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Snapcase Singer Daryl Taberski Reflects on Three Decades of Hardcore

The metalcore pioneers in Snapcase bring three decades of musical progression to the Oriental Theater on February 22.
The metalcore pioneers in Snapcase bring three decades of musical progression to the Oriental Theater on February 22. Photo courtesy of Snapcase
A lot has changed in the nearly thirty years since Buffalo, New York’s Snapcase released its debut album, Lookinglasself. There was no Internet to speak of back in 1993, so the groundbreaking record, a blend of hardcore and metal, came seemingly out of nowhere, opening the eyes of a myopic underground scene.

“We were never a traditionalist band,” says singer Daryl Taberski. “We were never trying to just imitate ’80s hardcore, but we all loved the ’80s hardcore, and we still do. We all grew up on those bands, but we definitely started to develop a new sound or build on what was there. I, to this day, will always appreciate bands that do something different, or at least have a new spin on what you've heard before.”

Progression has continued to be a theme throughout Snapcase’s decades-long career, something that has given the band a degree of staying power and relevance few bands are able to maintain. No one has been more surprised than Taberski, who is bringing his band to Denver in preparation for California Takeover 2020, a short run of shows emulating the legendary 1996 tour of the same name, with Earth Crisis and Strife.

“I never expected to be playing shows this far along,” says Taberski. “I think that's what's kind of interesting about us reuniting with Earth Crisis and Strife. The three of us together were touring in the early to mid-’90s, and we were considered the new school of hardcore at the time. As we're getting further away from the time, the significance of it is starting to become more clear. There's pages on social media devoted to ’90s hardcore. I think we're really starting to appreciate what was really formed and generated in the ’90s.”

The interest from younger fans, Taberski says, has made illuminating the history of how hardcore changed in the ’90s more important. For the bands he liked, progression, he says, was always more important than imitation, and that ethos stuck with him.

“I don't think we knew what it would be, but we were always a band that was open to different influences,” says Taberski  — “and not just hardcore. We grew up on bands like the Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front, Uniform Choice, Youth of Today. And then out of those bands later came bands like Quicksand and Into Another, and they were starting to experiment more and change the sound, and that interested us a lot. And then, of course, like Fugazi, coming from the bands they were previously in — that was an inspiration to us, kind of like, ‘What are we going to do differently, to give it at least a new spin?’ Some bands just want to try to emulate 1988 New York hardcore, and as much as we loved that stuff, there was just so much more out there to kind of build from. We ended up with what we ended up with.”

That dedication to forward movement has paid off in spades, especially for fans who were babies or not yet born in Snapcase’s heyday. Streaming services and the Internet in general have given today’s young music fans a much more complete view of music history than any generation before, and that, he says, has made the era a band was active almost unimportant.

“It's not always about what's the most current thing, the latest thing,” he says. “Younger people have access to so much more music and so quickly. A lot of younger kids want to know where everything came from and listen to the roots. Of course, whenever you listen to music from some source online, it will recommend other things you might like, and I think that's another thing that leads kids to different music. I’m always surprised that there are younger kids who come to the shows and sing along. That's always a cool thing.”

Taberski, a confessed late adopter of social media, says he, too, has had his eyes opened by the myriad ways the Internet has changed the music landscape.

“I never really got into it,” he says, “but I did pick up on Instagram a few years ago, and I really enjoy it, actually, seeing a lot of bands that I was acquainted with over the years, to see what they're up to and see all these bands that are still playing, whether it's Gorilla Biscuits, Shelter, Youth of Today or Sick of It All. But also, you learn about so many new bands and see that not only are these old bands reuniting and playing, but they're having current bands playing as well. I have to tell you, it's like the most positive experience I've had in years.”

The power of social media to bring different generations together, he says, was most evident when Snapcase was asked to play an annual Christmas show put on by fellow Buffalo band Every Time I Die, which showcases bands from across the generations. In the show’s fifteen-year history, Snapcase had never graced the bill, but agreed when it was asked to be the main support in 2018. Taberski says he wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I was nervous about playing that show, even though it was in our home town, because we just didn't know what kind of reaction we were going to get,” he says. “It was such a great show of different eras, like us and Bouncing Souls representing that ’90s era, and Everyime I Die is clearly like the kings of early 2000s, and even still today. They just had so many killer bands on the show, so it was kind of diverse.”

After putting in all the work it takes to move from an up-and-coming band to a headliner, Taberski says Snapcase is more than happy to give that same shot to younger, local bands by adding them to shows. The Denver show is no exception.

“I think it's important to play with bands that are from the local scene,” says Taberski. “That's why I'm kind of excited about the bill that we have in Denver. I know Native Daughters are not, from what I heard, a band that's writing new stuff and going on, but they're really a cool band. I also listened to Implied Risk and No Takers. I'm really impressed and really psyched to have them on the show. It's hard to make these decisions sometimes, because you don't know the people, but it sounds like there's a lot of great music going on in Denver, a lot of young bands.”

Snapcase plays the Oriental Theater at 7 p.m. Friday, February 21, with Modern Life Is War, Native Daughters, No Takers and Implied Risk.
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Oakland Childers has been a music journalist since he was sixteen.