Lynn Strait

 

Man, life is rough. I used to think my life was harder than everyone else's. You know, I have like, fifteen jobs, school, this magazine, blah blah blah, and there always seems to be more and more to bitch about. In fact, I still bitch about how much life sucks for me but when I really start being super critical on myself, I remember this interview I had with Snot lead singer, Lynn Strait. Whenever I feel like I've had it bad, I realize that there are those that have had it way worse than me.
    For those of you who don't know who Snot are, allow me to alleviate your ignorance. Snot are an unbelievably kickin' band from Santa Barbara, CA who are one of the chosen few who deserve the name "new school metal." Their debut album, Get Some, is a combination of fast paced thrash metal spliced with punk and sick combinations of funk and guitar scratchin' "wacka wacka" sounds like you'd hear in a 70's porno movie--ya know, just for good measure. Lynn's tales of drug addiction and jail are woven within the songs in the form of slick raps and hardcore growls and while the music is kickin' in it's own unmitigated style, Lynn's lyrics and varied vocal styles reveal the different levels of problems throughout his life. The guy's been to jail many times for many different reasons and ultimately led his life down the worst of self destructive paths. Jail, drugs, weapons--it was just a cycle of violations and violence until he hooked up with the rest of the Snot boys to find his true calling and salvation.
    Now, with the rest of the band (Jamie Miller-Drums; Mikey Doling-Guitar; John "Tumor" Fahnestock-Bass; and Sonny Mayo-Guitar) to back him up, he's turned his potentially misguided reality into a more productive state and has even made it, for the most part, fun. I'll tell ya one thing, being in a Snot mosh pit has never been such a purifying exorcism of all the aggression that's in your life. Sure, we've been in Pantera pits and Slayer pits that leave us feeling mean and testosterony but Snot's pits leave you feeling like you can almost laugh and be aggressive at the same time which is twice as rewarding.
    One of my favorite parts about Snot is that everybody writes and participates in the construction of the songs. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, "Don't all bands do that?" Sure they do but everyone in Snot does everything. The members in Snot are all well versed in playing the other's instruments so they all come up with riffs and melodies so that none of them feel like they are carrying the weight of the band on their shoulders.
    Basically, Snot kicks ass on disc and their live shows get down right nutty with everyone in the band either singin' or doing something crazed (check out Sonny's stunt man stage diving or Jamie's style of drumming and you'll know what I'm talkin' about--fuckin' unreal!) Everyone's having fun both on stage and in the crowd--shit, what could be better than that?
    In the end, there is a moral to Snot's story and that moral is: Don't waste time dwelling on past mistakes, just go out there, have fun and fuck shit up! I think that's a pretty damned simple philosophy so sit back, relax and read why Lynn is the way he is, his intimate connection to the Simpsons, Snot's banning from a strip club, and why Dobbs is so damned important to the band. Then realize that sure, life is tough but it can be good but only if you let it.

Shock To The System (STTS)- I read in your bio that you went to jail for a while. I just wanted to find out why.

Lynn Strait (LS)- Uh, various drug related [charges]. I had some drug related stuff and some burglary/robbery type stuff and I had illegal weapons. And I had priors of some of these things and I also have a prior assault on a police officer and that was about it.

STTS- Damn, that couldn't have been too good. How long were you in for?

LS- I've been in a bunch of times. Probably the longest was only like...a year. I mean, I've done 30-60-90 days, 120 days...

STTS- Do a lot of your songs come out of that?

LS- Some of them do. All of the songs that I write come out of my life experiences and that was part of it. So occasionally that creeps in there. A few of the songs that I wrote like "Stoopid" was written in jail. When I was in a particularly fucked up place, I wrote "Stoopid". Yeah, so a few of the songs on the album were written in jail and have to do directly with that.

STTS- I read that the tattoos that you have have some pretty deep meanings for yourself. I was wondering if you could share what they're about?

LS- Well, I got this devil girl and she's straddling a big heroin needle on my arm. Opposite her, I have kind of an angel pin up girl holding a microphone. It's kinda like this part [patting his arm], the dope is the evil on one arm and the band kind of saved my life, well the band did save my life.

STTS- A salvation sort of thing.

LS- Yeah, there's a gargoyle that's supposed to ward off evil spirits as with, on the other side, this Tibetan/Hindu mask [that also wards off] evil spirits. On my back, I have "during heroin" and "after", there's a big scary head with needles in the brain and on the other side of my back, I have a baby with a cigar and the AA symbol on his forehead and syringes on his fingers and a big hammer. He's hammering the nail into the heroin head. Yeah, all my stuff has that kind of dichotomy of good vs. evil. It's kind of a big theme of mine.

STTS- As far as the record, why'd you guys sign with Geffen as opposed to an indie?

LS- We wanted, just like any other band, our music to go out to the widest audience possible. We're really not doing this music for any particular great cause. We love playing music and I love being able to speak my mind. Basically, we're doing it to make a living like everyone else. The more people that get to hear it--ya know, the bigger the vehicle to get the music out, the better for the band. We were never a band that was like--I don't believe in selling out, I don't believe there is such a thing. There are some bands that are really into staying underground and stuff but for the most part, we all want to be able to at least put a roof over our heads and feed ourselves. No one, at least in Snot, is into being a big arena rock star and that excessive bullshit. But we do wanna be able to feed ourselves and take care of the ones that we love.

STTS- How would you describe Snot's music. I mean, you guys jump around from so many different styles. Can you put a label on it?

LS- We kind of like to call it "lounge-core". Because it is sort of loungey at times then it gets to be hard core at times. It kind of falls into the genre of new school metal, I would think. There are a lot of those bands out right now, these new school metal bands. I don't know 'cause half our band is from the East Coast and half is from the west so I consider us an "Ameri-core" band. You know what I mean? 'Cause we really don't have an East Coast or a West Coast style. We play some punk rock and some metal and some funk and it's just like, we don't have any pre-conceived notion of what Snot is supposed to sound like. We just write songs that we feel like writin'.

STTS- Like you were saying with your tattoos before, your songs pertain to addictions and stuff and especially your addictions. Do you still have any addictions even silly ones?

LS- Yeah, I mean I'm addicted period. And it's weird 'cause so much of the population is addicted or are compulsive or impulsive about stuff. I'm really compulsive about shit. I even get--when I can't fix my head with a certain drug or whatever, I'll clean something up. I get really fuckin' fidgety and uncomfortable and I fly off the handle easy. If I'm not gorging myself on one thing, I'm trying to fill that hole some other way. It's always this great feeling of need and it doesn't have to be of anything in particular, it's just something that you don't know what it is and that drives you that much more insane. That's what a lot of people today suffer from and a lot of people don't even realize it. I don't profess to know everything about it. I know that there's that hole that needs to be filled and a lot of people die trying [to fill it].

STTS- Can you explain what "My Balls" is about 'cause I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about it especially 'cause there's no lyrics for it.

LS- Yeah, a lot of people get the wrong idea and the lyrics weren't printed 'cause they were just too stupid to print much like a couple of the other songs I didn't bother printing the lyrics for 'cause I thought they were too dumb. But "My Balls, Your Chin" is not about women. Okay, the song's about other bands that come to see you and say, "You guys are rad!" and then go back to their band members and talk shit. [They say] "Those guys suck! We blew them away!" It's about band competition and how it's so fuckin' lame and that we should all be--all the bands should be trying to help out each other as much as possible and help each others' careers out. Although there's a million bands out there, there's not a million great bands so there's room for everyone to get up and do their thing. The only part about women in the song is about the band members' girlfriends and that's just kind of an off handed little comment. For the most part it's about other bands, not about women.

STTS- As far as "Mr. Brett", have any Epitaph bands ever retaliated about that?

LS- Not that I know of. I'm friends with some people at Epitaph and I know Brett Gurewitz (I haven't talked to him in a long time). No, not that I know of. I told, before the album came out, a couple of people from Epitaph about it and I told the guys in NOFX about it. And it says in the song that I like Epitaph bands and it's nothing about them. It's a punk song and punk songs have to be about talkin' shit and he was just a candidate, he was just there.

STTS- I read an interview with Tarrie B. from Tura Satana and she said that she was in one of your songs but it didn't make the album?

LS- Yeah, it was a song called "Lose". It's a song I wrote about fucking up on a woman or significant other and having to apologize or losing that person over it and feeling sorry for yourself afterwards. She sang a part in it that I wrote for her--no, she wrote the part and came and sang on it. Everyone really liked the song and once we got to the studio, we kind of changed it around and re-recorded it. We changed the format and structure of the song and Tarrie actually came in and sang her part and it kinda didn't make the album just because we couldn't get it to the state we wanted it in time. It just wasn't ready for it yet. It was a good demo song and then once we started changing it around we started screwing it up. We were in the studio and we had more important songs that we were working on so it got put on the back burner.

STTS- Are you guys ever gonna release it at all?

LS- Ya know, I have no idea. We might, I mean I really like the song. The changes we were making on it were really good, too. As with another song called "Both Sides" that we did on a demo that a lot of people have asked me about which is a song I wrote. I wrote the basic format for the music to it on bass. Everyone in the band writes so everyone put their part in so I basically wrote the structure of the song. I wrote the riffs and we all put it together and put our stuff on it and then I wrote the lyrics. That song I really liked, too, but it didn't make it. There's probably three or four songs that we have that we need to work on. There's a song called "Crutch" also, that was a good one, that we need to redo.

STTS- That's cool, at least it gives people something to look forward to.

LS- Already we have, even on the road we sit down and work on stuff and we have so many riffs. I play bass a lot, I'm a bass player in real life--

STTS- Real life? As opposed to your soap opera persona?

LS- (laughing) Yeah, and I write a lot too, so everyone in the band--Jamie plays guitar, bass, and sings. Sonny plays guitar and drums, Mike plays a little bit of drums, too. So we all throw our two cents in.

STTS- Have you guys ever think about fucking it all up and have everyone do a different thing?

LS- We've talked about doing that live, have everyone just switch instruments. And actually we've done that a long time ago, before Jamie was in the band and when the band was really young. We used to do fucked up shit like that, ya know? Like everyone switching instruments, I would take the guitar, and I don't know how to play guitar at all, and play the end of "Tecato", the break down part and Mike would sing the end of it so he would just scream random bullshit [laughs]. We used switch up like that but that was a long time ago.

STTS- You guys should try that again, that'd be fuckin' funny!

LS- I think it'd work out even better now 'cause our musicianship has improved.

STTS- What did Dobbs contribute to the band during the recording?

LS- Dobbs was our savior, pretty much. Dobbs we flew out--we were lucky to fly him out with us and the band has all lived in the same house with the dog and the band is really super attached to the dog. Kind of like more so than if it was just a dog, it's more like he was one of our children. It's kind of weird, he's such a great dog. He's just a great, great pet. Everybody just loves him and so we brought him out here and it was a nice, like I would get frustrated or something or somebody would get frustrated and they'd go grab a stick and go out to Long Beach Farms in the field and go throw the stick with the dog. The dog would cheer everybody up. The dog would be asleep while I was doing my vocal tracks on the floor next to me or runnin' around everybody and it was really nice that he got to be included and hopefully soon we'll take him on the road with us 'cause everybody really wants to.

STTS- I thought you brought him with you but it was just the bouncer barking.

LS- Yeah, it was that bouncer barking! That was weird!

STTS- You seem like a pretty fun guy and I remember you guys were quoting The Simpsons at one point. What Simpsons character do you most recognize with?

LS- Um, God...Ya know, the Simpsons is probably the band's favorite show. When I was younger in high school, my nickname was "Bart" when that show came out. Everyone in Santa Barbara called me Bart for years 'cause I was always getting in trouble and I had bleach blonde spikey hair like he does. I was always the one getting in trouble. Like, if my friends were off talkin' with the cops and getting rousted, no matter what, whether I was involved or not, I was always the one to walk up all drunk and go, "What the fuck're you hasslin' them for? Fuck you, pig!" Then I'd be the one always goin' to jail for being drunk in public. So I would have say Bart but he's a lot cooler than I am.

STTS- Here's another rumor that I heard. I heard that you guys are banned from a strip club in Santa Barbara. What's that about?

LS- Yeah. We wore out our welcome over there.

STTS- In more ways than one...?

LS- Yeah, we went through a lot of strippers. The band's really into strippers and porno actresses and porn in general. Yeah, me especially. I'm the one. We not gonna mention any of my porn career. [laughs]

STTS- No farm animals please!

LS- [laughs] Yeah, we went through a lot of the strippers and we didn't have a lot of money really and our ex-drummer (who we had a falling out with) was the doorman there and he's super large. He hates us all so between us going through all the strippers and that, we kind of got--see we practiced two doors down from the strip club. So between practice we'd go over there (they didn't serve alcohol, they just served juice and soda) so our drummer was the door man so we'd all walk in like everyday, three times a day. We'd have a soda on our break and get a lap dance and go back. Then all the strippers would hang out at practice and shit. Then everyone in the band was dating one for a while at one time or another. It was just weird. I'm hoping that we'll get let back in soon or at least maybe they'll start another strip club in Santa Barbara. Maybe I'll open one up if I get enough money.

STTS- Have you guys had any plans for Europe?

LS- We actually had two offers. One from Tura Satana which we'd really like to do. And one from Lagwagon. But Sean Dewey, (the guitarist from Lagwagon, who's no longer in the band) and Joey Cabe the singer (who is in the band) were in my very first band. We were a speed metal/punk/thrash band. We'd love to go out there. We love to go everywhere basically but that was one place we--I always wanted to go to Europe but I never wanted to go as a tourist, I always wanted to go as a band, all my life. So finally hopefully we'll be able to do that. Hopefully just go with a cool band that draws there so that we can be seen by the Europeans. I don't know if our album's been released there.

STTS- What would be a dream tour for Snot? If someone came up and said, "Here's a list of bands. Pick a tour. You can headline, open, whatever."

LS- That's tough. I'd probably um...that depends, that's a tough question 'cause I got two answers.

STTS- Go for it.

LS- On the one hand, if I had my choice--say the tour was that there was gonna be thousands of people showing up no matter who was playing. Say if my dream came true and we had a chance to headline a tour and a million people were gonna show up--say I had the chance to make that tour (like if I was Perry Farrell or some shit like that) I would probably try and get some old punk rock bands from Southern California back together again to tour like RKL, Dr. Know, or Ill Repute. Some stuff like that. I know that's just a fantasy but--even some East Coast punk rock bands, too. I don't know. If it was just Snot getting on a tour, it would be like--I really like Faith No More, Deftones, Rage Against the Machine. I like those bands in particular to tour with 'cause we're already big fans of theirs. Basically, for everybody, we wanna go on a tour with a band that draws [and] is comprised of people that we'd like to spend time on the road with, nice people. 'Cause my band members are nice guys, ya know? We're not mean people, we're personable and we like to be with people who are personable also.

STTS- So this Fishbone tour must be great then?

LS- Oh, man, we love the Fishbone guys. They've just been so good to us and they're also musical influences of mine, since they came out in Southern California, for years and years and years. I feel honored to be on tour. If I had a significant bass playing influence of mine, it would be Norwood Fisher for years and years now. And for my vocal influence, it would be Angelo [Moore]. The band as a whole, I love so I'm happy as hell to be tour with them. Dub War are great also! We can't say enough good things about them. We're big fans of them and hopefully we can do stuff with them on the road soon.

STTS- What is, in your opinion, the meaning of underground?

LS- It's like I said earlier about how some bands like to stay close to the ground and suffer and not make any money and be underground. That's great but for me, underground is about bands that are up and coming that just haven't had their chance to shine yet, but will eventually. Like you can see with your eye (judging from your magazine) what bands have potential that you think are gonna be doing something significant in the future. Underground, to me, means that the big business organizations hasn't come down to them yet. But it will. There's bands like Suction and System of a Down, Spank, and Spineshank that are underground. Everybody's tryin' to make a living and we're just tryin' to do it. I used to have to make a living dishonestly because that's what I was into at the time. This is honest work, it's honest living and it's something we all like to do. So I feel lucky.***

Interview written and conducted by Ro
Special thanks to Melissa Jones at Geffen and everyone in Snot
for being way too damn cool.