It’s been a quiet year for The Snowdroppers. Intentionally so.
The always entertaining foursome – Johnny Wishbone, Cougar Jones, Pauly K and Nick London – took some much-needed time out.
But the band, whose eclectic fusion of blues, roots, rock, rockabilly and punk sounds and unpredictable live shows have earned them cult status among fans, are preparing to hit the road again next month on the cusp of their 10-year anniversary.
When Weekender speaks to frontman Johnny Wishbone it is 11am and he is preparing dinner. He has yet to get dressed, though, in case anyone jumps to the conclusion that he is an uber-organised homebody.
That could mean he is chatting away wearing just his underpants, or nothing at all. He’s not shy.
On the menu is spaghetti bolognaise. In the slow cooker. An enthusiastic Wishbone is chopping carrots as he speaks.
“I’m going to cook this thing for about eight hours and it’s going to be magic,” he says.
“Look, you can take any recipe, and literally all you do is get the ingredients, put them in the slow cooker on low heat and then eight hours later there’s a meal.
“I go the whole hog, with carrots, mushrooms, a bit of bacon, garlic. A lot of people put celery in it but I’ve got to be honest, you’ve buy it in this big bunch and you can’t really use it all.”
How about whipping up a platter with the leftover celery?
“Maybe I should do that,” he muses.
“It’d go great with a bit of hummus.”
Wishbone calls a spade a spade, and is humorously self-deprecating. He doesn’t buy into the whole “rock star” game, even though on stage he commands attention. Every eye is on him.
He has a simple explanation for why The Snowdroppers have taken time off this year.
“We’re getting old, man,” he says with a laugh.
“We just needed some time out after 10 years, you know?
“You can’t keep your foot on the accelerator the entire time, and there are other priorities in life. We don’t do this full-time, we’ve all got to work to pay the rent.”
Wishbone runs his own business, Wishbone Harmonics, which offers professional vocal and performance coaching.
“Cool, let’s pimp my business,” he says with a laugh.
“Yes, I’m actually a music teacher, outside of the band, and I teach singing and the harmonica, and pretty much anything people want to learn or need some help with.
“I’ve actually done it for a couple of years on and off, here and there, and then I thought ‘Oh bugger it, I’ll make a bit more of a go of it’.”
The band has released a live video documentary of life on the road, Gluttons For Punishment. They also have three full-length studio albums to their name: Too Late To Pray (2009), Do The Stomp (2011) and Business (2015).
“We’ve been working on the documentary for a while – anything that The Snowdroppers does takes, well, forever to do,” he says, again with a laugh.
“We have all these grand plans but then we’re like f – – – it. Look, we have ideas but we’re just a very slow band.
“It takes us ages to write anything, it takes us ages to organise anything … yes, and cook anything ... or do anything, really.”
Maybe they should be called The Slowdroppers?
“Wow, there you go, there’s your headline right there,” Wishbone replies.
The band is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary, a milestone Wishbone expresses some surprise at reaching.
“That’s a long time, especially for us, but we wouldn’t have lasted if we weren’t such good friends,” he says.
“Getting on stage is great, all the other bullshit around it I can take or leave. Getting on stage and playing is why you do it.”
The Snowdroppers are playing four back-to-back Friday nights next month in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Newcastle. Six-piece tambourine boogie-band The Persian Drugs are supporting.
“Newy is on the list. It was probably a contractual obligation [laughs]. No, we’ve had a lot of good shows there and have lots of fond memories,” Wishbone says.
“The Wicko has been good to us over the years.”