The Snails, a reggae-ska punk band, is gaining momentum in the Philadelphia music scene, regardless of what the band recognizes as an unusual appearance for their respective genre.
Bassist Devon Greider, rhythm guitarist Tim Hildebrand and drummer Josh Parry are all Temple students. Guitarist and lead vocalist Todd Fausnacht attends West Chester University and organist Kyle Williams attends Harrisburg Community College. The members met in high school in Lancaster, Pa.
With the drastic lineup change, after adding Hildebrand, Parry and Williams, came a new musical direction. Reggae became much more prevalent in the band’s sound. Touches of old soul and classic Motown also emerged, and the band mentioned Sam Cooke and the Temptations as notable inspirations.
Since then, the Snails have not only become prominent in the Philadelphia house-show scene but have held their own at bigger Philly venues, such as World Café Live, Union Transfer and the Trocadero. They’ve toured in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.
Last week East Room Recording introduced their “Live From the East Room” series with a 15-minute live performance by the Snails. Within five days of going viral, the video accumulated more than 1,500 views. The folks behind East Room Recording have ties close to Main Campus too, and four people who worked on the video are Temple students.
The band’s upcoming releases include a four-song, 7-inch vinyl under the label Stubborn Records from New Brunswick, N.J. The band is also recording for an anticipated 10-inch vinyl with the Heavy Beat.
And although their music suggests otherwise, rhe Snails don’t plan on being beach bums this summer. Rather, the band is currently contacting agents and promoters to open for a larger touring band. If they do, it won’t be for the first time – they toured with classic Jamaican artist King Django as his backing band last summer.
The Snails will play at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn, N.Y. on March 23 and World Cafe Live in Wilmington, Del. on March 24.
The Temple News: Do people ever cock their heads when you explain what type of music you play?
Tim Hildebrand: There was a guy in New Haven, Conn. that had dreads all the way down his back and had a really thick Jamaican accent. We were talking to him at 7-Eleven and he asked what type of music we play, and we said reggae music and he just kind of laughed. There’s even this band in Lancaster that hates us solely because we’re not black and we play reggae music.
TTN: Do you think that might sometimes work to your advantage?
TH: I mean, we get this a lot. People see us, and we’re young white kids and they think, “This isn’t gonna be good.” And then we play, and it’s a reoccurring thing where people are like, “That wasn’t what we were expecting at all.” It’s also really hard to say if we’re reggae or ska, because of all the different sounds that define reggae or ska.
TTN: You have a pretty impressive list of played venues. Do you have a personal preference?
TH: Personally, my favorite venue is Union Transfer over on Spring Garden Street. The sound is awesome, everyone is so nice. We’ve played shows where we walk in with a water bottle, like a Nalgene bottle, and they’ll kick us out and say, “You can’t have outside drinks!” And we’re like, “We’re in the band, we’re thirsty.” The bouncers are really nice, and we get a really nice dressing room with a Wii. We’ve played there twice and they are really cool.
Josh Parry: There’s this place we play in Scranton a lot at the Vintage Theatre, and for whatever reason people in Scranton really like us. Regardless of how the rest of the show goes, we always enjoy playing our set for people who enjoy watching us.
Devon Greider: There’s something about a college basement show that’s just completely awesome. It’s completely different playing a venue like Union Transfer than playing a basement that’s completely out of control.
TTN: For people who haven’t been to a house show before, why is that scene something worth checking out? TH: It’s fun as s–––. It’s cheap, first of all, and there’re usually a lot of bands and they all generally have a lot of talent. It’s kind of cool because you’re supporting the local music scene. It’s never really some big band, its small local ones. It’s really fun–there’re no rules.
At some venues they’ll cut you off. They’ll say, “You have one minute” and you’ll go over two minutes and they’ll hate you for life. But at a house show, you can drink a beer while you’re playing if you want.
Jenelle Janci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.