Thank you for taking some time to answer some questions from us at Metalheads Forever Magazine. We are happy to have this opportunity. To start, can you give our readers a littlehistory of your involvement in the music business?
Thanks for having me.Well, not to sound arrogant and standoffish but Google is a mighty fine search engine if one wants to dig deeper but accommodating and nice as I am, I’ll give you a quick run through.I joined King Diamond, replacing Mikkey Dee in the summer of ´89, between then and now my life’s been one helluva rock n´roller-coaster of constant ups and downs with just as many twists and turns with bands such as Dream Evil, Therion, Dimmu Borgir, Notre Dame, XXX, Sabaton, Memento Mori, Illwill, Mercyful Fate, Opera Diabolicus, Kee Marcello, Mad Architect and I have now finally landed where I belong as a solo artist with my namesake act Snowy Shaw.
Over the years, I’ve somehow earned myself a reputation as a multi instrumentalist having played either drums, bass, guitar or vocals with the aforementioned bands. That besides being song writer, lyricist, art director, producer and so forth. But If you’d ask me I’d say I’m mainly a creative art-ist and visionary with a firm D.I.Y mentality who dabble with pretty much every aspect involved in the creative process. Basically with all you can see and hear.
You have worked with some of the biggest names in the metal scene, you have played the big festivals and toured the world…Are there any goals that you have not yet achieved that you are aiming for?
That my friend is quite an understatement. There are shitloads of dreams and goals I have yet to realize, especially since I have basically just started my own solo thing under my own flag. The inevitable have finally caught up with me, after all those years in twice as many bands and projects, that my true element as a creative force isn’t within a group.
From a creative landscape, the way things are right now, I could hardly be any happier. Well, at a second thought, maybe if it turns out that in some peculiar mysterious way 10 billion people have this fabulously excellent taste of sharing my specific taste exactly. Only so that I could get the kind of financial back up to actually go ahead and realize all those dreams and crazy ideas with my kind of art and shows.
This may sound rather odd and I’m eternally grateful for all those great opportunities and experiences I have had in my career but in a way it actually feels like everything I have been doing over the past 30 years have been the preparation leading up to this.
Many know of you through your early work on the drums but some do not realize you are natural born lead singer as well. You know how to play to an audience and pump them up. When did you first come from behind the drum kit, and take on a role as a lead singer?
Thanks for those kind words. I was always the driven band starter kind of guy and indeed started out as a drummer but ended up having to learn to play a little guitar and bass in order to write songs since the other guys couldn’t or wouldn’t. However, finding a good singer, or any singer for that matter, was simply impossible in those days so all of my bands I started wouldn’t make it beyond the rehearsal room and because of that things gradually started to deteriorate and I got increasingly frustrated as time went by. But not once did it cross my mind that I should try to sing myself, simply because the combination of drums and vocals isn’t maybe the best combo, at least not the way I play drums. It wasn’t really until Illwill that I had great expectations that fell into pieces and evaporated, that I reached a boiling point where I went… Well, fuck you all – I do it all myself. Including singing. That’s when I founded Notre Dame and on stage I would later front the band as a singer/guitarist.
You are at this time working on a solo cd which includes the song “Nachtgeist” you recently released a video for. Can you tell our readers a little more about what exactly a “Nachtgeist”is and what inspired this song?
Nachtgeist is obviously german and translates nightmare, night-ghost or incubus. In folklore Nachtgeist is a mythical evil spirit that haunts you in your sleep. Among other things portrayed by the painter Goya hundreds of years ago. Those are the kind of things that fascinate and inspires me.
A week ago today I put out Nachtgeist which is the second music/video out of 4 to be released during 2016 although I won’t release the album(s) until next year ( Alcoholocaust was the first that I released in May this year ) An unconventional strategy it may seem but as the record and music industry is constantly changing there’s no point of desperately clinging on to how it used to be pre-internet. As I refuse to compromise my artistic freedom for the time being I have chosen to finance everything from my own pocket and operating my own label Wunderwurld Music I’m willing to try out unorthodox methods and break every conceivable rule and convention. As I now enter a new chapter in my life as a solo artist I can only assume there are a lot of preconceived ideas of what I am based on what I’ve done in the past and depending on what band you know me from. You could say that through those new music videos I put on display I’m giving my fans a preview of what’s to come in all its diversity and basically inviting you all into my world, the Wunderwurld.
In your work on your solo cd, who are some of the musicians and guests working on the endeavor with you?
When I decided to go “solo” I meant that in the truest sense of the word, meaning that I am all solo and sing, play, write, record and produce everything myself. That apart from everything else like running the operation as a label and production manager, designing and manufacturing everything for the stage, videos and albums etc. Then for the sheer pleasure I invite the occasional guest whose style and approach I feel would fit the particular song in question.
I have quite a impressive gang with some of my favorite musicians lined up willing to contribute on my albums and needless to say that is a humbling experience having reached such a position. But I just gotta find the right spots as I most certainly don’t intend to include them because I think their name or fame would help sell my albums. That kind of shit is so not me.
Coincidentally my new video/song Nachtgeist was such a case and I’m delighted that both Lasse Johansson of Candlemass and Mike Wead from King Diamond wanted to grace me with their presence in a trade off guitar solo. Not to mention Arthur Brown, which in my book, is equal to having Elvis Presley contributing on one of your songs.
When the solo cd is completed, do you have any plans to tour outside of Sweden and the big European festivals that you would like to work on?
Of course, I just played Wacken in Germany a few days ago and I have every intention of bringing my special super show everywhere in the world where they want me. But for the record I gotta say I have so far already turned down a few offers to tour Europe as a headliner in a package on the terms that the venues and clubs were too small for my stage production and unless I can do my show justice I fail to see the point of doing altogether.
By the way, funny you keep referring to the CD format. Isn’t that format obsolete in North America yet? I’m not gonna rule out the possibilities of printing CDs too but the last album I released on my label was a limited edition vinyl double album with another side project of mine called Mad Architect. The revival of the LP was quite unexpected, I must say, but I’m really happy about it. The Mad Architect album was also available on a digital dropcard and obviously on all the digital platforms like iTunes, Spotify etc.
Just like my Live DVD/CD Box, Snowy Shaw: 25 years of madness in the name of metal I primarily distribute and sell everything physical through my web shop and we ship world wide. We have tons of cool merch, memorabilia and other goodies from current and former bands and projects. I can really recommend you pay a visit. Snowy’s Webshop
Who are some of the people who have influenced you through your long career?
Countless people. I’m getting pretty tired of hearing myself say this but when I discovered KISS-Destroyer in 1976 it changed my life forever and it was one of those before/after moments. It was probably Peter Criss who sow the seed of me wanting to become a drummer although it wasn’t realized until years after I had lost interest in them.
Not to blow my own trumpet but many people consider me a great drummer so it’s kinda funny that when I was growing up and learning to play my favorite bands had some of the crappiest drummers, like KISS, Scorpions and Manowar. I think it has to do with the fact that I have always liked good songs and singers with a strong identity and style, and my choice of instrument was perhaps just a coincidental one. Especially since I later discovered that writing songs wasn’t ideal on drums. Most of my heroes are primarily song writers and/or singers like Ken Hensley, Joey DeMaio, Leif Edling, Eric Adams, Dan McCafferty, Paul Stanley, Halford, Axl Rose to mention a few.
As for drumming influences. I must say I hit jackpot that I at such early stage in my formative years found a role model in Mikkey Dee who was then 18 and had been playing drums as long as I had lived when I first saw and heard him at the school auditorium when I was 13 and had just started playing drums. He was already then just phenomenal and made a huge impact on me. It wasn’t until like 7 years ago that it hit me just how big an impact he had on me and I mean that in addition to his drumming. Most drummers back then were time keepers hidden in the background but he was definitely the star of the band and draw a lot attention to himself with lengthy solos and a giant chrome kit.
Other drummers that’s been a key influence to me is Mick Tucker from Sweet and Vinnie Appice.
For whatever reason I do have a penchant for groundbreaking pioneers or rebels, or inventors if you like. Arthur Brown – The God of Hellfire is one of those as the original shock rocker with his one and only hit Fire from the same year I was born. I’m proud having met and made friends with this legend although the vast majority of people don’t have the faintest idea of who this gentle old hippie is. If the fact that he loves my own rendition of Fire wasn’t enough, to have him do a little narration guest appearance on Nachtgeist was unbelievably huge for me. We’ll meet again next week.
You are one of the hardest working musicians in metal between your solo work, other bands such as the newer band Denner/Shermann as well as guest work with bands. What do you enjoy doing outside of music to relax and help recharge your batteries?
My father was a hard working alcoholic while I’m just a hard workaholic, as I usually say.
As recreation I like spending time with my wife and taking long walks in the forest with our dogs. In later years I have almost become addicted to nature and the forest. I love the peace and quiet and connecting to my inner self. Some people go to church to find inner peace, I go to the forest. Watching movies also relaxes me … perhaps a little too much as I more often than not fall asleep during the first 5 minutes.
Again, thank you, for taking some time to answer a few questions, is there anything you would like to say to your fans, whether old or new fans, before we end?
You’ve ain’t seen nothing yet,… ( sorry, couldn’t resist as I’m talking with a Canadian) But it’s actually true. I’ve got so much cool shit coming up that you wouldn’t believe it and I’m extremely grateful for the support of my fans and followers. Frankly, I can guarantee that regardless of which of my former bands you know me from there will be something for you that I’m sure you gonna love. I’m not saying that I custom make music in an attempt to please any fans of former bands, hell no! Just that I allow myself to have total artistic freedom and do whatever pleases me, and the only reason I was with bands of such vast spectrum and musical diversity was simply because such is my taste. I like good music regardless of genres and I also crave variation, otherwise I get easily bored and the interest wears off.
By defying all conventions and following my heart, I’m quite positive I have found quite a revolutionary way of doing it all but I certainly not gonna tell you any more specific details and ruin the surprise here and now but you will all discover it in time, so stay in the loop and join me on my official FB page or www.snowyshaw.net
Stay tuned and stay true.
David Maloney & Shadoe Moon