Waxwing was Seattle's/Tacoma's and Miami's original metal band of the 80's. We partied and played as hard as we could and had a great time doing it. Below is a very condensed history on the band. We had such interesting and humorous antics/exploits that it would be impossible to tell in such a brief document as this.
For information on Snyder and the Badfashion project, Click Here........
Attention::: The Rare and long sought after Waxwing EP "Appetizer" has been digitally re-mastered and is available for download......... Click Here for more info..
Waxwing Lineup 1983-84
Waxwing Lineup 1987-88
Waxwing actually started in Miami Florida 1983 when I (Snyder) got tired of singing covers and thought it was time for a vocalist. Despite the drummer (Steve Twitchell) lobbying to take the spot, we auditioned Gil Thrill and I was sold on this guy fronting the band. He had attitude, a 4-octave range and promised a kick ass P.A. was on its way. He delivered and we began our journey.
First things first we needed a name for the band. I was thumbing through the dictionary from the Z's to the A's when the name Waxwing jumped off the page at me. After reading the description I knew I had found the name for this band. The definition read as a red crested bird that was known to intentionally eat ripe berries in an effort to get drunk. I thought "how appropriate".
The lineup was set as myself (Snyder) on guitars and backing vocals, Gil Thrill on vocals, John Gillow on bass and Steve Twitchell on drums. We put together a song list of 40 covers that were way off the beaten path. We played several Priest tunes like "Tyrant", "Victim of Changes" and "Diamonds and Rust". We also played a few Scorpion tunes like "Loveddrive" and "Another Piece of Meat". This should be some indication of where we were heading. We attempted to jump into the Bar circuit. That turned out to be a dead end for a band with a song list like ours. At most gigs we got kicked out for playing too loud, drinking too much and not knowing anything popular or radio friendly at the time. We really didn't care as we were playing for ourselves.
It was apparent that we needed to get our asses somewhere where they dug the material we were into. SO, we had this harebrained scheme to head to Tacoma, Wa. OK, I am not even old enough to drink and we blow into town as the new kids on the block from Miami ready to take on the world. We put together some auditions and finally got our line-up. We had myself on guitar, Gil on vocals, Steve Norton on bass and Joey Hammerschmith on drums. We had for the most part the same song list but added some more Iron Maiden and other metal covers along the same line.
Within a month of rehearsal we played a show. What a turnout we had! There were 400+ screaming maniacs stuffed in a small hall all front stage and just banging their heads off. I couldn't believe the support. After that show we ran into some problems with the drummer showing up to practice and started auditioning drummers. We also decided to audition a new bass player and found one of the most phenomenal bass players I had ever played with (Matt Mustafa). This guy was unreal on the bass. He brought in an old school drummer (Johnny Wazniack). This guy was a maniac in every sense of the word. He had the most fierce attack on the drums I have ever seen and could play the hell out of a single base 3 piece kit.
We decided to go to work on originals. We but together some hard/heavy material and were putting out some great music when Wazniack decided to pawn his kit. Well, this was pretty much how it went for the next several month until we said enough. We were tired of the rain and went back to sunny Miami with new material and a new plan.
Once in Miami we paired back up with Steve and John Gillow. Once rejoined we started working on originals and covers. We updated our song list and started gigging. We played several gigs and did pretty well. As usual we drank more than we made but had a great time. For some unknown reason John Gillow decided to leave the project and go to school. This was a disappointment but life went on and we sent for Matt Mustafa to fill in. Matt did a great job and played several show with the band before getting homesick and heading back to Tacoma..
Somewhere along the line we decided to take a break from each other and regrouped a year later. Gil had bought a 6-track recorder and a drum machine and handed it over to me and said make some music for me to sing to and that is exactly what I did. I recorded 4 songs that would later be on our CD. Everyone was quite impressed with the sound so Gil and I decided to head back to Tacoma in 1986 to give this another shot. We had saved a few bucks, put together a massive PA and light show, had a recording budget and figured we couldn't go wrong this time.
got to Tacoma and had already lined up our old drummer Joey Hammerschmith
and Matt Mustafa. After partying for about 2 months during one of the
most awesome summers Tacoma ever had we got to work on our material. During
the fall we recorded "Waxwing appetizer" a 4 song EP.
We recorded at Steve Lawson's Studio in Seattle with engineer Terry Date
at the helm. I actually learned a lot of my production knowledge from
working with him on his approach to set up and little tricks he revealed.
At the peak of our playing a management company was looking at our band and another band called Diamond Lie. I was told that the firm had a solid relationship with a major label and one of the two bands was going to walk away with a record deal. Well to make a long story short, Diamond Lie got the attention and that was that. Diamond Lie later changed their name to "Alice in Chains" and I think the rest is history.
That was pretty much the end of Waxwing. The band slowly imploded with the loss of the drummer to a Christian rock band (haha), the loss of the bass player (to who knows what) and I moved back to Miami and decided to head out on my own with a new name and a new plan.
That was the life of Waxwing. Born in 1983 and died in 1989.
It's 2004 and I can tell you that I (Snyder) am still playing, recording and trying to break out. I have recorded 3 CD's under my current band name "BadFashion". I have been keeping the faith and will never quit until my ass is in the ground. All the information is at http://www.badfashion.com.
I believe Gil Thrill played with Bad Apple for a little while and headed back to Florida. We reunited for a brief period and really had a good time of it before I decided to pursue other projects. I think he is pretty much working on home recordings and other projects.
I believe Steve Twitchell is also a family man now and plays with friends on weekends as a hobby.
John Gillow who was one of my best friends died on Feb 20 1988 in a car accident. He was an incredible bass player who played a fretless Rickenbacker as good as anyone, a harmless soul and generous person. He has been missed tremendously and will always be remember as the Original Bass Player for Waxwing .
Matt Mustafa It's funny but life is definitely a circle.. After joining Waxwing in 1984, 20 years later Matt and I have joined forces once again. Matt is currently the bass player for BadFashion. It was great to reunite with Matt as he is an amazing bassist. All the information is at http://www.badfashion.com.
I have no ideal what happened to Johnny Wazniack but heard he was doing time for something. (I can believe that)
UPDATED 3/30/2005: Joey Hammerschmith (AKA the Squid) found this web page and contacted me. I am happy to say he is alive and kicking. He has been in several Seattle based bands and tucked a few recordings under his belt (eee 38" belt I might add). He is currently the father of two and attempting to become the reigning on-line MOTO-X CHAMPION.
anyone would like to fill in the "where are they now" gaps,
post your comments in the form below and I will update the page. (providing
FYI: I hear another Seattle band took my/our name (Waxwing). I would like all to know, there is NO affiliation with the Waxwing of the 80's. Our music was true metal, we partied hard and can not be replicated or replaced......
name waxwing was retired in 1989 when the band parted ways.