Based out of London, Sniffany & The Nits are a self-described, “deranged” punk band, with songwriter Sister Sniffany joined by The Nits, a crack backing band of UK DIY-scene regulars, including members of Joanna Gruesome, Ex-Vöid and The Tubs. Having gained acclaim for their relentless live performances, the band recently signed to PRAH Recordings, who will this week release the debut Sniffany & The Nits record, The Unscratchable Itch.
The Unscratchable Itch sets its stall out early, opening with the rambunctious title track, it comes screeching into life, a rapid patter of drums, a squeal of guitar and amid it all the sheer presence of Sister Sniffany. Hers is a yelping, breathless delivery as she repeats the phrase, “I follow the road that I intended to”, a proclamation of independent thought that even before it was spelt out, you somehow knew to be the case. Listening to the album as a whole, it’s easy to see what drew Sister Sniffany and The Nits together, her ability to be heard amidst the noise is similar to Joanna Gruesome’s wilder moments, even if their more melodic sentiments are left at the door. Throughout the record, Sniffany’s words invite us to meet a series of characters, each flawed and scarred, laying bare their hidden humiliations and inviting us to share in their jealousy, addictions and everything else that makes us feel uncomfortable. Take recent single Chicken Liver, a song about presenting yourself in the image another wants from you, “served up on a platter like a chicken dinner as if helplessness is all that counts in order to make myself seem appealing, hiding the wrathful, egg-smashing fury of envy and self-loathing“. Elsewhere there’s Clam Chowder, a tail of an uninspired admin worker and her husband with a penchant for suburban swingers parties, or Grandma, an angry character who’s more of a Big Bad Wolf than a kindly nana, lambasting her granddaughter as a “self-entitled selfish little twat, left me to die in a popcorn-walled flat”. The record closes on Dolly, the album’s longest track and biggest departure, it comes in on a metal-tinged guitar riff, before settling into a swampy groove all chugging guitars and prominent hi-hat as Sniffany takes on the role of a particularly unhinged doll, “I’m unstitched, loved to bits, and I’ve got one loose thread to attach my head”. With a sound that borrows from the annals of yelping rebellion, Sniffany & The Nits are equal parts No-Wave, Post Punk and pogoing Hardcore, which I guess makes them that most exciting of things, impossible to pin down, so don’t try, just join the chaotic fury and enjoy the ride.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Sniffany & The Nits?
We are made up of 4 BFFs, one hysterical or unhinged or strange lady with three calm and supportive Welsh dragons who are fantastic at making evil music. The girl is more of the artsy fartsy type who takes the creative reigns to screech and be an attention seeker. The Nits make a rumbling, cycling, inane backdrop while the girl sings about living hell.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Sniffany wore her white nurse costume and we played at New River Studios in London with Constant Mongrel which was a fantastic and very exciting show, I also remember that we got a lot of compliments hehe. We probably sounded alright, as a punk band we’re lucky that if you’re crap then it’s charming.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
The Nits are just very good at making music but that doesn’t mean we don’t tip our toes in all kinds of creative puddles. Sniffany has been an alternative comics artist with a couple of things published and she’s been doing that since she was 16. She’s very crafty and paints and sews and does all kinds of womanly things. Owen the drummer is a fantastic novel writer, Matt is a cool guy record producer and Max writes really awesome admin emails as well ad running the record label Gob Nation. Sniffany got into music pretty late, but has always needed narrative to be at the forefront of what she makes. Writing songs has many benefits, it’s a lot less work than a comic, far more people actually experience it rather than a little alienating book and can drink and stuff while you’re doing it, and you take a while to write a song and bobs your uncle you can run that song into the ground and perform it over and over again.
FTR: What can people expect from the Sniffany & The Nits live show?
A live show is like putting a saucepan over your head and having someone smack it with a wooden spoon over and over again.
FTR: What’s next for Sniffany & The Nits?
Our album The Unscratchable Itch comes out on the 8th Of July, and we’re very excited for lots more people to hear the music and get scared. We hope we get to read upsetting comments about ourselves on forums, tour another country, have an art party release show bonanza, and reap the benefits from smiling and holding hands together laughing and drinking a can ÷)
They Listen To…
Dollhouse – The Shadow Baby
Dollhouse is my favourite punk band around, with very heavy and maturely themed narrative lyrics about psychiatric hospitals, abuse and being crazy sexy cool. It would be a dream come true to play with them some day but we are such huge nerds, real punks like that make me feel a bit nervous.
Anita Lane – The World’s a Girl
Anita Lane is an Australian singer who sadly died recently and wrote a lot of the early birthday party stuff with nick cave, but she had been overlooked her whole life, similarly to the best guitarist in the world Rowland S. Howard. She’s a beautiful dreamy sad and heartbreaking singer so please pay your respects by listening to Dirty Pearl and educating yourself.
Glen Meadmore – Lovin’ in My Oven
Glen Meadmore is the original gay, drag queen, cowpunk. His songs are a mixture of yodelling and new wave production. He by the way had Vaginal Davis and RuPaul as his backing singers when they were performing in clubs.
Be Your Own PET – Adventure
I was so crazy about Be Your Own Pet when I was about 12 and I wanted to be jemima pearl so badly. Luckily, I’d say sniffany & the nits are very similar. Some very weird surreal songs, the kind of early bookish nerdy emo stuff, hornrimmed glasses, tight wooly jumpers and converse style from about 2005 that I keep very close to my heart.
Icy Spicy Leoncie – Killer In The Park
Oh my favourite pop star ever. Leoncie is a classicly trained opera singer who makes her own songs with bouncy synths and vocal somersaults. She’s an Icelandic Indian Princess with fantastic boobies and tiny bejewelled dresses. We tried to book her once and she was very expensive, but in my dreams I do a cover set of all of my favourite songs of hers like Love In a Pub, Teenage Boy in Town, No Cholererol Hoe and Gay World.