Artist spotlight: Pete Snyder

Gracing just about any stage that will have him, “Speedy” Pete Snyder has become a familiar face to any fan of benefit concerts, ORC parties, and LUCC presidents. This week The Lawrentian delves into the creative mind of one of Lawrence’s most enigmatic performers.Where are you from and what are you studying at Lawrence?

I am from Flossmoor, Illinois, and I study government, economics, and environmental studies at Lawrence.

When did you start playing guitar and/or writing music?

I started playing guitar and writing music in high school. The first writing I did was a “concept album” with a metal-head friend about a guy who sells his family to the mob to feed his gambling habit. The sound was high art, late “Loaded”-era Metallica, with a German electro-clash twist. It turned out just as good as it sounds.
After that I started writing music with a different friend in a band called Teddy and Albert. We wrote songs about selling lemonade, putting on raincoats, driving in cars, bobcats on bobsleds, and nuclear fission. We were doing childish-unironic-woe-is-me-twee-revival before Morrissey made it fashionable again.

What previous musical or nonmusical experiences have contributed to your recent musical endeavors?

Most of my recent musical “endeavors” have been driven by my discovery that many of my friends are nice/altruistic/bored enough to come to see me perform, regardless of how asinine my songs are. For example, in all honesty, the most clever song I have managed to write so far is about sandwiches, and I seem to be incapable of writing about anything other than shopping or food. I once actually patted myself on the back for working the rhyme “yo, give me a calzone / put it in my hand zone” into a song. William F-ing Shakespeare I am not.
Long story short, at least in my case: having good friends and forgiving band members seems to be way more important to being a “musician” than writing good songs.

What are your recent musical endeavors?

I play in some bands on campus. One is with Kristin Tamayo, and we play lots of short pop and rock songs. We are going to try and record an album during reading period this term. When we perform, I generally just try to do my best not to embarrass her, and to avoid driving any audience away before Bored to Tears or Denes show up.
I also play in a dance-punk band with Paul Karner, Chris Wright, Adam Berey, and Pat Breese. Recently Reed Flygt was nice enough to play with us too. This group plays loud, angular rock music over disco and funk beats, and we sing about how much we like playing loud angular rock music over disco and funk beats. I generally try to do my best not to embarrass the conservatory-educated members of the group, and to avoid driving any audience away before the funk-jazz-jam-band shows up.
I’m also in a secret band, of which I can say nothing more.

Are there any specific artists that have been particularly inspirational to you?

Whoever wrote the background music to the Magnet Man stage in MegaMan III for the NES has been an endless well of hope and ideas. Also, Wu-Tang Clan’s work has inspired me in ways I can’t begin to describe. For example, in my song “Sunny Sunshine,” the lyrics

Are you a warrior? Killer? Slicin’ shit like a samurah
The Ol’ Dirty Bastard VUNDABAH
Ol’ Dirty clan of terrorists
Comin’ atcha ass like a sorceress, shootin’ that PISS!

are a direct lift from the Wu-Tang Clan song “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” off the album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).”

What purpose do you think your music serves?

Music helps me escape the existential demons that haunt me night and day. Every song I write is like a temporary escape from the ever-advancing abyss of nothingness that defines the human experience; music is futile and meaningless, but at the same time necessary. Music also sometimes gets me free beer when I play with the dance-punk group at the ORC house.

What are your plans for the future with regards to your music and/or other interests?

For as far as I can see in the future, I plan on continuing my current music writing process: First, writing the song’s guitar part. Second, writing the song’s words. Third, performing the “song” live. Fourth, atoning for the song. Fifth, crying.

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