Curtis Don Vito - Snew - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Matt Phelps   
Friday, 18 June 2010 05:00

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Introducing Curtis Don Vito, the front quarter of Cali rockers Snew. Having just released their second, hard rockin' album 'We Do What We Want', Snew are busily taking over the world with incendiary live shows that are so good they've never had a gig from hell. Backing up the live attack with an almost obsessive pursuit of new fans over the internet, the Califorian four piece are relentless in the quest for world Snewpremacy. We managed to wrestle Curtis away from cyber stalking for a few minutes and got him to sit down (but not calm down) for a chat with Über Röck. From James Brown to Motorhead all bases are covered. So sit back and enjoy the show as we get Snewed, Blued and Tattooed with Curtis Don Vito!

 

Hey Curtis, Thanks for taking the time to chat with Über Röck today, it's much appreciated. So without wasting your time further let's get stuck into the interview!!! Let's start with the line-up if we can. Three Californians and a Belgian? Sounds more like a wine list than a rock group. How long have Snew been together and how did you guys get together in the first place?

 

Actually Andy is from Luxembourg. I'm not sure they even make wine over there. I think that's why he moved to California. Andy and I met in late 2005 through a friend. Andy knew Cat and I knew Mark. It must have been destiny. Either that or we were the only ones left in Lossnew2 Angeles that still wanted to make this kind of music.

 

Secondly, who on earth came up with the name SNEW and what is it supposed to mean or represent?


It's a mystery even to us. All I can tell you is shout SNEW YOU at the top of your lungs to a total stranger and you'll know exactly what it means.

 

You've just released your second album - which we'll come to in a minute - but your debut 'Snew You' got quite a lot of positive feedback. Were you surprised at all by how well it was received and how quickly Snew took off?


People love that record. It did take off pretty fast. It's always a surprise when people tell you they love you, especially when you get it from metalheads all over the world at once. It was awesome! That's the essence of what "Snew You" means. I think everybody has picked up on that.

 

A large part of your assault on the rocking public has been based around the internet, hasn't it? Plenty of bands have a website and a myspace but you've got band profile pages on virtually every website under the sun. How on earth do you find the time to keep everything up to date, and give us an example of the more elusive sites people would be able to find Snew on?


The Internet is an amazing place; you can talk to and hang out with the whole planet. It's one big party. When you are at a party you don't just want to hang out in a corner somewhere, at least I don't. You get up, walk around and meet everybody. That's basically how we wound up on so many sites, just going from one spot to the next partying with everyone out there. Meet some folks here and they introduce you to folks over there. Then we get invites from others to go somewhere else and show our faces. I guess it takes a lot of time but I don't even notice because its constant action snew3and I love being in the thick of it. Where else can you find us besides the big three? You name it we're there and if we are not, email me so Snew can join the party. I mean it....EMAIL ME! This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

I guess your time online has just increased again now that you have the new album 'We Do What We Want' to push? How's the campaign going so far and how's the reaction been to the new record?

 

The reaction has been over the top positive. Fans, DJs, magazines all give it the big thumbs up. It's kind of like it was with the first album. Just putting it out there and seeing who wants to crank it up. Existing Snewheads really dig it and they are telling everybody. The thing that makes it so much like the first one is that so many people who've never heard of Snew before are finding it, loving it and telling their friends. The new fans didn't even know about the first album so they are getting a double dose of Snew right from the start. It's awesome. The Snew World Order is growing into a monster that gets bigger everyday. It's gonna get ya. I'm very pleased.

 

The new songs sound like they're bristling with vibrance and spontaneity. How long did it take to write them and get them in shape ready to record?


We started writing songs for this record immediately after we finished 'Snew You' which was late summer 2008. Every time we wrote a new song we tested it out at a show, usually somewhere here in L.A. to see how it went over live. If the crowd responded it was a keeper. We wanted to put it out in 2009 but things always take longer than you expect and when Ed Cherney said he wanted to be involved we got really excited. Ed's a busy guy, Grammy winner, in big demand by artists like The Stones, Clapton, Iggy Pop, the list goes on, so we had to work around his schedule a bit. It paid off though. Between our producer Bobby Owsinski andsnewcover Ed doing the recording and mixing, taking a little extra time was well worth it. It's the best thing we've done to date.

 

What are your personal favourites from the new disc?


All of it. It's like one big long song to me.

 

I think 'Feedback And Distortion' perfectly represents what 'We Do What We Want' has to offer. You've made a video for that one featuring some of your fans. Tell us a bit about the making of the video, did you encounter any difficulties orchestrating everything?


I love that song. It's an air guitarist's dream. At the shows we tell everyone to "Get out your Air Guitar, we're gonna make some Feedback and Distortion". That's how the idea for the video came about. While we were in the studio recording we got Ed, Bobby, the owner of the Village recording studio and some of the staff to play air guitar on video for us and it looked so great we then asked all our other fans, DJs, folks from the magazines and websites to send in videos of themselves playing air guitar. It did take a while. Not everyone had a video cam, some were too "shy" and we couldn't film them ourselves since we had them coming in from all over the world. In the end we got more than enough and we jammed them all together into the final video. It's my favorite vid of all time. If you haven't seen it just go to YouTube, our site or hundreds of others on the Net. You gotta see it. EVERYBODY PLAY GUITARRRRR!

 

Lyrically Snew have a fun and almost tongue in cheek style that compliments the freshness of the music, the songs are firmly based in the lighter side of life. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

 

Just being alive and being in this crazy rock band. You gotta have a sense of humour to even be in a band otherwise you'll go insane. Which I am, I am... no I AM. That's what I said... oh, right. What? Nevermind. You were saying? Oh yeah, the lighter side. It's rock 'n' roll man - what other inspiration do you need? Just get your head out of your work, politics, daily strife and mayhem and RAWK! At least once a day you have to hit the reset button on your head snew4and the best way I know how to do that is to play some loud ass hard rock music. Even if it's just for 3 or 4 minutes, you put on your favorite Motorhead, Judas Priest or Snew song and it's party time. All is right with the world once again.

 

So does the light hearted, fuck tomorrow approach of Snew reflect how you guys are in your own daily lives outside the band?


It's not about fuck tomorrow. It's that tomorrow is today. It's always NOW and it will ALWAYS BE NOW. That's all there is. Ever. That's what 'We Do What We Want' is all about. You're here, it's now, you better be doing what you want because whether you realize it or not... you ARE.

 

For some of our readers who may never have heard of Snew until now could you pick 5 songs by other artists that you think give a pretty clear indication of what Snew are all about both musically and lyrically?


'Over The Top' by Motorhead, 'Deuce' by Kiss, 'Heading Out To The Highway' by Judas Priest, 'Blitzkrieg Bop' by Ramones, 'Kick Out The Jams' by MC5.

 

And which one song by someone else, old or new, do you wish you Snew had written for themselves and why?

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Every song by Motorhead. Do you really have to ask?

 

Your albums were bridged by a cover you did of 'Highway Star'. How did you end up doing that one?


We did that song with the amazing Allan Holdsworth and every serious guitar player reading this knows exactly who he is. Allan and I have been friends for many years and we always wanted to do something together but somehow between his endless touring schedule and whatever I was up to at the time it never happened. So when the opportunity came last year before we started working on our next album I gave Allan a call to see what he was up to. He had some time before his next tour so I asked if he'd be up for doing something with Snew just too finally do something together. He was totally up for it and the timing was perfect for all of us. Question was, what were we going to do? Cat and I had discussed if we were ever going to do a cover maybe doing a Snewed up version of 'Highway Star'. We never actually did it since we really just love writing our own songs. But, I got to thinking about it and that it would be a perfect song to do with Allan. Allan's style is light-years away from what we do but I knew that if anybody was going to take on Ritchie Blackmore and just go completely millennium with it, it was Allan Holdsworth. The guys thought it was a great idea and to my surprise so did Allan. So there you have it. I finally got to record with my friend and the world now has the most off the wall version of a Deep Purple song ever.

 

You have hell of a powerful voice. Who were some of the vocalists you looked up to and maybe styled your ... um ... style on?


Believe it or not James Brown taught me how to scream, that man invented the art of the scream. Every hard rock and heavy metal wailer out there owes it to the "Godfather of Soul". I could go on for days about whom else I have learned a thing or two from but that would give me carpel tunnel from all the typing.

 

When was the first time you realised you had what it takes to be a singer? Was music something that played a big part in your childhood?

 

After I got kicked out of my very first band and actually managed to find another one I thought, hmm, maybe I don't suck after all. Music was always a big part of my life. Hell, I was born on the road while my parent's band was on tour. They didn't do rock 'n' roll of course, they played jazz. My dad plays guitar and my mom occasionally played drums but mostly sang. She sounds like a cross between Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee. Amazing singer, I guess it's in the blood.

 

Sadly we've lost quite a few rock soldiers this year, Pete Steele, Paul Gray and the mighty Ronnie James Dio all now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bon Scott, Eric Carr and Dimebag etc. If you were given the job of picking the line up for Rock 'n' Roll Heaven's ultimate band who would you pick. (You can have 2 guitarists if you like!)


I went to Ronnie James Dio's memorial service, hundreds if not thousands of people showed up. It was an emotional day. We are all going to miss him so much.


OK. I'll put Ronnie on vocals, Dimebag and Johnny Ramone on guitar, Peter Steele on bass and Eric Carr on drums but at the end of the set Bon Scott is gonna come out for an encore of 'Highway To Hell'. Now that's Heaven!

 

So do you have any touring plans to support 'We Do What We Want' and might we see you in the UK or Europe sometime soon?


We're planning a summer tour now, and YES we do plan to tour the UK and Europe. We just need to find a good European booking agent. Know any? Have them contact me snew5IMMEDIATELY! Our bags are packed and our passports are current. We "gotta gotta get it to GO!"

 

Apart from Snew what other bands would you suggest we keep an eye on in 2010?


All of them. Any and every hard rock and metal band in the world, baby. There's an explosion of metal happening out there these days, thank God. Support them all. It's our only defense against all that other boring stuff we've had to endure over that last decade. Hold on to your butts, we're taking over!

 

Anything you'd like to add before you go?


SNEW YOU! Say it once a day to a complete stranger and the world will be a better place. Visit us at snewyou.com, email us, and join the Snew World Order. I guarantee you if you write us we'll write you back. Now get out there and DO WHAT YOU WANT!!!

 


Once again thank you for talking to us today and good luck spreading the Snew testament \m/