Jack Schneider: Bringing Back the Roots

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Courtesy of Jack Schneider

On March 29, Tisch sophomore Jack Schneider played at the Bitter End for the third time, performing his new record “Snapshots.” On his self-produced sophomore EP, Jack played all the instruments besides the drums.

By Jake Steel, Contributing Writer

Vince Gill, the multi-platinum singer/songwriter, 21-time Grammy Award-winner and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee told a young Jack Schneider: “What young guitarists will learn is what not to play.” Now a Tisch sophomore, Schneider has never forgotten those words, and this Atlanta native played all the instruments in his self-produced sophomore EP “Snapshots.”

Schneider performed at the Bitter End for the third time since he started at NYU and played his new record, “Snapshots” to a packed audience March 29. Produced without a recording budget, Schneider stood in below-freezing weather to secure walk-in studio time just to take his career into its next steps.

“[‘Snapshots’ is] a concept record,” Schneider said. “Six vignettes, moments, images [that] I tried to capture through songs [using] any mechanism or means possible to tell the story. Not just the stories, but how they’re captured like photographs.”

While electronic music has dominated the modern music scene, Schneider differentiates himself by sticking with his guitar-centered, lyric-driven production style. He developed an affinity for this roots music style while performing in his high school jug band. After writing most of his new songs during his stay in Nashville, Tenn. last summer, he incorporated electric guitar and bluegrass elements to make “Snapshots” its own creature.

“[The album is] an urban country record,” Schneider said. “Too urban for Nashville, too Nashville for NYC — but in a good way.”

He cites the Carter Family, Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie as his influences.

“For me to understand what [my influences] do, I need to listen to what inspired them,” Schneider said. “A lot of people know ‘Country Roads,’ but don’t know that it’s a standard.”

Schneider also said he admires Bob Dylan, who similarly shifted from an acoustic to an electric sound and had a reputation for political activism. Schneider said he has yet to tackle the latter.

“It’s all about a story,” Schneider said. “I haven’t had a story to tell politically, but I will. To be a witness you can’t stand and do nothing. If I feel that something I’m experiencing does not feel right, then I will write those stories.”

Schneider said he wants to buy a tape machine and record his next record completely live, like a 1960s country music session. Schneider said he sees himself as a messenger.

“Whenever I listen to [my songs] now, I listen to the story,” Schneider said. “I think that’s lost a lot nowadays because [many popular artists] focus on being bold, showing off and making a statement.”

Per Vince Gill’s advice, Schneider forgoescomplex compositions so his stories can be heard. “Snapshots” not only shows that Schneider channels the messages of his influences, but also proves that the young musician can create captivating stories of his own.

“Snapshots,” released March 31, is available for purchase on iTunes or for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 10 print edition. 

Email Jake Steel at [email protected]