Saviours of an un-punk season : The Angry Snowmans
When I sat down to write this post about the Snowmans, I led the piece with almost five handwritten pages on the illusion of the modern Christmas season. I trimmed back considerably so as not to lose readers right away. I will mention my acknowledgement for a historical religious holiday and for letting children enjoy the fantasy a while before the world jades them. I will still remark that Santa is a commercial invention , nod to the stone high and very real crash of holiday commerce, and to the hangover of holiday excess when the bills come and reality returns.
As much as people find solace in holiday movies, well stocked bars , Christmas dinners and gift giving, many extract from the less absurd side of the season. I do look forward to Charlie Brown questioning the meaning of Christmas. I enjoy watching unlikely holiday movies like Die Hard , Better Off Dead and Trading Places ( and many others ) because they have scenes set in Christmas but not much else tied to the season at all . I enjoy listening to the Ramones singing about fighting at Christmas, The Pogues and their infamous fairy-tale and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas sung by Chrissie Hynde because her voice was born for this holiday track outside of her Pretenders catalog.
Then for me, as gleeful and shocking as a Cartman Christmas sing a long the anticipation builds for the annual return of The Angry Snowmans. I started shooting The Snowmans at the Tavern in 2014. This and the seasonal visit from The Ramores always made me look forward to the holidays a bit more. Always the hottest ticket in town, the band never disappointed those lucky enough to get in. Like many bands I enjoy , I admit I don't necessarily know all the band's songs and words by heart, but still never wanted to miss the spectacle and the gathering of this special punk community in Victoria.
Finally getting my website done this year, I felt it time to showcase some of my Angry Snowmans shots from appearances at the late great Tavern of the Damned. Ol' Saint Dick was gracious enough to chat with me about The Snowmans , including the band's special plans for this 2020 holiday season.
From a wide perspective, would you say the Snowmans are a festive homage to punk bands you follow?
Yes, it is a combination of paying tribute to the bands we love as well as an attempt to do something for the punks on a decidedly un-punk holiday.
Where did the Xmas connection come about?
I have always been a fan of comedy in punk rock. I absolutely loved the Vandals Christmas album Oi To The World when it came out in 1996. I was also a huge fan of Manic Hispanic and their shtick of changing classic punk rock songs to be about Latino culture. A light bulb went off and I combined the two.
Who does the music/ words?
The music is always the original artists. Sometimes we need to add cohesive endings (in the case of bands like Misfits or Black Flag) when they don't exist. The words are primarily written by me. One of our guitarists Drew writes some too. Elise and Jono have contributed parts as well... any time someone has an idea, I tend to write it down and see if I can build something from it.
Favorite Snowmans track ?
It is tough to say. Some are more fun to play than others but I think the song I am most proud of lyrically is Holiday Selaphobia (our version of Holiday In Cambodia). Once I found out that the fear of flashing lights was called selaphobia, it all came together. I always know the lyrics are winners if the rest of the band cracks up the first time they hear them.
Have any of the bands you've parodied contacted you?
No one has reached out to us, but I have spoken to several about it online and in person. Bill Vockroth (Angry Samoans drummer) is a fan. Steve Soto (Adolescents, Agent Orange, Manic Hispanic) seemed pretty stoked on it. Ira (Absolute Underground) managed to get a copy of a record that we did Stiff Little Fingers on to Jake Burns, but I don't know what he thought about it... I would like the people to whom we pay tribute to like it, and not think that we are making fun of them. We're not. It is about having cool/funny songs for Christmas.
Where did the decision come from to tour the Snowmans?
Touring is fun. We felt like it would be cool to play for our friends in other towns. I just wish we were able to do more but the Christmas theme is pretty restrictive as to when you can do it, not to mention we all have families who want us around during the holidays.
California dates in 2011. Was California a holy grail for the Snowmans?
It wasn't really something that we had thought about. I was talking to Julia of the band Smut Peddlers. They were going to be reuniting in December of 2011. I half jokingly said that Angry Snowmans should open and she said yes, 100%. Next I asked the band, and some how we were all able to do it. 5 shows in 4 days. It was nuts, and so much fun.
Is there a difference in US/ CAN crowds?
There isn't too much difference really. If someone in the crowd knows the joke, they are there up front loving it. If they don't, it is a bunch of people dressed as elves doing ripping punk covers.
Does Snowmans merchandise sell well?
It does. We try hard to do new T shirt designs every year because people want new stuff to wear to their family Christmas. We are sold out of all physical copies of our albums, except What We Do Is Festive. We still have some of those. Patches are popular too.
In 2017 Esquire Magazine included you in a list of The Best 30 Alternative Christmas Songs. How the F did this happen?
To this day, I have no idea. The year it came out, we were getting increased traffic to the Bandcamp page, and you can see the data on where the traffic is coming from. That is when I discovered it. I would love to know the backstory on how they found us though.
*** UPDATE ***
As a Christmas present to the Snowmans and to help put an end to this mystery , I did some digging into how this all came to be. I found the article in Esquire Magazine and contacted the writer Maura Johnston in Boston. Maura graciously and quickly replied that her friend , DJ Jon Solomon played the Snowmans often on his annual 25 Hour Christmas show originating in Princeton , New Jersey at 103.3 FM WPRB . I contacted Jon and asked how it came to be that he featured a Victoria BC punk band on his program.
This was his reply :
Hello! I love Vancouver (really enjoyed my lone visit in 2018) and the Angry Snowmans!
I do a 25-Hour Holiday Radio Show on 103.3 FM WPRB (this year’s marathon will be my 32nd-annual) and their music has been a big part of my playlists (especially during the All-Misfits-inspired sets that kick off at 1:38 pm ET).
Can’t say for sure how I first discovered them but I’m sure glad they’re part of the broadcast. Oldest track of theirs I have in my library is Drinkin' Rum & Eggnog (Youth Brigade) from the compilation Cashing In On Christmas Vol. 3 in 2011. So wow, almost 10 years ago! Their re-working of a Buzzcocks song was my nod to Pete Shelley when he passed away in 2018…
Listeners really enjoy how they Christmas up so many punk and hardcore classics.
Past playlists galore are on my site.
Wednesdays at 5:00 pm ET on WPRB 103.3 FM
*** My 32nd-annual 25-Hour Holiday Radio Show starts Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm ET on 103.3 FM WPRB ***
Whats in the future for the Snowmans?
2020, as it has been for everyone, has been a real lump of coal in the stocking in our annual plans. I think that our lack of shows this year will spurn us on to write and record a new album in 2021 then, hopefully, we can get out and play shows as usual. I have lyrics written for about 40 songs we have never played before.
Tell me about your upcoming holiday You Tube venture, The 12 Days of Krampus..
Well, it is kind of a last ditch attempt to have something out there this year. It was apparent early on that there would be no live shows this year, so we decided that we would record video of a new live performance to post up on the internet. We practiced up and right as we were going to have our last practice before recording, the new COVID restrictions were going into effect at midnight. We decided to record songs at practice because it looked like our plan to record a whole set at Subculture Club was not going to happen. We happen to have 12 songs recorded, so we decided to post a song up on YouTube every day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. They are budget recordings, but we feel that they're better than nothing.
Here is the link to the bands You Tube page :