Interview with Jon Snodgrass | By John B. Moore | Photo by Imelda Michalcyk
When Brandon Carlisle – the drummer and co-founder of Teenage Bottlerocket – passed away suddenly last year, Jon Snodgrass left the hospital and immediately turned his grief into a song.
Thinking about all those times he rode his skateboard to Carlisle’s Ft. Collins, Colorado, home and the two of them holed up in the basement working on music, Snodgrass channeled his confusion surrounding the tragedy and focused on turning their relationship into yet another musical collaboration.
The song is titled “1-2-3-4, Won’t Go Down to the Basement No More.” Snodgrass recalls, “I wrote it right after we all left the hospital. That’s what that song is about. I was delayed by the train going there; everybody was going to be there at 5:30, and I actually got there about five minutes late, and everybody had all heard the news before I got there.”
Snodgrass lucked into some available recording time with Jason Livermore at the Blasting Room and has decided to release the song as a 7”. The title was another fit of inspiration, thanks to Carlisle.
The last time Snodgrass saw his buddy alive, just days before he passed, they were both at The Surfside 7 for “Groverage”—which is basically karaoke with the Descendents. That night was the venue’s pre-opening party and a secret warm-up gig the band threw together. Snodgrass recalls looking up at the unfinished stage area and saying, “‘I think we need to put a piece of outdoor carpet up there like the old place.’” A little reluctant to tell this story, he continues, “So, after the funeral, I kind of stole the green outdoor carpet that was under his casket.”
Thus, Snodgrass’ new 7” is aptly christened Carpet Thief. “I had talked to Brandon about it; it was a known thing, and I was already going shopping for carpet for the stage. So, after the funeral, I was looking at it, walked the edge of the carpet with my feet, and said, ‘Yeah, this is at least 13 feet wide,’” he laughs. “It’s now on stage at the Surfside 7, and everyone sets their drums on it when they play.”
The flipside to the song inspired by Carlisle is “Perfect Match,” an old song Snodgrass originally wrote for Paper + Plastick’s Vinnie Fiorello, who was working on a comic book about vampires at the time. “I hung up with [Vinnie] and wrote the song on my Blackberry, that’s how long ago it was,” Snodgrass says. He sent the song to Stephen Egerton, who added in all the guitars, drums, and bass, and then, Snodgrass added vocals in Carlisle’s basement. “I never had a home for that song, and I was going to go on this European tour, so I decided to put it on a 7”,” he concludes.
Carpet Thief is being released by the European label, Hometown Caravan, but Snodgrass is also talking to a U.S. label about releasing it Stateside. He’ll be playing across Europe from late November to early December.