Local Produce: Snapper

Local Produce: Snapper

For New Zealand Music Month and for the 40th anniversary of Radio One, Local Produce will cover four iconic Dunedin bands by way of interviewing a member of each selected band and asking them about their legacy. 

Snapper aren’t as widely known in the “Dunedin Sound” pantheon as they should be. Apart from a mural next to the legendary venue, The Crown, the band are often unrecognised due to the lack of availability to their material. Critic Te Ārohi interviewed drummer Alan Haig from Snapper asking about his experience with the band.

Snapper is made up of Alan Haig (drums), Dominic Stones (guitar), Christine Voice (guitar, keyboard, vocals) and Peter Gutteridge (guitar, keyboard, vocals). Alan learnt drums while “on the job” with Martin Phillips and Peter Gutteridge where they jammed under the name ‘The Chills’. He briefly left the band in 1982 to join The Verlaines and then returned to The Chills yet again in 1986. “During this period I also held down a full time job as an Electrical Engineer which helped to pay for instruments, snacks, vehicles, etc. [I’m] glad I was able to provide that part of assistance. Every band needs a van, Landrover, truck to get from A to B with our amps, guitars, drums, etc. – I owned three Land Rovers at this time.” 

Snapper was formed by Haig and Gutteridge in 1987 originally under the name ‘The Phroms’, until six months later when Voice and Stone joined the band and changed their name to Snapper. “Snapper is named after a very cute wee black pet cat Peter adored,” Haig mentions. 

According to Haig, Snapper “applied more hypnotic keyboard riffs, drum machine beats, which I was able to emulate on my drum kit and with Peter's alternative/pop style of songwriting and vocals formed the sound.” The influence for Snapper came from a range of artists. “We were listening to the Velvet Underground but with Peter and I, we started listening to Alan Vega, Martin Rev and Suicide and just thought this music is great. Peter also was influenced by Bo Diddley for songwriting.” 

Haig’s overlap in bands, as well as other musicians is just a product of Dunedin. “Every song writer, contributing musician has their own unique style of playing and interpreting whatever. Dunedin is a very small city and we all tend to jam with one another at some time to see what feels good or what doesn’t. You just know when things feel good, so you stick together or go and find another party,” says Haig. 

Dunedin is very important to Haig as it is where he was born. “It's my home town and some of my family are here as well. I did live in Auckland in 1985 when The Chills moved from Dunedin to Auckland. My god that was a big move! I kinda burnt Auckland out during that year and just couldn’t wait to get back to Dunedin. Dunedin has such a friendly vibe of musicians. It’s a better lifestyle, cheaper, and more relaxed to live here than other cities in the world.”

Haig is still involved within the music scene, playing in bands such as Jay Clarkson & The Containers on keyboard and is now looking to pick up the sticks again. “I’ve always been an alternative musician. It's in my blood.”

Snapper are currently going through old unheard live recordings which may be released at some stage along with remastered versions of their EPs and albums. You can find their EP on Bandcamp and read more about the band at audioculture.co.nz

This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2024.
Posted 8:16pm Sunday 26th May 2024 by Jordan Irvine.