For The Sneeks, opportunity knocks with a new five-song EP.
The East Lansing alt rock quartet has delivered their latest release, “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” today via streaming services as a fun, breezy follow-up to their eight-track 2017 debut album, “Sneek Attack.”
Through “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” Niko Matsamakis (vocals, guitar), Kevin Neumann (vocals, bass), Alex Olivero (vocals, guitar) and Houston Smith (drums) create a laid-back summer sound filled with shimmery Mac DeMarco-inspired guitars and wrapped in personal tales of fleeting relationships.
It’s the musical alter ego to “Sneek Attack,” which follows a “rad rock and troll” sound born out of the band’s Michigan State University (MSU) party days and garage punk rock shows with Twin Peaks at The Loft in Lansing.
“The different approach for ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely the songwriting and recording style,” Matsamakis said. “We recorded it in my house upstairs in four different rooms at the same time, and we tracked it all together. Houston was in one bedroom, I was in another, Kevin was in the other bedroom and Alex was in the bathroom.”
Neumann and Olivero also contributed tracks to the “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” while Matsamakis wrote the material for “Sneek Attack” – his personal journey through post-breakup single life.
“We used some different effects on our guitars that we don’t normally use, and some of those ‘Sneek Attack’ sounds are harder in general, but ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely a softer sound,” Matsamakis said. “I wrote a few of the songs, showed them to Kevin, and Kevin put his touch on them, and then vice versa. I would say Kevin’s songs are definitely the softer ones.”
Breaking Down the ‘Back Door’ Track by Track
The EP’s softer approach starts with “Shine the Light,” a ‘50s-flavored, finger-snapping, guitar-strumming track chronicling the start of a promising new relationship. “It was written about a girl in my life and just taking it slow. I say that a few times in the song where it’s moving kind of fast and just take it slow,” Matsamakis said. “It’s about getting to know somebody before it gets physical.”
The next and shortest track, “IGBF,” clocks in at one minute, 21 seconds, opens with a Motown feel and features fast-paced lyrics about an encounter with eye-catching girl who already has a boyfriend.
“Kevin sent me those chords, and I was driving back to East Lansing for school,” said Matsamakis, who graduated from MSU in December. “By the time I was back, it was an hour drive, the song was written, and I had really gotten some emotions out.”
For “All I Wanna Do,” The Sneeks incorporate hand claps with shiny guitars in a catchy summertime track that Mac DeMarco should cover. Neumann wrote the music while Matsamakis added upbeat lyrics about another budding relationship.
As for the fourth track, “Crazy Baby,” opens with someone remarking, “Spin that shit, baby,” and quickly transitions to an easygoing guitar jam with crashing cymbals and Elvis Costello-like vocals and harmonies.
“‘Crazy Baby’ is an older song, it was written over a year ago in my bedroom with my acoustic guitar,” Matsamakis said. “I kind of liked this girl, but she was kind of crazy, and I realized I was acting kind of crazy. I wasn’t feeling it, but I love that song. That’s one of our most fun live songs.”
Written by Olivero and Matsamakis, the closing track, “Basic Shit,” is a mid-tempo guitar-driven groove that provides the ideal ending to fun-filled EP. The song also includes one of the EP’s most memorable and comical lyrics, “I don’t fuck with a duck.” Coincidentally, a duck appears on the cover of “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” and serves as the band’s new mascot.
“We wrote that one with a bunch of other friends technically, but we were jamming, and Alex and I took it and structured the song,” Matsamakis said. “It’s just about all the basic shit that happens.”
Releasing a Christmas Song and Upcoming Live Shows
Separate from the EP, The Sneeks also released their first Mac DeMarco-inspired holiday song – “There Goes Santa!” – in December. It pays homage to the traditional Christmas classic, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and lays the foundation for a potential holiday album.
“We were talking about doing a Christmas album over the summer, but this project took a lot longer than we expected so we just reverted to a song,” Matsamakis said. “If we were to make an album, then we would definitely have Christmas covers on there.”
Half of The Sneeks, Matsamakis and Neumann, will venture to Portland, Ore., next week to play several open mic shows. The band also will perform at Ghost Light Hamtramck for the Hamtramck Music Fest, March 7-9. With some members living out of state, The Sneeks will perform here and there in 2019.
“We’re going to be playing shows sporadically when we can and just keeping it alive,” Matsamakis said.