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The Snuts: Scottish rockers tackle society’s ills on powerful second record

As The Snuts prepare to release their second album, lead singer Jack Cochrane tells Rolling Stone UK how the band found a new political voice

By Nick Reilly

The Snuts (Picture: Ed Cooke)

“I think there are two ways in which people are controlled,” comes the opening salvo from late left-wing stalwart Tony Benn on the title track of Burn The Empire, the second album from Scottish chart-toppers The Snuts.

“First of all frighten people and secondly, demoralise them…An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern.”

The track, which opens the entire record, proves an immediate reflection of the impassioned voice that The Snuts have put across on their second album. Their debut, which arrived in 2021, saw the band delivering a strong collection of genre-fusing indie hits that allowed them to emerge triumphant in an unlikely fight for No.1 with Demi Lovato.

But eighteen months later, the band’s second record instead sees them wasting no time in finding their feet to tackle bigger issues. The ills of social media are given a dressing down on the striking ‘Zuckerpunch’, while that soaring title track sees Cochrane delivering a curt putdown of demagogue leaders (“The world’s controlled by people controlling people“).

“There were a lot of things we were afraid to say on the first record, but on this one it felt like we had the chance to talk about the things we believe in,” Cochrane tells Rolling Stone UK.

“It was really encouraging too to make that record with a team who were on board with what we wanted to do.”

The most affecting moment, however, comes on the twinkling balladry of ’13’, based on Cochrane’s own experiences of how close friends have fallen victim to Scotland’s well-documented drug problems. As of July this year, the country continues to have the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe.

It’s not your fault, but I know something ain’t right, another young boy from the motherland unplugging a life,” he reflects on the track.

“It’s a real problem,” says Cochrane.

“Just last night I was walking through Glasgow’s George Square, which is supposed to be a place of celebration. On one side there was a soup kitchen with hundreds of people queueing and on the other there was a vigil against drug deaths in Scotland. It’s hard not to see your country like that and want to do something about it.”

So, what can be done?

“For starters, we need more young people in politics,” Cochrane explains.

“There’s a lot of exciting people out there, but conversations need to be had that include their views. Again, that’s what we’ve tried to do on this record. There’s a lot of polarisation, but with this album we’ve got a chance of speaking to people with different views and I don’t see a lot of that. We don’t have all the answers, but if you truly believe in something then why not scream it?”

Still, hard-hitting themes aside, the record sees the band delivering choruses tailored to the burgeoning cult fandom that they’re developing across the UK and particularly north of the border – where all their upcoming tour dates have sold out.

Late album track ‘Cosmic Electronica’ sees the band trading in Kasabian-esque space rock, while the slow-burn of ‘Pigeons In New York’ progresses from an acoustic number into a full out arena-sized stomper. They are both destined to be highlights of the band’s furious live shows, aided no doubt by some recent words of wisdom from a Scottish musical heavyweight.

“We bumped into Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro at Abbey Road Studios a while ago,” says Cochrane.

“He just explained how they were touring for years and making no money, but making sure their live shows were incredible for people coming to see it. They were always coming back because their shows were a place to go for a great time.”

“That’s how you can get to an arena level,” Cochrane adds. “We see no reason why we can’t do that.”

The Snuts’ Burn The Empire is out Friday (September 30)