With tunes rooted in classic rock ’n’ roll while boasting a contemporary flair, Chay Snowdon is one of the UK’s most engaging acts on the rise. I sat down with their frontman (whose name the band shares) to discuss the group’s creative process in lockdown, their eagerly awaited EP, and their post-pandemic plans.

“I’m really influenced by Western-era films, so [‘Tough Guys Die First’] was sort of influenced by those old-school, big Hollywood blockbusters”

Based in Plymouth, the four-piece band’s sound straddles indie-rock and traditional rock ‘n’ roll. Two of the bandmates met at school, with the other two joining at uni and finally settling on the current members after line-up changes typical of nascent groups. “We’ve been together about, I don’t know, six years, something like that? It was just a shot in the dark,” the singer-songwriter tells me with a coyness which is non-existent when he’s performing. The adrenaline his anthems induce and the acuity of his lyricism betray the variety of his influences. “Someone I’d love to cover one of my tunes, ’cause I’d love to see what she would do with it, would be someone like Lana Del Rey,” he says, “or for Mark Ronson to get his hands on it, ’cause whatever he touches seems to go to number one!” Their slick style and bold sound, reminiscent of past golden eras of rock, suggest such a crossover would feel natural. He continues: “Any era… dead or alive, then we would go from Elvis Presley, definitely”: the influence of the late icon is so strong that Snowdon has drawn comparisons to him.

Noting the band’s unique presence, I ask the frontman what he thinks sets them apart from their contemporaries. After careful consideration, he acknowledges “energy” as the key. “I’ve been to a few gigs and I look around and just think people are going through the motions sometimes! But I think we just always try to bring the energy, no matter how we’re feeling, we always try and push through it, no matter what’s going on in our lives. We want people to move: we want people to come to the shows and dance, we don’t want them to just sit there. Either they can sit and read into the lyrics, if they wanna do that, or they can listen to the music and get really into it.”

Pictured above, the lead singer says "energy" sets Chay Snowdon apart from the rest.instagram/chaysnowdon

The frontman, who writes all the band’s lyrics, has a light-hearted approach to his songwriting. “I wanna put a bit of a jovial spin on everything. I don’t want it to be just deadpan lyrics, I want it to be a little fun that people can read into. A little bit conversational as well, you know?” This is exactly what you can expect from the band’s highly anticipated debut EP, Are You Sitting Comfortably? “We’ve definitely gone slightly heavier [in sound] this time. But there’s also a few tunes that people will recognise from if they’ve been to a live show.” Slated for release in early 2021, latest single ‘Tough Guys Die First’ gives a glimpse into the upcoming project: a thrilling anthem carried by heavy drums, snarling guitars and the lead singer’s commanding vocals promising the ultimate demise of the bad guy. Backed by posters of cowboy films, he explains the inspiration behind the song: “I’m really influenced by Western-era films and things like that, so it was sort of influenced by those old-school, big Hollywood blockbusters, set in a modern setting.”

As with all musicians, the pandemic had a significant impact on Chay Snowdon, affecting the creation of the EP. “The week we went into lockdown, we were supposed to be going into the studio, so then we had to wait about three and a bit months before we could get back in there again, so it put plans on hold, but I think that might’ve helped the creativity, having that length of time to just continue to work on stuff,” the frontman admits.

“I wanna put a bit of a jovial spin on everything. I don’t want it to be just deadpan lyrics, I want it to be a little fun that people can read into.”

Even with this roadblock, not all was lost. “We’ve got this online rehearsal thing that we use,” he continues, “and we were jamming on there at least once a week, trying out new ideas and stuff like that. And then when we eventually got together, it was just sort of really tied-in.”

As well as completing the EP (“it’s all ready to go, it’s just sat on my laptop, ready to be put out there”), they gifted fans with a soulful virtual performance of their track 'Men Cry Too!' Lauded by the likes of BBC 6 Music for its earnest message, the 2019 song feels oddly fitting today during a time where many find themselves struggling to communicate. Chay begins, after careful thought, “I suppose it’s just about trying to get people to talk a little bit more, you know? Not even just men, a lot of people feel they can’t open up or talk and it’s such a shame, you know? ’Cause there’s no need to be suffering, or anything like that, in silence.” The songwriter reveals he struggled to create it and was nervous to release it, “because you don’t know how stuff like that is gonna be received, but for me it was put out with the best intentions of just a young lad myself trying to figure it all out. Even if it gets one person to think, “Actually I’m not feeling my best,” and they went and spoke to someone, that would be brilliant.”


Mountain View

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Having spent the year finishing up the EP, the group are eager to keep grinding. “I wouldn’t take a break, I reckon. I’ve been writing, and there’s a couple of tunes that I’m really liking at the minute, so, when we can get together again, the lads and I, we’re definitely gonna have a look at those. And then, the minute we can tour, the minute we can get out there, it’s definitely something we’re gonna do.” For obvious reasons, the live scene ground to a complete halt this year, which stopped the band from playing as many shows as they would have liked – a real shame, given how well their music translates to live venues. With festivals like Liverpool Sound City and Y-Not already under their belt, plus a past supporting gig for the Sherlocks, Chay Snowdon are anxious to get back on the road. “We’re really itching to get back out there. I think being together, being on the road, being in the van, going from place to place, we really miss all that. Getting in front of a live crowd… we’ve never actually been able to play the EP in front of a live audience yet and that’s really gutting. It’s our favourite part of the process of being in a band.”

Forced to cancel a highly anticipated show this autumn, the lads hope they can reschedule it to coincide with the release of the new music next spring, showing no plans of slowing down post-Covid: “We just think, people are generally paying to be there, you gotta give them the best experience, and we can’t not do that now!”