Interview: The St Pierre Snake Invasion

Galore is about who I want to be; it’s also pointing inwards but forwards at the same time.

The St Pierre Snake Invasion are a band who are known for their fiery and witty albums and incendiary and unforgettable live performances, and with both a superb and long-awaited new album in Galore and a new tour upcoming, it is certainly an exciting time for the band. Gavin Brown caught up with the band’s vocalist Damien Sayell as we discussed Galore, the band’s forthcoming tour, their new label, memorable live shows and all manner of TSPSI matters.

E&D: Your new album Galore is out very soon. How excited are you to be releasing this album? 

Damien: It is indeed. Beyond excited; it’s been a good few years spent imagining how people are going to react when they hear it, and we get to find out soon. I love these songs; I’ve carried them around in my brain for nearly half a decade now, which is always the way with albums; they kind of live in you up to the point that other people hear them and hopefully like them enough to give them a new place to live. I’m ready for that transaction; it’s time for the kids to leave home, so to speak.

E&D: Was the making of the record a smooth process all in all? 

Damien: No-one died, so it was relatively smooth. There were challenges, tangible and existential. We scrapped an entire album and started again as Covid hit, and we were unable to write or rehearse together for most of the build-up to recording. So yeah, there were a few bumps in the road, but I don’t lament any of them; I’m thankful that they happened; this was meant to be difficult.

E&D: The album is all about growth. Is that how the band has grown and the members have as people?

Damien: It’s the chicken or the egg question, isn’t it? Did growth before the album lead to us making an album about growth, or did the making of an album about growth inspire growth in us? It’s probably a bit of both; there was a change in mindset before the album was written, and through the process we all added strings to our bows. There’s no doubt about that, the album demanded it, and we wouldn’t have been able to make it without those incremental developments.

E&D: You are known for your biting and incendiary lyrics on your previous material, are the songs on Galore more introspective? 

Damien: I’d say they’re as introspective as the songs on Caprice Enchanté, they’re just framed differently and painted with another set of colours. The songs on Galore are overlooking the sunshine in a south-facing garden, excited about the future, whereas the songs on CE are sitting in a kitchen at 4 am, staring at a bin, thinking about the past. All three of our albums are kind of egocentric; the first is the most outward facing. I was young, brash, arrogant, full of bile and steadfast in my belief that I was better than, and knew better than, everyone else. Caprice is pointed inwards and is kind of a critique of the person I was when I wrote the first album. Galore is about who I want to be; it’s also pointing inwards but forwards at the same time. Much of the album is about my son, and the examples I’m duty-bound as his father to set for him, and I can only do that by understanding my flaws and my strengths, working on the former to ensure I only pass down the latter, by becoming the person I want to be, for him.

E&D: What have been the biggest influences on the sound of the album?

Damien: Meshuggah, Soulwax (NITEVERSIONS) and techno in general – lots of repetition, lots of bendy riffs and bleep-bloop noises. Lots of old crooners, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and Billie Holiday; but yeah, mostly just techno and Meshuggah.


E&D: It’s been four years since your last album Caprice Enchanté, did you always want to leave such a long gap between albums or did it just happen to work out that way? 

Damien: Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve just been unlucky with the things that have happened between records. We’ve been a band for 12 years, and through no fault of our own, setbacks have meant we’ve only been able to put three albums out in that time. That is our past though, there’s nothing we can do to change it; we can only stay focused on making another album that excites us as soon as we’re able to.

E&D: What has changed for the band since that time and how have you evolved as a band? 

Damien: We’ve mellowed a bit, greyed a bit, expanded our equators a bit; some of us have got married a bit, had kids a bit, and started new business ventures a bit – much has changed in the last four years. We have Sanjay playing bass now, he was with us for the launch of the last album but wasn’t involved in the writing of it, and we have Pete playing the drums for us; and of course, two new musicians with their own musical vocabulary involved in putting the songs together is going to have an impact, and it’s been a hugely positive one. It’s been great. I love who we are, where we are and what we’re doing. I know it sounds laughable and trite, but I feel like we’re a creative force, haha, I honestly do, despite how ludicrous it sounds. I get butterflies in my stomach and a sense of needing to spring into action when I think about the art that the five of us might be capable of creating together. It’s a fucking beautiful feeling.

E&D: This is your first album on Church Road records. How is life on the label and how did you come to join the roster? 

Damien: Life is great – it’s our first time on a label and we’ve landed on our feet. Justine and Sammy are unbelievably enthusiastic, relaxed and supportive, their energy is great, and their being musicians means they get everything; they’re 100% in it to help our music reach a wider audience, and their advice is always on the money. Our agent Jule (Yula) passed our record on to them and they reached out to say how much they liked it; their enthusiasm was infectious and really won us over, and that was it really.

E&D: You’ve got a run of record release shows coming up at the end of the month. Are you looking forward to hitting the road again for these live shows? 

Damien: I am now – I was kind of in a weird place a few weeks ago in which I couldn’t find the spark. I thought I’d gone full “I only care about the creative process” wanker on myself. But we played a show in Brussels recently and it was brilliant, and now I’m excited about getting out there again.

E&D: Will you be playing a lot of new material at these shows? 

Damien: I reckon so – if we can play them (joking / not joking).

E&D: What are your touring plans for the rest of the year? 

Damien: We’re hoping to head to the EU for a small run, then another UK tour in the Autumn; and I’ll hopefully be back over to the States with mclusky at some point this summer too.

E&D: What have been the most memorable gigs that the band have ever played? 

Damien: There are so many! Standouts are Freakshow Festival in Gigors, and Electric Ballroom with Future of the Left. We closed a stage at 2000 Trees and ArcTangGent, both of which were brilliant.

E&D: I saw the band play in Worcester a few years ago and you kept being sick in a bucket on stage but still got through the gig despite being ill. It was inspiring to see the commitment when you could have cancelled. Do you recall that gig at all and do you always want to deliver onstage no matter what? 

Damien: I do remember that show! We were playing with Max Raptor, which is Pete our drummer’s old band. I was fine up until four or five minutes before the show, then I was ravaged by nausea. I’m glad you found it inspiring, I probably should have gone to sleep. You always want to deliver, you want people at the shows to connect to the music and go away feeling like they’ve watched something real and sincere. There are shows when you’re tired, ill, hungry, or dealing with the stresses of real life, but you’re there to implant your music into the lives of the people in that room. [You have] 30–60 minutes to convey the passion and honesty of the notes and language within your songs, and to do that you have to throw every ounce of yourself into those moments; you have to be prepared to come off stage feeling like you’ve just had the shit kicked out of you.

E&D: What has been the craziest thing to happen at one of your gigs? 

Damien: A guy once poured 4 litres of milk over himself at ATG while we were playing. I nearly gagged.

E&D: Do you remember much about the first ever gig that The St Pierre Snake Invasion ever played and how did it go? 

Damien: I remember loads of it; there’s a video of it on YouTube. It went okay – our friends and family came to support us, there was a power cut, and I nearly fainted during the first song, which looking back, set the stage for the next 12 years.

E&D: Who have been some of the best and inspiring bands you have ever seen live?

Damien: mclusky, Meshuggah, The Sonics, Soulwax – Niteversions, The Bronx. The Armed. Cleft at 2000 Trees the year Dan collapsed and had a seizure backstage before their set in the Cave. He (they) played an incredible set on the main stage just a few hours later. With the exception of watching my wife give birth to my son, I haven’t witnessed anything more inspiring than that, I doubt I ever will. The guy had just gone through something which could have been his last moments on earth, and then, even with the very real threat of death lingering, he could not be deterred from doing what he loved. That abject refusal to yield, that is passion, that’s bravery, that’s poetry, that’s true beauty right there; that is how you live a life. Fuck drugs, fuck TVs thrown out of windows and all that other nonsense. Dan Wild-Beesley at 2000 Trees – the most rock ‘n’ roll moment of all time. Hero! RIP my man.

E&D: What are your favourite venues to play worldwide? 

Damien: I love The Regent – LA; JT Soar and The Chameleon – Nottingham; St Lukes – Glasgow; Le Lac – Brussels; The Corner – Melbourne; The Zoo – Brisbane; Badlands – Perth; The Old Stag and Hounds in Bristol. So many great places, all full of character and lovely people, even in Glasgow!

E&D: What festivals are you playing this summer that you can tell us about?

Damien: We’re at 2000 Trees – Cheltenham; Right to Roam – Bolton; StrangeForms – Leeds; Sneister – Netherlands; Psych-Fest – Cardiff.

E&D: What have been some of your best festival memories that The St Pierre Snake Invasion have been a part of? 

Damien: Our set at Freakshow festival in Gigors was unbelievable. It was a life-affirming moment. The crowd and the organisers welcomed us with open arms and accepted us into their family; we felt like we’d come home. We felt such a connection with them, and that place, that a few of us went back to volunteer there  a couple of times. We worked security, and the bars (despite us not speaking a word of French) and we helped to pack the festival down. it was brilliant to be there and be a part of it. It is just a wonderful place, with vibrant characters who are full of warmth and kindness.

E&D: What are some of the bands in this country that you are feeling the most at the moment? 

Damien: So, so many good artists about at the moment – Sugarhorse, JOHN, CLT DRP, Hidden Mothers, Frauds, Cassels, USA Nails, The Euro Suite, Peach, Sang Froid, Thank, Wilderman, Fraser, NothingHeads, Toronto Blessings, Skin Failure, Jarcrew, Heriot, Mother Vulture, Creature, and Oilmen.

E&D: What have been some of the biggest highs in your time with The St Pierre Snake Project so far? 

Damien: Every minute we’ve spent in the studio – It’s a privilege. We’re very lucky to have worked with both Sean Genockey and Mark Roberts – two incredibly gifted producers. We’ve recorded two albums at Rockfield studios, which is an institution of rock music, and we did the latest album at Middle Farm Studios, which is just a stunning environment to be creative in. Finding out Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die was a fan of the band was a lovely moment too. I’ve so much respect and admiration for that man’s command of the English language; it was really flattering and validating to learn that he appreciates what we’re doing. And of course, on a personal level, this band is the reason I ended up playing bass in mclusky; it’s afforded me more incredible experiences than perhaps I deserve, but I’ll take them, I’ll take them all day long.

Galore was released on April 21 2023 via Chrurch Road Records and can be downloaded and ordered on Bandcamp here

TSPSI kick off their UK tour at the Hope and Ruin in Brighton on April 28, then visit Norwich, Bristol, London, Glasgow and Manchester before finishing up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on May 6.

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