06 July 2012

SNAPSHOTS - No Jane / Since You've Gone (Clic, 1980)

Almost two years ago my friend over at Pop N Roll sent me an .mp3 of an obscure Power Pop band from upstate New York called Snapshots.  Immediately catchy, we both geeked out over the track and I created the obligatory "saved search' but with no other info to go on I figured it'd forever sit on my want-list.  Fast forward a few years and it so happens that Snapshots played part in a Westchester band reunion concert.  With this little bit of internet presence, we've now got something to go on.  So we tracked the guys down to get the story on their infectious 'No Jane' single, the Westchester scene and what turned out to be a much more extensive career than expected.  Now, for some introductions:


SNAPSHOTS are:
FC: Frank Corbo - Drums, vocals
RM: Robert Mag - Vocals
JW: John Winhimer - Bass, vocals, guitar
BR: Bob Rocco - Guitar, vocals


When / how did you guys get together and/or know each other? What was the inspiration for the beginnings of The Snapshots?

BR: Frank, John and I were in the first incarnation of Snapshots. John and I had been playing together since our early teens. We had fooled around with a few bands but it wasn't until we met Frank that we started getting serious. We started out as a trio and released the single 'No Jane' / 'Since You've Gone'. We decided we needed a front man and after going through a few, unsuccessfully, we felt the band was struggling and needed a new direction. Robert was a high school friend of John and me and we really admired his art and loved his musical taste. Frank campaigned to get Robert in and the rest was history.

RM: I thought my role as lead singer was going to be short lived. Before I was officially the lead singer, I was asked to join them for two songs at a gig they had at the pub for an all girl Catholic School. Snapshots at the time was a cover band and had just landed a weekly gig here and I imagine they were pretty happy to be playing to a largely all girl audience. I was into the second song, I think it was Cheap Trick's 'I Want You To Want Me'. A table of girls right near the front started to heckle me. Not sure why but I can guess because I probably sucked. John, in a moment of brilliance, leaned over to me and asked "What would Alice Cooper do?". After a moments thought, I raised both hands and gave the main instigator the finger. I don't think this is exactly what John had meant. A friend of ours seeing this, went over and pulled the chair out from underneath her, making her fall flat on her ass. We later found out she was the Dean's daughter and needless to say Snapshots were banned from ever playing the pub again. I felt pretty bad about that but at the moment I felt like a Rock Star.

Were you part of a ‘Westchester scene’ at all, and if so what other groups where there with you?

JW: Yeah, we were and in fact, some those very bands performed in a reunion gig in the summer of 2011. Snapshots, The Kingpins, The Norm, and The Latest reunited for this one night. It was a blast. Other great bands at that time were Connie and the Linguistics and Rusty Dunn and the Guns. Unfortunately Rusty had passed away just weeks before the reunion.

RM: It was really a great time. Living in Westchester up till the early 80's was really pretty boring. There really was no music scene. Then all of the sudden radio stations started playing bands like The Ramones, Stranglers, Squeeze, Costello etc. and it was like a bunch of us from all different areas of Westchester caught the bug at the same time. It seemed like overnight there was this cool music scene. It was awesome. We all supported each other and would attend each others shows. We really became a close stitched bunch. I still keep in contact with some of the folks from some of the bands.

BR: We definitely had more fun than should have been allowed. Although we took playing seriously, we took having fun even more seriously- which meant lots of beer consumption. I would say we played half of our gigs fairly tipsy. Our shows were like big parties. We just had too much energy for our own good. Especially in the beginning when we were mostly a cover band. Seeing us was always a good time for all.

Can you give some examples of what your shows were like?

RM: Like we said there was usually alcohol involved. Beer and pitchers of kamikaze's. So at some point, we thought it funny to do our encores in our underwear. This became known the Underwear Set. One night we decided to play a trick on Bob while playing a bar in upper New York. We said instead of underwear, let's play completely nude. We used the kitchen as a dressing room and to get to the stage, you had to walk across the dance floor. We all stripped down and made sure Bob was first out the door. As soon as he was completely out, we slammed the door behind him leaving him naked on the dance floor with all our fans and friends while we stayed behind the door laughing our asses off. He was a very good sport about it. We did the same thing to him at a club in Connecticut. We waited until Bob was just down to his underwear and then John, Frank and I went over to the back door and looked up to the sky. We started saying things like "What the hell is that?" Bob was very much into UFO's at the time. Bob walks over only wearing his BVD's and looks out the door. Push! Slam! and Bob is outside in the middle of winter in his undies right where the line of people were to get in.

JW: On stage, it was always a party. People were always invited up on stage. The more the merrier. We usually ended with Twist and Shout. We could easily have 10 to 15 people on stage with us all helping out with background vocals. It really was always just a big party.
I noticed from some of your old flyers that you played CBGBs a few times. Can you tell me about these shows? Did you guys have ties to the NYC scene at all or were these kind one-off gigs? Did you ever do any more extensive touring?

FC: We were really pumped -- CBGB's was a right of passage at that time. Great bands passed through those doors. We once backed up Richard Lloyd of Television. You never knew who would show up in the audience -- Joey Ramone, John Bentley, Joe Jackson. We loved he crowds there.

BR: Plus CBGB's had the best sound system around and decent lights. Something we weren't used to playing Westchester.

JW: We played a few other NYC places, like Lone Star, Pyramid Club but, CB's was the place... Snapshots never really hit the road, aside from paying some gigs in Connecticut, up-state New York and Long Island.

I mentioned your gig flyers…they’re very well illustrated! Who’s responsible for these?

BR: The guy whose art we said we admired -- Robert Mag did them all.

RM: Ha- Now that I am a professional designer/illustrator, I find them a bit embarrassing. No design sense at all.

Your only release, the “No Jane” single came out in 1980 on the Clic label. I assume this was just you guys pushing your own record, right? What kind of response did it get at the time? Any distribution or airplay?

FC: The Clic label was our own (get it, "Clic", "Snapshots"...). We sold them at at clubs and to anyone who was interested elsewhere. We were really proud to have anything in vinyl. That was recorded just before Robert joined. 'No Jane' wasn't our only release. A few years later, we recorded a two song Flexi disc that we gave out at shows. It included 'Oh Japan' and 'Wish Me Well'. We also appeared on a Christmas compilation album out on Johnny Apollo Records. We wrote a song called 'Christmas Presence' which actually got played a bit in some Manhattan clubs at the time.


Did you guys use a professional studio to record, or was this a DIY home-recording? Any anecdotal stories from the recording session?

BR: Yea, at that time few people had home studios worth anything. We recorded that 'No Jane' at Wildflower Studio in NY. Almost everything was live, with a few dubs.

RM: We also used to record quite a bit at a small studio in Mt. Vernon called Back Street. One day this guy walks in- looking a bit shabby. He interrupted our session to talk to the engineer. We were like "what the fuck? Who's this homeless dude wasting our recording time?". After about 10 minutes he leaves and our Engineer, Eddie turns to us and says "You know who that was? Ace Frehley". Ended up they grew up together and were best of friends. We were all huge KISS fans and here we were making fun of him.


Is there unreleased Snapshots material? Where there ever plans for future recordings?


JW: Snapshots wrote and recorded lots of materials. We were pretty dedicated at the time. Rehearse three days a week and played out all the time. When we weren't rehearsing for a gig, we were writing new songs. We all contributed. It was pretty democratic. We were most prolific in the New Wave era -- loads of songs. I would guess there are 30 to 40 songs in all. Maybe more.


When did you guys call it quits? What led to that decision?

FC: The Snapshots ended in 1983. It just had done all there was to do.


On YouTube there’s footage from 2011 of a reunited Snapshots where you guys played as part of a Westchester Band Reunion concert. What was it like playing these songs together again? How was the response to the shows? Are you guys still playing together now?

JW: Yea, that reunion gig was pure nostalgia. We had not seen most of the musicians and many of the "fans" for decades. It felt really great to play those songs and see al those people -- we all grew up together and shared loads of great times. It was a great night.  


What are you guys up to today? Are any of you still actively involved with music?

FC: Robert, John and Bob are still together in Lostdog in Loveland, a glam influenced pop/Rock band and I am playing with long time band members in Boom Boom Crash.  We have been talking about doing something together as Snapshots for 2012/13. Maybe a four song EP!

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NO JANE:
 
SINCE YOU'VE GONE:

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Additional Photos   Additional Flyers

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