Story by Mike Rice.
Tomorrow, The Odd Room will host the first proper show in seven months from Charlotte’s elusive noise/doom outfit Wunderbeast . In that time, Wunderbeast’s maestro Jeremy Snyder has been busy navigating some of the dismal caverns of his mind where the project was born, and has reemerged with a new, still very dark approach to the band that he is ready to share. Snyder recently fielded some questions from The Collective about what to expect from Wunderbeast now that it has come out of hiding.
The show at The Odd Room tomorrow is the first Wunderbeast show in quite a while. What’s been going on with the band?
I think playing often in the same town is a bad idea but, truthfully, Wunderbeast’s absence has been do to a shift in both philosophy and in personnel. Originally, Wunderbeast was simply my solo project. After the singer from my last band (Luz) moved to New York, ostensibly ending that project, I attempted to start several other projects but nobody seemed interested in playing music with me and so I started working on my own material. It quickly became a semi-functioning democratic band with permanent members and we released an EP this past January called “Girth Machine”. That permanent, functioning democracy began to crumble, at which point I decided that Wunderbeast is better off as my personal project. So, since then, I’ve been working on some new recordings and gathering new musicians to perform this music live with me.
While the “democracy” was it more of a collective songwriting process that has since been re-abandoned? Or was it always you at the helm?
With few exceptions, I brought the material in a format that was mostly complete so that, if no one had any objections or new ideas, it nearly worked as it was. But I love including other perspectives. Even now, where I’m playing most of the instruments on the records, if I have a guest musician, I am completely interested in how they view the work and what they might think could be improved. When the band was more democratic, I gave into other ideas more readily. Although, those members might strongly disagree and view me as ruthlessly unyielding. I tried.
We’ve talked before about how you think it’s hard for Wunderbeast to find bands to play with in Charlotte. Why do you think this is?
For the most part we are usually heavier or not heavy enough for the bands with which we’re playing. We’ve played with Young and In The Way and we’ve also played with Melt. I like both of those bands but I wouldn’t call either of them a good fit for us. I wouldn’t consider what we’re doing particularly original but I don’t think I’m objective enough to know where we might fit in.
The last release under the Wunderbeast name was the live noise orchestra album Deep Sex Death Place. How did that project come about?
This is a little confusing. That release was actually not a Wunderbeast release; the name of that project is Deep Sex Death Place and the release is titled “Nudes”. What is confusing is that the recording is of a live performance that was advertised as Wunderbeast. Shortly before that show, Wunderbeast was mildly imploding and, rather than cancel the show, I gathered the remaining members of the band along with Donnie Doolittle (Dreamy D) and Jesse Clasen (HRVRD) to perform an improvised avant-garde set. I was very happy with the performance and recording and so we released it under it’s own name. There is a chance a version of DSDP will perform again but I’m not sure how or when. Strangely, the cacophonous meandering of DSDP has gotten more traction and attention than the Wunderbeast material. Wunderbeast’s latest release is “Girth Machine”. It is only three songs but it’s roughly 27 minutes of material, which makes it hardly an EP. While I’m comfortable with how that record came out, I don’t think it fully reaches the fucked up, murky recesses I was attempting to portray with those songs. Which is fine, that’s why we make more records.
Would you care to elaborate on the “murky recesses” where you find inspiration for Wunderbeast?
I grew up in a fringe charismatic sect of Christianity. Virtually cultish because of religious exclusivity in the Northeast, it pervaded every aspect of my life. There’s an archetype that is projected about how one should behave and think and I always had a very hard time fitting into it. Included but cast to the margins. When I exited that lifestyle, I began to realize how psychologically abusive that environment had been for me.
A lot of Wunderbeast’s material is exploring how that ethos may have damaged me and how I’ve begun to recover. To be clear, I don’t really care about what anyone else believes or participates in whether it’s a cult with shouting prophets and numerology or a Dungeons and Dragons themed orgy; it’s possible for that environment to be beneficial to someone, I guess. I’m primarily referring to my experience and how my mental capacity failed to match the requirements of what I view as an archaic, hegemonic society.
I just realized how similar a Christian prophesy meeting and a Dungeons and Dragons themed orgy must be.
Any new releases we should be looking forward to?
I have two records worth of material that I’m working on right now. I’ve consistently used the imagery of conjoined twins in Wunderbeast’s artwork because a lot of the material is exploring the sensation of having two very different sides of oneself that are being forced to work themselves out in front of everyone. Like I said, my upbringing was kind of strange and it caused me to be both trapped in a small, insular community that I couldn’t assimilate into while also being pushed to the margins of that demographic.
On the next release, I am considering using these two records as a set of conjoined twins and having them come out simultaneously. Hopefully out this summer.
What else is cool in Charlotte right now?
There are a number of very interesting bands and visual artists right now. I’m a huge fan of Moenda‘s deconstructionist expressionism and Bo White’s newish band, Patois Counselors is a really cool perspective on post-punk. Andy McMillan does some really subtle, minimalist high art photography, and Holly Keogh, who I don’t actually know personally, is a painter with a few pieces I find very engaging and aware. Which is worth noting because the quality of art has suffered greatly here. People like Phil Pucci and Alex Shaw have put a lot of energy into putting on events that both bring good work to the city but also highlight some of the lesser known artists locally. I’m not a Charlotte apologist and have nothing invested in whether or not it becomes cool – I couldn’t possibly care less about that, but occasionally something worth seeing or hearing happens here.