A Chat With the Far From L.I.P.D. Daryl Taberski of
Daniel L. Mitchell
The hardest thing about interviewing a band that has been interviewed literally hundreds of times before is keeping things fresh. To consider the interview, and what it is, offers up many revelations. Most interviews are read by people who already like the band and own their material, so it’s not likely that the interview is going to “move some product” for the band. Just as important is the fact that the band member being interviewed is giving up his or her free time and is, in most cases, not being paid for the interview. These things being said and buzzing around in the back of my head, I prepared to interview the lead singer of Snapcase, which is one of the most important and prolific punk rock bands of the past 15 years…
For those of you who are unaware (you should be ashamed!), Snapcase is best known as a brutalizing chugga chugga metal/hardcore band that helped put Victory Records on the map, back in the early ’90s. Their music has progressed over the years, from the unbridled ferocity of 1993’s Lookinglasself, through the refined and indispensable Progression Through Learning; things have matured and have been – dare I say it – perfected with this fall’s experimentally daring, yet still grating End Transmission. Snapcase is a band that has withstood the test of time (existing now 11 years!), not ditched their beliefs (like some of their recently reformed labelmates, with “one tooth,” wink wink, nudge nudge), and have refused to conform. Their lead singer, Daryl Taberski, took some time to talk to me over the phone. They have recently returned from a very successful tour with the rough and tough Boy Sets Fire, and Daryl spoke to me from his home in Buffalo, where he lives with his wife and trusted dog.
Our first topic of discussion was touring. Anyone who has ever been in a band knows that touring is, in and of itself, a wonderful way to spend a few weeks of life. Daryl told me that the tour was very enjoyable and he was quite excited to have his wife along with him. He feels the act of touring isn’t for him now, at 31, what it was when he was younger. The only real joy for him comes from playing shows; other than that, he couldn’t really care less about the whole “life on the road” aspect of touring.
Daryl is far past the infatuation with the road that many young bands often experience. He prefers being at home much more than being on the road; in his younger years, his feelings were quite the opposite, but being in a band for 10+ years can understandably produce such an effect; he has become a much more solitary person over the years. Following the completion of a show, Daryl opts not for hanging around and shooting the breeze, for his preference lies simply in sleep.
Days and nights away from home often produce strange and curious rituals in members of bands. Daryl told me about a funny, but not too shocking ritual he has when preparing for a show; he must always enter the stage from its right side; on nights that he doesn’t, he feels strange and uneasy, so he does all he can to make sure he gets on the stage from the right. Then there’s a relatively funny story about a trip on the road with Avail: he told me about a hot night, long ago, when on stage, Snapcase decided to try to cool down things down a bit. One of the band members went to get a fan, and came back to the stage. Upon plugging in the fan and putting it on the stage to extinguish the sweltering heat, Bobo, Avail’s spastic cheerleader freaked out! He told them about what terrible luck it is to have fans on stage. Hmm…
Daryl has many methods of preparation and recuperation, in terms of Snapcase’s shows. He gives himself an hour or so to prepare for shows, often enjoying soothing beverages and taking Advil to alleviate what will become a terribly beat up throat after the show. He often goes so far as to put Icy-Hot on his throat after a show; younger “punk” kids, destroying your throat to the point of requiring Icy-Hot is punk rock (make a note of that).
Snapcase toured this time around in a rented 15-passenger van, complete with a folding loft. Being a more traditional band, they opt for a road life without television or game systems, choosing instead books and conversation as pastimes. Jon Salemi, Snapcase’s guitarist, is the primary van driver, with other various members and friends taking an occasional turn at the wheel.
The greatest part of touring, obviously, is playing the show. Most people know what a hardcore show looks like from the audience, so I wanted to get another viewpoint from Daryl. The dumbest thing about punk rock (my opinion here) is the audience. That being said, I asked Daryl what the corniest hardcore dance ever was, and he replied simply, “I think they’re all corny.” Touché. I had to pry a bit, but I finally got him to submit that he hates most the “hand clap one, when your arms float above your head.” As a side note, my personal least favorite is The Windmill; please trip the next person you see at a show windmilling. Daryl prefers the olden days of hardcore, when the audience’s moves consisted simply of ram your back into everyone else’s in harmony. His personal favorite, oddly enough, is the Pogo. Go figure.
We then moved on to crowd reaction to the new songs from End Transmission. He told me that the majority of people seemed to really get into the new stuff, and that general reception was quite positive. I asked him about old school Snapcase fans who want more “chugga chugga” and less progression and artistic exploration. He told me that Snapcase has a term for these types of “fans” – they are referred to as L.I.P.D.s, or “Living in the Past, Dude.” To this I laughed with a demonic cackle at how fitting a title it is! Yes!
In terms of End Transmission, which is a wonderful step forward for the band, Daryl told me that it is his favorite Snapcase record ever. He was quick to inform me that he wasn’t just saying that because it’s “the new one,” but he said he really liked getting away from the formulaic hardcore of previous Snapcase records. I asked him about the Jawbox-esque sound of the guitars in “Interrogation,” and he told me that he personally was a Jawbox fan, and that he liked the comparison, but had never thought of it before; the discussion of that song stopped bluntly there, for some reason. I moved onto my favorite End… song, “Ten A.M.;” I asked him if the Cure-sounding guitars has anything to do with Snapcase’s possible love for The Cure, and he told me simply that he had heard that comparison before, but he didn’t really elaborate much on that either.
Our discussion moved next to Victory Records. Most people reading this interview will know that, say eight years ago, there would never have been a band like Student Rick or Reunion Show within a million miles of Victory Records; it was strictly hardcore, mainly straight (“straight edge,” if you must). Was the appearance of what I consider to be rather weak bands a sign of the times? Can a label like Victory no longer survive, as chugga hardcore’s popularity wanes, without branching out to other genres? Daryl told me that Victory is just trying to avoid being too one-sided as a label. If they want to continue to grow, they have to go with what’s popular, at least a little, if they want to survive.
Things began to wind down. I asked Daryl for his thoughts on Morrissey, and he told me that he was a fan! I had already respected Daryl for his feats as Snapcase’s vocalist, but his stock rose even higher at this point. He told me that Morrissey (in The Smiths at the time) was one of the only acceptable non-HC groups to listen to for hardcore kids in Buffalo, early ’80s. Many a Buffalo hardcore kid was into The Smiths in those days.
We ended the discussion with talk of life after Snapcase. Daryl would like to become an electrician or carpenter after Snapcase; he likes to work with his hands, and he enjoys the solitude of said jobs. We said our goodbyes and the conversation ended.
It was really fantastic to talk with Daryl; he’s very well spoken, friendly, and his band is just plain good. It’s too bad I didn’t get to talk to the other Snapcases, but it was very nice of Daryl to speak to me from his home. I tried to avoid the cliché questions asked of Snapcase, but in case you’re wondering, he’s still vegan and no, they won’t be breaking up soon.