A Ripple Conversation With Ryan Chandler Of Snake Mountain Revival

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.


What have been your musical epiphany moments?


You know I actually grew up in a similar environment. My mom listened to a lot of Eagles, Zeppelin, southern rock stuff and the like from that era. All stuff that I still enjoy to this day (except the Eagles. I just can’t hear the fuckin Eagles anymore.) My dad had similar taste but he would always throw in some Clapton stuff and some Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd had a pretty profound effect on me as a kid. I was too young to truly grasp the themes and appreciate the musicianship and writing but I immediately recognized that it was different. It was big and demanded more attention than a 4 minute pop song disguised as “Rock n Roll”. It was traveling without ever leaving. I fuckin loved that. It left such a huge imprint in the way that I saw/see music and art as a whole. Fast forward 10 years and I started hanging out with this dude Eric from school who played in local bands and what not. He could shred guitar so obviously I idolized him immediately. He started turning me on to music that I had never been exposed to before and it destroyed my idea of what I thought music was. I remember him playing The Mars Volta album “De-loused in a Comatorium” while we were driving through the Blue Ridge mountains, high as shit and I can say with confidence that that was when I decided I needed to get closer to music. Listening wasn’t going to be enough anymore. It gave me permission to get lost in the ether and let go of the present, my ego and any preconceived notions of what art was supposed to be.


Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?


Our process changes a lot. I’m a pretty moody creator and Zack and Josh can be too. I think that’s why we like writing and playing together. Birds of a feather and all that. But usually I come up with a riff attached to a vocal melody or lyric that I think has legs and I’ll show it to the guys. If we decide it has potential, we knock it around for awhile in our studio and see if it evolves. Collectively, we usually know pretty quickly if something is gonna stick or not.


Who has influenced you the most?


As a band, we sort of bonded over our love of the older (60s-70s) rock, blues, etc… We combined those influences with some of the more modern surf rock stuff. We also have a solid love for metal and stoner/desert rock. I don’t want to dive in to naming bands and shit. Let’s just wrap it up in a somewhat messy little bow by saying we listen to a TON of music from every corner of time and Earth and it all makes its way in to our sound.


Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?


I get hit with inspiration constantly. It can be torturous because the “available time” to “funneling inspiration in to creation” ratio is never synchronized. I hear an amazing soundtrack while watching a movie…I want to write a song. I hear an amazing new album…I want to write a song. Drop a hit and leave my body…you guessed it…I want to write a song. Our band has always been fat with ideas and thin with time.


We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?


Our hometown is a blessing and a curse. We are from Virginia Beach. A major, major vacation destination and military hub for the east coast. This is great for our economy but not so great for our art and music scene. With so many transient people coming and going from other places, it can be difficult to build things of substance that last. We’re like Cancun for people who don’t want to fly. Not a big music and art scene in Cancun I imagine. But what we do have in abundance is creative people who are shaped by this climate and have become more resourceful because of it. We also have some of the best fans you could ask for that have made playing live an absolutely unforgettable experience every time we set foot on stage. Our shows are grimy and sweaty and I fucking love that about this place. It’s like this: Virginia Beach is like a little sister. We can talk shit about her but if you do you better watch your ass.


Where'd the band name come from?


We were literally just throwing around words that we thought described our sound. So much random shit got tossed around. Eventually the idea that Creedence Clearwater Revival was such a cool name got combined with the fact that Skeletor’s lair was called Snake Mountain.


You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?


I would love for SMR to write the soundtrack for a MAD MAX movie. I love George Miller’s style and it would be extremely satisfying to write some bat shit crazy, badass, anxiety driven, apocalyptic psych tunes for one of these films.


You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?


At any given time this answer is subject to change, based on mood and setting. I am currently in a dimly lit room, it is dark outside, Autumn is upon us and I’ve been drinking red wine. Inspired by these details, currently I would choose a song by Timber Timbre called Sewer Blues. It’s an extremely simple song written, performed and recorded to perfection. The very second I hear the first guitar lick, a dormant, nefarious past life passenger within me comes alive and I feel my right brow begin to rise. My heart rate quickens and I remember what it feels like to be dangerous. If I was going to cut another man down, this is the song I’d play while I sharpened my knife. Now let’s say the sun is shining and I haven’t a care in the world there’s a good chance I’d write about Tommy James and the Shondells’s “I’m a Tangerine”. Who knows. I am permanently, internally set too random.


Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?


I’ve had quite a few but for some reason this one stands out. This band I was in, way back in the day played this show at a line dancing bar (they tried to increase revenue by booking bands on off nights. It was weird) and we thought it would be funny to book an Elvis impersonator as the opener. He starts his set, in full Elvis regalia and an older woman at the bar begins to make a stink. She’s visibly upset and aiming her anger at fake Elvis. Then a few more people get involved. Turns out that fake Elvis was a convicted child molester with a bad reputation in that area. It got pretty awkward, pretty fast.


Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?


Like I said before, we love those grimy, sweaty shows where the crowd is pulsating and completely giving in to us. I want the crowd to experience something they can feel. Full submission is all I’m interested in for myself when I’m playing. I Give in to some preternatural instinct that comes alive when I’m comfortable and connected with an audience. I think that once an audience realizes that we’re authentic and that we’re not fucking around, they jump in head first with blatant disregard. It’s pure magic when it’s on.


What makes a great song?


Honesty makes a great song. Real, honest, authenticity will resonate almost every time. That being said, there’s definitely some honest shitty songs out there. It helps to have some practice and a lot of failures under your belt too.


What one single album do you wish that you'd written or performed on, and why?


I prefer the past the way it is honestly but if I have to answer, Probably the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Not my favorite album or anything but definitely a banger. More of a curiosity than anything. It would be interesting to see his creative process in the works. Again, this answer would probably be completely different if you asked me tomorrow.


What piece of your music are particularly proud of?


My favorite SMR track thus far is Everything in Sight. It’s a song that we really dove in to and carefully constructed. It went through so many variations until it finally rested in to what it is. It’s also my favorite song to perform. The vocals allow me to play this character I created and on bass it’s a blast.


Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?


There are so many amazing bands right now. People are constantly blowing my mind and inspiring the shit out of me. That last Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats album is definitely a standout. Orb’s last album was incredible. Kikagaku Moyo is writing some really great stuff right now. There’s so much happening in music right now that you only have to spend a little time searching and you’ll find some gold. And every now and then it finds you.


Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?


If I don’t say vinyl will I be put on some hit list somewhere? :) I kid, I kid. Vinyl is fantastic for that warmth and personal connection to a band. To have that art work in your hand and actually be present while the record spins is second to none. It somehow seems more important and special when you know that the actual album is spinning in the room with you. Digital is great for convenience obviously but it’s also easy to ignore and forget sometimes.


Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice


I’ll have both please. In any order will do.


We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?


Here in Virginia Beach, your best record store experience would happen at Vinyl Daze. Owned by a musician and run by musicians. Great all around vibe.


What's next for the band?


Next for the band is to check the mailbox constantly for our album test pressing so we can get these songs to the masses and take over the world. I mean that literally of course. After that, we just want to write more music and play more shows. This past year has been hell for all musicians. WE ARE FUCKING JONESING FOR SHOWS!


Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?


Answering these questions by myself was difficult because as a band we have always done things together. If you really want to know more about this band, just listen to our album when it drops. We really tried to create something unique and of ourselves.