled, I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like. Tell me a bit about it.
My friend Peter Cooper actually wrote it, I think. I just talked his face off like I always do and he typed and we got paid for it. I liked it when I read it, and I hope it doesn’t bum any friends out.
All of this is of course due to your music, which you’re about to take back out on the road. What’s in store for the fans on this jaunt?
I just finished a long solo run with lots of talking and instrument switching. Now I think I have about seven of those left, and after that I sing in the band for a small sporadic tour. Lord willing, creek depth, etc…
Alright, I like to end interviews on a random question. I read you are a San Francisco Giants fan. So today, I thought I’d ask you something baseball related. Former Giants great Matt Williams (I’m more of a Will Clark fan. He had the sweetest swing ever.) was named manager of the Washington Nationals. How do you think he’ll fare as a big league manager?
I don’t know that much about it. I just like the Giants ’cause I am a rain baby from Oregon, and we never had our own teams. So we took theirs. I know Willie McCovey and Willie Mayes stuff and that’s about it.
Todd, I thank you very much for your time and we wish you all the best. You’ll be making a stop in my hometown of Lexington, KY at Buster’s. Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town, but hopefully Clark and all the guys there take good care of ya.
Preview or purchase Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables below:
Todd Snider – If Tomorrow Never Comes: