Snowdoggies- Unfucking Hitched: A Taste of the Dog
I recently had a chance to speak with the utterly charming and honest Ville Leppanen of the Snowdogs. The Snowdogs consist of the brothers Leppanen from Finland: Ville (vocals and guitar), his brother Mat (bass and back up vocals), and Benjy Reid (percussion), from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Snowdogs play a brand of beautiful, infectious punk that comes straight from the heart. The music comes from real people, not a prepackaged machine. I love that. Read on.
MusicIncider: What is your birthday?
Ville: June 23rd. (A Cancer, a soulful intelligent person by nature.)
MusicIncider: Do you actually have any pets? What would you own and why?
Ville: An English Boxer. We had one when I was a kid, and I loved that dog.
MusicIncider: Who would be your ideal opening act for a Snowdogs concert? Remember, before you answer, it can be anyone.
Ville: It would be the fantastic British comedian, Eddie Izzard.
MusicIncider: What is your favorite movie of all time?
Ville: The Deer Hunter. (The Deer Hunter spooks me, when I do watch it I can only watch the middle.)
MusicIncider: What do you want people to know about your music?
Ville: That it really does come from the heart. We do believe that we rock.
MusicIncider: If you happened to be stranded on a desert island, what would be the one cd, book, and person you would want there and why?
Ville: CD-The Best of Van Halen. I would finally have the time to figure out all of those licks that I have wanted to figure out. I would probably take my wife with me, because not only is she beautiful, she is good company. The book would be Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut.
MusicIncider: What was your first job? How did you leave it?
Ville: It was a hand job, and I left it satisfied. (Your first job must have made you a very happy man!)
MusicIncider: What do you consider your greatest achievement? Why?
Ville: Being able to do what I do. I always wanted to be a musician since I thought about these things. Everyone knows that it is very hard to make a living as a musician, and keep doing what you are doing unless you are someone huge and successful. I suppose it is hard even at that level. I think just being able to make a living as a musician is great. I love it.
MusicIncider: How would you describe yourself as a person?
Ville: I am an optimist. I think I am a fairly gentle human being. (I think the same about me, being a Libra of course.)
MusicIncider: Do you believe in psychics? Why or why not?
Ville: I have never had any kind of personal experience with that stuff, so I am a skeptic. But I have to tell you, my friend got sick with a sort of lung wasting disease got cured by talking to a sort of telepathic healer over the phone. He tried every trick in the book as far as conventional medicine was concerned and just kept getting worse. But a couple of phone calls with this psychic healer later and he got better.
* She saved his life. (I am a psychic. Call me for a reading; I would love to be your first.) MusicIncider: Who are your musical influences and why?
Ville: The band that made me want to become a musician and do it for a living was Nirvana. I was just so into it. A whole bunch of the other bands, like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden that came from Seattle-I listened to them so much. I am into older stuff as well. Paul Simon is one of the all time great song writers. There was a jazz guitarist from the thirties and forties called Django Reinhardt, a French gypsy, who was an amazing player. My favorite metal band of all time is Black Sabbath.
I like stuff where the music and creation comes first, and the marketing comes second. Hence, people that have been originators are my favorites.
MusicIncider: What is your goal as a musician?
Ville: I want to keep doing this for as long as I live. I really don’t care if it is big success on a ‘hey I wanna be Sting on MTV’ type of level, but if it comes to that that’s fine too. I make music for myself, and as long as I keep making a living by making music that I make for myself, then I am happy. This is what I want to do, and long may it continue.
MusicIncider: How do you define being successful?
Ville: Someone said, if a record company signs you and they let you make a record…then a year later they let you make another one…then you are being successful because someone is making money from what you are doing. I don’t know how to measure financial success, because I have never had it, so I go by what other people say.
MusicIncider: Have you ever inhaled?
Ville: OH YES! Was that a trick question? (I never joke about inhaling. I take it very seriously, everyone should inhale.)
MusicIncider: Why does Benjy call Jack Daniels Jasper Newton?
Ville: Jasper Newton was the name given to Jack Daniels at birth. (My favorite drink too.)
MusicIncider: What do you think about the United States going to war with Iraq?
Ville: I think it is a mistaken affair. You shouldn’t go to war. There are plenty of other ways to dismantle that maniac. It is just misinformed. It has been driven by an agenda that is of no benefit to humankind at all. The only people that are going to benefit from it are a few rich politicians and businessmen, and the rest of us are just going to suffer. I urge everyone to do everything they can to stop that business.
MusicIncider: What do you think about the shit that’s going on with North Korea?
Ville: I don’t really know much about that. My cousin, who is an anthropologist, spent a lot of time in South Korea. He just says that all they really want to do is unite. They have that sort of plan going between the two Koreas, to achieve unification. I think that the nutcase that is in charge of North Korea is not really responsive to it. I really don’t know much about that. Again, I think it is one of those things where we need a new enemy. The Soviets are no longer around, so the West needs a new enemy. Who should we pick? Iraq is one, Iran is another. We need a third. Who should we pick? North Korea. Good. Let’s go get after them.
Again, it is not one of those issues that concern me a lot. Most of it is just fabrication. What do you think of President Bush? Ville: What’s anyone else in his position going to do? The people that put him in power, they want their money back. He is doing it for them. Gore, Clinton, Blair-all of these guys have nothing to do with the way that I live my life and the values that I have. I would say good riddance, but they are there, what can I do?
MusicIncider: What do you like to do best and why?
Ville: I like to play guitar. When I wake up in the morning, I play guitar and that is when I am at my happiest. You just get in a zone, whatever it is. Some people like to go running. Some people like to play some other sport. I play guitar.
MusicIncider: What do you like to do least and why?
MusicIncider: What does your family think about your music career?
Ville: My Family thinks I am a lunatic for wanting to do this. They have always been really supportive. They made me take piano lessons, and I hated it because it was being shoved down my throat. My mom said, “Listen Ville, someday you will thank me for this.” And I said no fucking way. Please don’t make me do it. And years later, I am a musician. All those lessons paid off. I know music theory. It is great. They are really supportive.
MusicIncider: If you couldn’t be a Snowdog, what band would you be in and why?
Ville: I wouldn’t like to be in another band, because then I would have to compromise with other people and anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to do that. This is my dream situation.
MusicIncider: What is your favorite song of all time and why?
Ville: Bridge over troubled water by Paul Simon. It’s just a great song. It is probably the best vocal performance of all time.
MusicIncider: What was your most memorable show? Why?
Ville: I think it would have been the one time we did a biker festival in the midlands of England. The police had cordoned the whole thing off so that no one could get in. It was something to do with drugs. There was this whole, huge field, massive stage, big PA…with about five people watching because no one else could get in. We had to go on, and it was like tumbleweed city. The promoters ran out of money, because they could get no one through the gates. They paid us by going to all the different Hell’s Angels and biker groups and asking them to donate from their drugs fund.
From a musical point of view, it was a complete disaster. It was something that I will never forget. That big stage, that huge, huge field…with about five security guards looking at us going-way to go son.
MusicIncider: Who do you think had the most influence on punk music, Elvis or the Beatles, and why?
Ville: I think Beatles, because when punk started the guys would have been around that age where they loathed everything that the Beatles stood for, and they would have probably did it that was around. Elvis, who was he around the time that punk was happening? The Beatles were more current. If the original seventies punks would have wanted to spit in the face of anyone, they would have wanted to spit in the face of the Beatles.
MusicIncider: What is the worst job you ever had and why?
Ville: I was working in a graveyard digging graves. And dig this, there was a crematorium there. We were eating lunch by the crematorium, and I realize that there is this stuff coming out of the chimney, pieces and flakes of dust and smoke and cinders. I looked down at my sandwich and I thought, man whose grandma am I eating now?
MusicIncider: If one million dollars were going to be donated to any charity on your behalf, what would that charity be?
Ville: The Snowdog is not just for Christmas charity. I just made that one up. No my serious answer, I would probably donate it to something cancer research related.
MusicIncider: Give my readers your favorite quote of all time.
Ville: A plausible mission for all artists to make people appreciate being alive.
MusicIncider: When are you guys planning on coming to the States? Tell me about the album.
Ville: We are waiting to hear from our agent in Los Angeles. My suitcase is packed. The guitar is in the flight case. I am ready to go, and all I need is a destination. Because we are such an unknown quantity, we are trying to get on a bigger tour. Those tours are hard to get, but this is the itinerary. I just want to get there ASAP. The album comes out on January 28th. There are twelve classic cuts, and it is called Deep Cuts, Fast Remedies.
Who Let the Snowdogs Out? (I Did.) DEEP CUTS, FAST REMEMDIES Ville Leppanen (vocals, guitar) Mat Leppanen (vocals, bass) Benjy “Jasper Newton” Reid (percussion) Barbara Fara MusicIncider Magazine Editor-In-Chief DEEP CUTS, FAST REMEDIES, by the power-trio that calls themselves Snowdogs, will be released January 28, 2003. Line up, order it from Amazon early. You want this album. It is smart, fast, beautiful, and from the heart. It is musically brilliant, and you will wear it out in your cd player. It is full of tight, form fitting guitar licks and pure, raw lyrics that stick in your mind and pop up at weird little times. They pop up in line at the grocery store, at the gas station, and in the shower. Snowdogs brand of punk connects with your heart, mind, and soul. You want to fucking hear it. Ville, Mat, and Benjy want you to fucking hear it. I want you to fucking hear it. We will all have a beautiful fucking relationship. Don’t let this fucking cd slip past you. It would be like missing a combination of Nirvana versus The Clash. The first track on the cd is called Average Kid. It talks about being a young adult and how fucking tough it is. Our hero in the song wants Mom and Dad to be proud of how great and independent he is, but his life is going to shit. His friends lives are going to shit, after they all had such high hopes. He has to turn to his family, because his family will back him no matter what. But who the fuck wants to do that? The second track and the first single off of the cd is called Drive. Drive is about that person we all know, the one whose life is always shit. The hero gets her high baby. I am all for fucking inhaling. The third track is Popstars (Love This!). This is the answer to Petty’s JOE off of The Last DJ. Creation is more fucking important than the marketing machine that created Britney Spears. I love the fact that the lyrics rip on fucking American Idol. Don’t drink Happy Cola. Freedom for Everyone wants us all to be free from genetically engineered food. Good god, don’t feed it to your children. Million Pieces is about a bitch that rips our hero apart. She leads him on, only to rip our boy up again. Boy in The Bubble is a beautiful rendition of a classic Paul Simon song. Another generation is going to be exposed to one of the greatest songwriters of all time. End of the World has to be the second single released off of the album. How many times have I overheard conversations like this in the past year? It will strike a chord with just about everyone. Hour In the Sunshine is the album curve ball. It is just happy and bouncy. It throws the listener off balance as to what is coming. Hell Outta Dodge feels like a tribute song to the fucking movie Natural Born Killers. Elvis singing should have been put in that movie somewhere. Amazon. When life gets tough, meditate kiddies. See yourself floating down the Amazon. Amazon is a lesson in how to handle the stress of day to day living. Lotta Lost Time is about reincarnation. This man has traveled through time looking for a lost love. Consult your local guru, I mean it. Your Sorry Ass is a reminder about what life is like every fucking day. Get used to it, being an adult is no fun. If you want something you better fight for it. Make your fucking dreams come true. Work those shit jobs until that dream does comes true.
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