The Rochester-based power trio Overhand Sam & Bad Weapon are releasing a new single this Friday called "Pebbles." To celebrate the forthcoming single and the anticipated theatrical release of Godzilla vs. Kong, we chatted with frontman Sam Snyder, aka Overhand Sam, about the single's recording process and his monstrous obsession with Godzilla.
From the sweeping pop-psychedelia of Maybird to the jagged garage pop of Anamon, Sam Snyder, aka Overhand Sam, never tries to set boundaries with his music. The well-rounded Rochester-based musician is always doing something new with one of his musical projects, mostly now with his power trio Bad Weapon, which also comprises of drummer Dennis Mariano and bassist Benton Sillick. The trio's soundscapes are best described as fuzzy psych-pop with a painterly lo-fi touch that's layered with dreamy hooks and punchy, freeform rhythms. The trio announced the release of the upcoming single "Pebbles" earlier this month, which originally served as the B-side to last year's rare 7" vinyl of "Fear Itself."
We caught up with Snyder ahead of his trio's new single, who tells us about the recording process behind the single and his monstrous obsession with Godzilla.
You're releasing a new single this Friday with Bad Weapon called "Pebbles," the exclusive B-side to last year's 7" single "Fear Itself." What was the recording process like behind this one?
Sam Snyder: This one was pretty long winded process wise—unlike "Fear Itself" which was pretty much written and recorded in like a week. This tune "Pebbles" took shape a few different ways personally before I ever hit record (so-to-speak). We recorded it mostly live then edited a few spots with "studio magic." There's a few parts that used my Tascam tape recorder. I had sampled some music and a monologue about erosion—just throwing stuff at the wall. We recorded it at Studio Bobby which was the name that somehow stuck for my bedroom apartment when I was living with my bass-buddy-babe Benton and his Blue Oyster Cult leader-Blueberry aficionado-fiancé, Ana (Anamon). It was a great musical house, full of pure energy, and we cut a lot of music there in a comically small room given the equipment.
During this pandemic, I see that've you been spending a good time writing and recording new material in your bedroom. As an artist, how has it been stuck at home making music?
Snyder: Frankly it hasn’t been TOO different, day-to-day. As much as I love my friends and family, I think I'm relatively reclusive at my core, and I typically spend my free time writing and working on music, tinkering with technology, or painting anyways. On a personal level I've had a lot of loss during this pandemic which has brought on bouts of depression, which leads to YouTube, Star Wars and Godzilla binges.
Speaking of Godzilla, how did you become so fascinated with "The King of Monsters"?
Snyder: Some might recall the intense Heisei-era of films reigniting more Godzilla interest in America in the '90s. As a '90s kid, my parents turned me onto the kid-friendly Showa-era stuff as early as I can remember. I actually can't remember my life without Godzilla in it.
Do you have any rare Godzilla memorabilia? If so, what's your favorite and why?
Snyder: Nothing too terribly rare. Growing up, I did get a lot of the Trendmasters action figures—including *DRUMROLL PLEASE* that ridiculous Anguirus action figure that really makes no sense. He wasn't even in any of the films between 1974-2004, so it's weird that they made a figure of him, especially that's super muscly in the '90s. I've been hot for getting a Bandai Titanosaurus, and my brother and I still often text about it. It's amazing that there's something like this stuff in my life that so clearly brings me back to my childhood.
I grew up mostly on the Shōwa-era films, especially the original King Kong vs. Godzilla film, which I've always felt to be underappreciated. How do you think the new film will compare to the 1962 crossover?
Snyder: The original is underappreciated for sure. I think the Legendary films we're seeing now have really great storylines and are using modern technology in a fun exciting way. I think it's good that by recontextualizing the original story, that maybe it's moving away from this subtle USA (Kong) vs. Japan (Godzilla) thing. The original is so funny to me. The film basically just ends, and they invent that unbreakable string that's able to carry Kong by helicopter. If they don't bring that string back I will be upset. Also Kong needs to drink that juice again, and maybe eat an octopus. I have more to say, but I don't want to spill the potential beans for anyone *cough*mecha*cough*...
If somebody wanted to get into the Godzilla franchise, where would you tell them to start?
Snyder: Absolutely the first film. It's without a doubt in my mind, the single most important film of all time, and I could argue that until I'm 6 feet under. BUT if you're getting a kid in to, like I was, I'd recommend Destroy All Monsters or Invasion of Astro-Monster, aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. If you're an adult, maybe you like anime, I would recommend Shin Godzilla for how terrifying and intense it is. Lastly, if you're looking to see one on the big screen, there is nothing wrong with starting with the recent Legendary Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which would segue well into the upcoming film.
Who is the all-time greatest Godzilla villain and why?
Snyder: Mankind! just kidding... but seriously. Mankind created the atomic bomb, which created Godzilla. Godzilla didn't ask to be alive, he's just a force of nature. Mankind, over and over again in the films is antagonizing and flirting with science and technology which never really stops the monster, but showboats this notion that we're perfect, and somehow the victim at the same time. I think it's really important to remember that Godzilla was created from the imagination of someone who survived the U.S. bombing of Japan. It blows my mind how we don't teach school children about the devastation the U.S. caused in Japan, and the outlying islands. Without the nuclear bomb there never would have been a Godzilla—therefore, mankind is the ultimate villain. Okay, but my more fun answer is probably Gigan because he looks like a chicken with a chainsaw in his chest.
Is Blue Oyster Cult’s "Godzilla" and the 1998 Godzilla soundtrack guilty pleasures or is there no such thing?
Snyder: My Walkman in fourth grade was strictly Jamiroquai's "Deeper Underground" on repeat. I don't think I had the BOC, but my mom put it on mixtapes for me. It's not even a guilty pleasure. Ana and I would rock that tune all the time.
Have you listened to any of the scores from the earlier films? Reijiro Koroku's 1984 score for The Return of Godzilla might be my favorite.
Snyder: I'm so glad I'm not alone here. I hope someone reading this takes a deep look in the mirror and asks themselves if they love anything quite like we do. I adore the original score by Akira Ifukube with how menacing and tense it is. The Koroku music in the Heisei series is stunningly beautiful and dynamic which suits those movies really well. Maybe my favorite as I mentioned before are the themes by Riichiro Manabe for being really psychedelic rock, avant-garde and jazz-influenced. Also, Benton is working up a tattoo for me of the Shobijin, the twin fairies who were originally played by the Japanese pop duo the Peanuts. Their version of "Mothra's Song" is one of the best.
In an alternative universe, what Maybird or Overhand Sam & Bad Weapon song would appear on a Godzilla soundtrack?
Snyder: That would be my dream universe. I have a new song coming out in June called "Tea & Honey," which I sort of modeled after the '60s Japanese club / psych vibes of the Manabe themes—keep an ear out for that one. Also the ending of Maybird's "Things I Remember" is pretty epic, so that comes to mind for a monster flick.
Overhand Sam & Bad Weapon's new single "Pebbles" is out April 2. Stream their latest single "Fear Itself" below.