Smile Politely

Snack’d Out dishes on their origins and new album

3 members of Snack'd Out performing onstage at The Space.
Ty Noel

Snack’d Out is a trio that found each other through one of the more unique ways I’ve heard of a band coming together: a DIY Facebook page posting. Kris Ward, the singer and guitarist for the group, had just moved to the area and shared a post looking to start a new band. To his luck, both bass player Juli Sherry and drummer Doug Hodges had also moved to the area and were in search of making music after having previous band experience as well.

While all of them were in search of a band to play in, all three came from different backgrounds. When asked about what kind of music has inspired their music, the answers ranged from Mom Jeans to Turnstile, to even the Descendants and Carly Rae Jepsen.

While their recent musical influences are a bit eclectic, the band has found a way of blending these sounds into their latest album, Obstacle Illusion. After attending the album release show on July 6th at The Space, it’s easy to see how the trio was able to come together and create the music they’ve done so far.

Smile Politely: How would you describe Snack’d Out to someone just discovering you?

Kris Ward: This is a hard question. I think we’re a cool Midwest emo band with math rock and pop influences. You’ll love this music if you like catchy melodies and stupid lyrics.

Snack’d Out on Instagram

SP: Who are the members of the band and what are their roles?

Ward: I’m Kris. Before Snack’d Out, I was in a band called Sports. That was based out of Boston. I had toured some with that band and put out a full-length album on Broken Rim Records. Outside of music, I play a lot of Magic: The Gathering, have two dogs named Hank and Juno, and a wonderful wife, Ali.

Juli Sherry: Juli here, I play bass and sometimes sing. I’ve been in a bunch of bands over the years in the various cities that I’ve lived in such as Chicago, Bay Area, and Pittsburgh. I work as a designer and love to travel. I live with my partner Eric, a cat named Sophie, a guinea pig named Lulu, some snails, and a lot of plants.

Doug Hodges: I’m Doug, I play the drums. I’ve been in and out of bands since I was young. I moved to Champaign with my wife Danielle and our two dogs Little Fry and Bogi six years ago. In addition to playing drums in Snack’d Out, I’m also the co-owner of The Space in Downtown Champaign. When not working or drumming, you can find me sipping delicious wines at Ladro Enoteca.

SP: When did the band form?

Ward: I think it was August of 2021? Maybe 2022. I’m not sure anymore.

Sherry: Confirmed! August of 2021. Our band’s birthday is coming up soon.

SP: To follow that up, how did everyone come together to create Snack’d Out?

Ward: We all met on Facebook after I had moved to Champaign. I had been in a band a few years back and was hoping to start playing again when I moved. I had a bunch of songs written from my last band that I was hoping to finish, but then we wrote a bunch more for this project.

Sherry: I had also moved to Champaign in 2020 and I saw Kris’s post and was very into the twinkly guitar sounds in Sports. I thought it would be a super fun project, so we got together at a brewery in Mahomet where Hodges was working and things just clicked. It was kismet to immediately meet such talented people to play music with in a new town.

Hodges: Yeah, I responded to Kris’s post in a local DIY Facebook page and didn’t even own drums at the time because I sold everything before my move to Champaign. I wasn’t planning on starting a project but I was intrigued. Soon after, I went out and bought new gear and it’s been such a fun process writing and playing these songs.

Snack’d Out on Instagram

SP: What artists have inspired your music?

Ward: I really enjoy the musical stylings of Mom Jeans, Graduating Life, Carly Cosgrove, Weatherbox, The Grateful Dead, Big Thief, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Hop Along. It’s an odd collection of artists, but I think you can hear a little bit of everything in these songs.

Sherry: I’ve been very into Turnstile, Pile, Speedy Ortiz, Janelle Monae, and Momma recently. However, being in Snack’d Out (and living in Champaign) has inspired me to dig into Midwest emo/pop punk stuff that I may have missed in the past, like American Football, Braid, Colossal, Great Grandpa, Piebald, and Glocca Morra.

Hodges: This is fun for me since I’ve never played this style of music before. But I’ve always been into various punk and hardcore scenes. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of bands like Decent Criminal, Rozwell Kid, Touché Amore, The Dopamines, Descendants, and Spanish Love Songs. I think those are a good blend of where I pull inspiration.

SP: Congrats on the release of Obstacle Illusion! What’s the current feeling?

Ward: I’m really stoked about this record. It’s probably my favorite music that I’ve ever written and been a part of. I’m very thankful to be a part of the project and working on these songs with Doug and Juli. We also had some friends record on this record that I’m super stoked about. My friend Cali recorded some sweet sax parts, my friend Corey created some beautiful ambient noise for us, and Juli’s partner Eric provided some claps and tambourine on a few tracks as well.

Sherry: So pumped with the release of these songs. This band has been one of the most fun and interesting projects I’ve been a part of. Secondly, I’m mentally preparing for these upcoming shows, which I think will be overwhelmingly good times. Third, after moving to a new place where I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t able to play music collaboratively for two-plus years, releasing this album feels like a celebration of being able to write and play music with friends again, something I love doing more than anything else.

Hodges: Extremely excited. Kris and Juli are great musicians and really made me step my game up when it comes to playing since it was a new style for me. I feel I’m a better drummer now. All these songs are so good and so much fun to play.

SP: What’s the inspiration behind Obstacle Illusion?

Ward: About half the songs on Obstacle Illusion are ones I had written over the past seven years. Then the other songs are ones that Doug, Juli, and I had written since meeting. The songs were all written in a time of me being very burnt out on music before finding my love for writing songs again. Lyrically, some of the songs are about my internal emotions about getting older and also things I think are funny. Musically, a lot of these songs are some of the most ambitious attempts at things I’ve wanted to try for a while. I had never written and released an instrumental song before this record, and I’m under the impression it’s the best song I’ve ever written.

SP: On your Instagram, you showed off the snackage while recording Obstacle Illusion. Between that and the name Snack’d Out, what is the go-to snack for everyone?

Ward: Takis and Zapps Voodoo Chips.

Sherry: Dot’s Pretzels and Veggie Straws.

Hodges: Ritz crackers and peanut butter, or the pizza-flavored Combos.

SP: After the album release party, you’ve got PYGMALION on your list, any other shows fans should look forward to?

Ward: My wife and I are expecting our first child, so I think playing shows may be more and more difficult as I have no idea what to expect on this new journey my family is taking. Nonetheless, I know that anything we play and do after PYGMALION will be awesome.

Sherry: Yes! We are so excited for Kris to be a dad, but you should probably come see us play soon because there will be a bit of a break. I’m sure whatever we do next will be awesome, though. Please stay tuned, we’ll be back. Maybe we will do some fun things on the internet in the interim. Shameless plug: Go follow us on Instagram!

Hodges: Yeah, Ward will certainly have his hands full for a bit, but so stoked for them. Come check out the next show!

SP: Besides The Space, is there a favorite venue you’ve enjoyed playing?

Ward: In Champaign, I very much like playing the Rose Bowl and the Brass Rail. We’ve played some really cool shows in Bloomington as well. We also got to play It’s a Kling Thing in Akron, Ohio, which has felt like a second home for me musically.

Sherry: I loved playing at the Brass Rail and also Loose Cobra. And Bloomington always shows up for us. I’d love to play there again in the future.

Hodges: The Brass Rail was my favorite because I was helping them book shows and it felt like home. Loose Cobra for sure, but outside of Champaign, we played a coffee shop in Normal where the crowd was so rowdy, it was awesome.

SP: Is there a dream venue that you’re looking to play?

Ward: The Metro in Chicago.

Sherry: The Empty Bottle in Chicago, or any available basements or skateparks.

Hodges: The Metro would be rad, but I will play anywhere.

SP: For anyone just getting acquainted with Snack’d Out, what would you like to say to them?

Ward: Thank you so much for checking us out! I hope you all enjoy these songs as much as I do.

Sherry: It’s been a wild ride so far. Mega thank you to everyone who came to a show or streamed a song or bought some merch. You are all fantastic and I hope we can be friends.

Hodges: Thanks! We really enjoyed working on this record and excited to share it with everyone.

You can access Obstacle Illusion on Spotify, or even buy a digital version or cassette on Bandcamp. You can also follow the band on Instagram.

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