In Part 2 of my sit down with Los Angeles-based Snatch Magnet, we talk about the mixture of cultures and influences that make up this weird taco salad of a metal, rock and pop band.
SW: You were summed up by a magazine, Frothygirlz.com, as “post football game, pre-date rape music.” What’s that all about?
Weekley: I just wanted someone to review our demo so I sent it to anyone and everyone. They wrote us and were like, “You know we’re feminist lesbians, right?” We thought that was great. They were expecting one of those misogynist metal bands that play on the (Sunset) Strip and take themselves way too seriously.
Kaplun: They weren’t expecting us to be so tongue in cheek with the whole name thing.
Weekley: They actually liked our music and gave us a good review.
The band does seems to enjoy never playing into expectations. Weekley also ponders breaking into the lesbian market.
SW: Well, lesbians also like snatch so you have that in common.
SW: Who named the band?
Igal: Josh did.
Weekley: I’ve always wanted to name a band Snatch Magnet.
SW: Let’s find out who you are with a quick round of backgrounds.
Weekley begins. He’s from Cullman, Alabama, a small town just outside of Birmingham.
Weekley: I’ve been in bands since I was 16. My parents knew I wanted to play guitar but they made me take piano lessons for four years before I could get one. They thought I would get tired of it or forget. So after four years, I was like, “Where’s my guitar?” They took me down to this used pawnshoppy guitar store one day.
SW: What did you get? Acoustic or electric?
Weekley: Electric. My parents didn’t want an electric guitar in their house but the pawnshop guy says (in heavy Southern accent), “You might as well get this one cause he’ll like it better.” It was this Korean Montoya made of rust and plastic so when I was trying to play metal, I’d do a palm mute and the rusty bridge would chew up my hand. My hand looked like the Crypt Keeper.
SW: Did they regret letting you have an electric?
Weekley: They might have but knew where I was and that I wasn’t getting into trouble so it was fine by them.
Weekley excelled as a guitar player and soon found himself in a myriad of bands, his last Ekphrasis, found quite a following.
Weekley: Our band played in Birmingham a lot. We could have stayed there with about 400 people who really cared about it or we could go to a bigger place and see what happens.
We knew a friend who went to MI (Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music) out here and he offered for us to stay at his bachelor pad if or when we came out to play a show. So we came out, played a show and we liked the city and then we all moved out here and lived in crack houses practically and struggled and then… our band fell apart. We disintegrated.
Kaplun: I’d be surprised if Josh’s parents knew he’s in a band called Snatch Magnet.
SW: Do they?
Weekley: No. I don’t think so.
Kaplun: I don’t think they know that he drinks either or… do they still think you are a virgin?
Weekley: Probably so. They wouldn’t let me say “butt” when I was a kid.
Benton: I would tell my Mom stories just to watch her squirm. When I was out with a band, I’d tell her about blow and other things just to watch her freak out.
Weekley: It’s safer for them if they just don’t know. I don’t want to disappoint them more than I have to.
Kaplun: We’ll have to beam this into their living room.
SW: So you’re trying to ruin Josh’s life?
Kaplun: Of course (laughs).
SW: (To Weekley) So you’re going to wait until you are playing stadiums and then invite them to a show and have medical staff standing by?
SW: So how did you all find each other?
Weekley: I met Steve, Adam and Igal at Guitar Center in Hollywood. We all worked there.
SW: Guitar Center in Hollywood is a mecca where you’ll find a steady stream of legends and budding rock stars. Was it a good place for you?
Kaplun: It’s great because you meet your idols and favorite musicians but…
Benton: It’s a love/hate thing with that place.
Weekley: One day, when we’ve made it, other bands are going to say, “There’s something familiar about those guys.” (They all laugh).
Benton: “Didn’t that guy sell me some strings?”
I swing over to the recently shorn Benton. Until a few months ago, Benton had a thick flowing rock mane. His cancer treatment has temporarily made him look like a normal guy. Benton has multiple myloma, a bone marrow cancer that caused one of his vertebrae to collapse. He underwent surgery to have it removed. Then he began his chemo.
SW: Where are you from?
Benton: I was born in Oklahoma.
Weekley: How’d you like Oklahoma? (laughs)
Benton: In the first year (when he was literally 1 year-old), I looked around and knew that I had to get out of there. (Everyone laughs). We moved to Virginia and then to Dallas when I was 13. I went to college in North Texas.
Benton got a composition and classic guitar degree. He came out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film scoring. He works in that industry currently.
Benton’s parents were very supportive of his intent on working in the music business. His father, a musician himself, encouraged his son’s musical path.
Benton: I was in 6th grade and my dad said that if I stuck with the drums, he’d get me a drum kit. So after a year, I got a set. I even have a drum solo from 6th grade.
Note: ScallywagMagazine.com tried to find this video in order to screw with Benton’s head but was unsuccessful.
Benton: My dad built an 8×8 soundproof room in the basement. So he was totally into it. Later when I was 13, I wanted to learn to play guitar. It was pretty nice to have that space.
The other guitarist in the band has had an interesting journey as well. Igal Kaplun has a clean shaven head and is extensively inked. He’s also the band manager. He speaks with a hard to place accent and rapid fire lilt. He lightly halts here and there hovering over a word as English is Kaplun’s third language.
Kaplun: I was born in Ukraine, the former Soviet Union. When I was seven, in 1990, we moved to Israel where a lot of Russian Jews were moving to at the time.
SW: Were you being persecuted in the Ukraine?
Kaplun: Yeah, kind of, but it was way less, not violent. No Nazi Germany kind of thing but just lack of opportunities if people knew you were Jewish. You found a lack of advancement in education and the work place. You were kept in check, under their thumb.
Kaplun’s parents studied computer science in Israel and became programmers. In 1984, they were offered relocation and were sent to St. Louis, Missouri with their computer firm. Kaplun would finish 6th grade and high school in St. Louis.
By the time he graduated, he was fluent in his native Russian, Hebrew and now English. He also has passable Spanish. He would go to college in Michigan.
Kaplun: After graduation, I came home from college for five months then headed out to Los Angeles and got a job at Guitar Center. This was 2006.
Kaplun wasn’t exposed to music beyond traditional Russian music and his parent’s penchant for disco until the mid 1990s.
Kaplun: My parents belonged to those Columbia and BMG music clubs. Me and the Israeli kids I hung out with were listening to the stuff that they ordered; Seal, Alanis Morissette, Hootie and the Blowfish, Bon Jovi… anything that was popular at the time. Back in the Ukraine, you didn’t get much outsider music. It was more pop Russian language stuff so later when we moved to Israel and the States, we were exposed to other things. I would later more appreciate the music my parents listened to at the time; Queen, Nazareth and Scorpions.
Later when I was between like 7th and 8th grade, I was watching MTV and saw Metallica’s Until It Sleeps video off the Load album. It was so weird to me. What is this? It was disturbing and intriguing.
Kaplun: Adam (Dodson – who couldn’t be here for the interview) grew up out here. He’s from Banning, California in Riverside County. He was into light punk like Blink 182.
SW: Nothing hardcore like Black Flag?
Kaplun: Nothing like that. If you said X, he wouldn’t know what you were talking about. He wasn’t exposed at all to like harder stuff or metal. The other day, he was texting all of us while listening to Metallica. Like texting with each song. “Dude, this shit is amazing.” We were all cracking up. I mean, he’s from here and I’m ahead of his musical exposure.
Punching Cancer in the Nuts
Steve Benton says that his cancer is rare for a 34 year-old white guy.
Benton: This cancer is something usually older African-American guys get. It’s not associated with smoking although I smoked and have quit since. It’s just one of those things.
SW: How has it been through this?
Benton: You know, I’ve been fine. It sucks having surgery and all of that recovery time but the worst part is done. I am told that I could live a long time or die next week. I’ve just got an attitude of, whatever. I’m doing what I love. I have no regrets. I have a great girlfriend, I’m creating music every day and I’m in a cool band.
The guys in Snatch Magnet are very dedicated to Benton. They moved him into the band’s new home during his treatment and are taking other gigs in a cover band, The Aristocrats, to pay the bills while Benton recovers.
They make irreverent jokes, Benton making the lion’s share, and seem to have adopted his attitude toward the fates.
Benton: Fuck it. I just don’t see the need in getting down about it. It’s not who I am. I can always find the humor in it.
Five Guys in a Committed Monogomish Relationship
That spelling of monogamy is lifted from Dan Savage. These guys are committed to one another but they will dip their mics into another band for kicks and commerce
Still, they are a hard working bunch with each member working several jobs in such areas as A&R (Weekley), composing for a sound house (Benton), and band manager, songwriter and marketing visionary (Kaplun).
SW: What’s the weirdest thing about being in a band?
Weekley: Being married to four dudes.
Kaplun: Yeah, it’s not always easy.
Benton: I don’t like working with other people because they annoy the shit out of me but if I have to, I’d choose these guys.
Benton: Everyone is a grown up.
Kaplun: Yeah, we disagree all the time but at the end of the day, a decision has to be made.
SW: So what type of criteria did you use to find your new drummer, Dallas Ebara?
Kaplun: I have the same criteria for everyone. Have common sense, be in a committed relationship…
SW: Really? You’re supposed to be a party band.
Kaplun: We love to party with our fans but we are also in relationships. To us, you can have fun and be fun without being a crazy person. A relationship tells me that you can hold it together with one person. It’s not required but it helps.
SW: What else?
Weekley: Have their own drum kit.
Kaplun: Yeah (laughs) the tools of their trade. Being on time. Having transportation.
Benton: This is our job. So it requires all of the things any professional job requires. So any new member has to take it seriously, as serious as it is to us.
SW: I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. You know, because your name is… Snatch Magnet.
Kaplun: Well, we do love the snatch.
Weekley: And I need attention.
Main image: Dirty Britty Photography