Look what the cat dragged in: The CrumbSnatchers

Guetts and company onstage

The CrumbSnatchers rock Band Eat Band

At this year’s Preservation Pub Band Eat Band contest, local outfit the CrumbSnatchers stood out as much for their collective demeanor as for their performance and songwriting savvy.

Which isn’t to say the band didn’t rock righteously; truly, their wild abandon onstage, their stellar chops, and their infectious melding of prog-rock and loopy indie pop were impressive to behold, plenty good enough to land the four-piece a spot in the B.E.B. finals this past August.

But what really distinguished the ‘Snatchers from their peers in B.E.B. was their free-wheeling, charmingly unaffected outlook on the whole bloody affair. While many of the 40 or so groups that entered the contest seemed uptight, at times, pinning their hopes to the mood of the crowd, the vagaries of judging, the luck of the draw, the CrumbSnatchers—regardless of circumstance—seemed blithely immune to drama, just happy to be on the stage.

“I would never have expected to be playing on the Market Square stage [in the B.E.B. finals] with those bands if you had asked me last year,” says CrumbSnatchers frontman Samuel “Guetts” Guetterman. The ‘Snatchers will play Preservation Pub on Thursday, Oct. 10 in the downstairs Smokeasy.

“It was a great thing to have happened to us as quickly as it did.”

And by quickly, he means less than two years. Because it was just the fall of 2011 that Guetterman and fellow guitarist Philip Mosteller got together with bassist Sam Burchfield and drummer Matt Collins to work on songs together in the practice room/apartment Guetterman kept above his parents’ garage in Lenoir City.

Those first practices often played host to many of the group’s friends, local kids who dropped in to hang out and watch the fledgling outfit sketch out the details inherent in starting a new band.

It was fortuitous that so many of their pals took an interest, because those early practice-space drop-ins turned into a made-to-order fan base when the ‘Snatchers finally took to the stage. CrumbSnatchers shows never fail to draw a solid core of fresh-faced, pogo-happy F.O.C.’s (Friends of the CrumbSnatchers), giddy, early twenty-somethings who are almost as hyper-animated and enthusiastic as the band members themselves.

“By the time we had our first songs together, our friends were really anxious to see us live,” Guetterman says; he notes, too, that their fans’ enthusiasm has a galvanizing effect on the rest of an audience. “A few people dancing around and having fun is contagious.”

But the single most combustible element at any ‘Snatchers show is Guetterman himself; tall, stork-like, with a riotous mane of black hair and a joyfully unhinged stage presence, launching himself into songs like “Box on Cox” and “Zing” with a lunatic intensity.

It’s no accident that he’s such a kinetic presence. Guetterman says he’s always followed frontmen who bring the noise and draw mad response from a crowd. “I was a huge fan of Nirvana, and how they made such a ruckus when they played a show,” he says. “And I love Freddie Mercury, the way he ran back and forth across a stage.

“In general, I’m kind of a spastic person who loves to move around. And I have a blast playing our songs. When you see someone like that, seeing the happiness in the music is a lot more powerful than just hearing it.”

And there’s that root word again—happy—which seems to loom so large in the CrumbSnatchers’ M.O. Says Guetterman, “Those kinds of shows are the ones I enjoy watching the most. So it’s sort of a musical version of the Golden Rule—put on the kind of show you’d most like to see yourself. So we try to be happy, but aggressively happy. So it’s that way on purpose. And you leave feeling better.”

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