INTERVIEW: Judson Snell of Disappearing Me talks their Music, Spinal Tap, and Not Getting the Derby!

Pictured above: Disappearing Me contemplates opening for Smashmouth!

Why Disappearing Me are only now appearing on the scene is beyond me, given their penchant for making melodic post-punk that would fit in perfectly with indie stalwarts like Dinosaur Jr. or The Archers of Loaf. The band are set to play this Tuesday at The Cure Lounge and have a new album named “Run Past The Gallows” scheduled to drop soon, so keep your eyes open for that. You can preview a few of the tracks here, and listen to one below if you need a taste. Remember though, that first free taste is how they get you. We caught up with them to talk about how they got their start, dueling Bubles and Deons, and The Derby.

Never Nervous: How did the band come together? What are your musical resumes?

Judson Snell: A mix of happenstance, introductions and a guy knowing a guy, really. Prior to this, Carter was fronting a Louisville group called Savages. Ray was doing a lot of experimental stuff with Vestigial Limb. I was with an angsty-post hardcore group called Fight Like Girls. Collectively our résumés would look like a 3 day festival lineup.

NN: From what I can hear it sounds relatively stripped down, just amps, instruments, and voice. Was that an intentional decision, to shy away from any sort of affectation, or just an extension of your mission plan from the start?

JS: It’s the sum of our shared influences. Descendents. Black Flag. Jawbreaker. Dinosaur Jr. That kind of thing. When I first heard Carter’s original home demos, I was attracted to how deceiving a thing like simplicity can really be. The instrumentation and playing are very bare-bones and straight ahead, but the arrangements and lyrical content can be a bit more sophisticated than you’d get from a casual listen. There are a couple of songs on the record that are definitely the deeper cuts. Some cello, some electroacoustic and synth-ish stuff creeps in.

“When I first heard Carter’s original home demos, I was attracted to how deceiving a thing like simplicity can really be. The instrumentation and playing are very bare-bones and straight ahead, but the arrangements and lyrical content can be a bit more sophisticated than you’d get from a casual listen.”
NN: How do you all compose? Is it one person bringing in an idea, or jam oriented?

JS: We don’t “jam” or write together. The songs are all Carter – an email shows up, charts are written out and the expectation is that next rehearsal, we’ll all be able to nail it. We’re all multi-instrumentalists and capable of writing and recording our own material. But Disappearing Me is something that lives in Carter’s head and from there, Ray and I help flesh it out. From the drummer’s perspective, I’ll lend perspective and some technicality to it, but always honoring the original idea. From the producer/engineer chair, I make small suggestions where I think we could extrapolate a good idea. Carter and I record separately. I’ll send him a stereo mix of the drums and a click, he’ll come back with the guitars and vocals done and we’ll start editing and mixing from there. I tend to lock everyone out until I’m at a place where I’m happy with the mix and then we fine-tune.

NN: Relative to that, when is a song done? Can it change even after recording?

JS: They can on a small scale, but it’s generally just quarter-turns of a screw or two. I’d say we play the ten songs on our record fairly faithfully.

NN: What constitutes a good show and why? Can you give us examples of a good show? What about a bad performance?

JS: The less faces illuminated by phone screens, the better. Getting and holding people’s attention is no easy feat when you’re really just three people holding instruments. Disappearing Me only played once before disappearing into the studio and rehearsals as the tacked-on 10pm unknown openers out of four bands. We were really surprised to see at the end of it the whole place watching. Bad shows? That’s when you regret taking time out of your night to haul your gear to some club to rehearse in front of two bartenders and the town drunk who still thinks yelling “FREEBIRD!” between songs is funny.

“The less faces illuminated by phone screens, the better. Getting and holding people’s attention is no easy feat when you’re really just three people holding instruments.” 

NN: What responsibility if any does a band have to the audience? What about the audience to the band?

JS: We promise to be somewhat on time, in tune and worth listening to. You’re stuck with us for the next thirty minutes, we may as well not be horrible and give a few fucks. Does the audience have a responsibility to us? I don’t necessarily think so. Try not to knock anything over. 

NN: How does a band starting out in the internet era survive? Should artists get paid? How would you like to see the relationship between streaming services and bands evolve?

JS: There are a lot of great ways artists can get paid in this day and age, but it’s not going to be from streaming royalties under the current model. Having something people want to own for themselves and not just borrow from time to time on their phone is what makes somebody a supporter and not a casual listener. That could be an LP, a shirt or a fine line of jams and jellies. If I see a band and I like them, I’m buying something from their merch table as a show of support. Streaming sites, the soundclouds and bandcamps and youtubes of the world make it much easier to be heard and much harder to be noticed.

NN: In 140 characters or less, what is the meaning of life?

JS: “Have a good time, all the time. That’s my philosophy, Marty” – Viv Savage, This is Spinal Tap.

NN: Who would win in a fight between Michael Buble and two Celine Deons?

JS: There would be no altercation. It would turn very weird and very sexual… very quickly. Don’t picture it, because you’ll be spending the rest of your day trying to un-picture it.

“There would be no altercation. It would turn very weird and very sexual… very quickly. Don’t picture it, because you’ll be spending the rest of your day trying to un-picture it.”

NN: What non-musical things have you interested lately? Have you watched, drank, eaten, or made anything worth talking about lately?

JS: For me personally, I’m producing bands more than ever. I’m at a point in my musical career where I get more out of giving back, finding bands or artists that are one good demo or record away from getting to where they need to be. Just finished an EP with Blood Planet, which was an absolute blast and some of the most fun I’ve had as a producer. Trying to corral Vaderbomb into the studio at some point when schedules allow.

NN: What would your Derby Music Playlist look like? Interpret that however you’d like.

JS: I’m not a Louisville native, so “the whole Derby thing” is extremely evasive to me. I seriously and simply do not get it, whatever that “it” is. Louisville has a beguiling collection of rituals and cultural phenomena. Blizzard? Ransack Kroger for all the milk, eggs and bread. It’s March? Let’s start a bunch of fights in the name of colleges we never attended. It’s May? Let’s wear ugly clothes and watch horses turn left, standing in 7” of vomit. I put that sort of thing on vibrate and do something else. 

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