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From Scotland to Australia, The Snuts Know Community Matters Most

The Snuts return to Australia, enjoying the freedom of being an independent band again

I’ve caught Jack Cochrane at a good time. The Snuts have just played their biggest headline shows in Scotland, their home country, two massive shows at Glasgow’s outdoor venue SWG3. It predictably played out under a moody Scottish sky, a deluge of torrential rain pouring down on fans. Not that it bothered them in the slightest. 

“They were just getting more excited,” Cochrane says. “The wetter it got, the fucking wilder they were getting, man. They were rabid. It was amazing.”

 For the band who once paid touching tribute to the city in song, it was a momentous weekend. “We’ve been working towards them for a long time,” he adds. “We’ve always got a Scottish gig goal at all times, and that was one I’ve had in my head for years. They actually worked out surprisingly really well, man.”

Over Zoom, two days after their Glasgow shows, his thoughts are on a different place: The Snuts are about to head to Australia for a short tour. Cochrane and I grew up just 30 minutes from each other – he in Whitburn, also home to a certain Lewis Capaldi, and I in Cumbernauld, winner of the award for Scotland’s “most dismal” town not once but twice – but while I’m experiencing casual homesickness hearing a voice from home, Cochrane can’t wait to travel Down Under. 

“I think it’s a cool place,” he says. “People can understand what I’m saying there, for starters, which is fucking ideal (I can, in fact, confirm from experience that this is often not the case). We’re looking forward to hitting these shows up.” 

Cochrane and the rest of The Snuts – Callum Wilson, Joe McGillveray, and Jordan Mackay – were last in the country in 2022 supporting Louis Tomlinson, and their trip included the briefest of visits to Splendour in the Grass. “Such a cool festival, man,” Cochrane gushes. In typical Scottish fashion, he’ll sprinkle “man” at the end of sentences like the word is going out of fashion. “I think we were first on the main stage, which is a slot that we seem to always fucking get. It’s quite a tough slot, everybody’s sitting eating fucking hot dogs and shit like that when you’re playing. But I’d love to have spent a bit more time there. It’s got a good vibe. It’s a very party-filled vibe. It’s got an old-school festival vibe.

We both bemoan how “corporate” some festivals feel these days, lionising the much-missed Scottish festival T in the Park, where a heroic man once stole an entire cash machine, the cash machine never to be seen again. “There’s something about those festivals where you’re proper out in some farmer’s field. I hope those last forever,” Cochrane says.

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Growing up in the UK, it often felt like Scotland could only have one big breakout band at a time. Whether it was Biffy Clyro or Twin Atlantic or Frightened Rabbit, radio stations often pigeonholed them by their national identity. The Snuts never hide their Scottishness – far from it – but they’re also weary of being labelled only as a “Scottish band.” 

“When we started off playing, it was important we didn’t just become a Scottish band and couldn’t play anywhere else, because I think a lot of bands fall into that trap,” Cochrane explains. “I think that’s changing, I think there’s been so much breakthrough out of Scotland in the last five years or so. There’s just so much coming out of Scotland that it’s almost hard to ignore now.”

The Snuts return to Australia as an independent band. They departed Parlophone last year and set up their own label, Happy Artist Records, in partnership with The Orchard. It was, curiously, not an example of a waning band being let go: their second album, Burn the Empire, reached the top five on the UK Albums Chart last September, as did their previous year’s debut, W.L..

Did leaving their record label when things were going so well make them more anxious about an independent future, I ask. I think it actually made it more exciting to leave them,” Cochrane quickly answers. “You can find yourself being this artist that’s just chasing and chasing and chasing commercial success.”

When The Snuts first signed with Parlophone, the intention was to be proper recording artists, but this plan changed a few years into the deal, Cochrane says. “It became about, ‘how can you be a more interesting online character? How can you be a reality star?’ He notices my scorn. “Just pressure to make TikToks, 24/7! I get it because they’re looking at statistics, but I think when you start trying to overly merge statistics in art, you’re going to have this fucking disaster that nobody wants to see.” 

The Snuts arguably came up just at the right time, before the so-called TikTokification of music really became a thing, and Cochrane fears for fledgling bands trying to make a career today. “Something that I’ve certainly noticed in the past, maybe, three years is the amount of young artists who are having to speak out on social media, cancel tours, put their records back, not release this music or not be happy with the way that they’re being marketed and stuff like that. You can see it everywhere. There’s so much music, so much content forced down your throat now. So many artists are under so much pressure to be forcing that content down your throat.”

Cochrane recalls one of the last conversations he had at his former label. “It was just some old guys shouting at us like, ‘the music doesn’t matter.’ They all felt like that. It was like satan, man.” The band were even given homework assignments, much to their incredulity. “We had to check out the top ten, ask why a song was in the top ten, and then go check out those artists’ TikToks,” he recalls in horror. 

They don’t do selling out in Whitburn; even Lewis Capaldi, a global pop superstar, is noted for his relentlessly down-to-earth demeanour in interviews and his commitment to only being himself as an artist. It’s how The Snuts aim to act, too. 

“I think our online presence is quite different from a lot of bands’ online presence,” Cochrane says. “I think a lot of bands’ online presence is like ‘me, me, me, look at us looking super cool,’ and stuff like that. Our purpose is to purely serve the community that keeps us going as a band. The guys and girls coming to the gigs and buying the records. 

It’s their community, really, that gives Cochrane and his bandmates a sense of purpose. “I think we’ve been really lucky that we have this community that loves the music. It’s about serving them and what they need rather than just being on an online ego fucking trip 24/7.”

At their Glasgow shows, a sign above the band onstage read, “Refugees Welcome.” Two years ago, they worked with the Scottish Refugee Council to make the music video for their song “Somebody Loves You”, the clip showcasing stories of those directly helped by the charity. “When our record label asked what we’d do if they gave us the full video budget, immediately we decided to use our platform to help bring attention to the Scottish Refugee Council here in Glasgow,” Cochrane explained at the time.

For The Snuts, standing up for what they believe in isn’t a marketing ploy, but instead a natural development from their working-class roots. Making everyone feel welcome is something they pride themselves on. “It’s super inclusive, and I think the gigs are a good space as well,” Cochrane says. “I think people always feel pretty safe, happy, and welcome at the shows. He also notes the diversity of their UK shows. “We have like a fucking pensioner couple right in the very back just going for it, and then it just gets younger and younger as you get forward. All types of people, all types of ages and stuff like that.”

Being outspoken about their beliefs, however, impacted their relationship with their former label, who took issue with some of the themes of the band’s second album – the title, Burn the Empire, says it all. “We were making this record, Burn the Empire, like, ‘fuck this shit, these corrupt systems and corporations,’ and then we’ve got someone telling us we’re number three in the midweek charts and we need to introduce this super fucking ultimate mega bundle. It’s like 150 quid and there’s a fucking cost of living crisis. 

“We’re screaming ‘burn the empire,’ and you’re trying to make us milk these people who have already bought the fucking record?” He pauses. “There was this real disconnect. What we were trying to say and what they were trying to do was just so different.”

Their first single as an independent band, “Gloria”, came out in May, and immediate reaction from fans and critics – Clara Amfo named it as her Hottest Record on BBC Radio 1 – offered proof that leaving Parlophone was the correct decision. “”Gloria” was a song that was made out of pure freedom,” Cochrane says with a smile. “We knew that people would dig how it sounds because we dig how it sounds. It was just about having that trust in our own opinion rather than a boardroom opinion.”

The song, a buzzy indie rock burner, recalls DMA’S at their most upbeat, and the Australian band is one Cochrane knows well. He almost knew them very well, in fact. “They played in Falkirk, or somewhere near there, and I thought they were from Perth in Scotland, right? I was still a joiner back then, so I messaged them, because we were just starting out. We were just trying to get gigs and I messaged them on Facebook like, “You’re from Perth, we’re from Whitburn, that’s only a couple of hours (away), can we support you?’ And then I looked on Wikipedia – ahh, Perth, Australia!” 

Fans at The Snuts’ Australian shows may get to hear new music: according to Cochrane, their third album is “pretty much finished” and should arrive early next year. “It’s felt like the easiest one to make,” he insists. “Hopefully people like it!

“I think if we had entered another record on a major label, we would have probably lost much of what we’re trying to achieve, because we’re always trying out different styles and stuff like that – both our first records are peppered with all these different styles. I think we would have been getting to a stage where we would have lost that freedom.”

After the embattled political structure of Burn the Empire, Cochrane says the band are taking its follow-up in a different direction. “This next record is back to being more about people. I think that’s one of the strengths we probably have as a band – we connect with people because the songs are about people and they’re not super self-centred or whatever. It’s just about everyday people. It feels pretty cool.”

The album was also their first to be made in Scotland – in a studio at the bottom of Ben Nevis – and the quietness of the area helped them focus. “The boys are fucking killing on it, and I think it’s a feel-good record,” Cochrane adds. “There’s no rage on it, we usually throw a bit of rage on it but there’s literally no rage on it, which I think is nice for a change. I’m excited to put this one out, excited to tour this one. I think the songs are definitely designed to work really well live rather than sitting with a macchiato and the headphones in.”

Cochrane is already looking excitedly ahead to his next visit to Australia. I remind him that his old touring mate, Louis Tomlinson, has a run of shows here next year. “Nah, we’re coming back for Splendour, man,” Cochrane responds. “I’m choking to play Splendour again. Splendour, next July!” 

The Snuts perform in Brisbane on Sunday, August 13th and Sydney on Monday, August 14th Tickets are available here

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