Michael Holloway
MKE Music

Snag Stands Against Cop City in Latest Single

Milwaukee band records song honoring individual killed protesting construction of new training facility in Georgia.

By - Aug 9th, 2023 01:45 pm
Snag. Photo by Ian Johnson.

Snag. Photo by Ian Johnson.

On Jan. 18, 2023, activist Manuel Esteban Paez Teran was shot and killed by Georgia State Patrol troopers, marking the first time in documented United States history that an environmental activist was killed by police during a protest.

Paez Teran was in Atlanta as part of the Stop Cop City movement – a protest against the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center – more casually known as Cop City. The proposed facility would cost $90 million and aims to occupy an 85-acre plot of land in the South River Forest, providing a training ground for police officers and firefighters.

Paez Teran’s voice was forever silenced that day, but the message they selflessly fought to spread lives on – through both the continued protests of Cop City and Paez Teran’s family’s fight for justice.

Here in Milwaukee, that sentiment is screamed loudly over feedback-riddled guitar parts, ominous bass lines and frenetic drumming thanks to screamo trio Snag.

This is far from the first time that Milwaukee screamo act Snag has delivered a politically-charged message with its music. Since the band’s formation in 2016, Snag’s lyrics have been riddled with words of climate anxiety and disdain for police brutality. Following the release of the band’s 2021 sophomore album Death Doula, fans have been patiently waiting for new music. So it feels almost like a rallying battle cry that Snag’s latest track, titled “Invasive Species (Cop City),” has been given a timely release during the turmoil of violence, lawsuits and investigations that surround the controversial training facility.

“Everyone wants to be safe, but militarizing the police and training them to look at a city as a place where they should practice and perform violence is not going to make us safer,” says bassist and vocalist Peter Murphy. “What kind of outcomes can we honestly expect as a society when we prioritize violence over basic human needs?”

“Invasive Species (Cop City)” unfolds like a harrowing battle taking place in the very forest that Cop City aims to overtake. After a brief intro riff, the song quickly barrels forward. Guitarist Sam Szymborski presents one of his most exciting guitar parts yet – a galloping lead is interrupted by an onslaught of tremolo picking that hits like a burst of machine-gun fire, symbolic of the literal battles being fought over Cop City.

The vocals waste no time in making Snag’s enemy known:

“The forest is a crossroads for thriving pests in Kevlar vests who bulldoze everything they see,” screams Murphy.

At around the 1:20 mark of the song, the tempo slows down and the instrumentation becomes looser – more chaotic. There’s a feeling of dread here – the combative emotions from the first quarter of the song give way to a feeling of hopelessness and frustration in the face of seemingly unstoppable adversity. An audio sample featuring spoken words from a Cop City protester begins to play:

“The more we invest in police infrastructure, the more violence will be required to prop up the society, and the more violence will be the only tool the society has for handling the suffering that undergirds it,” the protestor says.

This sample, splashed against the backdrop of Snag’s slow descent into an almost anxiety-inducing finale – one that becomes slower and slower until the listener is left to guess when the song will actually end – is the quintessential musical embodiment of Snag’s identity as a band.

“The point of our band is to name and give voice to anxieties resulting from the intersectional violence perpetuated constantly by contemporary American politics and late-stage Capitalism,” Murphy says.

Symborski adds: “Snag initially sought to use our voice to raise awareness around climate change and turmoil and it quickly evolved into so much more.”

And while the ending of “Invasive Species (Cop City)” is quite grim, the closing lyrics suggest that this isn’t the end.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” Murphy sings as a warning.

It’s a reminder that while this doom and gloom could be the outcome, it doesn’t have to be. As Snag so beautifully puts it in this song: “We’re learning to fight. We’re learning to breathe.”

One thought on “MKE Music: Snag Stands Against Cop City in Latest Single”

  1. Duane says:

    Mothers everywhere agree, “Don’t these boys know any nice songs?” Just kidding, I am not a fan of this genre but this song isn’t bad might even be good. (Just wish it wasn’t so “screamy”). I was curious to see if I could find any CD’s or vinyl online for purchase, no luck. Noticed they are playing Cactus Club later this month with other “hardcore” bands. I’m too old to pay someone to yell at me all night. (Again, just kidding).

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