"When it comes to new music these days SNEW has got be one of the most dynamic, creative, energetic and most of all lyrically brilliant artists on the scene today"
- Maximum Threshold
SNEW Singer Curtis Don Vito Interview
Scott - Hi Curtis Don Vito, thank you for agreeing to do an interview w/ my website Guitarz Forever.com ...
Curtis – Anything for you Scott. We’ve been bros for longer than I can remember.
Scott - Give our readers a short but descriptive label for your style of music.
Curtis – Hyperactive electrified waves of pure unadulterated rock and roll mania.
Scott - What is the name of your New Album and why the title?
Curtis – Our NEW album isn’t out yet (2017 if all goes as planned). I assumed you’re asking about the last LP. What’s it to ya? That’s a rhetorical question.
Scott - What is the genesis for the NEW Album?
Curtis – The genesis? Well, let me see. The need to indulge our proclivity to rock the fuck out? I suppose this would be the most honest and clear cut answer.
Scott - What differentiates this album from your other recordings?
Curtis – The “What’s It To Ya” album was different in lots of ways. First let me give a better answer to your question about the title. It’s the third in a trilogy of SNEW statements. The first two albums were; Snew You, We Do What We Want (which is basically one complete statement) then What’s It To Ya, which is a rhetorical reply.
OK, with that said. For this album our producer brought in Ken Scott to engineer, mix and sort of co-manage the circus we call SNEW. Ken is a legend. He was head recording engineer on almost every Beatles record then went on to produce David Bowie’s biggest albums during the 70s as well as Elton John, Jeff Beck, Supertramp and a slew of other records in the pantheon of Classic Rock. So that sort of threw us even further into big boy, this is serious, stop messing around, you must and WILL deliver or else territory.
We also brought in a new bass player for that album. Willie Basse laid it down for us on 80% of the tracks. Paul Ill played bass on “I Got A Rocket” and “Bad Words”. Bad Words was the first ballad we’ve ever recorded so that’s another thing that was different about this record. Let’s see what else. We recorded it at Total Access which was a new studio for us to record in. I’ve told this story before but it was the last place Ronnie James Dio recorded at and I swear I could feel his presence the whole time we were there. Especially when I was laying down my vocal tracks. It wasn’t like an eerie ghost story kind of presence more of an energy. But it was HIM and it gave me a boost. So we dedicated the album to him.
"Did someone motion our four on the floor, no-holds-barred, pure unadulterated loud and crunchy rock and roll???
If so, I think I'll 2nd, 3rd and 4th that motion!!!"
- Cashbox Magazine
Scott - How do you come up with your songs? Is it one song writer or more of a collaborated effort with other musicians?
Curtis – Most of our songs start with a basic sketch of a song idea that either Andy or myself come up with then the two of us get together and work it out to a more complete song. I write or complete the lyrics. Then we take it to the band and turn it into a Snew thing. After that we try it out on a live audience a few times before we decide if it’s going on the next record or not.
Scott - So Curtis, tell me a little bit of what you’ve learned about human nature during making this new production.
Curtis – Humans are funny, infuriating, exasperating, loving, kind and obnoxious. And that’s why they invented Rock & Roll.
Scott - What are your personal highlights on the new album? Why?
Curtis – This was the second time we got to work with a bonafied hit making recording legend (not to slight our always present main producer Bobby Owsinski who’s a master in his own right and our fifth Beatle so to speak) in a major recording studio. Our first album was done on a shoestring budget and very raw. The fact that a completely independent band like us can work with such luminaries and turn out product that gets their seal of approval without a label says a lot. It taught me that there is no authority on high that decides who’s worthy of walking hallowed halls. As a kid I thought only those artists who were somehow anointed by the gods of the recording industry would ever be allowed behind the velvet rope. Not true. Sure the reigns of the coveted corporate media are held tightly in those grubby little hands. So it’s not likely you’ll see us on the cover of Rolling Stone any time soon but that’s fine. The corporate media has demented into something I don’t even recognize nor can legitimize as a benefactor of the public good anymore. DIY is where the true artist lives, sleeps, eats, breaths and creates. I suppose it’s always been like that if you think about it. Being self motivated is what drives the creative force. Through all this I’ve learned to stop giving my power away to the phantom in the machine.
Scott - Where do you live, play live, and record?
Curtis – Our studio in based in Los Angeles. You can see it in our “Live from the Snewdio” series on YouTube. We play all over the country. Where ever they’ll have us. We hope to visit the rest of the planet as we do get lots of requests. So far we’ve recorded at Sonora Recording, The Village Recorders and Total Access. Not sure where we’ll be going for the next one yet.
Scott - Are there a lot of places to play your style of music in and around your area? If so, could you name some venues?
Curtis – The Whiskey, The Viper Room, Palladino’s, I think those are still around. Lots of places have closed and it sucks. There’s rumor that The Whisky is closing, God I hope not! that would be sacrilege and a major loss to the history of rock n roll. There are still lots of pubs and bars in the L.A. area that feature loud rock but not as much as in the past. That’s part of the reason we love going across the country to play. More options. Besides only playing in your own backyard gets claustrophobic.
Scott - How often when you start an idea for song, does it actually get finished?
Curtis – That’s on a song by song basis. Some come together almost immediately others take what seems like forever. Some songs are so immediate they birth themselves. Some song ideas sit on the shelf for a long time. There’s a song in there somewhere but it just ain’t happening. Then you go back to it way later and go “oh yeah, that’s what we do”. You never know so you just keep writing.
Scott - I was wondering if you ever hear music in your dreams and turn them into songs?
Curtis – I have a hard time determining when I’m dreaming and when I’m awake.
Scott - So, what type of vocal mics and monitors do you use and why?
Curtis – Live I prefer Shure Beta 58s. I take what they give me for monitors.
Scott - What were your favorite recording artists and or bands a teenager?
Curtis – Kiss, UFO, ZZ Top, Sabbath, Bowie, Judas Priest, Grand Funk Railroad, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Zappa, Maiden, Van Halen, Y&T, The Stones. We could be here all day.
Scott - Who have been your main influences on your career to date?
Curtis – All the ones just mentioned. I also took a lot of singing tips from James Brown and Aretha Franklin. Seriously JB taught me how to scream and AF how to belt with feeling.
"They have boiling whiskey and gasoline instead of blood. And they play Rock that could make even the most jaded bastard between you scream, shout and dance."
- Sludge Swamp
Scott - Do you have any advice to those bands out there that are trying to break out?
Curtis – Do your thing. Do it as much as humanly possible. Make music you want to listen to and only music you want to listen to. When it passes the scrutiny of the music fan inside you then it’s ready for the world. Put it out there yourself. Don’t let them own you. Let them love you. When you love listening to your own music, you’ve made it. Your audience will find you.
Scott - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you may be in involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to your heart?
Curtis – Watching the world shift and morph into something it’s never been before. It’s a thing of beauty. Trust me we’re going to be more than alright. We are on a fast track to rocking like never before.
Scott - I would like to thank you Curtis for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
Curtis – Thank you Scott. My brain hurts now but I’ll recover.
"We love music that's loud, energetic and makes you forget everything except what you're listening to. That's our benchmark."