Red Snapper Talk


Later this year Red Snapper will release their seventh studio album 'Hyena' on the excellent Lo Recordings. A new chapter in their fascinating career that has spanned two decades during which they've explored the stripped back nature of the drum and the bass in all its many different forms. Red Snapper were one Warp's first non-doof-doof plink plonk signings way back in 1996 who they recorded three albums for. New album Hyena is an afrofunk psychedelic road trip, influenced by the music that they composed in 2013 for 70s cult Senegalese film Touki Bouki. The dark energy of Red Snapper is still all there… There's a single incoming with a cracking Auntie Flo remix of which we have the premiere of… you can listen below to that. 

We chatted to Snapper's guiding rhythm Rich Thair about roots and much more… 

Hi Rich, where are you from, where are you now?

Home counties via 20 years in West London, spells in France and Bristol now plotted up in The Welsh Valleys. I'm sat in my studio looking out of the window up the mountain at the back of my garden.


We've not heard from you for a few years. What have you been up to?

Since releasing Key on V2 in 2011 and touring that album all around Europe we composed a new soundtrack to 70s Senegalese Film Touki Bouki, directed by Djibril Diop Mambety and restored by Martin Scorsese in 2008. Its essentially a psychedelic road movie about a couple trying to escape Senegal for a more prosperous life in Europe..hailed as the first experimental African film. We toured UK and Europe, showing the film and playing the soundtrack live.


Dubstep and grime happened post-Snapper’s heyday yet you can still hear influences of that dub aesthetic of both imbued in early recordings of yours. 

We have always been interested in organic and electronic drums and bass, how they are recorded and generated in different environments and then how different producers treat those core sounds. Snapper was originally put together in the early 90s to produce a DJ tools, breaks album… things rapidly developed from there.

I’m assuming it’s something you listen to now, it being a very rhythmic form?

We are constantly excited by the way young producers approach beats and bass. It's as important to look to the future as it is to refer to the past in terms of how people mess with machines and instruments and sounds. Dubstep and grime music has had a massive influence over the music that people listen to today both underground and commercial but I think its equally important that new producers continue to search for the music that influenced these genres i.e early dub and hiphop producers and the likes of bands like Can.


So, what was the music of your teenage rebellion?

New wave, dub/reggae, disco, soul, futurist bands…eg..Cabaret Voltaire, A Certain Ratio, Trojan, liquidliquid, esg, Northern Soul, Depeche…I was also obsessed with The Who and The Jam and Zeppelin etc etc


What was the first electronic record you ever heard? How did it make you feel?

Blimey, I can't really remember the 90s..let alone the 70s!..I remember first hearing electronic drums in disco and dub tunes that my older brother used to play but I think it would have to be Kraftwerk and The Some Bizarre comp that really changed the way I listened to electronic music.



Magic Fly by Space was big in my bedroom…


I grew up at a time when a lot of kids still liked Genesis etc and what they did with keyboards and synths, when i discovered Kraftwerk and then got into the whole early futurist thing I soon realised that what they were doing with machines was a lot more exciting and girls were more likely to be interested in you.

Post-punk seems to rear its hugely influential head every 5-10 years and it seems like its coming back round again. How much did the sounds of that era inform you arriving at your sound?

Big time, Can were a massive influence on us as well as bands like Rip Rig and Panic

Me and my mates used to go and watch the Higsons and Pigbag and it was amazing that we got Ollie Moore from Pigbag to join us in 96 on Prince Blimey. I think the way those bands were influenced by dub, disco and jazz in the early 80s was very similar to how we approached things as well as being really into hiphop. Bands like ESG, Liquidliquid and A Certain Ratio were big influences on us and still are.

The excellent Auntie Flo’s turned in a sublime remix of your new single. A 'remixer’ choice of yours?
I really like everything he does and he's done a top job on Village Tap, he has a great sound that combines a quality grasp on past and future African music and all produced really well. There are some exciting remixes in for the next single.

The single is described as voodoo funk in the blurb. What does voodoo funk mean to you?

Raw, rhythmic music that comes from passion and sweat and the dark corners of your mind and soul.

So it's coming out on the excellent Lo Recordings. Tell us about your love affair with Mr Tye…

Jon and Gav are top fellas, they have always stuck to their guns and are survivors. They have a great knowledge and appreciation of the world's musical heritage and in these tricky times they still release music for the right reasons. The Lo Recordings catalogue speaks for itself and they have always been patient with us and supportive of our music. Its a top label and we are honoured to be part of their family.


You’re a drummer first and foremost hence the excellent and heavy beat-laden nature of your productions. There’s obviously quite an attention to depth of sound in there though. There’s a bit of an ‘ambient’ revival going on at the moment. Ever thought about a beatless album at any stage? 

Are you mad? drums? πŸ˜‰

Over the years our album's have always had tracks that aren't dominated by drums, check Belladonna

You Read My Card Wrong

and Lobster

Our guitarist David Ayers is a master at creating beautiful melodic textures and this side of Red Snapper is frequently overlooked. Beatless tracks yes, album …no!! πŸ˜‰

As a live band first and foremost you have the edge on a lot of the more studio based producers in an age where people are no longer prepared to pay for record music. Do you still play live a lot?

Playing live is our life, it's how we connect with our fans, write new music and develop our back catalogue. When we get together on stage it makes everything make sense. There is a connection between the four of us that is unique, it is our inspiration and motivation. We are very lucky to have such a supportive fanbase around Europe who have stuck with us over the years, its is also the best way to introduce new music fans to our sound.
If you get a chance to see Red Snapper live it really is a unique experience.

Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?

Kick drum, the heartbeat, the Centre back, always there, driving things on.

Top 3 favourite drummers of all time with accompanying videos if you so please. 

Tony Allen

John Bonham

Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste

How many drummers is too many? 


First and last record bought?

1. Barry Blue – Dancing on a Saturday least i'm being honest! 
2. Lafayette Afro-Rock band – Darkest light remastered

What are you obsessed with at the moment?

Getting the new album tracks right live and my out of control fruit trees.


If your sound was a visual thing, what would it look like?

A jelly like orb encased in a thorny spiders web


What’s your favourite place on earth?

Three Cliffs Beach, Gower, Wales.

What's your answer to everything?


Anything else we should’ve discussed but haven’t yet?

No, excellent deep, probing questions that have left me feeling drained πŸ˜‰

I would like to add that it's an honour to work with Soundcrash, I have known Rob for a long time from when he used to book me to DJ.
They have always supported Red Snapper and we have always had great shows with them.


Red Snapper play alongside Venetian Snares and Luke Vibert at the Scala next Saturday 24th May weekend Full details. 

There's a Luke Vibert: Line Out Live mix to get your ears round here. 

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