Interview: Snapcat Bandits Talk To Fanbase Music Magazine About Their New Single Lonely Highway, Music Video And More

Interviewed by Duzzy Clayton

 

Intro

Melanie and Mike from Snapcat Bandits are two of the most awesome people I have ever had the pleasure to talk to, they are such down-to-earth people and they have similar cool music taste as me, so we just hit it off as friends and people. Which makes it even more cool that their band is just as awesome. Snapcat Bandits is an awesome two-piece-duo rock band made up of Mike Krupinski and  Melanie D. Marshall. The band has just released their latest single Lonely Highway along with a cool lyric video, we catch up with the band to talk about all and find out more about who they are and where they from

Enjoy The read 

Interview

Hi, welcome to Fanbase Music Magazine, let’s start with your cool band name, how did the band Snapcat Bandits come about?
Reply from Melanie Marshall:   I came up with the band name, and Mike thought it was cool.  Years ago we played some tribute shows under the name Snapcat.   Mike didn’t know how I came up with the band name until recently when I shared it with him.  A Snapcat is a visual I had of a cool cat songwriter snapping songs out of the universe and bringing those songs into our world.  That’s Mike, he’s the Snapcat.   I added the Bandits to the name because there is a techno artist with the name Snapcat.  Bandits make the name sound more edgy to describe who we are and our music.  It needed to be something that wasn’t likely to be used by anyone else.   Snapcat Bandits is the perfect band name for us because this is a stick-up for all the great songs that have yet to be written.    
Mike’s Reply:  I must be a magician or something (laughs).
Can you tell us where you are from and how the band started?
Mike’s Reply: Although Melanie and I have been playing together for quite some time, this project began actually during the pandemic in 2020-2021, when Melanie and I learned some 75-100 cover songs. That’s how we developed the passion to start writing original music, from the covers.
Melanie’s reply:   We are from Canton Michigan which is a suburb about 35 minutes West of Detroit, and 20 minutes East of Ann Arbor.  Mike and I have lived in the Metro Detroit area all of our lives.   Mike and I started playing together many years ago and met through a Metro Times ad for bandmates.  We have always focused on originals, and then life happens and we set it down.   The pandemic was the turning point for us, and after getting back into it, Mike started writing originals again and the songs were awesome!  There was a ton of material to choose from and we paired it down to the best songs.   We hammered out the song parts, and that’s when we decided to record the songs.  The whole process was a natural progression leading us down this new musical journey.
You are an awesome duo band, Can you give us the names of the band members and what each band member does in the band?
Melanie’s Reply:   Michael Krupinski is on vocals, guitars, and bass.  He is the primary songwriter for the lyrics, melody, and all the guitar parts.  With his early childhood pop background and his teen experiences in a broken home, Mike brings an emotionally charged edge into the music (always moody, often gritty and angry but not always).  He combines this gritty emotionally charged edge with that feel-good comfortable pop format satisfying several underlying emotions all at the same time.  I connect with his energetic moody edge, and at the same time, the songs make a person feel good too.          
Mike’s reply: Melanie D. Marshall is on drums. Melanie brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a knack for the hook to her playing. I don’t think our songs would sound the same if Melanie didn’t add her touch to the music. What Melanie brings in terms of being the initial ears to a new song, her ideas, and her passion for making a song sound great is extremely valuable. Her heart is as big as her thunderous sound; we’ve played so long together that it’s a natural progression for us to combine our efforts into each song and make each one the best it can be. Melanie’s talents go way beyond the drum kit – it’s her instinct that helps define our songs and their uniqueness.
Being a duo band can be very tricky to fill in for other instruments needed in recording or playing live, can you tell us how you work around that?
Mike’s reply: Playing live, starts with an energetic performance. Since there are just the 2 of us, I make a great effort to engage the audience by running around the stage like a madman during instrumental breaks in some of the songs. Other times, I engage and lock in with Melanie and our playing to show the audience how lock-step we are, and that translates into a lot of energy given off. For some shows, I bring 2 amps and place them on either side of the stage – one with settings that are more bass-heavy, and the other side that is more treble-heavy to give depth to the sound. Sometimes, but not always, we have friends who help us out on bass for the live performance.
For the recordings, I handle all the instrumentation except the drums. From vocals, to bass (which I use a right-handed bass and play upside down since I’m a lefty. The left-handed bass I own doesn’t sound as good), and all the guitar tracks you hear is me. Most of the time, there are three guitar tracks – acoustic, rhythm guitar, and leads/fills. It’s a workload that I’m always ready for, because for most guitar tracks, I don’t know what I’m going to play until I sit down that day.
Melanie’s reply:   I always enjoy playing live with a bass player and like the added energy on stage.   As Mike said, we can play as a trio with a friend bass player, or we can take it on just the two of us.   Without a bass player, I feel there needs to be more fills on the toms to fill in any gaps missing from the sound.   I love to grip and rip playing by instinct.  What comes out as a duo is more involved, and I work harder.  When we add that bass player I’m able to lay back a bit because those parts are filled in.   
On a recording I know all the parts will be there, so I am more meticulous about what I want to be laid down.   When I lay the parts down it is usually with an acoustic guitar scratch track.  I have to override my instinct to play the parts the way we would acoustically and instead play the parts by memory on the dynamics we want to capture hitting those thunderous parts with all my power.   When you are a drummer, you are also a conductor, heightening the intensity in certain areas and bringing it back down in other areas.   That intensity will change depending on playing the set as a duo, as a trio, giving it a punk feel, or playing it acoustically.   
Please describe your sound and genre.
Mike & Melanie’s reply:   Mike loves the sound of big guitars and slightly lower tunings to develop a mood and edge that our music has refined over time.   Melanie loves adding layers, hooks, and dimensions to the songs.   The best way to describe our sound would be edgy alternative, punk, and power pop rock that is heavy on melody, attitude, and vibe.  
Who are some of the band’s influences?  
Melanie’s reply:   I have an early background in metal and my favorite metal band is Metallica.  I also grew up listening to a lot of classic rock greats including Van Halen, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and Jimmy Hendrix as the shortlist.  My musical tastes heavily expanded into punk/grunge rock including Nirvana,  Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Breeders, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, and much more.  I can also find appreciation for and listen to other genres such as jazz, classical music, and Broadway musicals.  During the making of this first EP called Shadows & Looks, we watched a lot of classic movies for the first time and the dramas and songs in those stories played a big part in the content of our music.  Who can resist loving an angry Fred Astaire tap dancing on top of a bar and smashing up all the glasses in “Sky’s the Limit”, or Judy Garland’s performance of “I Don’t Care” in “Meet Me in St. Louis”.    
Mike’s reply: It all starts with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, simply put. In learning guitar, I found Kurt’s music at the right time, being a lefty and having a desire to rock! I quickly identified with Nirvana’s sound and tone, and in learning those songs, started building a foundation for my own music. Silverchair was next, and I need to express how much I love Daniel Johns’ songwriting and guitar playing. The music from their first two albums, Frogstomp and Freakshow, continued to help me build a way to express my own emotions. Going forward, I added Prince, Goo Goo Dolls, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Jimi Hendrix, Blue Cheer, Foo Fighters, Seether, the Ramones, and PJ Harvey. Not to mention the great songwriters Carole King, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Neil Diamond, Daryl Hall, and John Oates. These elements assisted me in crafting a foundation and library of tools to write my own songs.
Let’s talk about your latest single, Lonely Highway, what is the song about?
Mike’s reply: The song is about finding mental clarity on your own, your way. Although the song is somewhat simple, the way you can think about the song can be done on so many levels. The magic happens with each listener and how they process the feel of the song.        
Melanie’s reply:  Lonely Highway is about getting out of toxic relationships or situations, and cyclical patterns that hold you down.   It’s about turning away from patterns and expectations of others.  It’s about deciding that you have had enough and it’s time to take that Lonely Highway to a destination unknown on a path of self-discovery or a path yet to be traveled in your life.  Sanity Beach represents mental clarity and finding a place you can obtain it.  The song is about leaving behind the comfortable toxic crap in your life by venturing out into the great unknown.  It’s also about having enough faith and confidence in yourself to make that journey.  
Can you talk us through the recording process and who worked and [produced the track?
Mike’s reply: This was the first song we worked on for our debut EP. We cut the track in our home studio, and recorded Melanie’s drum tracks with a scratch guitar and vocal track. Once we were satisfied with the drums, I then recorded the bass. I used Melanie’s right-handed bass and played it upside-down (laughs). I have a left-handed bass, but the sound isn’t as good as Mel’s bass, and I’ve been playing upside-down bass for a long time, so it was comfortable. Then, I recorded the rhythm guitar track, followed by the leads and fills. For this song, on the leads and fills track, I was almost finished recording the track, and I hit one wrong note, and I got mad. So when I re-recorded the track, at the end of the song, I slammed my guitar down against the amp and we left the feedback in the song because it fit the feel.
Melanie’s reply:  Chuck Alkazian from Pearl Sound Studios mixed and mastered the recordings with his expertise.  Chuck Alkazian is an excellent producer with an instinct for capturing and defining that perfect sound, making everything sound huge, and a willingness to educate.   Without an excellent producer and the perfect presentation of the music, even a great song will sit on the shelf.  It’s crucial to get that right and Chuck made that happen for us.   We can’t thank him enough.   We have plans to record the next record at Pearl Sound Studios with Chuck Alkazian.   
The song also has a great lyric video, but with visuals, can you describe the idea behind the video who worked on the video?
Melanie’s Reply:  The talented Sarah Ziegler-Herringhausen from Blaize Media Inc. produced the lyric video.  A lyric video often has the same background throughout with scrolling lyrics.  I conveyed to Sarah that I wanted the video to have a story and feel of travelling from one place to another where the terrain would change throughout the video.  Sarah and I worked together to find various video clips that would convey the message.  It starts with a guy leaving his apartment and contemplating leaving his situation followed by the driving scenes.  There’s a road sign in the middle pointing out that Sanity Beach is a long 810 miles away, or you can take a U-turn ahead onto Reconciliation Road and go back to your old life.  Sarah adds her touch to this video making the journey interesting and edgy to match the song.   At the end, the guy in our video pulls up next to Sanity Beach in an old 1940s or 1950s truck which seems fitting since classic movies had a big influence on the content of our first EP.   

Will you be releasing new music soon and what can you tell us about it?
Melanie’s Reply:  We have fully released the first six-song EP called Shadows & Looks.  Lonely Highway was the last song on that album.   We have completed the next five-song EP called Anything & Nothing and it will be released as singles over the coming months.  “Summer Days” is scheduled to be released on June 28th.  Summer Days was originally supposed to be on the first EP and was delayed.  Each new song released after Summer Days will be a little darker and a little angrier… much like a huge storm coming your way.   
Mike’s Reply: Our new EP will be sonically and creatively a step above what we’ve accomplished with our debut EP. I think the songwriting is better and our playing is tighter as well. We took some chances on the new EP, and I think to grow as musicians and songwriters, you need to be able to take risks to evolve. The new EP reflects the next step in our evolution.
How would you describe your writing process, do the lyrics or music come first?
Mike’s reply: Most songwriters/guitar players will come up with a riff first, then work out the melody and lyrics after. I tend to do the opposite. I will come up with lyrics and a theme first, then a melody. If those two elements are good and unique, then I will see if I have a riff that matches the mood of the song I want to create. Once the riff and the melody are put together, then I work on honing in on the match. I’ll tweak the melody a bit, maybe adjust the riff, and change a chord if needed. Then I’ll bring the song to Melanie about 50-75% finished, and then we spend the time in pre-production working out the parts. Melanie’s songwriting skills come into play at this point, as she comes up with some dynamite hooks in her parts. Sometimes I’ll even write a chord progression to her drum part or parts that she comes up with, and the song will evolve from there.
Melanie’s Reply:   I prefer to listen to Mike’s song ideas before we collaborate and that helps me work out my own ideas and parts in my head.   As the first set of ears on these song ideas, my first goal is to decide what it is I want to hear from this song.   I listen for possible hooks.  Is the chorus strong enough?  Do the verses interest me or need work?   Does it need more dynamics?  Do I relate to the lyrics and melody in some way?  Is there any part that loses my interest?   Most importantly, the song cannot sound anything like any other song.  Mike often gets it right the first time.   Other times, I hear the potential and ask Mike to play it in another arrangement, another tempo, or another feel.  Some songs came to be because I asked Mike to change the verse to the chorus and bring in the bridge as the verse.  And like magic, the song makes sense and is way more interesting.  At the end of the day, the song has to meet two tests.   I have to love to listen to it, and I have to love to play it. 
Can you describe a live experience for people who haven’t seen you play live yet?
Mike’s reply: There is a lot of energy between Melanie and me on stage. Because we are a duo, we work hard to engage one another on stage as well as the audience. Our sound is pretty loud, just the way we like it! Sometimes you get a punk-rock vibe, other times we bring it down a bit for a jangly-clean pop feel, then back up again with an in-your-face hard rock guitar sound. The covers we choose help complement the momentum and feel of our live performance.  At the end of a set, I’m usually exhausted, physically and mentally, sweat dripping, and feedback screeching from my amp, and Melanie has usually accumulated a pile of sawdust on her drum kit, she plays so hard! All in all, after you’ve seen us play, you can guarantee we’ve given it our all on stage and shared that energy with the audience, becoming one for that time period.
thank you for doing this interview, do you have any last messages for our readers?
Mike’s Reply: I want people to know that Melanie and I love music, and we play with an honest and sincere passion. That goes for our recordings and the live performance. Sharing music with other people and playing live is something that gives us joy, so why not share that joy with others? We want to rock the world! At the end of the day, if I can sit on my living room couch and say that we gave it our all and had a great time with music, then I’ll be satisfied. This musical journey has allowed us to meet some pretty cool people, and the relationships we’ve made furthers my belief that music really can bring people together.
Regarding the future, we’ve started writing new material for the next EP. We’ll be working with producer Chuck Alkazian again, and he will have a bigger influence and part in what our next music will sound like. I do know this: the next step in the band’s progression will take a slight turn, as I feel it’s time to take another set of risks. The guitar sounds will be tuned down a bit, the lyrical subjects will be a bit more darker and moody, with a touch of anger. The year 2025 will be a turning point for us as a band, growing more as musicians and songwriters, evolving our live performance, and giving your readers a reason to come back and check in on us to see what we going to do next. We’re grateful and thankful for this platform to be able to share our story with you.   
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