“This is everybody’s second band, and everybody’s first band likes to tour a lot as well. Still, we do it as often as we can,” says Snider. “When I see them, for me it feels like it picks right up. We’re a really tight group, despite not playing all the time. When you get on the road, there’s so much chaos. You just weather it together. It makes you tighter in a way.”
For Snider, the group is a totally different experience as he’s neither leading the band nor playing guitar, but simply singing. “I don’t even have to get to the gig until showtime, he says. “Then I just walk out on stage and look down at the (setlist) and open my mouth. David Schools is the leader. I never thought I was good at leading a band anyway. But it’s fun to watch someone do it well, and it’s fun to be part of something where you’re just serving the songs.”
“For me, the older I get, I’m always trying to be around people that know more about music than I do,” he adds. “I feel like I’m learning a ton about music and singing and tones and sounds and rhythms. It’s just constant. This band is a constant musical learning experience, and that’s what I like.”
Hardworking Americans represents a charmed collision of styles: Snider has always thrived working (or subverting) the traditional form of folk songs, while the rest of the band members are rooted in exploratory, jam-oriented music. “But that kind of music is something I always gravitated towards,” says Snider. “I like when songs go on long. I love the Grateful Dead, that kind of thing. I’ve always been a folk singer, but my life after the show is kind of like a long solo or a jam. I always felt connected to that world in spirit, that explorative thing.”
Coincidentally, on the day Snider calls, he’s just heard about of the death of his friend songwriting legend Guy Clark. Clark’s tune “The High Price of Inspiration” serves as the heart of “Rest in Chaos,” and he even sang and played on the Hardworking Americans’ version, marking one of his final studio performances.
“David (Schools) heard the song (which was on Clark’s 2013 album, “My Favorite Picture of You”) and felt like it could be a centerpiece for our record, since it was connected to the things we were writing and singing about,” says Snider. “Guy came around one of our sessions, and then came back to play his song with us. It was cool. I’m gonna miss him. He was a sweet guy. He was always really good to me. He was really good to kids who wanted to be like him.”
After wrapping their current tour, Hardworking Americans will reconvene for a West Coast run in August. In between, they’ll continue to work on songs for a possible third album. “We’ve kept making up songs,” Snider says. “We have six new ones.”
Although Snider isn’t closing the book on his solo career — and will be playing sporadic shows on his own this summer — he does seem more interested in continuing to make music with Hardworking Americans. Part of that, he notes, is due to issues with his hands and playing guitar. “It’s carpel tunnel or arthritis; it’s cropped up over the years,” he says. “I’ll be playing, and I’ll try and move from a D chord to a G chord, and my hands will say ‘nope.’ So I have to stop or sit there and vamp on the chord till it moves. Basically, it means I can’t do a bunch of shows in a row. So I’m just going and doing two or three at a time.”
“But also, I don’t have any songs that I would say are ‘mine’ right now. That’s not to say I don’t want to do (a solo record) again someday. But my current obsession is this band and making songs for this particular group of people. It’s really the thing I’m finding is most rewarding.”
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