We got an opportunity to ask Billy Webb a few questions about his upcoming ventures. First, he’s launching a new small DIY record label in Minneapolis/St.Paul with Tim Kingstrom (saxophone/vocals of Space Monkey Mafia) called Snowglobe Records. Their first release will be Goodbye Mordecai’s 11-song Start Again on Friday April 8. (You can catch a few singles out now: Godspeed and Broken Wing. Also they will be releasing a new Space Monkey Mafia album in May.
There’s a decidedly ska start to the venture, which made me happy. The music is dance-friendly with a definite and thoughtful voice! But sounds like we’ll get ska and more in the future!
- Tell us about Snowglobe Records. Why start a label? Is ska the focus?
I’ve always wanted to start a label and it feels like now is the time. It’s hard to even quantify what exactly a label really does in the streaming era of music. The label is very DIY so it is functioning more as a collective to start but we are hoping to put out a release every 2-3 months. The hope is to do as much vinyl (tape & CD as well) and limited run merch as is reasonably possible and try to put on some label sponsored shows.
Ska is not necessarily the focus, it’s more coincidental that the first 2 releases are ska oriented, it’s more of a jumping off point. The releases in mind to put out after these first 2 are (mostly) not ska and the plan is to encompass all genres of indie music.
- Give us a brief history of Goodbye Mordecai.
Coming out of the pandemic lockdown last April 2021 I just felt a strong urge to start a new band. I was trying to figure out what kind of music I wanted to play as I’ve done a slew of genres in the past all the way from psychedelic rock to electronic dance pop. But I grew up a huge ska/punk fan and have always continued to listen to it and really wanted to go back to my roots. I rented a practice space in St. Paul without even having another member (lol) on faith that I would find people. From there I put out a classified ad on Craigslist and Reddit. I met Jesse and Isaiah pretty quickly and we jammed as a 3 piece for about 2 months. Jesse can play both guitar and drums but we really needed his skill as a drummer for this group, so it worked out. Isaiah had been on a very long hiatus from playing in a gigging band (going back to high school) but he’s kept up his guitar chops over the years and has blossomed into a very strong lead guitarist. We really felt like we were missing a piece though when we found Kristina. She is super talented and has a lot of great experience playing in bands and singing. The album came together pretty quickly over the course of about 5 months. Overall it’s just a great vibe among the group, kind of wholesome and the music is fun to play.
- And let us know about Space Monkey Mafia.
Space Monkey Mafia are a high energy ska/punk band with a lot of catchy hooks and vocal melodies. When I was first trying to figure out who was actively playing ska/punk in Minneapolis it didn’t take long to come across these folks. They had a “back from Covid” sold-out outdoor show last May at Dayblock Brewing in Minneapolis and I was BLOWN AWAY by their performance. They are all phenomenal musicians and I think they are really firing on all cylinders as a band right now. I am truly looking forward to this upcoming release and am honored to put it out on Snowglobe. They’ve been building up a grassroots fanbase over the past few years and gaining crossover appeal into the jam band scene as well. Their live show features a lot of improv, and they often have guest musicians sit in on their sets. They are just an objectively great band and their upcoming release is definitely the “flagship” for the label launch.
- I know ska isn’t always happy – I’m a big fan of The Special’s Stereotype and The Beat’s Stand Down Margaret but on the whole ska feels happy. Yet the songs on the new Goodbye Mordecai album are often not happy in theme – I’m thinking of Godspeed and Broken Wing and others (such as Mistakes and Misanthrope) that bittersweet and introspective. Was the contrast of happy sound/more somber theme a challenge or inspiration?
I think the happy danceable sound of the ska parts mixed with the somber theme was more of an inspiration. It is almost ironic to sing “I used to look out at the world, despair in my eyes didn’t see much worth saving, it felt like everything was dark..” on the track Misanthrope (as one example) over an upbeat fairly happy sounding ska rhythm. I think ska as a genre has moved past the “goofiness” that it was known for (at times) in the mid to late 90s.
- The title Start Again highlights the theme of change in the album. Change has been thrust upon us since 2020 – tell us about how that change have impacted you and the songs.
Much of this album’s lyrical focus is about my own personal experiences dating back prior to 2020, but I think the lyrics are at times vague enough to be transposed onto anyone’s personal story. Long story short, I went through a lot of turmoil for a ~5 year period and took a hiatus from music to get my life under control. After I got this group going and started writing songs, the lyrics about change and starting over just came naturally. I think it was a pretty deliberate effort once I got going to make that the centralized theme. There are 2 songs on the album that are more political (Godspeed & Social Media) and Kristina wrote 2 songs that are more relationship based (Low Key Shade & Mediate). I think at times the word change is almost over-used and it became a running joke in the band about what the next song would be, but I really enjoyed how it all came together. What’s interesting is that 3/4 of us had been on a couple year hiatus from playing music in an active gigging band (everyone but Jesse) so it really is starting again in our own different ways.
- What is your plan/hope for the band and the label moving forward?
For Goodbye Mordecai: Keep writing original music, playing shows and meeting good people. I don’t think the objective of starting the group was anything other than friendship, meeting new people and trying to be a solid band. It’s just been a cathartic creative outlet. So I’ve been pleasantly surprised we’ve been able to come up with and release an album relatively quickly.
For Space Monkey Mafia: The sky’s the limit for these folks in my opinion and I want to help them in any way I can. They are touring in support of their new album in May.
For the label: Keep pushing forward and releasing as many quality projects as we are reasonably able to. The Twin Cities music scene is world class. So many great bands and people, so if I can do a small part to help make the scene better, that would be enough.