“This is the whole thing!” Jeremy Snevil exclaims with a laugh, gesturing at his get-up after we finish our photo shoot in his bandmate’s mom’s basement in New Jersey. He’s wearing a sweater, scarf, and jacket on top…and just fishnets and cowboy boots below.
It kind of is the whole thing. By day, Jeremy works in special education, but on the nights and weekends, he dresses up in BDSM gear and gets whipped onstage as he plays bass for Pink Mass, a band he helped found that describes itself as “PANSEXUAL PERVERT PUNK GRIND, CONJURING THE UNHOLY POWERS OF SEX, SATAN AND VIOLENCE TO DESTROY THE EARS AND GENITALS OF EARTH’S HUMAN FILTH.” The band’s over-the-top aesthetic is meant to challenge and play with our expectations of sex, metal, and all the evil things in-between, but it’s also a perfect way for Jeremy to do what he does so well: have some fucking fun.
I met Jeremy a few years ago at Andrew WK’s (then) annual stop at the tiny Stanhope House during his Party Hard Holiday tour. That night’s become legend amongst my Jersey crowd. It was in the middle of a blizzard. Half of the streets weren’t plowed, and my roommate had to shovel our entire driveway herself before we could go—I was so sick, I couldn’t speak, let alone haul snow. But we soldiered out anyway and found that none of Andrew WK’s band had come with him through the storm. It was just the man in white, an electric piano, and fed-in recorded versions of his songs. He invited everyone to join him onstage. A couple got engaged. Security at the venue was as low as the ceilings, and people were getting crowd-surfed into stage lights over and over. In the midst of this magical, beautiful chaos, in the empty floor space that had opened up between the moshers and the watchers, a man danced a goofy jig across the floor and followed it up with backflips and more silly dance moves. Almost immediately, my friend and I were in love. Who is this man?! Supreeze, supreeze: it was Jeremy and he’s a total babe!
Since then, Jeremy’s continued to babe on, growing in his day job and forming Pink Mass, as well as making art for album covers, t-shirts, and more. Join us as we discuss the origins of Pink Mass in the battle between the Westboro Baptist Church and the Satanic Temple, fucking with the people who need to be fucked with, black metal dudes who don’t want to be touched, Bud Dwyer, finding reality in the grit, getting a reaction, and overcoming self-doubt by proving yourself and others wrong.
Tell me a little bit about Pink Mass. What inspired the band?
I was watching the news one day, and…are you familiar with the group, the Westboro Baptist Church? They’re the ones with the signs that say, “God Hates Fags.” It’s just awful. They boycott Marine funerals and are anti-military because now the military’s kind of openly accepting to any orientation.
So, there are these people, and then there’s the Satanic Temple. If you look at the Satanic Temple—the one that’s affiliated with Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley—it’s more like a trolling group of atheists that fight for civil rights. They’re anti-establishment, so obviously they’re anti-Christianity, so the Satanist label is like that. The misconception that Satanists are these people that go out and spray blood on themselves is stupid.
Anyway, the Satanic Temple in I think it was Michigan set out to have the first lesbian wedding on the grave site of the mother of the Westboro Baptist Church’s founder, Fred Phelps. And they said, “Okay, you believe that ‘fags,’ as you say, can’t get into heaven and can’t enjoy paradise and are subhuman and all of this bullshit. Well, we believe that by performing this act, your mother’s now posthumously homosexual, and anytime a homosexual act is performed on her grave, she perceives pleasure in the afterworld—in our afterworld, as we see it.” So it was just kind of like: you want to believe that, we believe this, and who’s to say whatever! Is it immature on their part? Whatever. It’s funny.
I saw this on TV, and I was like, “Yes.” The people who need to be fucked with are being fucked with. They called the ceremony the Pink Mass. I was like, “This is a band. This is a thing.” How can we push that? How can we blow it out like a cartoon?
Pink Mass is a parody. It’s a caricature of what people who don’t listen to metal think metal is: it’s the scariest thing in the world. There are these homosexual, Satanist, leather-bound monsters corrupting the youth! [Laughs] It’s everything that you’re afraid of. “Oh my god, it’s gay!” Or bisexual or…personally, I believe human beings are naturally non-binary. I don’t really believe in gay or straight. I think that, predominantly, a human being is born…I guess bisexual, if you have to give it a term, but it’s the societal pressures and what have you that push people into those roles, you know what I’m saying?
That ignites the desire to want to fuck with these people; to make this statement. But we want to have fun with it, too, and not take ourselves seriously and be a parody of black metal bands that get so wrapped up in their occultist, fake theology. We’re the ones that want to be like, “Yeah, let’s pour the candles on ourselves! This is the ritual!” [Laughs] Just be like a comic book about it and have fun with it. That’s Pink Mass.
I saw something about Pink Mass being done as an expression of solidarity with the gay community. Is that so?
Yes, it’s totally in support of that community as well as, like, all of these other commentaries.
Do members of the band identify as gay?
But it also just sounds like that more than anything, it’s about making people uncomfortable in a way that challenges the structures we have around sexual orientation…and expectations of metal. [Laughs]
Yeah, it’s really super troll-oriented. Fuck these guys that take metal too serious. Fuck people who say like that metal is just this overtly masculine thing—it is, like, super-masculine, but what’s to say you can’t be super-masculine and then into whatever sexually?
We’ve gotten to do a lot of fun things with Pink Mass. We got to play a fetish party. The person who contacted us, her name is Gina Harlow, and she’s this late-70s punker—think, like, the Dead Boys and the New York Dolls. It was totally a riot. They had a fake wedding, and there was a game show where we were contestants, along with the members of her party, to marry her. [Laughs]
You guys didn’t win her hand?
[Laughs] But it was fun. She was really cool.
So we got to do that, and…I’m trying to tap into everything that this would appeal to. I look at the story of Pink Mass as kind of a horror movie—like 80s VHS—so because of that, we dressed up in costume and went to Chiller Convention, a horror movie convention, like, a cosplay kind of thing. We’re walking around, and we walk past the porn star table, and they’re like, “Oh my god!” They all wanted to take pictures with us, and we’re there charging people $20 to take pictures with us. We signed stuff “Pink Mass, Kiss My Ass.” We put that on Instagram, and it was hysterical.
It’s cool because it’s offered us the chance to have a multi-media avenue of, like…marketing. More than to just be a band. Our Facebook is a channel of stupid shit that’s just funny, like, “Oh, someone made this zombie orgy porn and there’s a gif of it—perfect! Here’s people in a coffin doing it.” [Laughs] Pink Mass is, like, already done. [Laughs]
You’re just curating it.
So beyond the spectacle of Pink Mass, what’s the music like? What are you inspired or influenced by?
Yeah, I pretty much talked about conceptually what it is. The music is a feral rebellion against the guilt of oppression. I am Catholic, so I can identify with that. I’ve always challenged myself to get outside of that, and it’s still hard for me to do certain things today. But the music is supposed to be a total rejection. There’s a strong punk sound, and even thematically, it’s very punk, too. Pink Mass is like a perfect blending of punk and metal ideologies because, typically, metal music is more in the realm of fantasy. It’s for people that are trying to escape reality, and they’re thinking about these grand things like mountains and demons…it’s supposed to be this larger-than-life epic tale. And then the punk community is more socially conscious, more reality-oriented. We try to blend both.
Onstage, you’re in costume, whipping each other with chains and shit. How do people respond at your shows?
It’s funny. We played this festival called Martyrdoom at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, and those are like OG, serious black metal dudes. The reason we got to play it is because some band couldn’t get past the border or something, so everyone was pissed that they couldn’t see the band they liked. And there are people in black metal, specifically, that are, like, offended by human contact. They don’t want you to touch them. That’s, like, disturbing to their soul. [Laughs] They’re so misanthropic. So it ruffled a couple of feathers with them, but the people who got it were just like, “This is fucking great.”
It’s a mixed reaction, but it’s always a love-hate reaction. It’s either, “These guys are stupid” or “This is the best thing ever.” I think as long as it elicits an emotion, it’s winning.
You’ve been in other bands before this one. Are any of the same people from your previous bands in Pink Mass?
I’ve pretty much done almost all of the bands that have mattered in my life with Josh, who plays guitar in Pink Mass. We had another band called Unmen, which was a grind-thrash-crust punk oriented thing, and I was in his band—they’re a two-piece now, but when they were a three piece—Bud Dwyer.
Bud Dwyer was one of the first dudes to commit suicide on TV. He was a politician from Pennsylvania—I want to say he was a Senator, I’m not sure—but he embezzled all of this money. He stole it all, straight up. When they caught him, he took out a life insurance policy that entrusted his wife and his family with the money, and then he killed himself on TV. Shot himself in the head. And his family totally got all of the money! They had to rewrite all the laws about life insurance and shit. Like, if you have a life insurance policy, you can’t kill yourself within six months of getting it or something like that, otherwise the beneficiary can’t get the money.
Yeah, I thought that was, like, a known element.
Yeah, right? Apparently this dude was a game changer because he got away with it. Which is kind of…[laughs]. Alright, I’m not going to…[laughs]
No, it’s fucked up but also kind of savvy, like—
Yeah, I was going to say! Like, he did it. He straight up stole the money, got it to who he wanted to get it to, and that was it. And then also, the live television delay. I think, even if it’s live, it has to be on at least a seven second delay, and that was another thing that happened because of him.
I could be totally wrong about all of that shit. [Laughs] That’s how I was told the story. [Laughs] Anyway, that dude’s name was Bud Dwyer, and that was that band.
What’s the punk/metal scene like in this part of New Jersey? You’ve told me about the Meatlocker before, but I never went…
The Meatlocker is totally awesome. Great place to see brutal bands. If you’ve ever seen the original Ninja Turtles movie, the Meatlocker is where the Foot Clan hangs out. It’s just a bunch of…alternative people, [in funny voice] doing the DIY thing! [Laughs] No, but it’s awesome! I’m ragging on it, but it’s really sick. Everyone contributes. Everyone who’s in bands takes turns doing the door and running shows, and everybody helps each other out. It’s a true mainstay of what that shit’s about, and it’s one of the only spots in New Jersey if you’re in a band that plays that genre of music that you would do really well in.
I guess related to the larger community, let’s talk about your art. You did the album artwork for your new record, and I’ve seen you do t-shirts and such for your band and other bands. What have you done recently?
Most of my work is with other artists in bands and musicians. I just love that culture, and…it’s funny because I’ve had existential crises over like, “Oh my god, what am I doing? What am I actually doing?” I put something on a shirt, and then some asshole wears it, and he’s cool. [Laughs] Is that, like, the summation of my contribution to the world? Just making people cool? I don’t fucking care. [Laughs] But that’s cool. Right? I mean, if I can make someone cool, that’s cool. [Laughs] I don’t know.
Someone said something similar to me about Babe Squad recently, where it was just like creating a “cool club” or something, and I was like, “What the fuck? No!” [Laughs] So I get you, dude. But thinking back, maybe, to what originally inspired you to make art or what still does…what makes you make?
I don’t know…just, like, weird romances. When I was like five, anytime there was something that looked slightly more animated than the most basic cartoon, my mom would just turn it off and yell at me. I had an older brother and an older cousin who was a total metal head 80s dude that played guitar, and they would watch Liquid Television on MTV. That had Aeon Flux and Beavis and Butthead and shit. Aeon Flux was one of the first things I ever saw where it just looked wild. It was total anime worship, and it was so gritty. There was that element of reality to it that I felt I was being kept from. To me, the allure of metal and anything harsh—anything brutal and disgusting—is that I feel like that’s the truth that’s being swept under the rug—the ugliness. I want the truth. I was very sensitive to the fact that I wasn’t being given it as a kid. So anything sketchy or gritty or dirty, I was all about.
And…any art that has that sensitivity to a nuance that’s like more than just a lowest common denominator, you know what I mean? Something that says a little bit more than, “Everybody wins.” I’m sorry, everybody’s not a winner. Let’s talk about that. But that’s not what people do. Any art that offered just a little bit more was awesome.
That says nothing about preference for aesthetics, really…it kind of does, but I also like things that are hyper-pretty, which is like the opposite of that grit. I love art nouveau and Alphonse Mucha, where it’s just like ah-ahhhh! [sweeps hands, wide-eyed, and laughs]. You know, just like total Disney-white wash-beautiful.
You work in special education. What drove you to want to do that?
The need for me to do that is to counteract the “alright, I’m just making a cool shirt for a cool dude” thing. Because I don’t believe that really does anything. It makes me feel a little more morally sound with the universe and connected to other people…less subjective. There’s more objective. There’s a goal that the whole thing is reaching towards. And I don’t feel like my existence is just perpetuating hipster culture. [Laughs]
I feel like I need a job that does something bigger than me. For my anxiety, I need to think about things that are bigger than me. It’s really grounding. No matter how weird I get on the weekend, I come back and focus. I can get all of my eccentricities out, and then it’s like, “Alright, game time.” That’s why I need that and what it fulfills in my life.
Time for the standard Babe Squad questions! Have you ever felt self-doubt so debilitating that it almost prevented you from doing what you’ve done now? What was that moment, and how did you get over it?
[Pauses] An ex-relationship. I’m going to say it. It was a significant relationship, had a lot of plans, and the person’s parents were just like, “You’re never going to do anything.” It was just like, “Fuck you,” and then that led to me getting my job. But in that moment, there’s that, “Well, fuck, is this how people see me?” Then you realize, no…that’s not cool. Prove that person—those people—wrong. Getting the job and staying with the friends that I have and doing the things that I do now it was all…I don’t want to say it’s a by-product from that, but this is, like, the evolved state from that place in time.
I still have to check how happy I am in this current state at all times. It’s like, “Okay, I’ve done x, y, and z…but is that good enough?” I think that’s just human nature: to not ever be completely satisfied. That’s the part of the motivation to keep going, keep doing.
It’s funny you say that because that’s come up so many times in these interviews: that everyone has this constant feeling of not being done. I get that, but then I also wonder if that’s a part of our capitalist, production-focused culture. And then I wonder how does that relate to how we, generally, think of happiness, which is this moment of almost nothingness-satisfaction…which is also kind of bullshit, I think.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then what’s the debate of that: are you satiated or are you complacent? I think about that all the time. Is this the end? Is it not? Am I happy? Can I be this happy forever? Is that a thing? Is forever a thing? Are you compromising?
Or settling? That’s the word I hear a lot, and I don’t know how seriously to take it, really. Because I do think it’s kind of natural to adapt to our lives, and that can be good, but I feel that fear of settling that everyone sort of talks about and pushes on you, too.
Those are real concepts! People push them on you, like, “Oh, are you settling?” But, like, ARE you? [Laughs]
Okay, last question: do you consider yourself successful, and how do you define success?
I do think I’m a success because I think that like I’ve done plenty so far that has elicited a response in people, that people have reacted…I’ve communicated something to people. I’ve interacted with people. I’ve given people experiences in my endeavors, and that’s a priceless thing. If we left here today, and I was savagely murdered upon exit, and there was such a thing as a review, I’d be like, “Alright, I did some stuff.” [Laughs] Right? That’s one of my anxieties. I don’t want to not do stuff. I have to do stuff, you know? [Laughs] And it has to touch on those things. It has to make me happy. I like to make other people happy—that’s the entertainment thing. As an artist/entertainer, those are my biggest concerns: are people paying attention and do they care about it? Are they feeling it? Are they feeling what I want them to feel about it? And I feel I’ve been successful in those ways. So I would say I’m a success. [Laughs] And I’ll say that humbly so because I challenge myself to not settle or be complacent in that way. Nobody’s done. I’m not done.