TRICK OR TREAT
With Snowy Shaw
Snowy Shaw is a hell of a creative guy and is not only known for his remarkable drum work with King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Memento Mori, Dream Evil, tons of other bands and recently Denner/Shermann, the man has shown quite some diversity for also being a singer for Therion, being a bass player for Dimmu Borgir, a tour drummer for Sabaton, a guest vocalist for Kamelot and being the driving force behind the disbanded horror act Notre Dame as well, just to name a few. Snowy Shaw also works as a producer, session musician, does make his own artwork, designs, clothing and merchandise and above that he runs his own label Wunderwurld Music. In short: a very busy, multitasking guy who has apparently also a big interest in spooky stuff, which easily leads to the first question since 31 October is getting closer.
How are you going to celebrate Halloween this year?
,,I haven’t really made any plans yet actually. We’re releasing the new album `Hang High’ of Mad Architect on Halloween 31th October and we’ve been talking loosely about doing something online for the occasion. I’m also invited to a big party in Copenhagen. So we’ll see.’’
What is `Hang High’ all about and why should people buy this album?
,,Well, for starters it’s a fabulously great sounding album on double vinyl which I have not only produced and handle all vocals, drums and bass on, I have also co-written the material, done the artwork and released it on my own label Wunderwurld Music. It is actually quite unique and original and defies every subgenre of rock/metal on the contemporary scene. Hard to describe really, but it’s rooted a lot more in seventies Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath than In Flames or Architects if I may say so, and probably a dash of `Sad Wings Of Destiny’ era Judas Priest.’’
Why did you choose for shock like artwork here?
,,What’s shocking about it? That I’m hung from my neck in a tree, naked and with only a star covering my private parts? It was just a spin off from one of the songs called ,,Hang High’’. Initially we didn’t have any ideas for an album title nor for the artwork design. Then I just brainstormed and came up with this concept which I thought was very cool in the way you fold out the double gatefold album.’’
Where does your fascination for horror and comics come from?
,,From beyond the grave of course, hahaha! But seriously, it laid the foundation of my childhood in the early seventies with the boom of Hammer horror films and Marvel and EC comics of classic monsters, which then subsequently made a natural transition into shock rock like Alice Cooper and KISS and not to forget Scooby Doo. Hard to miss how great that influence was in the formation of my own band Notre Dame about a hundred years later. To this day this fascination may still be a big part of my expression; visually, stylistically and musically but it’s certainly not in everything I do. Dream Evil and Ill Will for example had completely different artistic themes and directions.’’
What scares the shit out of you these days?
,,The influence of Islam.’’
Who has been your most important role model to become the Showy Shaw-character as an artist?
,,If you put it like that I don’t have any good answer really. It’s not an act. I don’t separate the private and official version of myself. I’m just myself. Of course there are tons of things, artists and whatnot that influenced me and made a big everlasting impression on me and shaped my perception and persona, like Alice Cooper, KISS, Joey DeMaio & Manowar and Uriah Heep. I can’t say I’ve had any particular role model although there are many I admire, respect and idolize basically because they have integrity and stay true to themselves: producer Bob Ezrin, Swedish illustrator and painter John Bauer, Mikkey Dee, Tim Burton, Leif Edling & Candlemass, Bruce Dickinson, David Bowie and Arthur Brown. So you could perhaps say it’s a mix of all of them as I’ve been influenced. We all get influenced and have our heroes but you can’t be a copycat. The ones I admire are best at being themselves so I try being the best “Snowy” I can be on my own terms.’’
So there is no difference between Showy Shaw on stage or in private?
,,I hate to disappoint you but I’m just always me, and Snowy Shaw is my legal name you know. The music may trigger certain emotions that I enhance while performing and a little less off stage but I don’t dissimulate myself. Don’t we all to some extent have to behave and restrain ourselves a little in different types of situations? Do I headbang and do the devil horns while at the bank? No, but I never do that otherwise either.’’
Do you have limits in the way you express yourself? Is there something you wouldn’t do on stage or is anything allowed?
,,Well, there’s loads of stuff I wouldn’t do on stage, or off stage for that matter. Like rapping or dancing, not seriously anyway as every fibre in my body just screams Nooooooo! Stop it! You suck! Actually the other year I was thought of for one of the leading roles in a Swedish edition musical theatre version of Rock Of Ages, and it would include dancing which the director was a bit nervous about asking me I heard.’’
What feeling does theatre give you?
,,None really, I rarely if ever attend the theatre normally. If I may give that impression while on stage, a bit on the theatrical and dramatic side it’s just the way it comes out.’’
Does the expression `dress to impress’ suit you?
,,No, I don’t think so, although I’ve always designed the bulk of my stage clothes mainly myself because I can’t find the stuff I want and in the case I do, it doesn’t fit. But further I have never thought about it anyway. You’re aware that I don’t always wear corpse paint, batwings and medieval outfits off stage, right? On Tuesdays I usually don’t because then I go to the gym to do kickboxing.’’
What do you like about kickboxing and is it important these days for you to work out/stay in shape or were you always into working out?
,,My wife introduced me to kickboxing, she’s been doing it forever. It’s a very good exercise that is extremely energy draining. For me it’s very effective to get some of my aggression out of my system. Had MMA been around when I was a kid there’s a fat chance I’d gone for that instead of music, or in combination perhaps. I’ve not always been into training but I gave it a go for a short while some twenty-five years ago, but after a three month Therion tour in late 2010 with pizza and beers every night I noticed I got some love handles, which I didn’t like. So in January 2011 I went to the gym to work it off and have since trying to make my visits at least somewhat regularly. Just getting back in the saddle after a three month break due to all the preparations with my solo tour of Sweden in August.’’
Are you always looking for new challenges and extremes?
,,Not consciously anyway. Not sure what you’re going for here. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, so I’m going to presume you mean that in a musical context. I burn intensely but tend to get easily bored, so I need some sort of perpetual progress and stimulation otherwise I must move on and take on new challenges. If you by extremes referring to the diversity of all the bands and projects I’ve been involved with that vary quite vastly in approach or style, all I can say is that, I see no reason why I should limit myself to please anyone else than myself. As long as I find it appealing, interesting and exciting I give it a go.’’
What gives you the biggest adrenaline rush?
,,When I get to have a creative outlet and flow of some kind, like writing songs for example. Inspiration feeds more inspiration and I love to lose myself in it. There’s no greater rush for me. Apart from great sex maybe.’’
What is your guilty pleasure?
,,I’m not all familiar with the term outside the connection of having “lousy” music taste that you secretly listen to. I guess in order to have a guilty pleasure one must feel ashamed of something that’s not considered hip or cool by the surrounding or your circle of cool friends. I’m not trying to impose an image of Mr self-assured who don’t give a shit what anybody thinks, but truth is I really don’t seek the approval of others, so basically I’m saying that I don’t give a shit right? I like good songs regardless of genre and the only categorization I really care for is filed under `Good Music’. Actually I can think of one guilty pleasure maybe, but that’s in a sexual context and nothing I should elaborate on here.’’
Considering the poster `Be kind to animals or I’ll Kill you’, can we conclude you stand up for animal rights? Do you live eco/green/eating no meat?
,,I feel very strongly for the animals and few things make me as angry and upset as animal cruelty. However, it was never intended as a vegan statement but against sadistic scum who take pleasure in hurting or torturing innocent animals and all the ignorance and neglect of irresponsible pet owners and farm animals. I got so infuriated and sad seeing all these poor animals all over Internet that in affect I put that slogan on a picture of me and posted it on Facebook. When I saw how popular this web poster went on social media I decided to print T-shirts of it and donate all the profits to various Animals Rights organizations and shelters. So help make a difference for a good cause: www.snowyshaw.net/webshop.’’
You re-joined forces with Denner/Shermann and just released the EP `Satan’s Tomb’. How is that for you?
,,That’s all good. The EP was just released with nothing but stellar reviews and fan response. Awfully nice to be back with my old Mercyful Fate pals again. However I will most likely be doing the full length album although I have told them that I most likely won’t be doing any live shows as I need to concentrate hundred percent on my own solo career now before I get too fucking old. Therefore these days I routinely turn down every offer to join bands as a member. It is essential I do set off the time otherwise there’s always something that comes in between. Having said that, it doesn’t stop me from doing the occasional session work. For instance I just finished off last night a session drum album recording for a Spanish extreme metal band. Before that I did vocals for a Bulgarian project and before that played bass on a Norwegian thrash metal album, also featuring Chris Amott and Adrian Erlandsson. Now unless anything unforeseen pops up, like my house burns down or someone dies I intend to start recording my new music that I’ve waited for half an eternity it feels like.’’
Why the waiting?
,,I’ve had massive technical problems setting up my own recording studio over what feels like forever which have prevented me from realizing my plans earlier on along with all the other obligations, like tours, organizing my own time consuming solo shows and life in general. I’ve written shitloads of great material over the years and I have every intention of getting at it now…. still need to prepare every practical detail for the upcoming shows starting next spring.’’
Do you have more surprises coming up in the near future?
,,Take a wild guess….. I’ve always got a bag of tricks (and treats) filled with new exciting projects for those who are interested in joining my Wunderwurld. Join me www.facebook.com/SnowyShawOfficial or www.snowyshaw.net/webshop.’’
How would you like to be remembered after this life?
,,The world is soon coming to an end and I intend to hang in there until the end, so there won’t be any humans around who can remember anyway.’’
Mad Architect albumsampler: