Snowy Shaw doesn’t require a big introduction as he is an artist with a 30-year career that has participated in the past in many and well known bands (like Therion, King Diamond, Denner/Sherman, Dream Evil, Memento Mori and Notre Dame). This period he is about to release his first solo album, “White is the New Black”, and Rock Overdose had the chance to speak with him.
Rock Overdose: Hello Snowy and welcome to Rock Overdose. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your new album. Can you tell us a few words about it?
Snowy Shaw: Hello yourself and thanks for having me. I can tell you an awful lot about this first studio album if you want. For starters, my first as a solo artist that is, and in the truest sense of the word, as literally everything you hear and see on it is all done by yours truly. However, I have invited a few friends to participate and grace the album with their special guests appearances, like Ross the Boss (ex-Manowar) Lars Johanson (Candlemass), Mike Wead (King Diamond) and to share some vocals with me, we have Niklas Stålvind (Wolf) Niklas Isfeldt (Dream Evil) Joakim Brodén (Sabaton), Jake E (ex-Amaranthe) Not to forget, the forefather of shock rock - Arthur Brown, The God of Hellfire himself.
Moreover, I’ve mixed it together with Fredrik ”Fredman” Nordström, Arnold Lindberg, Johan Forsman etc. Might seem a little odd to use several different guys on one and the same album but I can assure you that I have very good reasons for doing so.
White is the New Black is first part of a much bigger operation and consists of 2 songs each from 6 different albums to be released one per year from now on. Each with its unique concept, musical direction and lyrical theme. If you will, it’s The Essential Snowy Shaw, only in reverse.
Rock Overdose: ‘’White is the new black’’…. What is the meaning, the story or the concept of this title?
Snowy Shaw: Generally speaking I much rather have people interpret and decipher my lyrics for themselves. Because of the way I write, I decided many years ago not to go into deep detail and elaborately try explain the often multifaceted layers of ambiguity, metaphors and hidden meanings behind my song lyrics. Lyrics that might perhaps superficially seem like poetically written abstract nonsense, and that obviously goes for titles too.
On the other hand, as you can see in my video for Krampus for instance, I’m all dressed in white in a fairytale-esque wintery landscape where I’m snow-white (minus the seven dwarves at this occasion). It’s no secret that metal and rock has since its inception been dressed in black, rebelliously dismal and against the grain and norm. But where do you go when that has become the norm? White is the New Black.
Rock Overdose: What are your expectations from this album?
Snowy Shaw: I try not to have any expectations as such, but I hope it’s gonna have the desired snowball effect that will grant me the opportunity to give bigger and better live shows to more people and provide me a good firm platform to create and express my artform. Yeah, go ahead a call me a hippie if you want, but to this day I still insist on consider it an artform as opposed to a commercial commodity.
Rock Overdose: Did you consider making a solo album for a long time? Why did it take so long for you to release a solo album and how much time did it take to complete?
Snowy Shaw: As I mentioned in the beginning, this is not so much making ”a” solo album as to pursuing a career as a solo artist. Yes, I’ve thought about it for many years, having been in and out of countless bands in search of happiness and fulfillment. As far as I’m concerned those days are now officially over and I’ll be sailing under my own flag for the rest of my days. Besides, my namesake solo act is the only one I can never quit! Hahahaha! (Until I die that is )
It took me quite a while to reach that conclusion though. I have so much music and creativity bottled up that I just need to express and get out of my system if I’m ever gonna find contentment and satisfaction. It’s highly probable that I have a much higher level of that desire than others and therefore I can’t really function in a band long term unless I’m the main creative motor who writes the vast majority of the music and will in general have an outlet for my creativity in every field and aspect. In short, I’m no follower. And people always say I am what they call a true artist.
Apart from other obstacles that always tends to come in the way, such as life itself. What took the longest time was getting my new studio in order and I kept having so much technical difficulties with updates and malfunctioning devices that wasn’t compatible with the software this and that,.. It took me years and years to get the shit in order and up and running that I was almost in tears out of pure blood-red desperation. It also took me quite a while to come to the conclusion where I’m allowing myself complete artistic freedom and don’t have to limit myself to any specific one style of music, because for years it went in repeated cycles where I’d be all fired up with inspiration and would write intensively the music I loved with one specific direction in mind, until I basically ”overdosed” on it and the following week or period just to balance things up I imagine I would spontaneously go in a completely different direction. Perhaps for instance, less epic dark fairytale ogre metal and more straight rock-punk-glitter-pop with a whole different set of influences, sound and approach. A complex ambivalent personality maybe, but I thrive on variation and diversity and I need to do it all to feel whole. On the third week let’s say, I’d go into yet another musical and emotional direction, and it kept swaying like that which got me more and more confused on what thing I should concentrate on. I figured the ideal scenario for me would be to have 4 different bands or something, but then I recalled all the hassle, drama and trauma that come with that territory. Just trying to put together a simple band rehearsal with 4-5 people normally takes about 90 mails, texts and calls and that I could definitely do without. Not to mention all the other bullshit, so that idea I ditched immediately more or less. But then I figure, what says I can’t do it all on my own? — Well, basically nothing! And so I did.
Rock Overdose: Have you booked some concerts to promote the album?
Snowy Shaw: Yep, we’re planning a European tour for October and November, and then possibly some festivals in Japan, USA and so on before that.
Rock Overdose: The first time I saw you, was with King Diamond in Athens, back in 1990. What do you remember from those concerts in Greece?
Snowy Shaw: I vividly remember that the audience was extremely good and wild like hell. It’s funny that unless something goes completely wrong or something exceptional happens at the show you normally go through the motions and do your thing, so what you remember are the exceptional, weird or bizarre things that happens off stage when visiting a particular country, city or concert hall. Hal Patino and I were out walking the streets the day after the show in Thessaloniki I think when two fans saw and approached us. Hal had a King Diamond T-shirt on and apparently one of the guys really wanted that. None of them could speak English very well, and had to use a combination of sign language and words to get the message across. Apparently his friend offered Hal to give him fellatio, or suck his dick in exchange for the T-shirt. Whereupon Hal got completely mad and started chasing the guys down the street like a cartoon figure and I was on my knees laughing.
I also remember that we had one of few days off on the tour in Athens where most of the band and crew went to Acropolis whereas I stayed in the hotel thinking I’d do that tourist thing next time around, like the following year or so. Strangely enough I didn’t make it back to Athens until 2007 then on tour with Therion but then was too hung over to go. Again touring Greece in 2010 I finally made it. So it took me 20 years to cross that tourist trap off my bucket list. I love Greece though and it’s one of my favorite places for vacation.
Rock Overdose: King Diamond’s fans love you and would like to see you again with the band for an album or some live concerts. Being a huge King Diamond fan, I have to ask you: Is something like that possible? Have you talked with King about such a possibility?
Snowy Shaw: I know there’s been rumors circulating about it off and on over the years, and on a few occasions it’s been up for discussion, but I don’t wanna say any more about that. I think King is perfectly happy with the steady line up he has now and they are bigger than ever, so I’m happy for him.
Rock Overdose: The illegal download of albums and tracks, is a huge damage for the artists and the record labels. Tell us your opinion about it….
Snowy Shaw: These days I’m not so concerned about illegal downloading as Spotify as such streaming platforms are fully legal where you pay a monthly fee that unfortunately doesn’t end up in the pocket of the artist, in most cases. The whole game plan has changed completely for musicians with internet. As have the entire industry and it’s easy to count those bands that can provide a decent livelihood from their music alone these days.
Rock Overdose: We are not a political magazine, but the worldwide economic crisis is certainly the biggest factor in reducing albums sales. Furthermore, we see that fewer fans go to live concerts. Personally, have you experienced something like that?
Snowy Shaw: That’s a good policy. I don’t think music and politics belong in the same bed together. Again, I think the ridiculously easy access to practically everything through internet has resulted that it all has lost its former value and glory, and that people are going increasingly spoiled and lazy when everything’s just a click away basically. Everything goes faster and faster and along with it, the attention span are out the window.
Rock Overdose: Can you tell us the funniest thing that has happened in your whole carrier so far…
Snowy Shaw: Funny, somehow it’s always hard to think of one specific thing, or anything for that matter when you get those kind of questions in an interview situation. That although I have whole lifetime of outrageously crazy stories and memories in my baggage. Guess you’ll have to wait until I publish the autobiographical book I’ve been writing on for 10 years now, off and on since I turned 40 and thought my life was over and had a severe midlife crisis. Instead of killing myself I started writing as a form of self-therapy at first to get perspective on things in my messy life. And it actually seemed to work and I came to terms with my depression and then later decided to continue writing and make it into a book. Not anywhere near what you asked for in terms of ”funny” but I can assure you that it’s packed with insanely crazy shit and fun adventures and stories from my life and career.
Rock Overdose: Has any Greek manager contacted you so that your fans could enjoy you in some concerts here in Greece?
Snowy Shaw: Naw,.. I could be mistaken but I think actually not. I receive offers from everywhere in the world, but can’t recall specifically if I’ve gotten any offers from Greece so far. Sadly I must say. I’d love to play Greece again. In fact, I’ve been onto my buddy Gus G about buying a house in Greece since several years back.
Rock Overdose: Snowy Shaw: The man and the musician…What would you say are the similarities and the differences between those two?
Snowy Shaw: There is no difference at all actually. I don’t separate my personal self from my official ditto. Not that I walk around buying groceries dressed as Krampus really but I’m just myself 24/7.
Rock Overdose: In your almost 30-year career you have participated and worked with numerous bands and not only as a musician, but as a producer, a designer, an engineer and a photographer as well. How easy (or not) is it for you to keep changing roles and adjust in them?
Snowy Shaw: Good interesting question. Like I just said on the former question, I don’t see any difference really. I guess I approach it all similarly, with the same passion I suppose. I’m driven by my passion for the creative process in itself and I always try to do my best regardless of what the project is. A little correction is in place here though; I’ve never worked as an engineer. I’m generally totally crappy at anything technical by my own admission due to lack of interest, although I’m forced to learn how to operate many programs and stuff just because I need to in order to create my own ”art” and it’s too difficult to verbally try explain my vision to others and I try minimizing that kind of dependency as much as I can. It’s also an economical question of course.
Rock Overdose: Was the collaboration with all these bands always smooth or there were tensions as well? How is the relationship with the musicians that you have been playing with, in all these years?
Snowy Shaw: I’m still on good friendly terms with all of them basically, but I’d be lying if I said it was always a frictionless, easy going walk in the park to achieve the desired end result when in production. Sounds like a cliché but I don’t believe you can create something really meaningful and great without going through a tough birth. Cutting corners, meeting half way and compromising for the good of the camaraderie, isn’t always to the way go. Primarily I’m there to make good music in the first place, not to make good friends.
Rock Overdose: What are your favorite ten bands?
Snowy Shaw: I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but had you asked me the same question 25-30 years ago the bands would still be the same as now. I don’t listen an awful lot to new or contemporary bands and on those few occasions I do listen it’s almost always my old favorites like Uriah Heep, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Manowar, Candlemass, Nazareth, Sweet, Guns N´Roses, Judas Priest and ABBA. All I care about is good songs and there are loads of songs I really like by various artists or the style and sound of a band like Rammstein for instance but since I left my teens I’ve never been so much of a fanboy and I barely know the names of anyone in the bands for example or album titles and so on.
Rock Overdose: Do you have a message for the Greek fans that wait for your album and maybe some live concerts? Any other last words are yours.
Snowy Shaw: Sure I do. First of all I’d like to say that you better not miss the Live Streamed Release Party on the 21st of April, through my official channel on: www.youtube.com/snowyshawofficial Not only will we play live and party with all the guests I’ve invited home to my house, but I’ll be interacting with the viewers, selling the album, signing the stuff etc etc etc… It’s a never-before-seen world sensational event actually, so share it on your FB pages, Twitter etc and spread the word to all your friends. You can go ahead and pre-order the album or the limited edition deluxe Fan-Pack already at my webshop www.snowyshaw.net/webshop and you’ll get the album a month before it’s released in the stores. Plus you’ll get it signed with some free gifts as well.
Secondly, I would love to play Greece again, and to bring my spectacular show to you, so just hook me up and make me a good offer and we’ll be over as soon as we can fit it into the schedule.
Rock Overdose: Thank you very much for the interview and we wish you all the best for your new album. It was a pleasure talking with a legend like you!!
Snowy Shaw: Thank you so much for the opportunity Yannis. Don’t be a stranger now, you hear me? Talk soon again.
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