EMQ’s with SNATCH-BACK
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with St. Helens, Merseyside, UK based Classic Rock/NWOBHM band Snatch-Back. Huge thanks to guitarist, Ste Byatt, for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hi, it’s great to see your superb Rock pages. I’m very honoured that you’ve asked us to contribute. I’m Ste Byatt guitarist in Snatch-Back. Snatch-Back formed in the mid 70’s after our drummer Steve Platt invited me to watch the “Hendrix Plays Berkeley” film at the cinema. We were playing together in a covers band but decided to leave to write and perform original rock. We knew John (vocals) from his bad party influences at school. Besides, he had hair and a tassled jacket that reminded me of Black Sabbath “Vol 4”. Love that LP! He introduced us to Ian (Bass) who had started writing and was gig ready with his Hofner Bass and a little WEM Dominator combo amp.
Initially, we created our own gigs as there were only bingo/social clubs in our town. We played between music films at the cinema, school discos and charged door money in youth clubs and mid-week social club rock nights we helped organise. We soon got lots of proper work in the north west UK. Playing the same venues as Strife, Alex Harvey, Diamond Head, Def Leppard, (Quo) Vardis and Judas Priest. Our pinnacle was a self-promoted 80’s gig. We sold out our local 600-seater theatre twice!
Snatch-Back always wanted a record company to spot and promote us, so we spent all our efforts and cash writing, buying equipment, vans and playing live. We had a record company visit us at a biker gig, but they really wanted a pop band to mould. They signed the Rubettes of ‘Sugar Baby Love’ fame instead of us. A lucky escape for us rockers maybe? We did a couple of self-funded studio sessions that we had no idea how to approach companies with effectively. There was no internet education or communication in the 70’s or 80’s. A 1979 Manchester studio session resulted in our only release: the single ‘Eastern Lady/Cryin’ To The Night’. It got a little local rock radio play and we sold it at gigs. In the mid ’80s our gig circuit closed down, so we eventually split.
The (now collectable and expensive) single prompted a letter from a NWOBHM fan in Israel to our local newspaper seeking us out for information and our vinyl. The internet revealed we were featured in Malc Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Local, past, fans kept pushing us to reform, but we hadn’t met for years. I was interested to revisit what sound Snatch-Back had that maintained such interest. I always felt that Steve Platts drumming style added a unique flavour to the music. I contacted Ian (Bass) and we found the others. A Facebook photo gained us a headline slot in a local festival. Luckily, we could still play well together. We vowed to spend more time this time around on recording to communicate with a potentially wider audience across a wider world. It’s overwhelming that fans across the world want to hear our recordings now. We’ve certainly enjoyed making a few videos. Pity we couldn’t have done that in the 70’s.
How did you come up with your band name?
In the very early days, we had gigs booked but no PA. We took a trip to the Liverpool music shops with our part time jobs cash. We got thrown out of the shop debating and negotiating over a hire purchase repossessed (termed financially as a “snatch-back recovery”) Simms Watt amp system. The next day we came back with enough funds. The shop guy says “oh no! It’s that Snatch-Back band again, got any cash before you waste my time again?” The name stuck on our future shop visits and it sounded to us like we were destined to “snatch-back” music into rock from the brink of the disco precipice.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
St Helens, Merseyside, England, UK. The live music scene was great from the 70’s up to the mid 80’s. A real Beatles Cavern Club culture 60’s hangover in Liverpool and The Wirral. This meant lots of pubs and clubs hosting original bands playing a smattering of covers. It was great for us and other new bands in the north west in general. We could also see bands like Bad Company at Liverpool Stadium, Empire Theatre or Manchester Free Trade Hall. This was very affordable for us. These days the scene is recovering with new venues opening. There is certainly a good internet following for rock but it’s difficult to gig in starter pubs unless you are a covers or tribute band. It’s really up to bands like us to contact new mid-size venues and put cash up to promote gigs. From an audience point of view, there are more mega stadium venues, but they are too expensive for young people to afford and a remote experience from the band.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Our latest, from January 2020, is “Ride Hard Run Free”. This is an independent release on Gatefold Vinyl and CD. It has been an exciting international project for us. Recorded and pressed in the UK; mixed and mastered in Poland (the new home of Rock) by Bart Gabriel and Ralf Kossakowski. The artwork was completed by Roberto Todeerico in Italy. It’s exciting that we’ve built such prestigious contacts since reforming. We’ve planned and funded the whole process ourselves too. You can order copies from our Facebook page or Website. We’ve also placed it on all the streaming and download media so we can reach a wider international audience. You can watch our video of ‘Hard Times’, a track from the album free on YouTube. I think its important fans can see a visual story connected to the music.
Who have been your greatest influences?
I’ve got to say hearing ‘Voodoo Chile’ and then “Hendrix in the West” were life changing. Before that it was various guitar bands like the Monkeys and Rolling Stones that seemed to offer an attractive lifestyle, but they didn’t influence me to project my feelings into a guitar. Shortly after, I bought “Deep Purple In Rock”. Richie Blackmore at the start of ‘Speed King’ was tremendous. I soon got into Free and Black Sabbath. Seeing Paul Kossoff play ‘The Band Plays On’ in Back Street Crawler at Manchester was very moving. I had been a huge fan of Free Live. Another early influence was Gravy Train. Now I would say I like a variety of musicians like Jeff Beck, Al de Meola and John McLaughlin. Budgie, SAHB, Soundgarden and Rob Zombie are great too. Not just the fastest technical musicians. It’s got to project a feeling to me.
What first got you into music?
Seeing Norman Barrett from St Helens band “Gravy Train” (Vertigo and Dawn label recordings) play our local theatre. Just a Gibson 335, Vox AC 30 and a pair of lungs. Tremendous emotion. I was quite introvert, at that time, so my uncle had given me his unwanted acoustic guitar to help me socialise. Now I wanted to feel the same as Norman when I hit those strings and influence an audience like that. My uncle was a smart guy.
My family weren’t musicians, but they certainly enjoyed music and dancing. The radio and record player were always on. Guitar groups were emerging with an everyone can have a go attitude. The guy down the road had written “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” (Eurovision hit). He moved from working in a factory to a villa in Italy. Seemed a good plan for me to escape industrial north west England.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Zal Cleminson, guitarist from SAHB. Zal shows me there’s no age limit to being a high energy, creative writer and gigging rocker. Getting advice on recording production or supporting his band would be great.
I would also love to play with his last “Sin Dogs” drummer Carlos Marin. Carlos was great at communicating energy and drive to an audience in a rock show.
I’d like to find the people who produced and mastered Budgie’s “You’re All Living In Cuckooland” and the Thunder spin off “The Union”. Love those LP rock sounds!
I think playing in any band or taking recording advice with Burke Shelley (Budgie Bass & Vocals) would be superb.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
We are not fussy. Anything that reaches our current fans and grows our audience. We did very well on the Stonedeaf Festival opening act competition so it may be good to do that. Fans recommend we would be ideal for HellFest & British Steel in France and MuskelRock in Sweden. Anything in Eastern Europe or Japan would be a fantastic experience too. I love to travel Internationally.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Being appreciated I think and/or asking me to sign something. I know a few arrogant musicians that can’t critique themselves. They will never develop or build a fan relationship. The best bands are of course assertive, but deep down quite humble and appreciative of their fans. They are on a quest to be objectively critical of themselves, be creative and probably undervalue their achievements. I suppose I do that as I could always listen to myself. The rest of Snatch-Back are the same. We want to offer something unique but there’s always somebody better technically. My best recording or performance is always going to be my next one.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Thanks for everything. Fans contacting us on the internet inspired us to reform and continue. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without your appreciation.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Hendrix would be superb. He was heading for a soul phase rather than the psychedelic rock I enjoyed. However, I think he would have experimented in many new musical directions. He was light years ahead of studio craft and I think he would have been revolutionary. There aren’t many notes in ‘Voodoo Chile’ but the studio is also an instrument he used to communicate a touching emotion.
If I could bring a singer back it would be Alex Harvey (SAHB) or Steve Marriot from Humble Pie era.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Without doubt, expressing myself through music. I like to create an emotion in my performance and try and communicate that to an audience-either live or in a recording. A friend said to me that “There is much more to being a successful performer than being good at your instrument”. He was so right. No one slides a record contract under your bedroom door. I get immense satisfaction posting an LP to a fan but there’s so much work and promotion that I have to do before it can happen. I enjoy the business side but will never be remembered for it. I would much prefer to spend much more time writing and playing.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
For me having an honest manager would get us much further. As I said, it would free us up to be more creative. I wasted so much time approaching record companies ineffectively with “Ride Hard Run Free” recordings. Maybe the right influencer would have been more effective. Companies just wouldn’t take a chance unless they’ve paid for and control the recordings. We didn’t want the album to be consigned to a back-office file or just available on downloads. It’s very important for us to have a good quality vinyl and CD that fans judge us by in years to come. I’m still playing my 70’s copy of “Hendrix in the West” and re reading the vinyl gatefold cover. It projects images and a relationship with the music!
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Humble Pie – “Rockin’ The Filmore”. I’ve mentioned a few others but couldn’t leave this package of high energy out. Great gatefold vinyl photos too. I’ll sneak in Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” too.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
As I said: Vinyl for my ears and the interaction with a band. CD’s are great for extra tracks and accessible home storage. I’m not doing downloads down though. They have reached so many international fans we never dreamed of. It’s a lot to ask a fan to spend postage on vinyl without trying on streaming first. Bands dont raise much with funds on downloads but its excellent promotion that pays a little back on every stream. I can imagine apartment owners don’t have the same storage I have for 100s of LPs under my stairs. I can see the logistics of downloads there.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Definitely the Theatre Royal, St Helens (our hometown) in the 80’s. We took a leap of faith, with no LP out, to put up cash to promote that. We gained immense satisfaction when we sold all 600 seats out. It was great offering local original bands the chance to play with us on a big stage too. We even did that a second time.
It was exciting too coming back to packed local audiences at Westfest in our town. Of course, Mearfest was like coming home. We were are on the same bill as top NWOBHM bands in front of a 100% Rock audience.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
I see music as an expression of what I feel, so I suppose I would do something else creative. I went through a self-searching phase of mountaineering. Sort of discovering and competing with myself for a while. I love international travel too so could work in that. Music was always there though even if less prominent. I can’t imagine a world without it.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Snatch-Back plus our second bassist Ste Kay and my Mrs Denise. They are all into rock music, beer, fun and spicy food in a big way.
What’s next for the band?
Promoting the LP as well as we can. Learning better ways to reach out to distributers and download customers is also critical. The gigs we had lined up for 2020 are shelved with the virus crisis. I want to plan a Liverpool rock night though as soon as feasible. I’m not leaving it long before the next LP either so have started writing already. It would be great to find a way to get the right support from a record company to widen the appeal of the band.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Fans can order CD’s, etc through:
Or our website at:
We’ve got a youtube channel for our videos just search “Snatch-Back”.
Our streams and downloads are on all the usual good stuff like iTunes and Spotify.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Is this a bank account security question? I think I would take the biscuit option-even though a little soggy. Coincidentally, I recently chatted to the guitarist in “Half Man Half Biscuit”. I would say I had a brief affair with Hobnobs-but don’t try and sing after oaty biscuits- I did once, they choke you.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Just to say thanks for your interest in our music. Bands would be nowhere without your kind of media support. Its particularly important in the virus crisis that people are motivated by entertainment through the media. I think you are doing a vital job keeping rock and its audience alive.
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.