The Cooperative of Sneeze: A Conversation With Derek Desharnais

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Like many local music fans I first became aware of Allston’s grunge pop heroes Sneeze in 2011 with the discovery of their debut, Grandma In The Trenches and have followed along as the trio have accumulated one of the Boston music scene’s most impressive catalog, which was cemented this fall with their exemplary 2016 EP, Rot. In advance of the bands appearance at this weekends Noise For Toys III benefit I caught up with Sneeze fronter, Derek Desharnais to discuss the bands next full length, playing basement shows in Akron, OH, and the bands favorite releases of 2016.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Your latest release the 6-song EP Rot found you working with Justin Pizzoferrato once again. Can you tell me what that experience has been like and how it’s effected the new set as well as 2014’s Wilt?

Derek Desharnais: Working with Justin is wonderful. He is so down to Earth and just makes everything feel so comfortable. He works real fast and is very good at coaching, especially when I am doing vocals for 2 days straight. He has great ideas and pointers to make our sound bigger and fuller, which was exactly what we were looking for. Overall he made it much easier for us to produce tighter and cleaner recordings with a huge sound.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Earlier this fall you completed a tour in support of Rot which reached out to the Midwest. How did the reception differ in places like Akron, OH as opposed to the New England shows?

Derek Desharnais: Rot was very well received on this tour. The shows were very similar to the New England area but since we don’t head out that way too often the crowds were much more enthusiastic. This year we got the honor of playing mostly all ages shows and basements which made everything much more personal. We met a lot of amazing people as well as saw some missed friends.

AGP: We first got our taste of Sneeze’s hook laden cacophony on your debut, Grandma in the Trenches. How has the bands approach to writing, recording, and playing Live evolved since then?

Derek: Shortly after the Grandma EP, Sneeze almost fell apart. It originally started as a side project. But with the breakup of my other band I had a lot more free time that the others couldn’t pull off. Unfortunately they had to depart (all on good terms of course). The line-up has been consistent since I’m Going to Kill Myself to present (Danny Boyd and Julian Moore). Before, I did a lot of the writing and bringing the full song to practice, recently it has become much more cooperative. We are now all on the same page to the direction we are moving which makes playing live and writing much tighter and energetic.

ACP: What can we expect from Sneeze in 2017?

Derek: We plan on a new full length on a new label (TBA) as well as a few tours. I’m getting married in June so it will be a busy year but we already have 4 new songs complete so fingers crossed. Realistically I think we should have a new LP by early 2018.

AGP: Over the past 5 years Sneeze has played numerous shows in and around Boston in basements and traditional venues alike. How has the scene changes since your early shows?

Derek: The scene has changed both for the better and the worse. We saw the defeat of all Boston basements, now it’s on the rise again but it still is quite difficult to nail an all-ages show down. Over the last 5 years we have seen tons and tons of new bands pop up, with not enough safe spaces to play most places get booked up 3-4 months in advance. It’s tough.

AGP: Saturday you will play the 3rd annual Noise For Toys III, Toys For Tots Benefit at O’Brien’s so I’m compelled to ask you what was your best and worst Holiday present?

Derek: Personally, I grew up pretty poor person so holidays were more about the dinner and family than anything else. Some years I would get clothes donated from the local shelter to one year I was lucky and got a N64 which was rad.

AGP: With each ending year blogs like this one and others compile their favorite records of the year. We would love to know what was in heavy rotation this year for the members of Sneeze?
Derek: We all came to an agreement on these 4 records:

Culture Abuse – Peach
Del Paxton- All Day, Every Day, All Night (this actually drops in 2017 but it’s hands down the best record we heard this year)
Tyrannamen: S/T
Latishia’s Skull Drawing – Romanticized

Saturday Decemeber 10th The Ash Gray Proclamation, Coaches, & Clicky Clicky Music Present Noise For Toys III, A Toys For Tots Benefit featuring Sneeze,Elizabeth Colour Wheel,Coaches, & Lilith @ O’Brien’s Pub. Admission is Free with presentation of an unwrapped toy valued at $10.

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