Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A very sad story for a great band.

My son (who is 3 and a half) has a favorite band: The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

He's been a big fan of them since he was a baby. They're not a "children's music" group. For the record, my son does not listen to "children's music". His other favorite groups are: Helmet, Bollywood soundtracks, and interestingly enough, ME! (I can't tell you how excited it makes me that my son actually requests my music. I know, it's short-lived, but at least for now, I'm on the playlist.)

The SNZ played music that could best be described as "hot jazz", as in like jazz from the 1920's and 30's. In 1996, the band had a big hit with the calypso stomp "Hell", which so came out of left field to modern radio and yet somehow became a hit anyway. Here, take a listen to refresh your memory:

You remember this, right? In my opinion, this song marked the end of interesting music on Modern Rock Radio, as honestly, everything has sounded like everything else ever since. Sadly, the band happened to get popular at the same time that swing was making a resurgence, so people automatically lumped them in with the swing bands, which is nothing short of a tragedy. NOT EVERYONE WHO WEARS A SUIT AND PLAYS MUSIC FROM BEFORE 1990 IS A SWING BAND. Oh, why am I even trying, it's too late for this argument. Sigh.

Anyway, I think the reason why my son likes the SNZ so much is the same reason that I like them. Their music is filled with such unabashed joy and fun that you really cannot help but dance along. It's a journey back in time with the best soundtrack you can imagine.

So it's particularly sad and ironic to finally read the full story of their break up in the Raliegh News And Observer. The rumors have flown for years, but this is the first time that the full story has been chronicled.

"One of the first questions everybody asks is, 'What happened?' " Maxwell says. "I tell people to go watch 'Behind the Music' and extrapolate. Watch 24 straight hours of that, and they'll hit every single thing that took us down."

Definitely a great read, and a very cautionary tale for anyone who has a band who hopes for stardom.

I'd like to add my favorite song of SNZ to the end of this post. It's not a hit or anything, it's not even one of the more well known songs. But it's the best example there is of a band that totally rocks, but is in fact NOT rock music.

Thanks for trying, guys.


Anonymous Lowell Hollars said...


Very interesting story and page, thanks for posting the music and story of their breakup. I also was a fan of SNZ; ...and Jim Mathus since then.

Lowell Hollars
Scottsdale, AZ

11/03/2006 3:56 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home