Snowy Shaw is the powerhouse drummer with an impressive past with acts such as King Diamond, Mercyful Fate and Memento Mori. His present and future also looks equally exciting as tub thumper for Dream Evil and Kee Marcello's K2 as well as being the frontman of his own project Notre Dame.
Rockers Digest has had the pleasure of meeting Snowy on his last two visits to London with Dream Evil and K2, and are proud to have Snowy as our first ever interviewee.
Snowy, thanks for giving us this interview which is the first on our site. You must be very busy right now with new albums out by Dream Evil, K2 and Notre Dame. Can you give us a brief update on what you're doing with each and how you're managing to balance your time.
Well, it ain`t easy and especially tough right now that all three bands have recently released new albums each and is playing one off live shows here and there. On this last weekends Metal Town festival I played on one stage with Notre Dame and then less than half an hour later I played drums with K2 on another stage. You see in Notre Dame I sing and play guitar. It`s gonna be some more double shows like that with Notre Dame and Dream Evil in the near future.
Notre Dame is my baby and I do basically everything from the music to the artwork, design, photography and so forth. In Dream Evil, I`m officially the drummer but on our new album I`m the main writer and contributed probably with 80% of the material. In K2, I just play drums, it`s Kee`s band and he is in charge of all the writing, basically.
With regards to your design work, I'd been checking out www.snowyshaw.com which has some very cool imagery. I noticed there will be a link to White Trash Inc., what can you tell us about this?
White Trash Inc is the name of my little firm, where I do all sorts of design, artwork and photography for other bands and so on. It can be everything from making a T-shirt layout to making the whole album cover to designing a bands stage or creating and finding the right image for a band in connection to a photo shoot or video, like some sort of stylist in fact.
I'd like to talk a little about each of the bands you play with. Notre Dame's live appearances have been fairly sporadic, yet I noticed you've recently had a run of playing festivals, how did they go?
Very good and especially since everybody seems to think we`ve been the definite highlight on the festivals we`ve done lately. We`ve gotten lots of new fans and has attracted the biggest crowds. Up until recently we haven`t done more than a dozen shows in total since ´98 simply because we didn`t feel like it, but that is to change from now on.
I'd seen some photos of your appearance at the 2000 Decibel festival and your stage set looked very cool and in keeping with the horror film vibe which I assume you were responsible for?
Well Of course, Notre Dame is my creation all the way. The stage act has always been a big part of what the Notre Dame concept is, and although it is quite complicated at times to do a full scale stageshow, and especially at festivals, we break our backs trying to stay true to that concept, not to let our fans and ourselves down. We had a bigger stageshow and more props than the shock rock master Alice
Cooper on Metal Town Festival.
The new album is fairly direct, was this done with playing the material live in mind and is the plan for Notre Dame to play more frequently?
Yes we intend to play a lot more frequently from now on but although I agree Demi Monde Bizarros is a bit more straight forward it wasn`t anything I planned. It just turned out that way because that`s how I like it at the moment.
I understand you're working on a video for the song Munsters. I suspect you'll be in control of this and certainly look forward to seeing the results. Can you tell us a little about the video?
The Munsters video is actually a bunch of live clips that we`ve filmed during the last couple of shows. The one and only Patric Ullaeus (director of In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Lacuna Coil, and Rollergirl among countless other videos) has filmed and will be doing the editing with me. Right now I`m going through all the old filmed material plus all these new stuff for a DVD in connection to the live album Creepshow Freakshow Peepshow.
How is it for you being out front playing bass and singing rather than behind the kit?
I love it, it`s my true element. The contact with the crowd and all that, isn`t really something you get spoiled with as a drummer. But on the last K2 show I had the drums set up front stage in the middle which was very cool. We are just a three piece and people tells me I`m fun to watch, so why hide me in the background. I haven`t really seen myself as a drummer for many years, I`m a musician and songwriter first hand.
Well I can certainly echo that you are fun to watch when you are drumming. From watching you live you have a very distinctive style which is pretty hard hitting whilst making full use of the kit. I have to say, before I heard any material I was quite surprised when you hooked up with Kee Marcello in K2 as his melodic past seemed at odds with your powerful style. On hearing the songs however, the K2 line-up makes a lot more sense, though like me initially it seemed to catch a lot of the Europe faithful off guard at your recent London gig. Has this been a common reaction and can you tell us how you came to be involved in Kee's band in the first place?
Kee called me one day in 2001 I think, and asked me to play session drums on this album of his. I did the job in 3 days, got paid and that was that. I didn`t know Kee before that and I`ve never been a big Europe fan, but Kee turned out to be a super nice guy, very open minded and talented which made him very easy to work with. He later on called me to appear in the photo shoot for the album which I did and I also agreed to do some future live shows.
And yeah, I think we surprised lots of old fans of Kee and Europe with the heaviness of K2. We played a festival in a park in Stockholm some weeks ago, and after some lame Swedish folk/pop singer I got up to put my double pedal in place to do some other necessary changes on the kit. So I hit the drums and played some rolls. Based upon that, the spineless promoter got cold feet and wanted to cancel the entire show, 3 minutes before show time! Because we were too heavy and didn`t fit into the family event. I don`t know what the hell they expected but in my world K2 isn`t really that heavy. His previous solo thing 10 years ago was way softer and more West Coast AOR I`ve been told. I think much of this so called heaviness is my fault, if someone else would have played the drums on the basic recordings, the music would had gone in a different direction and would probably have a totally different approach.
Anyway, after 30 minutes of arguing they saved their assess by letting us play 3 songs and getting fully paid, plus the fans who`d shown up wouldn`t be quite as disappointed.
I thought about doing a Keith Moon and thrash their gear but it would probably just have back fired at us in the end then they would have been right. We got headlines in the news papers "metal band-too heavy" which of course was very beneficial to us and way better from a promotional point of view than to just do a simple gig.
You seemed pretty relaxed playing with K2 at the Camden Underworld, playing as just the drummer without having the pressures of it being 'your' band must provide you with an opportunity to just play and enjoy yourself.
I guess you could put it that way, and K2 in particular is style-wise very loose and opened for improvisation, in some old school vein à la Deep Purple or something. Apart from a song`s signature stuff, I normally don`t do the same chops and fills twice, I get easily bored and have to improvise to keep it interesting. This is problematic at times because if you fly in to do one off shows you usually play on someone else`s equipment and set up that always feels awkward, but one has to learn to adapt to every situation and do the best of it. When I was in King Diamond I was really picky about having my kit set up properly, to such an extent that my drum-tech started to cry and flew home to America. But now I`ve learnt how to cope with the worst shitty situations, no sound-checks, no working monitors, stagehands or whatever. But also it has a lot to do with the fact that I don`t care much for my drumming nowadays, I just play when there`s a show or recording and basically try to have fun while doing it.
There's rumours Kee is going to hook up with Europe on tour, do you know if this is happening and will it effectively put K2 on ice?
Well, K2 is definitely Kee`s first priority but initially he was supposed to be a part of the reunion but as things progressed they somehow decided to go with only John Norum and the 'upplands-väsby' line-up, that`s what I`ve heard anyway.
Moving on to Dream Evil, first Rockers Digest would like to congratulate you on the new album The Book Of Heavy Metal. It's really great to here an album that is so unashamedly metal, but that is done really well too. After a great debut in Dragonslayer, I have to confess I was quite disappointed by Evilized, but you appear to have really gone for it with the new album. Can you offer your own thoughts on the progression over the three albums?
I can try… Dragon slayer is more homogenous but Evilized has a couple of real good songs on it, but I agree it`s a little weak and uneven in places. With the exception of some songs that Peter and Niklas had prepared. You probably already know that it was written, recorded and mixed within 2 and a half weeks in total. All because our label wanted to have a brand new album for that upcoming Europe tour with Hammerfall. I think with this new album we`ve found the perfect balance of heaviness and melody, and for Dream Evil. The Book of Heavy Metal is as good as it`ll get.
On The Book Of Heavy Metal we had more time at our disposal, and much more material to choose from. I worked my ass off to make this important third album as good as it could possibly get, and brought more than 25 songs to the table on my own.
There appears to be a greater amount of promotion and buzz around the new album. Is there a feeling and hope within the band that this could be the album to move Dream Evil up to the next level, whatever that may be and do you have bigger plans to tour the new album?
When opportunity knocks, Dream Evil don`t answer the door,.. unfortunately.
Is it correct that Dream Evil have hired a third guitarist, Markus Fristedt? Can you confirm this and if correct, tell us a little about Markus and the decision to have three guitarists.
Mark S is a super guitarist that have been helping us out as a session guy on those occasions when Gus hasn`t been able to make it.
I'd just like to clear something up which has been discussed on the Bloodstock forum (a festival you ought to be playing in my opinion!). Powerplay apparently described Dragonslayer as thinly disguised Christian Metal. I personally don't see Dream Evil being the new Stryper, but is there any truth in this?
Ha ha! I`m laughing my ass off here, this is hilarious. If someone tells you your music sounds Christian, it is in my circle the single worst piece of criticism one can get, though it actually means you`ve got no balls and your music is pious, lame and liberated from any form of dangerous elements, which in my opinion is basically what rock music is and has always been about.
People have asked about this before and I assume it has to do with the song Heavy Metal Jesus, which by far extents my cheese tolerance. But I can assure you we are not a Christian band.
Regarding Stryper, I actually liked them back then around the Soldiers Under Command album and I had no problem with their Christianity but I remember that King Diamond had and slammed them without mercy, ha ha!.
You are coming back to play London later this year, with I understand Labyrinth in support, which should make for a great evening of metal (though I'd also love to see Notre Dame open this show - any chance?) Were you surprised by the sold out appearance last year and did you enjoy the gig (despite the drunken Powerplay competition winners - hehe!)?
I`d love to make another double bill with Notre Dame and Dream Evil for that gig, but I get the feeling the other Dream Evil guys aren`t too happy about those collaborations, though it becomes too much of a Snowy Shaw show.
Yeah, It was an enjoyable show and weekend. Camden is one of the coolest places on earth. It was our first show in the UK and it was flattering and very nice to see people coming all the way from Ireland and Scotland just to see us.
I see today it has been confirmed that you will be touring with Saxon on the first month of their European tour. This must be an exciting opportunity for the band, how are you looking forward to it and are you a fan of Saxon?
Can`t say I`m a big fan, but I used to listen a lot in my early teens to The Eagle Has Landed, which is an incredible album I think. Awesome fucking guitarist, who ever it was of the two. Yeah, It`s gonna be great being on the road for about a month. I`m glad Dream Evil finally decides to strike while it`s still hot.
Why are Dream Evil not playing the whole tour? I noticed Greece is one of the countries you won't be playing and with Gus being Greek that's a shame.
Yes it is...
Snowy, thanks for taking the time to talk to us at Rockers Digest and we look forward to seeing you with Dream Evil very soon. As is customary in internet interviews, is there any final message you have for your fans?
Well, I hope to see you all on tour. Sweet dreams-Stay evil!