WORDS BY THOMAS FREEMAN
I recently caught up with Jordan Rodrigues from the Newcastle up-and-coming alt rock band Snowfish ahead of their debut single release, ‘Ghost‘. We chatted about family bands, the current Newcastle music scene, and everything to do with their new single
Here’s what Jordan had to say:
So, where did the name Snowfish come from?
It’s kind of just a silly thing. We were trying to come up with a band name for a while; been playing together for like years already. We never plugged up a band name until we kind of thought until we were looking to start gigging and stuff. With our name, we kind of just wanted something that looked like would easy to say and what wouldn’t seem like it was trying too hard, because we had some other names in the past that were definitely not very good.
Snowfish was actually my Xbox username back in the day when I was like 13 or 14, and Sol kind of brought that up and he said that could kind of work as a band name. And I feel like, yeah, you’re right. Actually, we always to have like a clan. I was Snowfish. We had, like, Icefish or Firefish, when we all went on Minecraft together and stuff. So yeah, I think it was kind of fitting, and we thought it would work well. So yeah, that’s where I came from.
So how would you describe the music that you guys make?
I would describe it as kind of bold, I suppose, and a bit grand, I guess, like we always try to make everything sound like that. Because we’re inspired a lot by Muse and Radiohead; really alt rock sort of bands. We want to try to make everything sound like, I guess, big and kind of exaggerate things. I’d say maybe pretty edgy as well, mainly with the vocals. I try to get out a lot of emotion in the melodies that I write, so I’d say the consistent thing is, whether we’re doing like a hard rock song or like a softer one, is always that brooding sense in the in the vocal delivery.
What are some of the overall goals for Snowfish?
Coming into our first single, it’s pretty hard for us to predict how much success or lack of success will receive. So, if we take that aside and we just look at what we want to do, we kind of want to be able to continue recording music on a long-term basis. Being brothers, we kind of have a long-term goal and we’d like to be able to look back at it, kind of at the end of our lives and be like: ‘Cool – this is like the music we made’. So, we definitely want to work towards being able to record an album. It’ll probably be more recent singles and then an EP first, and then an album, I imagine. Over the long-term course of things, we’d like to have like a string of albums to kind of look back and be like: ‘That was our body of work’.
What’s it like working as a family band?
Yeah, it’s both the best thing and the worst thing in the world. It’s great because we’re totally honest with each other, like when someone has a bad idea, we’re just like: ‘that idea sucks’. We don’t have to hold back, and I think it kind of helps to filter out a lot of not so good ideas that we might come up with. Family are very open to improving and getting feedback, and I found when you work with people who aren’t your family, you have to try and be nice and tread on eggshells around people, and feelings about their art and stuff.
It’s the worst thing as well because with being the leader of the band, it’s hard to gain respect from your brothers, especially when they’re not that much younger than you. Also, we’ve had to really work hard towards acting professionally, like a lot of the times at a lot of our rehearsals and stuff, it’ll be very informal. I’ll be like, knocking on my brother’s bedroom and be like: ‘yo, can we do this or can we do that’; and they wouldn’t have a structure to it. I’ve actually moved out quite recently, about a month ago, so I think that’s actually solved a lot of our issues. Now, we kind of have regular rehearsal time and we coordinate everything with the email and we have like a calendar and stuff, which is cool.
How would you describe the current music scene here in Newcastle?
I think that the music scene is good. Obviously with Covid-19, it’s taken a huge hit, and there’s not very many gigs around. When I think about it and I look at like all the cities in the surrounding areas, I’d say Newcastle’s scene is surprisingly good. There’s so many bands around and a lot of like venues and publications all completely dedicated to supporting the music and Newcastle, so I can see why people would actually come from out of town to come in like the musician here. So I think we’re very blessed to be from here.
Do you have any favorite venues to play at in the area?
Yeah, I’d say The Cambridge is probably our favourite place to play for sure. The Newcastle Hotel as well a close second, and we actually recently did a gig at Lizotte’s for the first time, and it was our first gig since the shutdown. So, I thought that was that was kind of nice. I know it’s like a very formal venue, but it was kind of cool because everyone’s gonna be sitting down anyway, no matter where we played with the restrictions. So, it’s kind of cool to play it like a proper sit in place and kind of put on like a show, I guess.
How has Covid-19 affected your plans for 2020?
Initially when it first broke out, we had a recording session booked right in the peak of it. I actually ended up that postponing it to later. And if we gone in earlier, we weren’t planning to record Ghost, which I think was probably the right decision to record. So, I think now it kind of saved us from recording a single we shouldn’t have recorded earlier on, but with no gigs, it’s been tough to make money. We’ve had to put in some of our own funds to like fund recording and promotion as well for the single, that we might have made from just like gigging and getting a couple hundred dollars here and there, from putting on shows and just keep building off of that. It mainly just stopped band funds and kind of stopped the opportunity to grow an audience through performing, but I’m hopeful for when restrictions ease that will be ready to hit the ground running.
What’s your debut single Ghost all about?
It’s kind of about social media, or like a disenchanted with social media inspired song. In the chorus of the song we talk about being able to delete yourself. That was kind of one of the earliest ideas that I had for the band back in late 2017, and that’s the one that’s been consistent. The rest of the song we reworked, mainly the whole vocal melody, and the verses and bridges were written just before the studio.
It deals with the ideas of feeling kind of burnt out from social media and just tired of seeing everything on them wanting to kind of throw it all away, which in this day and age you can’t really. If you want to like to be a part of society, it’s kind of like you’ve got to be on. It just deals with that conflict, because it is tough to go on there regularly and see all these different opinions, and it’s just a very loud and noisy place, sometimes in an unhealthy way. I hope that the song can resonate with people who might feel a similar way.
What were some of the big influences behind it?
I’d say that being written in that earliest stage of the band, it was definitely influenced by Muse; that’s kind of one of our primary influences. I’d say the song Plug in Baby in particular has like that huge soaring chorus that’s just really catchy, and just sounds overly big and we wanted to try to recreate it. When I was coming up with chorus ideas back in the day, that’s kind of what I had in my head a lot. I think that kind of shows through in what we recorded hopefully
What was the process for making it?
We were lucky enough to record with Jack Nigro from The Grove, but we actually went down to Coogee Beach as he had a studio there that he wanted to use. It was kind of like a hole-in-the-wall sort of place, but it was really cool too. It was our first time recording, so we were super nervous as we didn’t really know what we were doing. Sol laid down the drums for us to start us, because he’s super confident and has been playing forever, so he knocked that out in like half an hour. Then Kalan went on the base and just knocked that out in like a half an hour as well. I guess I kind of had like a lot of stuff dreaded, like all the guitars, vocals and synths, which took like the rest of the day. To make the guitar, we workshopped with Jack who helped push me in the right direction to think of lead guitar parts that you’ll hear like throughout the verse. In the chorus, he just steered me in the right direction of what might sound good, and
helping to lay down the vocal track as well. It really gave me the kick I needed to get the most confident vocal takes. Working with him was like a huge honour; he definitely really understood the band sound and what we wanted to achieve. He was an 11 out of 10 for sure.
With Ghost being your debut single, why did you choose to record and release this one first?
As you can imagine, there was a lot of debate within the band between us brothers about what would be the best one to open with because we’d written Ghost quite a while ago. We’ve written new songs that are quite different to that though, so we could have done something with the older style on one of the newer stronger songs. We eventually settled for reworking an older one that had a really good basis for reworking to be on the standard with the newest stuff.
We wanted something that would be generically likable, and that’s Ghost. When you hear you play, it has a very distinctive chorus. And it has had a good response at live gigs as well. We kind of like asked people who had been seeing our band live like: ‘what do you think what one that stood out to you?’. I think we all have family and played them back a few demos. We said, ‘which one the grabs your attention?’ and they all said that one, so it kind of pushed us to pick out Ghost.
Is Ghost at the moment going to be a part of something bigger?
It’s hard to tell at this point. I guess the next goal would be like an EP. When it comes time, we’ll see how many more singles we get out before its time for an EP, and I guess we’ll see how the quality of our recordings improves, because I think we’re always kind of getting better in terms of the way we sound. So, I think by the time we’re recording an EP, which in this industry could be about a year from now. If we’re sounding a little different, we won’t include it, but if we think it stands up to everything that we’ve now recorded, it could be cool accolade into maybe like a five track EP. Otherwise it would be expensive to record like five whole new tracks, I guess. But I’d say it could go either way.
What were some of the challenge of with making this track?
A big thing, at least for me, is that I always spend a lot of time going over how to deliver the vocals, like agonising levels and wanting it to sound right. I guess I feel a lot of pressure because the vocals make or break a song. Like I was saying before, my siblings on the drums and bass are one of the most like reliable bands you could ask for; they knock it all out in one take and then it’s done, and then it’s kind of on me and I feel a little pressure to do my bit as well. So, I was practicing at the end of every day, and I’d sit down with my acoustic guitar and sing the song and record it. I’d listen back and I go: ‘that’s crap; that doesn’t sound good’, and I’d fix it and record again and again. It’s a lot more work than people think but I think we’re very happy with the end result we did get.
Were there any fun stories or any really great moments from recording it?
I guess like the most interesting thing that happened was when I would sing the verse, and there’s one note that I just wasn’t hitting properly. Kalan, who’s the other backup singer of the band, and Jack were sitting in the booth and every time I’d sing that one note, they’d be like: ‘no’. So, then I’d sing it again, and that’d be like: ‘close but no’. It probably took most of that day. Other than that, we were like a flying saucer, and then we spent an hour just trying to sing this one note. It was kind of a high-end note and there was a modulation with the guitar chord, so it was kind of like a tricky part just to find the note. Kalan ended up coming out with the guitar and made me sing it over and over, and then he went back and he’s like: ‘now you do it’. I guess that was the biggest trip wire in the studio. Otherwise, Ghost ran very smoothly.
TD Signature Question: If you could describe the track as any colour, what would it be and why?
I think when you see the art work, it’d be like a mix of like black and green, I guess, which is what they art work is. It also kind of sounds like a cyber punk song a little bit, and that’s kind of what we got with the artwork as well. So, I’d say, yeah, green with a black backdrop
Is there anything else that you want to add about Snowfish or Ghost?
Yeah, I guess just that we are hoping for the best with the release, and that we’re able to build an initial kind of like fan base and following after all this time of gigging. We’ve definitely got to go make a big plan going forward, and I’m going to continue following it out through this year once the restrictions lift.
You can stream Ghost here: