Interviewed by EvilG
Snowy Shaw is a name I’ve known for about 30yrs. Like many long time metalheads, my introduction to him was as the drummer for the great King Diamond. Since then he’s worn many hats in many different bands (Dream Evil, Therion, Memento Mori, Sabaton, Dimmu Borgir, Ill Will, XXX, etc.) and more recently as a solo artist. With the pending release of his first studio solo album White is the new Black, it was a good time to talk to the legend himself.
Lets start with the present. You’ve just released your new album White Is The New Black. This is your first self-titled studio recording. Before it came some live albums. So I guess why now, why not studio before live etc….just curious about your approach and if you had a specific plan mapped out for your musical madness?!
Let me try explain. My Live DVD/CD Box: 25 years of madness in the name of metal was released in fall 2014, and as the title suggests was a summation based on my past, where I did my favorite songs from my former bands. Stuff I had either recorded or toured the world playing with the original bands, or both, and I had written no less than 65% of the material singlehandedly.
How I came about to do that ”super show” to begin with. On a very intensive 3 month tour with Therion we were visiting countries all over Europe and in many places in the former Soviet union that I had never been before and barely heard of to be honest, but each and every day I was approached by fans who were very well informed about my career and were saying stuff like: Why don’t you reunite with Memento Mori, while his bystanding friend would say No, please put Notre Dame back together and a third one would say I’d love for you to go back to King Diamond and play drums again and Dream Evil aren’t nearly as good without you etc etc… Sure, you get that from fans every once in awhile but this was something else and happened every single day. It was really overwhelming and it got me thinking. There’s only 24 hours a´day and there’s no way I can please them all at the same time. It bothered me a bit and I couldn’t shake it off. Besides, I have no desire to move backwards in life. Until one day I got a brilliant idea, What if I put together my namesake solo band and play my favorite songs by all my former bands. I could then invite guests to join me live from all of them and I could swap instruments and put on this great show that will please them all at once, not to mention myself included. So that’s what I’ve been doing for years, and gradually I added more of my new songs to the setlist.
I can’t say I follow any specific strategy or mapped out 5 year plan or anything, besides my own rules that is. The internet has changed the whole music industry and it’s a whole different world out there compared to 20 years ago. I’m well aware that many insist on doing things exactly like they’ve always have just because that’s the way it’s always been but I for one can’t see why one must cling on to old rules and habits that isn’t relevant or doesn’t apply any longer. I’m not afraid to try new unconventional ways or to rewrite the map and gameplan based on my own experiences and business know-how.
According to the info on your page the album is “a collection of songs from the six forthcoming records in the name of Snowy Shaw.” – is this kind of a joke? OR do you really have 6 albums of some form already written or planned?
Yes, and no it’s no joke. There’s nothing in the world that gives me more pleasure than to write songs and create those little worlds, and I have over the years written so much great material that I had never had the time or opportunity to record and release properly but that I now determined to do.
Just gotta say, and try shed some light on something that unfortunately just a few people seem able to grasp, and that’s with them different musical directions and all. It’s no coincidence that I’ve over the years been involved in so many bands that although all rooted in metal or rock differs and vary quite substantially in both style and approach, like different branches on the same tree. Bands that musically and stylistically range from symphonic black metal to glam/glitter punkrock and everything in between. I’ve discovered that I need that that kind of diversity in my life to run side by side simultaneously or else I tend to get fed up, bored and leave. That’s also why I’ve more or less always been involved in 2-3 bands at the same time throughout my career. Like running Notre Dame and Dream Evil paralell. Or Illwill / Memento Mori, or Therion/XXX where each band have had few touching points and been more like each others antithesis in style and approach. To me it’s just so obvious and natural that I find it very difficult to explain, but I need that light and shade relationship to create some sort of balance within myself where I can utilize and express different emotions and sides of myself musically. Sounds weird I know, but what can I say. I’m a hippie who still insist on perceiving music as an artform rather than a commercial commodity where one just repeatedly dish out the same thing over and over to the masses and cash in. I’m not McDonald’s I’m an art-ist.
After this long and winding introduction here’s my point. Now as a solo artist I’m allowing myself complete artistic freedom and to do any style I desire under my own flag. White Is The New Black could very well be looked upon as The essential Snowy Shaw,..only in reverse, with two songs representing each individual album and its specific concept, style and musical approach that I will put out yearly from now on.
I know White Is The New Black is released through your own label Wunderwurld Music and is available for direct order from your webstore. Will it see release from any other record label or is it entirely a do it yourself affair?
I’ve deliberately reglated it as such. By ordering the album straight from my webshop, not only do you get it a whole month before it hits the stores, but also a numbered & autographed limited deluxe edition double LP with white vinyl with extra bonus tracks or if you prefer digi CD with extra goodies. In the on-line store among all other delights like merch, memorabilia and rarities there’s also an exclusive super-duper Fanpack including the LP, special long sleeve T-shirt, my signature white drumsticks, signature guitar picks, stickers and two signed posters etc. www.snowyshaw.net/webshop. The official release it set to the 25th of May In Europe and Australia, and In Japan and America by mid June. Digitally it will be available on all platforms like Spotify, Itunes and so forth on May 25th.
I really wanted to order your new album on vinyl, but the financial reality is with shipping to me Canada, the cost of the album is $63.16 US which equals $81.12 Canadian. That’s more than I can justifiably afford sadly. So with that in mind, is there a chance for the vinyl album to be available for maybe approximately $40 Canadian from a North American retailer?
That’s insane! Are you sure you did it right really? I always try using the cheapest, safest and best shipping alternative possible so that the fans won’t be overpriced and can afford it and that’s really all I can do but those leeches at the post office, tax office and delivery companies are ruining my business plan totally. As much as I possibly can I try minimize my dependency to other people but in this respect I’m powerless I’m afraid. It’s not like I can start a worldwide shipping company myself. I’m currently investigating every option there is because the shipping is a big problem these days. For the record I gotta say, for the first shipment I did this week I spent about 1500 US dollars in postal fees from my own pocket.
When the album is widely released at the end of may (May 25th) will physical copies of the CD or vinyl be available to buy from any online shops or is the physical media limited to purchase from your own webstore?
I have physical distro via Seasons of Mist for EU and AUS,.. and most likely the US and Canada too, that to the retailers / stores. I’m not sure about other online stores apart from my own webshop. Double LPs are bulky and fragile and heavy and therefore cost shitload to ship, CDs are way cheaper ( in other words, order from me ;-)) Hahaha!
Do you view record labels as unnecessary for your own music?
Not just for my music but for bands in general, within a short future yes. However I’m sure in one fashion or another they will remain and provide a service for bands and artists, but as internet has changed everything and the majority of casual listeners don’t buy physical products any longer it has become very difficult. Also I must confess, for me personally that’s the price I have to pay for adamantly doing my own thing with full artistic freedom and refusing to let anyone else dictate the terms for me with everything for how my music should sound, look and be presented just so it’d be easy to sell to an already initated target market within a specific genre or category of metal/rock.
I have generally very mixed feelings about labels, and although I have some quite good experiences from earlier on, in recent years I have nothing but really bad ones. Last year I released two albums with this side project of mine, where I did metalized versions of classic swedish children’s music under the moniker of Barndoom med Snömannen & hans vänner. That in order to prevent the interest for rock music from dying among the younger generations I was gonna go out and put up shows in school auditoriums and theatres for 1st to 6th grader kids all over Sweden and Scandinavia. Besides being an honorably good deed in itself it had great potential and I had far advanced plans, but despite everything that’s been planned in accordance with the record label, the overall incompetence and negligence sabotaged everything and that settled it for me. Never again! unless they start throwing millions after me.
Do you have plans for Wunderwurld Music that would include releasing any other bands, or is it strictly for your own music?
I really have no ambition running a label for other bands. Wunderwurld Music & Art is mainly my company where I intend to handle all of my stuff whether it’s music albums, books, art, films etc. But that’s also a question of definition, I released the other year Mad Architect’s second album Hang High. It’s not my band but apart from a some chords on guitar and financing for the entire production I did everything. Producing, singing, arranging, playing drums and bass, co-writing/refining the songs to writing all lyrics and vocal lines, designing and illustrating the artwork, and lastly putting it out on my own label after having shopped it around for a while with little interest from other labels. After all these years working with every possible and impossible projects, there isn’t much I haven’t seen or heard but this gotta be one of the weirdest and most peculiar set ups I’ve encountered, but it works and I put my heart and soul into making it as good as I possibly could and I’m proud of it.
There might be a third album with Mad Architect, but I’ve already told the instigator Magnus Daun that I can’t repeat that process and take on that much work and responsibility on my shoulders again, so he’ll need to find himself a band then I can add on the vocals just like we did on the first album. Another condition of mine is that we name his next album: Daun Syndrome. Hahaha!
Do you enjoy the business-side of running Wunderwurld Music or would you rather devote yourself 100% to the creative side of the music if possible?
In all honesty, it’s a necessary evil. I’d love to spend all my time making music and art and leave all that crap to someone else, but as for now I really have no choice but to do it myself. I still possess the enthusiasm of a teenager but the experience of a 70 year old cynical grumpy fart.
It’s clear that I don’t always think about how much routine, skills and experience I have obtained over the years and somehow take it for granted like that is common knowledge when in truth it’s anything but that. In recent years I have kinda overdozed on bad experiences with far too many incompetent morons. Call me a control freak but my music means the world to me and my songs are like my babies, and to leave it in the hands of some of those lowlifes is about as irresponsible as to let your neighbour who’s a convicted pedophile babysit your 6 year old daughter.
I’m constantly on the watch for good qualified co-workers and employees that can help assist me and take some load of my shoulders with the business side of things, but that’s easier said than done. I hired in December this new firm run by a young self proclaimed marketing genius and strategist half my age to handle all the promotion with the launching of this new album, but had no choice but to fire his ass 4-5 weeks ago because I realized it was all talk and zero substance with about as much concrete results and absolutely no grasp on reality. That meant of course, that in the eleventh hour it all landed on my shoulders and I had to start over from scratch with the marketing and promotion. Far from the ideal scenario, but what choices do I have other than to roll up my sleeves and get to work? It’s not like I’m gonna crawl up into fetal position and cry like a baby.
When I saw that White Is The New Black was coming I was of course intrigued but when I saw that a number of the songs were ones you had done videos for over that past 1-2 years (Alcoholocaust, Nachtgeist, and Krampus) I admit I was a little taken aback. Not in a negative way, just that it’s not the typical path of a couple videos a 1-2 months ahead of the release.
Well, It’s a new age and the old rules from pre-internet don’t apply anymore. One gotta think out of the box and approach the market in new ways. Other than on Youtube none of those video songs have been released like digital singles or anything until now on White Is The New Black. I had this unconventional, not to say unorthodox idea that I was willing to try in order to build up an interest for my act and forth coming album as well as to establish the visual aspects of it with the presentation, as that has always been of the greatest importance to me. In the best of worlds, you won’t be able to separate what you hear from what you see and that way you get the double impact. I was raised on KISS, say no more.
By the way, I was talking to my friend Adde from the band Hardcore Superstar recently whose album has already been finished since last year but that they had adopted the same strategy and model and are putting out 5-6 videos before its release in late fall 2018. That in order to sustain the lifelength of an album that nowadays otherwise is dead after a month at best. According to him several others have already followed my example, and that wouldn’t be the first time.
On that note,.. did you see my Live Streamed Release Party the other weekend? The first in its kind, or a world sensation if you will, where I basically invited the whole wide world into my house via my official Youtube page. As far as that went, we had viewers from well over 50 countries and fans were able to join in the party and interact in realtime with me and my guests. The way I figured, why would I threw a release party in some local rockclub and invite a couple of hundred friends but what would be the point? When you have toured the world for many years and got fans from all over,why not use the modern technology and invite them all. Overall, I wanted to make it more personal in my own way, and what could be more personal than to invite them all into my home, the Hellhaus on Hising-Island?
It was a massive project to undertake and arrange and hired a professional film-team to help set everything up like a reality show with overviews on various rooms where there’d be activity going on, live shows, Q&A’s, etc etc. Each and every single one was blown away and flabbergasted about the whole event/happening and thought it was one of the best idea ever, but unfortunately I was hoping for at the very least 10 times as much online attendence and spread on people’s respective FB, Twitter pages and other social medias. I’m convinced that we’ll be seeing more of this in the near future for artists and bands, but I alone didn’t have financial backup necessary to promote the event as much as I would have wanted to, and therefore it didn’t reach out to its full potential. For any entrepreneur, pioneer, out-of-the-box thinker, trailblazer, inventor or whatever you wanna call it, the hardest part is always to try make people understand what you’re trying to accomplish when most people lack the imagination and ability to visualize something they have never seen or heard done before. By instinct and fear they react automatically with reluctant and negativity, so it means that you constantly have to fight against the resistance of their conservatism and unwillingness for change and progress. Not to blow my own horn, but that’s pretty much the story of my life and has very much affected my actions and choices in life.
Were all the songs on White Is The New Black written and recorded at the same time or were you first writing/recording and doing the video then later decided to do them together as an album?
No, they’ve all been recorded in separate sessions over the course of maybe 3 years and I’ve selected a few that I went ahead and mixed with different sound engineers that I thought would be the best for that particular song or songs for one particular musical direction and landscape. It’s been an awful long and hard process experimenting, honing and achieving the sound I have envisioned in my head for these 6 individual concept albums with as many musical directions and styles. But on a positive note, we have now found a language and the basic template to build on now when I will make each individual album.
My favourite song that I’ve heard from the album is Krampus. The video is great, and the drum fills etc are just so damn catchy namely the little breakdown bit that starts at 1:15-1:30 the feel and drums – so great…
Thanks, the funny thing about that one, and this may sound odd but I had the conceptual idea for this mythological figure Krampus and had both done the mask done and had parts of the video shot in the wintery forest before I had even written the actual song.
Regarding the song “BE KIND TO ANIMALS – OR I’LL KILL YOU!” – love the title and the message. Since the world is overall not very kind to animals, I think you really have your work cut out for you. 🙂 Are you also a vegetarian or vegan…after-all, to me, as a fellow animal lover, it is for myself the logical next step in caring about all animals…i.e. “friends not food” etc..
That’s a very relevant question, and I totally understand why you’re asking. This campaign was by some people wrongly intepreted as vegan propaganda which was never my intention. It began as a haphazard fluke when eventually I one day exploded from seeing acts of animal cruelty splashed all over the social medias and by impulse took a viciously looking picture of myself and added the slogan Be Kind to Animals or I’ll Kill you. Then posted it on Facebook and it went ka-boom. When I logged on 10 hours later or so it had basically gone viral and I was almost bombarded with comments and mails with postive reactions. What surprised me the most though, was that quite a few were saying stuff like: It’s amazing that a famous person like you would take a stand for something like this, meant as a compliment I’m sure, but what did they mean by ” A person like me?” Do they just assume that I as a shockrocker/ heavy metal guy is a wicked person who take pleasure in torturing cute little animals or what? Nothing could be further from the truth and it actually bothered me quite a bit. All my life I’ve always loved animals and nothing would upset and disturb me as much as when I was mistreated animals, negligence or flat out cruelty against innocent animals and as a kid I used to beat up dumbass kids who’d throw rocks at ducks, squirrels and stuff.
Others were saying that I should print and sell posters and T-shirts with that design that they would gladly buy and wear with pride. At first I hadn’t had any other intention with this than raising my voice for those who don’t have any voice, and in general I wanted to do something to make that shit stop by raising awareness. However, after some time I figured what if I’d take their advice and sell it my webshop then donate the profit to dogs shelters, animal rescues etc. I decided to go ahead with it and decided to organize and campaign for it by involving other ”evil” animal lovers like for example King Diamond, who in contrast to what the general public may think of this satanist have actually cancelled tours because he couldn’t find anyone to look after his beloved cats. That if anything speak volumes against people preconceieved ideas of us I’d say.
Anyway, like you say veganism is a logical step but I’m no vegan nor vegitarian, yet. However I rarely eat meat but when I do it’s mainly produced by nearby farmers where the animals are treated in the best possible way.
Will there be anymore videos to come from this album?
Yes, I’m planning on making the sixth and last one for this album now asap. You forgot to mention earlier the latest one I released 2 months ago called My Religion ( I sold my soul to rock n´roll, that is,..) and Be Kind to Animals or I’ll kill you.
I’ve been so extremely busy so far this year with all the tiring business side of things that I haven’t even touched any instrument or sang a single note until my big Live Streamed Release Party event the other week and so I’m kinda behind schedule here as for the videos shooting that I expected to do in February / March but I’ll try arrange it all for May and it’s gonna be this beautiful song representing the future release Mystique Für Alle called Gothicburg Bridge/ Is this my destiny?
There are some very cool guests on the album from Wolf, Dream Evil, Sabaton, and Ross the Boss. Can you tell me a bit about their contributions in terms of how they took shape – was it musically directed by you or more of a “hey, do your own thing on this bit here”?
I also have contributions from the God of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown and guitar solo trade off from two of my favorites Lars Johansson ( Candlemass) and Mike Wead ( King Diamond, Memento Mori etc) and let’s not forget Jake E ( Amaranthe, CyHra)
How it took place was quite simple I’d say. With Ross the Boss who I asked to replace my own solo on the song Alcoholocaust, where also on this album version Niklas Stålvind from Wolf take turns singing every second verse line together with me. I’m friends with Niklas and I’m proud to call my teenage hero Ross my brother these days too, so I just asked if they wanted to make a little guest star appearance, which they gladly did. I sent Ross the files in New York and said I expected nothing less than for him to go bezerk like on Into Glory Ride and Hail To England, my two favorites with Manowar, and I can say he delivered the goods and more, much more. I love his kinda brutally rough and unpolished “fuck you” attitude in the deliverance and that’s why I asked him. Without naming names, a few years back I originally had another super talented guitarist doing a solo for it but I thought it came out sounding too Satriani slick, smooth and too gayish for my taste, if you don’t mind the expression so that’s why I recorded it myself for the video version.
I’m making an entire album where I invite a lot of guests to participate with some vocals or a guitar solo etc, called This is Heavy Metal,. plain and simple. And besides Alcoholocaust the other representant for that on White is the,..is Family Feud, that has Niklas Isfeldt ( Dream Evil) Joakim Brodén ( Sabaton) and Jake E ( Amaranthe, CyHra) sharing the vocals with me. Originally when I wrote that one last year, and because of the lyrical content I had this idea to invite King Diamond and Messiah Marcolin who I consider family members and you might say we’ve had our quarrals and differences in the past. King Diamond loved the idea and was all up for it, but sadly due to his contracts and having not released any King album in 8 years or so he had to pass and take a raincheck on this for the time being. And Messiah, what can I say, was just being his usual difficult self,..
What do you view is the common ground, if any, between: Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, and Snowy Shaw?
Good question, I’d say we’re all the bastard sons of Alice Cooper. And that includes King Diamond too, and W.A.S.P, Ghost and every other shock rocker there is.
My introduction to you was, as with many long-time metalheads, as the drummer for King Diamond. I know you were up against a lot of people for the drum spot. What was is like to be brought into the King Diamond fold – was it what you expected and in reflecting back what were some of the best and worst things about being with the iconic King Diamond?!
I have nothing but good memories from that time and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity in every possible way. For one it helped put my name on the map and establish myself in the music world internationally for starters. I don’t know if I really had any expectations to begin with. I was just a kid basically, when I joined in summer 1989. A rookie with very little life experience thrown into this crazy rock circus that started off with a big headline US tour for 3 months, then a short break over x-mas before we embarked on the european leg of the Conspiracy world tour. Looking back on it now, almost 30 years later it’s mind boggling. I had no clue about anything, but I knew music and how to play the drums. I actually turned down the first offer when Mikkey Dee recommended I’d take his place because I wanted to form my own super band, but when the opportunity knocked a second time about 6 months later via Pete Blakk the guitarist I’m forever glad I came to my senses and fetched it, because it changed my life forever, and for the better.
You’ve been involved with so many killer bands and we can’t delve into them all here….some notables are of course: Therion, Dream Evil, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Dimmu Borgir, Notre Dame, Memento Mori, XXX, Illwill, Opera Diabolicus, Sabaton, Denner/Shermann, Ralf Scheepers (solo album)….and many more! Each of these of course have some fans who know you from that band alone and and your role in that band. They see you now and perhaps think – “wow I thought he was a drummer – didn’t know he could sing that good.” or another “I thought he was a vocalist – I didn’t know he could play drums so good”. Haha…you must get a bit of that, a bit of surprise at how adept you are at different roles?!
Yeah, that’s kinda funny and,. I must admit a little annoying too at times when people insist on labelling you this or that and can’t seem to understand that there are many sides to a person and there’s no contradiction in doing different things and having more than one single qualification or skill, but for the most part is all positive.
When I first started touring with Therion as a lead singer frontman, especially in south/latin America where Therion was huge, the audience had no clue who I was and didn’t discover until later that I used to be a drummer in King, Mercyful Fate etc. They still see me as a singer first and foremost while many others depending on when and where they first got in contact with me tend to think that’s what I am, and all I am.
But few know that I’m damn wicked noseflute player too,.. stay in the loop and you’ll find out hahaha!
Like you say, quite often I’m exposed to these weird and funny incidents because of this. I remember in the beginning of a tour with Therion in Poland or something having dinner with the whole touring party including crew guys etc. One german/italian guy named Jesus kept staring at me across the table suspiciously until he’d finally worked up the courage to ask me. Do you have a brother by the same first name but who’s a drummer? I just laughed out loud at him and said no I don’t, but I also play drums. Apparently he’d been working with Blind Guradian when Dream Evil did a string of Scandinavian shows as support to them and had been very helpful patching up my kit in the fly when I killed them on stage. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful for him saving my ass there, but you meet so many people all the time that it’s hard to remember or place people in the right context or situation. So even for him apparently.
Another incident that springs to mind happened when I was playing 70.000 tons of metal with Sabaton on drums in 2013. I had dyed my hair black at that time that might have added to the confusion but anyway, in the bar after the show this Mexican guy comes up to me and fall to his knees while uttering like in prayer – I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy! You’re the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen, What’s your name? Snowy I replied,.. Hmmm as in Snowy Shaw he says,. Yeah, that’s me. OMG! I love you in Therion, it should be against the law to be that great singer frontman and equally as fabulous drummer. I just laughed but it’s of course always flattering and nice that people like what you do and I said thank you so much, I really appreciate that 🙂
Were you always a mufti-instrumentalist or was it drums first etc? When did you realize you could also sing?
I started out as a drummer but many times I’ve wondered why I picked the drums when I first formed my rockband by persuading my more or less reluctant schoolmates when we were 12-13 and no one could play or had barely seen an instrument before. Don’t get me wrong, I loved drums I became totally obsessed with it (well, I do have that tendency with everything I like, and that’s why I’ve stayed the hell away from drugs or I’d be dead now ) but what I mean is that I was also the driving force and bandleader and it’s not the ideal instrument if you wanna write songs. I started by writing lyrics lyrics in swedish and after a while I eventually got tired of sitting behind the drums and try to instruct them how to play my ideas by mouthing or humming the riffs and stuff and had to learn a little guitar or bass just to get my song ideas across, and gradually I got a little better at it. Finding a good singer, or any singer for that matter was always a major pain in the ass though. In my late teens I was frustrated as fuck when I time and time again I witnessed how all of my potentially great bands evaporate due to the lack of a singer. Yet it took until my mid 20s until it even crossed my mind that I should try singing myself. Again, the combination drummer/singer isn’t ideal I thought, especially not if you play powerhouse drums like I do and you want a singer in the front of the stage to interact with the audience and so on. I may have had some basic talent for singing but not anywhere near my idols and I had to work tremendously hard to try get the hang of it and I’m still trying.
I’ve been on a bit of a black metal kick lately – so forgive my asking – I think you could do an amazing job as a vocalist in a black metal role with lots of shrieks, growls, low vocals, and high-pitched King Diamond-esque bits…would a couple of songs in the black metal style find its way into your music or do you not feel that style?
Yeah, there are elements in black metal that I really love and I feel a strong kinship with that in my own music, imagery and theatricality of it, it that’s even a word. And especially in the concept for the next planned album Wizard in the Wunderwurld you’ll hear some of that. I’ve not been much of a fanboy since my teens but there are some bands that I really like and that fascinates me, like Cradle of filth, Behemoth, Carach Angren and last but not least Dimmu Borgir. Abbath is like the coolest and craziest dude ever 🙂 but I can’t say I was ever much of a fan of the actual music of Immortal. How can you not respect and admire a guy like that, who’s just himself and seemingly don’t give a flying fuck about anything. That’s refreshing and amusing. Kudos!
For a very short time you were in the great symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir. I really liked your contributions to the album Abrahadabra and was bummed when you left. In a 2010 interview you did with us, you were not able to say much other than it was “misunderstandings….and lack of communication”. Can any more light be shed on what happened or would you prefer leave the past to the past?
Yeah, it was a damn shame and I really felt like crap about how the whole thing turned ugly having started out like the most wonderful thing imaginable. To me it felt a bit like joining a modern day KISS and I thought I had finally found my place in life and that I was gonna stay in that band till the day I die. On that note, more than once did the tragic story of Vinny Vincent spring to mind. It really had nothing to do with the guys in the band, well indirectly it did because they wouldn’t stand up against their manipulative witch-bitch of a manager, and I just couldn’t take that shit. Neither could Mustis, Hellhammer or Vortex before me. Once she entered the picture it was all downhill straight to Hell, so in spite of thinking I’d stay in Dimmu til I’d die after 6-7 months I had to get the fuck out unless I was gonna burst into flames and die out of pure frustration and fiery fury.
Of all the bands you have been in and have worked with, do you maintain contact with any of them, or regularly see any of them?
Absolutely, I’d say I’m on good terms with all of them actually, maybe with the exception of Dimmu Borgir then which is a bit sad. Silenoz reached out to me a couple of years ago by sending me a friend request on Facebook and we talked a little bit and buried the hatchet so to speak, but other than that we’re all still good friends and anything else would be absurd and childish. Just because I have decided to leave a band, end a working relationship and move on in life to new adventures and challenges certainly doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends and get along socially. After all, we’re family with a shared history, and like in all families you will argue and brothers will fight.
The other weekend when I had my big Live streamed Release Party I invited many former bandmates and friends like Andy La Rocque, Peter & Niklas from Dream Evil, Pete Blakk, Mikkey Dee, Fredman, Rob Nasty, Mark U Black, Jake E, Magnus Rosén. Well, pretty much everyone who are based in the Gothenburg area. It’s a shame if you missed that by the way. It had viewers from 51 countries or more that we interacted with and the event in itself is quite sensational and groundbreaking, If I’m not mistaken the first of its kind even. I invested a whole lot of time and money on it, but the problem being a trailblazor thinking out of the box is that people just don’t understand what it is until years later and you constantly have to fight against the resistance with conservative neysayers. I have now published the live event and I would highly recommend you go into my official Youtube page and watch this unique 3 hour spectacle.
Would you consider working with any of them again? Or is the mission now 100% focus on your own music?
What life has taught me is to never say never, but my main focus is definitely on doing my own thing now. It’s now or never you know, before I’m too fucking old. ( hold your horses, I can still say I’m in my 40s,.. for another 4 months) May sound weird but my goal in life is to sit on the porch at the retirement home sipping tea as a content 75 year old and be able to say: I followed my heart and I chased my dream, I faced my fears and I never backed down. I gave it all and I did it MY Way.
With so many bands and having been all over the world with many of them over the decades, I know you must plenty stories to tell about you times in those bands, and about you as a person with a distinct an unique identity throughout it all. As such, I know you’ve been working on an auto-biography. What form does it take and how close to complete/release are you with it?
Hell yeah! That I can promise you my friend. My life’s been one helluva rock n´rollercoaster of constant ups and downs with one story crazier than the other. In truth, adventures that most people can only dream of, although far from all is good though. This is not some sugar-coated Cinderella fairytale. My life’s been a war, but luckily I’m a warrior.
Later this year I’ve been writing on my book off and on for 10 years, so it’s about time I round it off, but then again it is an auto-biography about my life and career, and as I’m still both very much alive and active, not to mention incredibly busy, so where do I put an end to it? Before I opted to turn it into a book it started out as a home-made form of therapy just for myself, to deal with my severe mid-life crisis after I had turned 40 and basically turned everything upside down and thought my life was over. Now in retrospect a decision I’m immensely happy about and a far better option than taking that nose dive from the Gothenburg bridge and end it all. To my surprise my home-made therapy actually worked and writing about my life has helped me get a clearer perspective on things and to come to terms with myself and my problems, like a catharsis. It also made me realize tht life isn’t over just because you’re 40, and so many great things have happened in both my life and career since. Next year it’s 30 years since I joined King Diamond and celebrating 30 years as a professional musician. Wouldn’t that anniversary and opportunity be far too good to overlook you’d say? Let’s decide this here and now, 2019 it is that I’ll be putting out The Book Of Heavy Metal.
As of yet, I still don’t have a publisher for it though. Guess it’s about time I start looking into that by shopping around now. So listen up all you book publishers out there, hook me up! Or else I do like I always do, like the D.I.Y guy I am I’ll do it myself, my way.
Without digging into personal finances, that should of course remain personal, where does a musician like Snowy Shaw make his living from in a time when sales of physical mediums are dwindling and the micro-payment money made from services like apple, spotify, YouTube are so low?!
I’m a male whore,.. hahaha! No, not even a music one, but I do the occasional session job of course, which I both appreciate and enjoy for the most part. But seriously, you are absolutely spot on right that economically the music biz is just flat out fucking ridiculous these days, and if nothing drastically changes soon that’s gonna cut the middlehands and bring more profit to the artists, we gonna see many great artists and bands throw in the towel. And in this day and age, that’s when I decide to go solo and try to establish myself as a solo artist – Brilliant!
Years ago I invested smart and have lived thrifty and saved up over the years from tours etc just so I can afford not having a regular job on the side and can focus 100 % on my music and art. Truth is I’ve invested a big chunk of my life’s savings into launching my solo career and into the making of my new album White Is The New Black and what I’ve earned for the past few years since I left Sabaton are just peanuts. If no new fresh money will start rolling in soon it’s over and I will have to take action and look for other options. Otherwise I’ll soon be a homeless bum. I’m not asking for your pity but just so you know. I’m literally sacrificing everything here, including my sanity. So please pay a visit to: www.snowyshaw.net/webshop and support a true art-ist!
What are the next plans for Snowy Shaw? Any tour plans for 2018?
We’ve been planning a big co-headline tour of Europe for October & November, and some talk about various festival shows before that. As of today I got offers for 6-7 co-headline shows in Sweden and possibly more around Scandinavia but so far nothing is cut in stone.
I keep recieving all sorts of offers from here and there, but 9 times out of ten it never materialize into anything concrete.
I’ve just signed a deal with King Records for Japan and there’s been some talk about a smaller tour in the land of the rising sun, including festivals. We’ll see what happens.