The hardcore scene tends to divide itself into two distinct camps. First, there's the ultrapolitical faction that seems more interested in preaching than playing music. Second, there's the plethora of tough-guy, hate-edge bands that are all about "heaviness" but light on substance. Both schools have their merits, but bereft of each other's influence, they limit the music's audience to teenagers and pissed-off young males. Snapcase are changing all of that by crafting an approach that's both politically aware and sonically brutal. As a result, the crowds who attend their shows are demographically diverse heralds of mass appeal. This is a band that retains its validity long after high school is over.
While the members of Snapcase are often recognized for the straight-edge/vegetarian/vegan lifestyles to which they adhere, their lyrical oeuvre lauds self-respect, non-conformity and the ability of listeners to channel their own destinies into a positive future. Vocalist Daryl Taberski's words have always reflected such beliefs, and "Designs for Automation" -- Snapcase's new CD on Victory records -- continues the tradition.
"When it comes to the writing of lyrics," Taberski explains, "I'm very conscious of who our audience is. The kids that are listening to us are at a very impressionable period in their lives, so whatever we do or say can and will affect they way they look at things. I take that very seriously and try to use this platform to be a positive role model."
Taberski's dedication to uplifting the young goes beyond playing in Snapcase: He's close to earning a bachelor's degree in social work from Buffalo State University. And when he isn't touring with the band, he visits area schools as part of a group that educates students about rape and assault.
The original Snapcase lineup -- which featured Taberski as drummer, not frontman -- formed in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1991 and recorded its first 7-inch single, "Comatose," the following year. Taberski soon took over the vocal duties, and by 1993 Snapcase was recording its debut album, "Lookinglasself," with legendary hardcore producer Don Fury (Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Youth of Today, Burn). Loaded with intelligent lyrics and groundbreaking sounds, the album pointed toward the future of hardcore and quickly launched the band from obscurity to the front lines of hard-edged innovation.
In 1995 Snapcase went into the studio to record a follow-up and emerged with the "Steps" EP. That release continued the band's tradition of moving forward musically while simultaneously holding the hardcore community's attention. With a second full-length album, "Progression Through Unlearning" (released in1997 on Victory), Snapcase attained the peak of its popularity.
Along with that success came attempts to court major record labels and the potential for stress the process entails. But the band took it all in stride and furthered its road commitments, including a few spots on the Vans Warped Tour. By 1999 -- after replacing a few members and widening its range of ideas -- Snapcase recorded "Designs For Automation," a discordant yet melodic amalgamation of hard-edged music. They're once again ready to hit the concert trail, where they know they're at their best.
Despite sitting comfortably atop the hardcore heap, Snapcase remain humble, their feet planted firmly on the ground. As Taberski explains, "We've known from the start that being in Snapcase would never make us millionaires, and that we would eventually have to find other jobs to support ourselves. So we've continued to go to college and it's kept us grounded.
"The dilution of becoming rock stars won't ever be a problem for us," he laughs.