When Jack Cochrane zooms into our video call from his home in Glasgow he looks a little hurried, understandable given he is in the middle of promoting his band’s debut album. Despite this, his curly hair is perfectly coiffed and he looks every inch the indie rocker. “All good mate,” he replies when asked how he is. “One hundred miles an hour.”
The Snuts, from the small town of Whitburn in West Lothian Scotland are releasing their album, titled WL, after more than a decade spent building a devoted fanbase through heavy touring and a series of riotous singles. Indebted to the indie heroes of the 2000s, from The Libertines to Arctic Monkeys The Cribs and The Kooks, the record takes the template and runs with it.
Frontman Cochrane, 26, says the album is his band’s “life’s work” and, while that may initially sound absurd given their respective ages, he is at least partly correct. He tells me the other three members – guitarist Joe McGillveray, bass player Callum Wilson and drummer Jordan “Joko” Mackay – met when they were about three and he joined the crew aged 10. It was shortly after that that they started playing together, so WL has indeed been gestating for more than a decade.
Their familiarity is their strength, he explains. “A lot of the songwriting comes to me on my own. I’ll bring it to the guys and depending on how they feel about the song dictates whether it goes further. If they are praising it I will say, ‘Let’s do this’. If I get a few mumbles you will never hear of it again.”
The album’s title does not refer to West Lothian. In fact, it refers to Whitburn Loopy – “the trouble-makers and the youths” from their hometown (a social group The Snuts happily place themselves in). Whitburn, which sits halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, looms over much of the album, informing its commentary on teenage angst and the damaging effects of drugs on their community. “It’s one of places that has been built for growing old,” Cochrane half-laughs. “There is nothing that is making any effort to inspire people to try and get up and get out and make a mark and do something with your life. Everything is set out for you in one of these towns. Go to school, if it doesn’t work get a trade. There’s almost nothing else.
“There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just one of these grey towns that you see up and down the country that can sometimes trap you.”
“So visit Whitburn!” he quips as if fronting some offbeat tourist board video.Cochrane and co spent their teenage years playing the pubs of Whitburn before being thrown out of them for being underage. Even then they obsessed about getting to the big city. “Growing up around here, there is a huge grassroots indie scene. Everybody was copying the popular band at the time. Going to Glasgow was something we were obsessed with doing, see all the big bands, all the touring bands. It’s making that jump to the city. It made an impact on us.”
He did indeed move to the city, settling into his new home the day the first lockdown began. It was not quite the hard-gigging, party-filled dream he had imagined. Cochrane, who eschews rock and roll tradition by being an early riser, was up and out the flat at 6am each day. These walks inspired much of the album. The title of jangling pop song Somebody Loves You was cribbed directly from a piece of graffiti he saw dotted around the city.
The Snuts’ burgeoning success has already allowed them to meet some of their heroes, playing a series of socially distanced gigs with The Libertines, including one Pete Doherty, last summer. “That’s another sentence I thought I would never say,” he laughs. “You always hear, ‘Don’t meet your heroes’ but they were like our ultimate heroes growing up and they were absolute gentlemen.”
Earlier this year Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine ruffled feathers when he asked in an interview, “Where have all the bands gone?” But on the flip side, one could question whether the world needs more four-piece rock groups after the glut of the 2000s. Cochrane has his answer: innovation. “There’s no room for people to be regurgitating that same indie music,” he replies. “That’s a way to ask for that criticism by just playing that same type of music. You see it in other genres. The reason they are sitting out in front is because they are trying new things, trying new sounds. They are not just writing the same song over and over again.
“I actually welcome that criticism,” he adds, defiantly. “It’s good for bands to be pushed out of their comfort zone by someone putting brackets around you, saying ‘Guitar music is dead’. On this record you can certainly hear that we tried to push those boundaries in certain places.” Still, the band want to pay their dues to the indie scene they worshipped as boys. “It’s a huge part of our inspiration but we have always tried to make sure we don’t have a bracket around us.”
Nonetheless, he adds: “Some people don’t want the Nineties ever to be done. You shouldn’t allow that to happen to yourself. You should be making the music you want to make.”
Like chart-topping Stockport natives Blossoms, The Snuts are an indie band for the streaming generation, both in terms of form and function. Their album’s 13 songs jump all over the place, from anthemic rock to garage punk and straight pop, in the manner of a Spotify playlist. You could play the album in any order and it would still make sense. Cochrane is not surprised by the comparison. “It’s something that came organically,” he concurs. “You have got to make music with the times. Ultimately it would be great to go, ‘I am going to release a record and everybody is going to go to the shop and buy the record and that’s how to they are going to hear it…’ But that’s not the reality. People are going to hear it at the first glance. Making music people are going to be able to interact with no matter how they find themselves playing it, that’s the way we feel we should be doing it at the moment.”
The pandemic has hit young bands harder than their more experienced counterparts. Still, Cochrane isn’t worried for The Snuts. In fact, he is bursting with energy. “We will be 10 times the band, especially live, when life comes back.”
WL by The Snuts is out now on Parlophone.
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