S N A P P E R + P E T E R G U T T E R I D G E
I once had few pages up on the net about the Dunedin band Snapper, and was motivated by my preceding post about the Skeptics to unearth it here. I've lost track of the provenance of one of the pieces ("Waiting for the Gutman") and I hope to track down another piece I think I have lurking about. Please let me know of any corrections, elaborations, or errors spotted. PG didn't play any shows during the time I lived in Dunedin during 2000-2002 (despite a trip out to Taieri Mouth Community Hall for a gig-that-never-was), so I'm heartened to hear he's played live again this year. I adore his piano-based songs and hope he records more.
PG didn't play any shows during the time I lived in Dunedin during 2000-2002 (despite a trip out to Taieri Mouth Community Hall for a gig-that-never-was), so I'm heartened to hear he's played live again this year. I adore his piano-based songs and hope he records more.
Snapper is the band formed by Peter Gutteridge (a founding member of The Chills and early member of The Clean) as an extension of the music he'd been making on his own during 1986/87. Home recordings from this period were released in the form of the 'Pure' cassette album on Xpressway records in 1989. Snapper was born with the addition of Alan Haig (Chills, Verlaines, Chug, Heavy Eights) on drums and Christine Voice (the Delawares) on keyboards and vocals.
Other members of Snapper at various times have included:
Mike Dooley (The Enemy, Toy Love, The Pop Art Toasters, The Snares, The $100 Band)
Dominic Stones (Bird Nest Roys, 3Ds)
Tom Bell (Harmonic Deluxe, Palace at 4am)
Maxine Funke (The Snares, The $100 Band)
David Kilgour (The Clean, The Great Unwashed, Stephen, David Kilgour, The Pop Art Toasters, The Heavy Eights)
Roddy Pain (Constant Pain)
- Snapper 12" EP / cassette (Flying Nun, 1987 - released on CD in 1992). FN110
- Peter Gutteridge Pure cassette (Xpressway, 1989). X/WAY9
- Shotgun Blossom (Avalanche, 1990). ONLY010
re-release: CD / cassette (Flying Nun, 1992). FN216
- 'Dark Sensation / 'Snapper and the Ocean' single-sided 33.3rpm 7" (Avalanche, 1990). AGAP010
- 'Vader' b/w 'Gentle Hour' 7" (Flying Nun, 1993). FN264
- ADM 12" LP / CD (Flying Nun, 1996). FN294
- 'Hammerhead' (live) b/w 'Dry Spot' (live) 7" (Crawlspace, 1996).
- Crawlspace's Andrew Schmidt writes about the above release on his excellent blog Mysterex.
- compilation appearances:
- Xpressway Pile-up (original version, Xpressway, 1988): 'Emmanuelle' and 'Death and Weirdness in the Surfing Zone'
- In Love With These Times (Flying Nun, 1988): 'Hang On'
- Getting Older (Flying Nun, 1991): 'Buddy'
- Christine Voice's track 'Beat the Bullet' is on Shrew'd (Flying Nun, 1993).
- Topless Women Talk About Their Lives soundtrack (Flying Nun, 1997): 'Buddy'
- Peter played 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else' with HDU on God Save The Clean: a tribute to The Clean (Flying Nun, 1998).
- Arc: Music of Dunedin (Arclife Records, 1998): Peter Gutteridge 'Universe of Love'
- But I Can Write Songs Okay: Forty Years of Dunedin Popular Music book (Yellow Eye, 2000): 'Tomcat'
- Where In The World Is Wendy Broccoli? (Flying Nun, 2005): 'Gentle Hour'
- Flying Nun 25th Anniversary Box Set (Flying Nun, 2006): 'Buddy'
- Peter covers The Enemy's 'Don't Catch Fire' on the benefit/tribute album
- Stroke: Songs for Chris Knox (A Major Records / Merge, 2009).
- Tally Ho! Flying Nun's Greatest Bits (Flying Nun, 2011): 'Buddy'
The Clean cover 'Gentle Hour' on Under The Influence - 21 Years Of Flying Nun Records (2002) and Yo La Tengo do the same song on Dark Was the Night (4AD, 2009).
A video for 'Buddy' made by Stuart Page in 1988 appears on Noisyland, the video compilation he produced which was released via Flying Nun in 1994, and FN's 2004 Very Short Films DVD. Here it is on the NZ Film Archive's site.
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- Grant McDougall
- Honor Harger
- Ian Henderson
- Hannah Herchenbach Reading the Maps
- Michael Hann, 'The Guardian'
- Kory Grow, 'Rolling Stone'
- Radio NZ: Chris Heazlewood, Shayne Carter, Stuart Page, Terry Moore, Richard Langston, George D. Henderson and Danny Brady
Snapper's brand of droning, synth-heavy guitar-rock has often been compared to Jesus and Mary Chain in their heyday. It's true, they do share a similar taste for the darker side of Velvet-induced new wave, but Snapper front man Peter Gutteridge does not have to make a name for himself as a rip-off artist (and by the way, Stereolab and Jesus and Mary Chain themselves are part of their devoted cult following). The Richard Hell of New Zealand, he was a founding member of both The Clean and The Chills, and was a pivotal member of The Great Unwashed on their Singles EP. With a voice that drones as much as the music he creates, he commands the punishing assault of the band, who consist of Christine Voice on keyboards, Dominic Stones (Bird Nest Roys) on guitar, and Alan Haig (Verlaines) on drums.
To be honest, all four of these tracks are of the same formula: a distorted keyboard riff played over and over for three minutes, squealing guitar solos, simple and steady drumming, and a couple of lyrics repeated over and over again. But there is something strangely appealing to this music. Lines such as "no more buddy buddy, no more messing around / I'm not going to be your, be your fucking clown" (from 'Buddy') become engraved in your head. The music is so simple and repetitive, it becomes less of a song and more of a mantra. Sadly, they are hardly a prolific band, releasing their debut full-length (Shotgun Blossom) in 1991, an EP ('Gentle Hour') in 1992, another single ('Vader') in 1993, and ADM in 1996. All of their releases are worth hearing, but there is a certain historical importance to this, their debut EP. Seanzilla, The Vertical Slum.
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Bill Meyer, Option, 1991.
In 1986, Peter Gutteridge found himself in a predicament. He had co-founded and left two of New Zealand's best-regarded independent bands, the Clean and the Chills. His last band, the Great Unwashed, had fizzled after promising beginnings. He had a backlog of songs and no way to present them. He did the time-honoured DIY right thing - he bought a four-track recording machine and started writing and recording music at home using guitars, keyboards, and a rhythm machine. from these humble beginnings grew Snapper, an unstoppable musical juggernaut.
Working alone, Gutteridge developed a sound very different from his previous bands. The Clean and the Chills had defined a Dunedin indie-pop sound which emphasized jangly guitars and melodies. Gutteridge began writing material that started with rhythms and sounds: lyrics and melodies developed organically to complete a song. The sound of these songs was a wash of distortion, feedback and sustain. Gutteridge explained: "For years I played without a distortion unit. It's only in the last three years that I’ve started to use one and it's a whole sort of area, something I can apply where one normally doesn't. On some of my tapes I even apply it on drums. That's not the only thing we do, but you can do things with the sound that you couldn't possibly do otherwise. You can make a note last and sort of hum behind you, you can make it loop. Instead of a chord just going WHAM and dying off, you can play with it and make it feed through. It becomes sort of like a tentacle, something long and drawn out."
After a number of months working alone, Gutteridge played his tapes to drummer and fellow ex-Chill Alan Haig, who liked what he heard and began collaborating with Gutteridge. They were joined by another kindred soul, ex-Bird Nest Roys guitarist Dominic Stones, and played a few gigs as the Phroms with Gutteridge handling keyboard duties. they did an opening spot for a band called the Delawares and lured that band's Christine Voice into their ranks. She traded off on keyboards and guitar with Gutteridge and Snapper was born.
Snapper introduced the world to the band's approach to music as organized layers of sound. The cover, painted by Christine Voice, is all bold colours layered over one another, a vivid representation of the band's music. Three of the songs are gate-crashing musical assaults with metronomic drumming propelling shifting layers of guitars and organs, all run through Alron distortion units. Over the top. Gutteridge and Voice chant punk-rock vocal mantras that are long on enthusiasm, attitude and atmosphere, short on specific meaning. Appropriately enough, the video for the opening track, 'Buddy', featured a club of bikers roaring down the highway. The record's last song, 'Hang On', slows things down to close the EP with five minutes of hovering hypnotic menace.
Gutteridge reckons that the band has enough material for two good albums. Snapper is scheduled to go into the studio in June 1990 to record another album for Flying Nun, but in the meantime Gutteridge has found other avenues to put his music before the public. In 1989, Xpressway, a cassette-oriented New Zealand label, released an hour-long collection of Gutteridge’s 1986-87 four-track recordings entitled Pure. Pure illustrates both the development of the Snapper sound and a hint of what the EP doesn't reveal. Many of the cassette’s 21 tracks are just Gutteridge alone with his drum machines, cheap keyboards, and fuzzy guitars: others include various Snapper members. Xpressway will also include a Snapper track on its label compilation, Xpressway Pile-up.
Since the EP, Snapper has continued to play around New Zealand and write songs. Although the record was very well received in England and Australia, impecuniousness kept the band at home. "We'd like to go to Europe, England, and definitely come to America", notes Gutteridge, "but we want to record first as well. Then it would be really interesting for us...taking (our music) right outside of its environment."
REVIEWS OF Shotgun Blossom
1. What a brilliant sound Shotgun Blossom has! The "big fat groove" of the four-song Snapper debut EP is alive and kicking on this massive 13-song LP, which has finally got a local release long after it's appearance as a UK import (and an indie top 20 placing there). For those unfortunates yet to be exposed to this Dunedin band, be warned - their droning, hypnotic, distorted beauty rips through to rock 'n' roll's primal roots, with little more than a raised finger to most current fashion-plate pop. Peter Gutteridge writes melodies that seethe invitingly under the simple chord progressions, choosing to mix his vocals a little more mysteriously than on that debut EP. Combined with Dominic Stones (guitar), Christine Voice (keyboards and vocals), and the majestic pulse of a classic NZ drummer, Alan Haig (formerly of the Chills), the effect is totally invigorating.
'Pop Your Top' is raw and instantly memorable, with a chorus that will undoubtedly shred student radio station playlists countrywide, and 'Telepod Fly', 'Eyes That Shine' and the trance-boogie gem, 'Dry Spot', will also make you sweat with delight. 'Snapper and the Ocean' and 'Dead Pictures' are quieter but no less direct, the former getting single release in the UK, while 'Can' and 'Rain' go the other way, leaving melody out completely in a sonic sprint to the finish.
I refuse to even consider the comparisons to the superficially similar (but much more arty) New York band, Suicide, or the possibility that a couple of weaker songs may exist on Shotgun Blossom. Snapper have created a unique sound, and I just want to wallow in it - so should you.
Tony Green, Christchurch Press (daily newspaper), 1992. - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. Whoa. Get a load of this. Here's tantalising and unrelenting bolts of pure power distortion blanketing melodies that aren't half appealing. It's a wild mix, something akin to the sort of stuff the Jesus and Mary Chain produced in the early days. Throughout the album there's an almost menacing industrial shadow that glides along just below the surface of most tracks and contrasts the freshness the guitar and keyboards kick up. The melodic stance of the tracks serves to ward off any state of depression one may be tempted to slide into as a result of the driving wall of sound that doesn't let up throughout the whole 13 tracks. Value for money, if nothing else. And the raspy, whispered vocals add an eerie dimension to an album that already leaves you awestruck.
Dunedin's Snapper were formed by Peter Gutteridge (who wrote all the tracks on this album and, among other things, was an early Chill and a member of the Clean) and Christine Voice in 1987. Joining them on this album are ex-Chills and Verlaines drummer Alan Haig and former Bird Nest Roys guitarist, Dominic Stones. A debut EP from Snapper in the late 1980s was released in England and caught the attention of independent label Avalanche who signed Snapper to record an album. Shotgun Blossom is the result. It was first released in the UK last year where it received enthusiastic raves from the English music press and went to number 12 on NME's independent charts. Now it's our turn for some state-of-the-noise distortion. I think you'll be impressed.
Mark Raffills, Nelson Evening Mail (daily newspaper; now Nelson Mail), 1992. - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. Peter Gutteridge has been around long enough to know that the Bad Lord never meant rock music to be real art, or "self expression", or some social phenomenon turning individual stupid Western teenagers into a stupid united force. He knows that it's truest essence is a trick of the darkness, a supremely elegant, anti-social confidence trick; that all that matters is that you or I mistake the awesome, primitive beauty of his band's noise for our own power and thus momentarily feel better about our pathetic lives. Because he knows all this, he deals only in the most fleeting of Dark Sensations while family favourites like Martin Phillipps explain themselves to death with too many chords and pointlessly specific lyrics. Any elaboration of a title like 'Telepod Fly' would enter the realm of sci-fi naffness, but with only a thermonuclear throb of guitar, keyboard and unintelligibly reverbed voice to speak for it, its associations of futuristic escape and narcissistic solitude go on forever. If you need any more paraphrasing than that, observe that the song on Shotgun Blossom called 'Can' follows one on Gutteridge's solo tape called 'Suicide'. Snapper are as musically monstrous as the former, as superhumanly attitude-laden as the latter. Surrender to them now.
Matthew Hyland, Rip It Up, 1992. - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. Peter Gutteridge only needs introducing to non-Flying Nun disciples - an original Clean/Great Unwashed and even a Chill (if only for two nanoseconds). Now Snapper, protagonists of 1988's eponymous debut EP that mapped out a relentless meta-garage, Suicide/Mary Chain vibe-'Death And Weirdness In The Surfin' Zone', as one track put it. The much-delayed Shotgun Blossom scratches out another 13 dark entries with that desolate, reverbed motordrive of ghost-rider organ surge and matching surf-sick guitar churn, glued together in merciless matrimony, likewise Gutteridge and keyboard player Christine Voice's vocals, built up on perfect drum-robotics from Alan Haig (a Chill circa 'I Love My Leather Jacket'; guitarist Dominic Stone is an ex-Bird Nest Roy and currently in the 3Ds) and a production like slowly drying cement.
Snapper's song titles ('Telepod Fly', 'Dead Pictures', 'What Are You Thinking?', 'Eyes That Shine') suggest a queasy, cracked mirror of something-wicked-this-way-comes paranoia and emotional cramps but Gutteridge and Voice's vocal drones make matters crystal clear, with their frosted, morphine murmurs, like a formaldehyde Sonny & Cher. Sometimes the glaze melts, vis-a-vis the West Coast crush of 'Hot Sun' or 'Dead Pictures' (pop gets moist at the hop), but it's a thinly garbed stab at innocence, or passion.
The epic four-note guitar intro and monotonous crush of 'I Don't Know' that follows 'Hot Sun' confirms Snapper knows exactly where their sympathies lie, in the electrical synapses of their grim-reaper garage music and the audible resignation in the voices (remember where Snapper live, in Dunedin's bottom-of-the-world fishbowl, where melody and melancholy rest in peace). Shotgun Blossom plays with familiar poisons, but it's a brilliant, all-consuming statement.
Martin Aston, CMJ - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. A LOADED SHOTGUN review by Peter Kaye, with comments from Peter Gutteridge, Side On issue 3, 1992.
Snapper, the band, as it has been, and as it is now, still revolves around Peter Gutteridge, without whom there wouldn't be a Snapper. Some may suggest rather cruelly that maybe that is the unfortunate thing. Because despite what else Pete is capable of, he has been able to divide opinion in this little burg pretty evenly into two camps - those who care about him and those who don’t. Trying to pin him down on the subject of his reputation in all its guises was like trying to catch a fish with a piece of binder twine and a bent nail - damn near impossible unless you have the right bait. He suggested that it would be more constructive to analyse his music rather than him.
So, with that in mind, here is the dirt on the new album, Shotgun Blossom, song by song in the same order as they’re in on the record. With all the rumours that flew around during the recording of this album, it was a surprise to see it actually materialise, let alone to discover, on listening to it, what a damn fine record it actually is. It has already made it into the Top Ten on the British independent charts. So to begin. The first track is 'Pop Your Top', and the first surprise on hearing this song is what the vocals sound like when they kick in. This is no garage/backyard recording - these vocals have been very tastefully mixed, doing long overdue justice to Christine Voice, with Peter sounding suitably haunting. While listening to the song, I at first thought that maybe they came up with its title to describe what the guitars sound - like they're boiling away in a huge pressure cooker with a lid on it and, at the end of the song, the lid flies off and the guitars spew forth from the speakers and spill out all over the floor. But on listening to the chorus, I discovered the song's title comes from something much less subtle. It goes: "He's gonna pop his top/ For every girl to see". Peter definitely has a way with words.
The second song, an instrumental called 'Can', had me wondering whether this was a direct tribute to the band of the same name, knowing that Alan (drummer) is a keen man on Can. This is not the case though, according to Pete. Mere coincidence, he tells me. But this is a great soundtrack for letting everyone from here to Britain know that musically, this is dirty fine Snapper. It fires up with guitars, noisy and distorted, the keyboards then run into it, and then this really distinctive feedback is wound in. Pete tells me this is feedback he records cold when he first goes into the studio, and he just wheels it in when he wants to use it. Tricky. This song is the pure Snapper formula - basic backbeat, driving rhythm from the bottom end of one guitar, howling distortion from the other, and nicely blended keyboard lines. A great hole for anyone with a pigeon fixation.
'Telepod Fly' is Snapper's sci-fi song, and check these lines out: "Nice little Jewish boy/ Fuckin’ around/ He shouldn't be doing it, he's such a clown/ Yeah Telepod Fly - Yeah Telepod Fly/ It's nice to be nice/ It's good to be livin'/ Thank your stars you're not a gibbon". If the future looks so bright that you have to wear shades, then Snapper have a way with what they do with their sound in this song to make it look quite dark; quite dark indeed. But hey, it's not without its humour and after all if you didn't laugh you'd cry, right, Pete? This is the first song on the album that, sound-wise, took me back to another time when the Jesus and Mary Chain first went public with their brand of white noise. Either unintentionally, or because they are signed to a Scottish label, Snapper have shown their boss that it's done even better down this end of the world.
It may not make your eyes shine, but the fourth song, 'Eyes That Shine', will make your ears tingle, vibrate, bleed even, if you turn it up loud enough. Truly lovely harmonies - that girl can sing. Not that this will come as any surprise to those already familiar with the Voice, but here she's been recorded and mixed so well. This song is Snapper raw, yet sweet at the same time - sort of like eating sugar and lemon washed down with Monteiths and raspberry.
'Dark Sensation' could be about something really ominous and foreboding, if the way it sounds is anything to go by. It could be about eternal struggle, that fine line between pleasure and pain. It could be a bit of a worry, but it's not - it's about (Pete assures me) driving alone at night, with a tankful of life's juices and a headful of sinister sounds. This is Pete's first choice for a single off the album. Tortured guitar, a mainline pulse, ringing keyboards, ghostly vocals - all the ingredients for a hum-dinging roast.
On to the sixth track. Every good album has one, and 'Dead Pictures' is this album's real surprise. It is very unelectric, with charming vocals singing all about a dead picture hanging on the wall. Take from that what you will - the lyrical content may be heavy - "It's just a bunch of words, really" says Pete, being typically vague - but musically this song is all sweetness and light, a veritable hippie anthem. It's about the dodgy goings-on in a family, teenage suicides - the real world basically. It's easy to imagine this song being played live and the whole dancefloor filled with raised arms, lighters waving from side to side.
'Snapper and the Ocean' is my pick for the first single. Nicely plucked guitar intro, then the fuzz and distortion blended in, Peter's vocals double tracked and Christine’s harmonies dripping down over top of it all. The vocals in this song are very reminiscent of Look Blue Go Purple, and that can't be said about too many recordings. The song's title is not a self-fulfilling prophecy, and Pete is quick to point out the lines in the song - "Snapper in the ocean, a million miles away/I can't think of anything, anything today/ But when you touch my hand/ I calm right down and start thinking about the fish that swim and all the horses that ride/ Everybody's got a wild vein". These words clearly indicate Pete's sensitive side - no bullshit macho posturing in evidence here.
Number eight track is 'What Are You Thinking?', and if this was an Auckland album, it would all end here. But no, this is a Dunedin band that believes in giving us an album's worth of songs if we're paying for a long playing record - after all, that's what we expect. This title is not a direct question aimed at anyone in particular, just Pete's general curiosity. The song is classic Snapper, the pure end of rock'n'roll, constantly circulating distortion, haunting vocals, a kick drum that goes round and round and round, and all done with a really menacing mix. Turn this one up real loud. The question becomes a screaming plea of a chorus, and this song confirms beyond a shred of a doubt that Snapper are unique. There may be some reference points, but there's no way you can mistake this for anything else - this is Snapper at the core.
Pete tells me 'Hot Sun' is about colonialism in a vague sort of way, and if the lines "In the fields/ In the hot sun/ A pound of wisdom/ Turns to dung" are anything to go by, it's not really that vague either. It's definitely not vague when the guitars come on stream, steaming with a sneer that is reinforced vocally (even Shayne can probably remember what that was like). Nice job on this one Dom. You and Pete must have had a real ball playing it.
'I Don't Know' is not the response Peter gave me when asked about the arrival of the album in New Zealand, but is the album's tenth song. If Electricorp really wanted to know about one way their voltage is used to maximum effect, they should have a listen to this. That trademark guitar may put Snapper out on a limb for some, but if there was any real justice in the world, that would be recognised as the tree from which different musical limbs have grown here in Dunners. This song is the reason why anyone who has ever played with Snapper in the past, or is playing with them now has such a good time playing live. Reliability can be such a downer in the real, mundane, hi-tech, efficient world, and who needs it when the creative juices are flowing red hot? Obviously some of Snapper's past members have treated reliability with a fair amount of importance. As for Peter, he simply gives one of his famous shrugs and says "Oh, I don't know".
"Just a name off the top of my head, really", says Pete when asked who inspired the title of 'Emmanuelle'. Besides, if he hadn't given it a title it would be bloody difficult to pick out the name, with a song awash in guitars and all at sea. But there is that howling thread again, holding it all together. No worries, eh, Pete?
'Dry Spot' is not about some place without a pub, Pete assures me, and remarks that it would have been nice to have had more time in the studio "to get the vocals really subsonic on this one". The sound definitely is subsonic - nice job on the part of Brent (the mixer) and the band. This one is also a bit Mary Chainish, but they are wimps compared to this. And the heart beats with a very clear snare. Nice one. It’s lyrically all about pure escapism - "thinking about being somewhere nice and warm on a cold Dunedin day".
And now the last song on the album, 'Rain'. Snapper are not the first and won’t be the last to write a song with this word in the title, if previous efforts by bands from Dunedin - and elsewhere for that matter - are anything to go by. What makes this song so different though is that it is sinister, menacing and nasty, with rock'n'roll pumping through its vein. There are real drums as well as machine drums here (a sort of chugging, hissing thud and swish); whining, whingeing guitar; and vocals that are far away in the distance - a really good moody one that can create a distanced mental state in anyone who has listened to the rekkid right through. It rings in your ears long after it has stopped going round.
Peter's own conclusions about this album are that given a bigger budget and more time to record, there are many other things he would have liked to try. Then there are those who have suggested that the album's final cost was far in excess of what it should have been anyway. But that argument could go on til the cows come home. For anyone who takes the time to listen to Shotgun Blossom thoroughly, none of these things will be apparent. What will be obvious is that this is a stunning statement. And if it sells as well as it burns the ears, then Snapper has a very bright future indeed, which will no doubt see Peter and the band entrusted with an even bigger budget for more experiments next time. And if that happens, there sure as hell won't be time to wallow in the mire. - - - - - - - - - - - -
REVIEWS OF ADM
1. After almost five years in the wilderness, Snapper have their second album out. Peter Gutteridge is still there on vocals, guitar and keyboards, with former Toy Love drummer Mike Dooley now being the sole other official member. But the songs remain the same. They and their cohorts may not be the mind-blowing live band the original line-up was but ADM shows that in the studio at least, Gutteridge's creativity and vision is intact. On songs like the metronomic 'Tomcat' and 'Hammerhead' the masterful hypnotic trance groove is still present and powerful. 'Stalker' is a thudding beast, with chilling vocals. Others like 'Small Town Secret' are more slow - swinging, but tense drones.
Grant McDougall, Real Groove. - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. Heroin's back in fashion again, but listening to Snapper's new album back to back with the band's other records could scare all but the truly death-obsessed away from the drug. Back in the late 80s, Snapper's debut EP was one of the most exciting things in the Flying Nun catalog; it crossed his facility at arranging colorfully distorted sounds with the full-on aggression derived from early Suicide, applying an irresistible sonic juggernaut to gorgeously catchy melodies. But even then, band-leader (and ex- Clean founder) Peter Gutteridge's substance abuse exploits weren't exactly secret around Dunedin. The quartet took 4 years to record a follow-up album, and by the time it was out his band had deserted him - they quit after he nodded out on stage.
It's another 4 years on and Snapper's returned with another album. You could hardly call it a band this time, though; Gutteridge plays everything except for the drums, which are pounded by Toy Love veteran Mike Dooley. Pete's still a master at layering snaky tendrils of snarling distorted guitars and slaps buzzing keyboards over that monolithic beat, but this record represents a narrowing of sound and vision that I can only blame on the drugs. Consider Gutteridge's voice. In the 80s it was gravelly but quite capable of carrying the fetching tunes he wrote; now it's been reduced to a gargling growl with a limited range that sounds scary as hell. That works fine on menacing tunes like 'Demon', 'Small Town Secret', and 'Stalker', but I miss his tunes. In their place is a menacing, pulsating throb that battled my not-very-quiet air conditioner to a draw the first time I played the disc.
I've played ADM many times since then and I like it a lot, but each time I spin it I get the uneasy feeling that I'm a voyeur observing someone spiral inevitably into a black heart of darkness.
Bill Meyer, Popwatch issue #8, 1997. - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. Some people never change. The new Snapper album opens with one word - 'Motherfucker'. Welcome to the lab, we've got the gunked-up, steam powered guitars, the volcanic, rumbling drums, the organ covered with Jacob's Ladders and, of course, the vocals o' doom. If Peter Gutteridge growled: "Hey, buddy, got a light?" in some dimly lit side street, you'd put your head down and run.
Of course it's the same sort of stuff they've been doing since the '80s. You think the Skeptics, you ponder early Bailter Space. But then, the rest of the world never experienced our ear melting Flying Nun phase, so we can expect some extravagant overseas reviews of ADM (Automatic Death Machine?).
I just can't get away from the image of ET making a complicated space transmitter with a spell machine, umbrella and circular saw, or some medieval druids trying to conjure up a nuclear bomb with sea shells, human entrails and hemlock soup. Complex and horrific. Primal but effective.
John Taite, Rip It Up. - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. Boys in black standing too close to their amps? Ah, yes, the stuff of legends. Ever since the Velvet Underground unleashed their decibel-crazy Sister Ray, young men in sunglasses have been causing mayhem all over the shop with their whistling-guitar antics and slightly morose obsession with winkle-pickers. The latest in this long line of ne'er-do-wells are New Zealand's, ahem, legendary feedback enthusiasts, Snapper. This might be only the second album of their seven-year career, but their previous releases have seen all your favourite noise buddies (including the Mary Chain and Stereolab) frantically waggling their distortion pedals in appreciation.
Unsurprisingly, then, this album kicks off with someone snarling, "motherf??er" over a hive of buzzing feedback, before launching into 50 minutes of head-splitting cacophony. Having pinched Loop's extensive collection of droning FX pedals, Snapper seem hellbent on taking over the world via Paul McKenna-style hypnosis. Surely the only explanation for the relentless, piston-pumping repetition of songs like 'Demon' and 'Small Town Secret'? If that's designed to make you feel a mite queasy, it's nothing compared to the overall sensation that you've just wandered into a smack-shooting, paedophile ring run by the Ku Klux Klan. It's definitely hats off to chief sicko, Peter Gutteridge, for single-handedly masterminding this incredible 'party' atmosphere. There really is something skin-crawlingly unpleasant about his unhealthy pallor and his nauseous, deep-throated growl, especially when he begins to bark, "You're just meat", on the atritional grind of 'Stalker'. Still, you know what they say - boys will be boys. 7/10 James Oldham, N.M.E., 30/March/1996. - - - - - - - - - - - -
'Vader' 7" REVIEW
1. The organ-drenched buzz-pop of Snapper, the musical outlet for New Zealander Peter Gutteridge, remains largely unknown in the U.S. With several import-only singles and one LP behind it, Snapper returns with another precious nugget. 'Vader's dark, repetitive grooves are peppered with guitars so full of squeaky energy they sound fit to explode. 'Gentle Hour' is, well, gentler; Gutteridge and Christine Voice's vocal web takes precedence over the buzzing guitars here, sounding more like a reflective 3Ds moment, decorated in delicate acoustic guitar pluckings.
Lydia Anderson, CMJ, issue #391, 15/August/1994. - - - - - - - - - - - -
1. Dunedin 22/Dec/1987 (with the Chills & Straitjacket Fits) Snapper opened with a "big" sound, mixer Moore building Alan Haig's bass drum sound to sensurround Earthquake proportions - but this was no disaster movie soundtrack. Snapper are usually just that, cosmically gyrating pop grinders, so they didn't quite suit the vacuous barn that is Sammy's. However they played with distinction (or was that distortion?) and gained some altitude in their rock'n'roll mana. Suicide meets Velvets? These comparisons are easy to make, but Snapper promise a lot in '88.
Rip It Up, Jan. 1988. - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. Dunedin, 13/Oct/2000 - part of the "Dunedin Sound" festival SAMMY'S CROWD ROCKS TO GREAT DUNEDIN SOUNDS I do not know what St. Peter has behind those pearly gates, but he would be hard pressed to match Snapper and the Verlaines on fire. We walked in four songs into Snapper raising the roof. Current line-up is Peter Gutteridge, Christine Voice, Mike Dooley, Tom Bell and Maxine Dooley. Could this be the rebirth of Snapper, again? I certainly hope so. All members were well rehearsed, polished and rocking. Peter is a charming frontman. The Verlaines had a tough act to follow and one particularly tough punter, who yelled, "Boring. Bring back Snapper" whenever he felt the need. I am happy to report he was wrong.
Darryl Baser, Otago Daily Times. - - - - - - - - - - - -
1. by Richard Langston, Garage #6, 1986. with Peter Gutteridge
Peter Gutteridge co-wrote the Clean opus, 'Point That Thing' & formed The Chills with Martin Phillipps before joining The Great Unwashed & supplying a side of songs for Singles. Recently he's played on The Puddle & Alpaca Brothers EPs.
I had piano lessons as a kid; I was made to. But that finally fucked out because I never used to practice. But I used to play piano. I just used to go into the room and bash away for hours. But that was frowned upon so they finally sold the piano, which really fucked me off. We finally got one years later but I'd missed out on a really good period. It's neat teaching yourself to play an instrument without strict controls.
So, The Clean was your first band, right? Yeah, The Clean. I was 17. I'd met David (Kilgour) at school. Otago Boys. I was in the band about six months & when we parted I went to Auckland, then I came back & played with The Chills for 6 months. I didn't feel like a musician & Martin (Phillipps) was very exact & I wasn't. Now I can actually play an instrument but then I got through more on ideas & luck than any real skill. After a while I felt I wasn't learning anything. I mean, what do you learn when you're not writing songs? It's not really a confidence-inspiring thing.
I've done lots of one-offs...the Belle Curves, Cartilage Family...I had this band called Craven A. It was Terry Moore, Lesley (Paris), & David & we wrote lots of songs. They were great & we had this huge sound. It was what I would've liked a lot of other bands to sound like, including The Great Unwashed. It was a really wonderful sound but alas no tapes exist because Terry lost them, which is a real hassle cos they had some classic bits in them.
The Logan Park performance, how do you remember that sounding? It was really fast. We were all jumping around listening to the Sex Pistols. It was just lucky for us things exploded then. It was just blind energy. I'm surprised at how good it sounds. I found it really difficult to play bass then.
I hear you had enough songs around the Singles period that you could've put out an album of your own. Yeah, I'd written a lot of stuff. I was really prolific & suddenly I had a band to play my songs and David & Hamish are just such good players. David & I just work together well, we seem to mesh. I know the way he plays. When we wrote 'Point That Thing' we didn't have any understanding at all, it just sounded good. It was the simplest thing. It has this really raw sort of distorting bass stack & this really light bass that sounded like a guitar bass. It was just one of those things you start playing & say "hey, that sounds good" & you could play it for a long time. You don't spend ages writing a song like that, it just comes. Hamish put some words to it & it was written by the next day.
With The Great Unwashed I was really enthusiastic but things just didn't work out. I didn't like living in Christchurch very much & though I really wanted to play I found everyone else had too much else going on in their lives to devote enough time to the band. Mainly though they'd just got sick of it after being in The Clean. They were tired. I'd started & they'd ended. They'd gone through The Clean thing & it was a real pop thing & they were really popular. When we were on The Great Unwashed tour people would be calling out for Clean songs. It was like they'd never been away. There was quite a lot of pressure. I never felt it & neither probably did they but there was a lot of pressure to keep on playing. Like you just couldn't go & do something low-key. It was very hard. But it was great too, cos you knew people would listen to you.
That was a pretty crazy tour. I dunno...it was just a complete surprise. I actually enjoyed quite a lot of that tour. It just had it's bad moments, moments that were completely over the top. At least I know what it's like to go completely crazy on tour! If you look at the itinerary we played gigs at absurdly close intervals. We only had 10 days practice before the tour. We'd thrown it all together & decided to do it. I'd like to do that kind of thing again cos with that much playing you can really do a lot of things with the music. We played heaps of songs on that tour, Clean stuff & songs off the first Great Unwashed album which I really like, 'Singles'.
That was done in-between playing live in Auckland. We'd run here and there, eat & sleep when you could. It was a rush but when I was in the studio it was like time disappeared, though it seemed like we were in a hurry at the end when we were mixing it. You're always in a hurry at the end mixing & you make the wrong choices. I wish I could have heard it a month later. It came out OKAY, although that’s not a good version of Boat With No Ocean. It just didn't have the swing that we could get live with all the changes coming like waves. I'm really grateful that we at least got that EP out. It's a good one & that's sort of a miracle in itself, just considering how difficult we made it for ourselves.
Your songs on the record all seem to concern people at odds with something. I've always liked the woodcut on the cover cos it kinda mirrors the songs. They're all like that. 'Born in the Wrong Time' was written about a neighbour, a neighbour who was a bit drunk all the time & kept turning up on at our flat at 2 o'clock in the morning & we'd have to ask him out the door cos we already had other people sleeping in the lounge. He was okay, just a bit fucked up.
You must wish you'd recorded other songs from the period. Well, I think a lot of the songs that never got recorded were just as good as those that did. It's a shame...they shoulda been done while they were fresh & blooming. I just have periods where I can write a lot of songs, like maybe 15 songs in a month or so. A lot of them may be similar. I must have written about 50 or 60 songs but most of them have been lost. I'm bloody slack. From tomorrow I'm going to start recording everything I write! I'd started writing some of those songs when I was in the Cartilage Family. Some of them were okay...
I've heard 'Bad News For Jesus' & 'Bigmouth' & they sound like complete hummers. 'Bad News for Jesus' is just the chord E but it's changed around a lot. I probably couldn't play that now but when you first write a song like that, the simple idea, you can really make it work then but it's very hard to keep it going. I find certain songs have only got a certain life expectancy, some last for years & some only last for a day...they might sound great on the night but you wouldn't want to hear them again. (Laughs). Singing's a pretty funny thing. I mean, what makes people think that the idea in their head is good enough for them to open their mouth & sing?!.....Sometimes I get words easily, sometimes I don't. I very rarely sit down & try to write something out. Probably be a good thing if I did cos I'd be a lot more productive. But I'm pretty lazy actually. At the moment I'm really loving playing guitar, like, there's nothing better. I've just got this guitar, a beautiful Framus '65. I've never ever had a guitar that I've really liked & I've had plenty. I got it, from a joker who was going overseas, for $160.
There's quite a country thing about your music. Some of it, yeah. I don't know where that comes from, I hardly ever listen to any country music. I mean I don't know how to play a single country cover. But I can write country songs. I love playing that kind of guitar; it's easy.
What attracted you to a band like The Puddle? Just bloody good songs. George is one of the best songwriters I've run into, & wonderful lyrics. When The Puddle gets going, that's like Lesley & the rest, especially Lesley, she's such a good drummer, just underpins everything, you can really ride on the beat, it's always there to sit on. Just great to have. It gives you the room to really improvise & that's something that's wonderful about The Puddle. I love to improvise, to explore those moments that just carry you, the moments you just transcend into the music, which is sometimes practice moments but more often just those moments that go beyond the practicing & into something...not necessarily a tangent...but just that extra force, that indescribable thing that makes music explode. It stops becoming four or five instruments & is one great sound, not just a wall of noise...something much more than that. It's very hard to describe but you know it when you hear it.
Why so many bands? I've got bored staying with one band. Like living in Dunedin for a long time you just can't play with three people for a long time. There are other musicians & it's great to learn off other people. A few years ago it was such a tight scene. People didn't intermix so much, like The Weeds wouldn't have happened but nowadays people are always hopping into each others bands. Five years ago it was a band thing. Now the art isn't closed. Women have really helped open it up.
I listen to music heaps, like I saw Fela Kuti the other night on television & I really liked him. That music was so natural but it was innovative, like they basically had all these guitars plugged into this huge mixer & this guy was mixing them & each individual guitar sound was amazing, reminded me of Indian music or something but all on its own it reminded me of Can. I'd like to make hypnotic music. - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. transcription from the Neck of the Woods radio series, printed in Dun, issue #2, 1993. with: Dominic Stones, Peter Gutteridge, David Kilgour
Distorted sounds and distorted minds intent on distorting your mind. Snapper are good at that, and have been for a long time. Peter Gutteridge has long been involved in the Dunedin music scene. Gutteridge was an original member of The Clean, and contributed three songs to the Great Unwashed singles collection. In early 1987 Gutteridge formed Snapper with Alan Haig, Christine Voice, and ex-Bird Nest Roys' guitarist Dominic Stones. Snapper, relying on percussive simplicity, created the biggest, most distorted sound Dunedin had ever heard.
Dominic: That's the sort of way I was wanting to go anyway, into a really distorted, monotonous type of thing. I had even tried to write a few songs like that for Bird Nest Roys, but they never worked out, they never got completed, trying to cross that sort of thing with the Snapper idea... so when I first heard the tapes I just thought I'd love to do this, and was really into it. We really pushed monotony, and tried to push it to it's limits, like Peter even wrote one song which was just one chord that just basically went on and on in one rhythm, just with other things sweeping in through it, just changing the song by having vocals sweep through one bit, and change of guitar, and basically the whole thing just stonking on in the same way. It was just like trying to get a heartbeat kind of thing almost, just kind of naturally-paced beat.
Peter: Distortion is mainly useful in the way it (a) sustains things and (b) it sort of causes lots of harmonic notes to develop, which don't usually exist. With a natural underscored note to get the note that it is. But it causes all notes to start separating, other notes to start developing. You can do a veritable symphony of distortion if you wish. I've even gone to the extent of putting it on drums, I tried it on vocals but it hasn't worked very well. Of course you try these things because the way of finding out about any device or technique is to take it to it's limits and it's minimums, then you find out what it can do, and it won't do.
The big aggressive sound of Snapper, with its layers of distortion was first realised in the studio in 1988 on the 4-track Snapper EP.
Dominic: Uh, that was quite strange 'cause we were in Auckland doing it and we were sort of like, stuck away from home, sleeping on people's floors and trying to do lots of recording and we brought the half finished tapes home and absolutely hated them. In fact we were going to throw it away - we spent, I think it was about $5000 and we thought 'these are so bad', we were just going to say goodbye to it. Then we thought no, that's stupid and went back to Victor Gbric and in the end they just came out really well, because of what he did to them, just piling more stuff onto them, and redoing all the guitar and vocals, and in the end I just can't believe now, that we were going to give them up.
The big sound of the band has never been easy to capture live, performances suffering from technical breakdowns, and failure to hit the groove.
David Kilgour (who joined Snapper as a guitarist in 1990): It's like playing one chord for a couple of hours, which should be really easy, but it's actually quite difficult because the whole thing of Snapper is a groove really, and the hardest thing to do is to get the good groove, which we do accomplish sometimes, - live we probably don't accomplish it a hell of a lot. It's a real challenge, yet at the same time it's fun for me 'cause there's no pressure on me to perform, it's a bit like a hired band really. I just fill a wee gap in the sound, Peter's the main man, and all the emphasis is on him. So, y'know, it's really neat to play in another band, without it being your band; it's cool.
Dominic: A lot of the time you'd have things like mechanical breakdowns, 'cause we relied a lot on machinery, like certain peddles and stuff for the sounds, and had lots of problems with keyboards and stuff, just not really being very professional I suppose. It was really difficult to get the right sound on stage, you had to get this sound on stage near-perfect 'cause you had to play as a single unit, and if you couldn't hear very well and because it was so fussy, if it got messy it would turn into nothing. You wouldn't really hear it as a song. And so a lot of the concerts would end up like that.
Despite some of the problems in attaining the perfect Snapper sound, the band continued to gain in popularity, and in 1990 recorded their first elpee, Shotgun Blossom.
Peter: A friend went to Scotland or Britain and before he went I said to him, look if there's anyone out there who's interested in Snapper, we've got this single out there that got single of the week in Melody Maker, if they thought that much of it, is there anyone out there who understands that we don't actually have enough money to record our records in New Zealand, if there's anyone out there who wants to give us the money to do it. And just by chance, very quickly, Avalanche turned up and Shotgun Blossom came out, end of story. - - - - - - - - - - - -
3. 1997 Waiting for the Gutman
With $26 in his hand, Steve Burridge set about trying to score an interview with Peter Gutteridge. The legendary Snapper guitarist was not easy to trace. There was a series of messages, misunderstandings and missed opportunities. The search was a seedy Dunedin version of Abba: the Movie. But like the film the intrepid journo gets his interview. The day after an infamous Parisian car wreck and with deadline fast approaching. There was a phone call and then a meeting. The deal was on.
Snapper's making a bit of a comeback? The last time we just played as a unit was in Auckland about a year and a half ago. We've just been taking some time off so to speak. I've been writing a lot of other stuff on piano.
So do you actually have a set line-up now? I have discovered I play with people who I'm attracted to - a mutual attraction in terms of understanding each others work and the way you approach stuff. And a fascination with each other's approach. I believe with a band it's an organic thing. Snapper's what happens when I play with other people. (It) happens when I play with Michael, when I play with Christine (Voice), when I play with Roddy (Constant Pain). Just lately I've been playing with Tristan from HDU.
HDU and Snapper both use sonic sculpture to create a trance-like state for the audience.
It is very sculptural. This is why I enjoy working in a studio where I can really layer things. The next one I do I'd like to do a little less layering, but (make) each layer even stronger. There will be parts of it which won't have drums. Especially the piano songs.
In the past with Snapper the whole drum thing has been the driving rhythm that holds the whole thing together...
I like taking things to extremes. I've always believed that if you can take one thing to an absolute noise extreme, there is very often a point in taking it to the other one as well. You see that with people like Nick Cave; the difference between the Birthday Party and some of the Bad Seeds.
What other plans do you have?
To do a lot of remixing. I have always made it a policy to own every large scale tape like 16 track, 16 track two inch or 24 track two inch. Anything like that I keep. Something that is lacking in Dunedin (and New Zealand generally with Flying Nun stuff) is the desire to allow us to remix. We'd love to remix. But the attitude is get in there, get it done, get it out you know.
How do you find the creative process, writing music, do you require a band for that or do you do it yourself?
I can do it by myself, I can do it with a band. I work from sound first - which if you think about it, is the first way anybody made music. I work from that and rhythm as well, but it can be reverse too. Or sometimes just from straight melody. It's very easy writing off other people. Then there's stuff you write by yourself which changes and mutates when played with other people. That's the way it's meant to be.
You talked about remixing, is there anything you had in mind?
Shotgun Blossom, when it was done, I recorded at least sixty tracks, mixed in a bit of a hurry. I would like to go through what is there and really find out what is there. There's lots of unfinished stuff. There's an albums stuff in there alone. What I would like to do is combine all of the records that I can and just take the best pieces and put one out for overseas especially. Because a lot of people don't know Snapper. One of the things we lack is sufficient funds to do that, record and make videos.
'Point That Thing Somewhere Else' and 'Buddy' are enjoying renewed popularity on the Topless Women soundtrack. How do you feel about that?
Oh, it's good, in the lack of videos, that there's this film out there and they're using these things. That's just wonderful. I would just hope... somebody had the courage to put some money on the table and say, "Go and do what you need to do with it". Since the eighties all this music's developed. We're a relatively small country so music's quite a cultural fact. The Clean for instance. Their music and stuff is really part of people's lives. When you think back you might have fallen in love or had a great time or whatever. Somebody said to me, "I saw you guys in Wellington; you were really bad, but I met the love of my life that night."
What sort of music are you listening to at the moment?
I'm a bit of a magpie that way. I don't really have a record collection. I listen to stuff I do myself... stuff that is given to me, pieces off the radio, when I go to friends places...so I can't really say what I have been listening to lately. It's also very much working off your surroundings; there's a whole lot of stuff you don't even know you are listening to.
How do you mean?
You are walking down the street and a car passes you and you catch a bit. You aren't aware that you are listening to it, but it's going in. It's almost more interesting as a sample with a car going past than a whole song. Exactly. Sometimes I like listening to bands outside the venue because it is filtered in a peculiar way. One of the nicest things I ever heard was the Dead C. They were playing at the University and I was out on the lawn. It was ghostly and beautiful at the same time - quite different to what was inside.
What are you reading at the moment?
The history of World War One, various histories of WWI, mostly from the actual time. Large editions with lots of photos...
Do you read more non-fiction than fiction? Yeah, I do.
William S. Burroughs died recently. Have you ever read much of his stuff?
Yeah, I admired him as a writer and as a muse. I am unashamedly a fan. What were your favourites? Yage Letters, Junkie. Junkie is a great book even ignoring the subject - which you can't. Sort of a wonderful description of 1948 New York; trying to escape this place once the laws had gone down.
The conversation moved from drugs and the law to human rights, political activism, to musical styles as historical signposts.
What (if it's not too close to have some historical perspective on it) is the defining musical moment of the 1990s?
Technology - the ability to be able to think digitally and the price of technology going down so that everybody can get their hands on it. For instance, now an 18 year old instead of wanting to play guitar is wanting to get a mixing board and turntables.
You have been at the beginning points for a number of important Dunedin groups (the Clean, the Chills) and you've seen a lot. What do you make of the current music scene?
I really like a lot of techno; the sound of it, the impact. I like drum and bass. I have always loved electronics, people like Kraftwerk from the age of thirteen. So it's a natural development.
Do you feel the guitar has pretty much run it's course as an instrument?
No. The guitar has one wonderful thing about it; it's so alive, for me it is. When I'm playing in Snapper I run it through two or three distortion units (all of which I know really well) and a phase pan unit. The first one starts, the second one starts, by the time I hit that it's immediately feedback. By feedback I mean an enormous amount of sustain. So it's just this moving sound...the loop that forms between the pick-ups and the speaker forms this kind of living, joined umbilical cord. Shifting back and forth. No other instrument can really do that.
Do you have the gear to record at home?
I use a four track to take down notes. Music's very much like a vapour. You play it and it's solid for the time that you are playing it. Once you stop there is nothing left, except in memory perhaps, or the time that somebody had listened to it. To make it solid you must record it or write it down.
Anything you'd like to add?
I'm determined to play quite solidly for a while...a whole series of performances.
The culmination of that would be recording? Definitely, and trying to do as much remixing as possible. I've got a minimum of another album in my head that I could record right now. We'll record after we've been playing for a while, then hopefully print it ourselves on CD and release it ourselves. The cost of CDs is ridiculously low but if you send it through a record company...
Are you not interested in dealing with Flying Nun anymore?
If they came up with the dollars, it's just being sensible. If they say, "Hey, yeah, that's really good", well that's fine but show us the money. It's not show us the money for moneys sake, but so we can do the project and travel. I haven't been overseas simply because I have no cash. Snapper is (other than creating our own production company) looking for imaginative people who would be interested in releasing our stuff - especially overseas. People who have got faith to put money there. I have no problem coming up with the stuff nor do I feel like I am running out of ideas.
First thing you learn is that you always have to wait. - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. Snapper songwriter keeping his musical hand in. by Grant McDougall.
Peter Gutteridge keeps a low profile these days. The creative juices still flow, but the public rarely gets to see the result. Snapper's fiery gig at Sammy's last October during the Otago Festival of the Arts was the band's first gig in three years and it's been almost as long since he performed solo.
At his Stuart St. flat, Gutteridge (40) still tinkers with musical ideas - mainly on keyboards - so hopefully some new songs will see the light. If they're as good as some of his other songs, the wait will be worth it. Back in the 1980s, Gutteridge was a member of the Clean and the Chills (both briefly), the Great Unwashed and the Puddle, before striking gold with Snapper. Quite simply, that first Snapper line-up played explosive, mesmerising drone-rock, that made them one of the most astonishing bands of the late '80s. For Gutteridge, that remains his most artistically fulfilling period. "It was fulfilling, although parts of the Great Unwashed were also really good. But in Snapper I got to explore the kind of sound I really wanted to. I was looking for a much harder sound than what was around".
About the same time the Xpressway label released Pure, an astonishing cassette-only collection of solo material. According to Gutteridge, United States indie label Emperor Jones, which has also released albums by Peter Jefferies and Alastair Galbraith, may re-release it on CD.
Lately, Gutteridge has also been songwriting. "I find I'm writing more on piano. I'm still keeping my hand in (with the latest Snapper line-up) and practising. I wouldn't mind doing an EP, getting some songs out and seeing what happens". With his recent keyboard-based songs, Gutteridge is "trying to find space, tone and depth, yet there is a hypnotic feel to it; that's just naturally how I play". Gutteridge is also keen to explore digital recording and processing. He is, however, less keen on staying in touch with Flying Nun. "We just don't have much to say to each other". Resident in Dunedin all his life, Gutteridge is pleased with what the city has become. "It's evolved quite well. Back in 1978, there was just nothing to do". Gutteridge is also certain of the local music scene's evolution. "There's some extremely talented people out there, like Demarnia Lloyd. Just when some stupid idiot says 'Oh, it's all dead', somebody else comes along."