INTERVIEW: Matt Sneddon (EIGHT SECOND RIDE)
Word on the street is Australian country music is having a "moment", but this revelation comes as no surprise to those who live and breathe all things twang. Now with more and more artists finding their feet in the ever-expanding genre, locals have grown with the trends and quickly risen to prominence, and one local band who is swiftly ascending the Aussie county scene is none other than Toowoomba-based quartet Eight Second Ride.
Passionate, dynamic and flying the flag for some new wave country, Eight Second Ride have achieved in a few short months what would take many bands years in the making; from a local pub band travelling and sleeping in vans on the side of highways, to an up-and-coming powerhouse with their own tour bus, the future is looking bright for this explosive bunch of countrified rockers. And with a brand new single out, plus an EP on its way next year, The Soundcheck grabbed frontman Matt Sneddon to chat writing, recording and taking the reigns on their country-tinged rock. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi Matt, thanks for your time. I suppose firstly congratulations are in order with the new single ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’ is out in the world. How does it feel to have it out and about?
MATT SNEDDON: Oh it’s nice, it was a bit of work for this one. We’ve been wanting to put a song out for a while, obviously we’ve been doing covers for a long time. And the goal is to be an original band and to have our music out there. So ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’ – it’s nice to get it out and finally have it done, but we’re looking forward to the next step, which is the EP. That’ll be early next year.
TIANA: And I believe you guys are heading off to Nashville for the EP?
MATT: Correct, it’ll be myself heading to Nashville to do that. So all music will be recorded here in Australia at local studios. The tracks will then be sent over to our producer over in Nashville who will then obviously work on the tracks and create the sound that we want. And then I’ll go over to do vocals in studio there with Ben. It’s a lot easier to be sitting down with him and work on vocals, rather than be back and forth via email or Skype. We can discuss the small issues and what we want, so that’s the plan for next year!
TIANA: So getting back to ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’, what was the decision behind this being the debut single? Was it an easy process given that it sounds like you guys have a fair few tracks up your sleeves?
MATT: Um…. (laughs)…the reason we chose ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’ is because we’d already put too much work into it before the other songs came into the picture. If we had all the tracks laid out in front of us now and had the choice – we probably would run with another song to be honest (laughs). But, we love ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’, it’s got a really cool sound to it, but we think the other songs we’re going to bring out are gonna be even better. So, that’s just a little sneak peek of things to come!
SEE WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS (EIGHT SECOND RIDE)
TIANA: Well that’s already pre-empted one of my questions if you can reveal anything else, you beat me to it!
MATT: Yes, for anyone coming to our shows we actually do all the songs on the upcoming EP. We normally don’t announce that they’re our songs because if people are bopping along to it, we like just to watch and see how people react to them. And so far so good, everyone seems to love them. It’s funny, you watch people singing along to songs that haven’t even been recorded yet! They’re just nice catchy tunes.
TIANA: For all of you guys in Eight Second Ride, it’s not your first band, you’ve all come up playing in other band prior to this adventure. What’s your condensed take on how Eight Second Ride came to be?
MATT: I grew up living in Toowoomba and living on a property, and I’ve always loved country music. However, as a young musician, the rock scene for me was a bit more attractive, you know? A bit more upbeat and a bit more lively, and 15 years ago as a 20 year-old that was more exciting than the country music stuff at that point in time. And that took me a few places, I got to tour with some really cool bands and play some cool shows…but obviously I got a bit older, had a family, and we’re back in Toowoomba now. And I just have this thing now, listening to all the American country music coming over, and what country music is now. There’s such a broad range, you’ve got bush poets all the way through to us, with the country rock thing. And it’s cool! And we just thought “hey, let’s start a country rock band”. And I approached a few boys in Toowoomba and luckily we have some really, really good musicians up here. I was lucky enough to hand-pick a few boys and everyone kinda said “yeah, let’s do this!”. We have an old abandoned warehouse that we’ve got access to, so we can practice any night of the week til 3 o’clock in the morning, which is pretty rare for a band. And I guess that’s why our sound has progressed so quickly because we have that luxury of being able to practice any time, whereas a lot of other bands are very restricted on sound levels and time that they can play. We knuckle down, and we were practicing 3-4 nights a week for a good eight months there. It was very tiring, and a lot of time away from partners and family – but the end result is where we’re at now, and it shows that hard work pays off!
TIANA: I find it interesting, what you mentioned about the whole country thing, I have to admit I haven’t always warmed to the whole “country” thing…but over the last little bit I’ve had my eyes opened a bit, previously I just thought of country as this broad sweeping thing, and that everyone’s the same under this one umbrella. But it’s almost rivalling the sub-genres of, say, metal these days, there are so many different little pockets in it!
MATT: Yeah, exactly! It’s very rare for a genre to have the diversity that country music does. Like I said before, you’ve got bush poets all the way through to the country rock. And that range of listeners is huge! You can even throw pop music into country and still have those listeners. And I guess a lot of that is thanks to all these big country music festivals, like CMC Rocks here up in Queensland…they’re bringing these artists over, and people who genuinely wouldn’t listen to country music go to these festivals and just go like “wow! It’s not what I expected”. Like this year at CMC, we took a friend who absolutely hated country music, but she came along and she is now a huge fan! It just shows that people have this perspective of country music, but it’s not necessarily what you’d expect it to be.
TIANA: On the topic of festivals, you guys have played some pretty huge shows, including the Brews and Barbie festival to over 10,000 people. In terms of live shows, do you have a preference – do you still love those more intimate, local shows or do you more enjoy those bigger experiences?
MATT: They all have their pros and cons. For us, a show’s a show, whether we’re playing to 10 people or 10,000. When you come and watch us, you’re going to get the same, we put the same amount of energy in regardless of the show. I personally like the acoustic sessions where the guitarist and I just have a small group, or a songwriter session where we just sit on a stool and talk, and we can just close our eyes and really pull the emotion out. But then on the other hand, you’ve got the big festivals where you play to thousands of people, the energy levels are extremely high and you’ve got these big stages and big production – they’re really fun to play as well! Like I said, there’s pros and cons to all of them, but we love playing them all regardless of the size.
TIANA: Absolutely! And looking at how Eight Second Ride approach songwriting…with ‘See What Tomorrow Brings’, there’s obviously a few specific narrative things going on here, quite a hefty breakup theme going on. How autobiographical are these tracks, though? Are you guys trying to capture a universal sentiment, or is it a bit more personal?
MATT: It is a personal thing, I had this question the other day and I guess…when I wrote the song, it wasn’t about anyone in particular. However, I have been through breakups and I have been through heartbreak. So there’s that emotion attached to that song. People who know me, they’re like “oh, this song’s about that person!”. And I’m going, well no, they never pop into my head when I sing it! It’s more an emotion, when I write music…like today, if I’m driving down the road and all of a sudden the phrase “see what tomorrow brings” pops into my head, and I’ll be like “oh that’s cool!”. And I’ll pull over, I’ll get my phone out and dictate that and I’ll write that in the book at home. And then when I’m at home playing some chords, that “see what tomorrow brings” might jump out, and then there’ll be that (sings) “you can be my all night, just right”…it’ll just start flowing and then nearly like a music video appears in my head! And I can see it playing out, and I write to that clip in my head. So it’ll be “What’s the next scenario? What’s the next scene? How does the story progress?”. And that’s pretty much how I write music.
TIANA: I dig that a lot, I’m a very visual person, I’m an extremely visual person. On a personal tangent, I believe you kind of came and went from Toowoomba…I’m keen to quickly pick your brain about the music scene up there, do you feel like there’s a lot of opportunity and that it’s supportive? More and more I’m hearing about a bunch of bands coming up from there?
MATT: Look, Toowoomba has a…good music scene…I wouldn’t say they have a good original music scene. It’s very pub-driven, people just really want the covers, they go out for a good night and hear the songs that they know. However, we put on a big show earlier this year here in Toowoomba, we had about 800 people turn up to one of the venues we booked out. And that was a huge response for us. I think the music scene around Australia in general is quite healthy, but I do again say, I think the original music scene – it is very hard to get your sound out there in Australia. When we go to Nashville, we can book venues down Broadway, and they want to hear original music, they’re very into that whole “new artist” and what’s coming out. Whereas, in Australia – you might be halfway through an original set and someone comes up and says “oh, can you play ‘Khe Sanh?”. And look, we do it. But you just kind of roll your eyes, like – we’re trying to be us here! But they just want to hear what they know. And until they know it, they’re not really receptive of it. But it’s places like Tamworth Country Music Festival, and all the music festivals that we do play that we get that opportunity to just be us, and people are obviously aware that that’s why they’re there, and that’s what they’re gonna be listening to. When it comes to the pub shows, or the venue shows, we do throw obviously quite a lot of covers in because we’re still building our repertoire.
TIANA: But it’ll be interesting to see that shift, especially with the EP release next year…you can keep chipping way and slipping more and more originals into the mix, and eventually they’ll know your own songs just as well!
MATT: That’s the plan! (laughs) It’s kind of like that pendulum, you just keep adding and eventually the pendulum will fall your way and you’ll be playing more of our songs than covers! You gotta start somewhere, and to do the shows, you gotta do the covers. We’re aware of that, and happy to start at the bottom of the ladder and work our way up!
TIANA: That’s it, it’s all about fighting that good fight! Thanks for the chats, and good luck with the EP recording, can’t wait to hear more next year!
MATT: No worries, thank you very much!
BEFORE THE EIGHT SECOND RIDE GENTS HIT UP NASHVILLE IN EARLY 2019, THEY'LL BE HITTING THE ROAD TO PLAY 'SEE WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS' AND MORE IN THE FLESH.
FOR MORE EIGHT SECOND RIDE INFO, HEAD HERE. TOUR DATES AND MORE INFO BELOW.
EIGHT SECOND RIDE UPCOMING TOUR DATES
1st December, 2018
Australian Stock Horse Sale - Dalby, QLD
31st December, 2018
Smithton Tall Timbers Rodeo - Smithton, TAS, w/ The Wolfe Brothers
19th January, 2019
Southgate Inn - Tamworth, NSW
21st January, 2019
Imperial Hotel - Tamworth, NSW
23rd January, 2019
Imperial Hotel - Tamworth, NSW
24th January, 2019
Fan Zone - Tamworth, NSW
25th January, 2019
Imperial Hotel - Tamworth, NSW
17th - 19th May, 2019
Toowoomba B&S Festival - Toowoomba, QLD
BY TIANA SPETER