This Monday night, get ready for a high energy, cultural and immersive musical experience that is Snarky Puppy.
Snarky Puppy is a music group of a “collective of sorts” with upwards of 25 members in their regular rotation, according to their website. The four time Grammy award winner, Snarky Puppy has grown into a national phenomenon, resulting in a live performance album at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019, which later won a Grammy.
Mustang News reporter, Abigail O’Branovich, spoke with Chris Bullock, Snarky’s original saxophone player, about their upcoming show.
Q: How would you best describe the musical concept of Snarky Puppy to someone who has never heard them?
A: It’s always interesting trying to put music into words. Well, I would say the breadth of music that Snarky Puppy plays and exists within is a pretty diverse sound that is drawing upon a lot of influences from various traditions, musical traditions and cultural places and putting that into some melodies and rhythm. The music can be very high energy at times, it can also be very quiet and intense.
Q: How did you come up with the concept of Snarky Puppy?
A: The band was started in the Dallas, Fort Worth area by our bass player, Michael League. He’s like the bandleader. It was a group of friends in college, getting together and playing music that we were interested in playing and was outside of the things that we might have been doing in school or gigs in and around town.
Q: Do you have a favorite show that you’ve played to date?
A: I have a few favorite shows. This band started out years ago, traveling with sleeping bags packed in the back of the van. Before we had our own sound engineer and things like that, we used to play a lot of smaller venues. Over time, as we built momentum as a band and started gaining more listeners—we were starting to move to bigger rooms.
There’s this medium size, kind of rock room that could hold like anywhere from like 250 to 500. Those size rooms are pretty fun because they’re still kind of intimate.
I remember the very first time we had a show where people were crowd surfing. Our trumpet player, Mike “Maz” Maher just jumped out into the crowd. That one stands out in my memory as a wild energetic night.
Q: Do you have an award or achievement that you are most proud of?
A: I think of awards more as motivation to keep moving forward and keep creating and keep exploring and keep challenging ourselves as creative individuals, whether we’re creating the music or or listening to the music.
But that being said, I will say that like the very first time Snarky Puppy as a band won a Grammy was a complete shock, because we were in a category and up against some of our musical heroes. And as a band, it was a special time because it was a turning point for us musically; finding a sound and maturing into something that we hadn’t found yet before.
Snarky Puppy’s show at the PAC
Monday’s show will be one of Snarky Puppy’s first in two years.
“It’s a pretty joyous experience,” Bullock said. “So I hope that joy can be translated to the audience when we’re performing because we’re catching up for time lost.”
Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center is offering a 20% off discount for all students at face value with proof of ID. For tickets, go to calpolyarts.org.
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.