Todd Snider Is So Queer

I haven't changed my clothes in 20 years and it's starting to feel like an outfit, but I don't want to be changing my clothes all the time.

-Todd Snider


Times Like These

Snider is always a lil' out of step with all the forward rushing of our times. For example, he recently picked up an iPod not knowing he needed a computer to make it work. It's a charming bit of Ludditism that fits him to a tee; a man more concerned with capital "T" truths and small-scale pleasures (a jug of wine, a nug of green and thee). Still, it leaves him playing catch-up with the hurly-burly outside his window.

Todd Snider by Jeff Fasano
"This is, by a mile, not the world I practiced on, for sure [laughs]. My wife is stuck in about '78, too. So, we have like a big box television, and we find when we go places like other people's homes that it's a different world," say Snider. "There's a part of me that thinks I've just stood still. I think back to high school and the teachers with big, wide leg pants, and we'd say, 'It's '82. Don't you know that?' Now, I'm totally that guy {laughs]. Without moving a muscle, I'm just becoming Boxcar Willie. If I just stand still it'll happen. I haven't changed my clothes in 20 years and it's starting to feel like an outfit, but I don't want to be changing my clothes all the time."

Snider breaks off to see what's making the dogs in his neighborhood bark, and sees a youngster stirring things up for the hell of it. "This kid's a troublemaker," chuckles Snider. "'Hey troublemaker! Beat it, troublemaker!'" So, things haven't changed much in East Nashville? Same gaggle of charming rebels, struggling musicians and penny ante scoundrels? "No, things haven't changed at all," offers Snider with a knowing laugh.

Interlude Two

JamBase: Where do you file Todd Snider in a record store now? Folk? Rock? Blues? The new EP got me thinking about how after something like 14-years humping the troubadour trail your pegs don't fit the mostly square industry holes.

Snider: I don't know where I fit in!

I've always dug your individuality but it's harder and harder to lump you in any one place, which, sadly, our culture has a compunction to do with artists.

When you're the one who makes the music you don't have to think of what to call it. I've always tried to do it like that. I'm sure there's people having fun doing it different ways but so far it's the only way I've gone.

You're playing with a wider circle of people all the time, which is also bound to expand the kinds and combinations of music you make.

I have this gig in Nashville on November 20 where I'm playing with Vince Herman and we're gonna make a band and play The Ryman [opening for Robert Earl Keen]. I think Ben [Kaufmann] from Yonder will be there, too, and I'm hoping they'll sing some songs. It's almost on and we may do maybe three gigs together.

Do you think you'll start playing regularly in a group? You've toured so much on your own that it feels like it's time.

I'm craving that right now, craving playing with other people a lot. I just played a festival and did my 90-minutes, and Vince and Jeff [Austin] were there. I love to play but by the last 20-minutes of my set I couldn't wait to finish so I could play [with them]. I ran backstage and we started pickin' right away with like six people in a circle.

You can hear this rising group urge on Peace Queer, which are mostly full band arrangements. And you're like a duck in water with a kickin' rhythm section and somebody goosing you on electric guitar.

I sure like that Eric McConnell House gang [friend's home studio he's recorded at frequently]. We're a pretty Chuck Berry obsessed group. The song "Stuck On The Corner" [on Peace Queer] is the big one that shows that.

Next Stop

Todd Snider
After Peace Queer, Snider began work on his next full-length, a follow-up to 2006's The Devil You Know, penciled in to drop in early 2009.

"I went out to California with Jim Keltner [drums], Greg Leisz [pedal steel] and producer Don Was, and I played all the other guitar, piano and harmonica on an album of stuff I'm glad was in me! It was all live, no overdubs, and we played for about three days," offers Snider. "I wasn't always in time but Jim said, 'Never get a click track. J.J. Cale isn't all clicked out.' I'm getting better all the time, and fuck, Jim Keltner dug it! I always thought Keith Richards' time moved a little bit. I've played to a click many times but I can't make myself want to [laughs]."

The hard part for Snider is fighting many of the same battles, arguing over the same ground. It's tough to imagine that anyone is still concerned with whether two dudes want to get married or if someone does something naughty with a flag in the 21st century, especially in the face of starvation, wars and all the other blights on humanity, but here we are. It's enough to make one question whether people are actually evolving.

"It gets surreal as you get older," says Snider, who turned 42 this month. "I draw from Mitch Hedberg and Bill Hicks. All the best comedians have rhythm. Both were very Beat oriented, with an invisible drummer behind them. I don't want to be a folkie. I don't want to wear the outfit they give me. You could almost call me a comedian, and it's worth remembering Kurt Cobain was a funny motherfucker. Laughter helps. It always helps everything."

I'm stuck on the corner
Of sanity and madness
Lookin' 'em over
Can't see a difference
Making money out of paper
Making paper out of trees
We're making so much money
We can hardly breathe

Download Peace Queer free until October 31.

Todd Snider is on tour now, dates available here.

Todd Snider's "Peace Queer"

JamBase | East Nashville
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[Published on: 10/23/08]

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PWA starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/23/2008 08:30PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hell yes!

oysteria starstarstarstar Fri 10/24/2008 07:53AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I'll go see vince and ben at the ryman.

FreeHawk starstarstarstarstar Fri 10/24/2008 08:49AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Todd folkin Snider is a true American gem.

futhepharmer starstarstarstarstar Fri 10/24/2008 10:05AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Todd Snider is amazing. nuf said.

MoeString starstarstarstarstar Fri 10/24/2008 02:03PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!




Novemeber 22nd ... Todd Snider, Jeff Austin, And Vince Herrman..


redhed starstarstarstarstar Sat 10/25/2008 06:15AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


fightin for peace is like screamin for quiet.

rainydaywomen420 starstarstarstarstar Sat 10/25/2008 12:44PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


b double e double r - u - n.

phishy100 starstarstarstarstar Sat 10/25/2008 07:09PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Snider, Herman, Kaufmann, should play a good colorado show.

dannymo starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/28/2008 03:51PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The Murat in Indy has the Lion King on th 22nd???? maybe a smaller venue in Indy??

branagin starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/29/2008 12:19PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

He is playing on the 22nd of Nov. in the murat egyptian room, the lion king must be in the theatre. This willnot be a show to miss, it will be great.

tstrit starstarstarstar Tue 11/4/2008 05:08PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

One of the true real unsung gems of the last 15 years... Todd is finally getting his just due. He and Vince will be a perfect pairing!