The members of the heavy metal band Snow included current Murrieta resident Tony Cavazo, who hopes that the July 21 release of the album “Snow at Last” will bring back memories for those who remember the Los Angeles band of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Escape Music is responsible for producing the “Snow at Last” album. The album is not currently in local stores but can be ordered through www.escape-music.com, and it can also be ordered from Amazon or Best Buy.
“It’s our legacy. It really is. It’s where we came from. It’s what made us the musicians we are today,” Cavazo said.
Snow was founded in 1976 and broke up in 1983. Tony Cavazo was the bassist in the band which also included lead vocalist Doug Ellison, lead guitarist Carlos Cavazo and drummer Stephen Quadros.
“Snow at Last” is a double album. The first compact disc consists of 12 songs, seven of which were recorded but never released when Snow was together.
“They were just basically demos that sound good,” Tony Cavazo said. “We had a whole bunch of material that we never released. It was just forgotten stuff. It was just left under the rug for years.”
Snow’s self-titled extended play album was released in 1980, and the five songs from that album have been re-mixed and complement the seven new songs recorded in the studio. The second album is from a 1981 live concert at the Starwood nightclub in Hollywood.
“I’m really proud of it,” Cavazo said. “Hopefully it will do well.”
The album also includes photos of Snow from when they were together and the lyrics to the album’s songs.
“It’s going to bring back memories,” Cavazo said. “It’s kind of a nostalgic thing.”
The Cavazo brothers were in a band called Speed of Light when they lived with their parents. The brothers’ music activities had the support of their parents.
“It kept us out of trouble, Tony Cavazo said. “It kept us off the streets.”
The lead singer of Speed of Light left go to school, but the Cavazo brothers met Ellison and Quadros and formed Snow.
“When we were there, there were only a handful of heavy metal bands,” Tony Cavazo said.
The four band members lived in the same house, paying $340 a month for the four-bedroom home and pursed their music dreams.
“We had a common goal,” Cavazo said.
The house had a studio in the garage for practicing.
“It worked out really good for us back in those days,” Cavazo said.
Snow sold out the nightclubs where they played, but in the early 1980s, they were unsuccessful in obtaining a record contract.
“All the record companies were signing the new wave artists,” Cavazo said.
Snow played about once a month at Starwood between 1978 and the venue’s closing in 1981.
“We always sold the place out,” Cavazo said.
Starwood was considered one of the premier venues in Hollywood; the recordings from the concert there was so good that even 35 years later it could be used to the new album.
“It was as professional as you could get for that day and age,” Cavazo said.
In November 1983, the Quiet Riot album “Metal Health,” which includes Carlos Cavazo and on which Tony Cavazo also has song credit for the title track, became the first heavy metal album to reach the top of the Billboard charts and has sextuple platinum status with more than 6 million copies sold. Ratt’s first full album, “Out of the Cellar,” was released in 1984, peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard chart and reached triple platinum status with more than 3 million copies sold. The 1985 Motley Crue album “Theatre of Pain” reached No. 6 on the Billboard chart and has sold more than 4 million copies.
“We didn’t know that it was going to take off the way it did,” Cavazo said.
Snow is considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal music.
“We paved the way for all these bands,” Cavazo said.
The difference between heavy metal and hard rock is subjective.
“I wouldn’t say that Snow is a heavy metal act. It’s more of a hard rock act,” Cavazo said.
Cavazo was in Dangerface after Snow stopped performing.
“Everybody kind of went their own way,” he said.
The live portion of “Snow at Last” includes “What a Drag No More Booze,” which was not part of the extended play album. The song received the attention of Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow.
“Kevin liked ‘What a Drag No More Booze,’” Cavazo said.
DuBrow asked Cavazo, who wrote “What a Drag No More Booze,” if Quiet Riot could use the riff to that song. DuBrow changed the lyrics, and “What a Drag No More Booze” became “Bang Your Head Raise the Dead” in the “Metal Health” title track.
“It’s been a blessing for me,” Cavazo said.
Cavazo substituted for regular Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo for the first live performances of the Metal Health tour. “It’s really an honorable thing for me to be a part of that,” Cavazo said.
Cavazo joined Hurricane in 1984 after his stint in Dangerface. The band also included Robert Sarzo, which gave Hurricane one Cavazo brother and one Sarzo brother and gave Quiet Riot one Cavazo brother and one Sarzo brother. Hurricane broke up in 1991 and was revived in 2010, although Hurricane lead singer Kelly Hansen had replaced Lou Gramm as the lead singer of Foreigner so Andrew Freeman became the Hurricane lead vocalist.
In addition to being in Hurricane, Cavazo is in the Aerosmith tribute band Aeromyth and the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band Creedenced.
“There’s nothing wrong with playing other people’s stuff,” Cavazo said. “It’s a lot of fun, and those songs are great, too.”
Bob Nalbandian produced a documentary on the pioneers of heavy metal music called “Inside L.A. Metal” which was released in 2014 and featured Los Angeles heavy metal bands from the 1970s and early 1980s. The opening song was Snow’s “Crack the Whip.”
“It started generating interest in Snow,” Cavazo said.
Three record companies expressed interest. One of those was Escape Music.
“They specialize in signing bands that disappeared,” Cavazo said.
Escape Music co-founder Khalil Turk made Escape the preferred label for the new Snow album.
“We really liked his attitude,” Cavazo said.
Snow and Escape Music found sufficient material for the album without much trouble.
“We always recorded rehearsals; we always recorded everything,” Cavazo said. “I’m glad we did that.”
During the rehearsals, Snow figured out the best performance methods.
“That’s kind of what we wanted to do when we played live shows,” Cavazo said. “In the studio we wanted to keep that same intensity.”
Mixer and engineer Stuart White kept the masters in a storage locker all these years.
“They just sat there for years,” Cavazo said.
The tapes needed to be baked due to their length of time in storage. The tapes were sent next to a studio where their format was translated from analog to digital before the studio sent the songs to Escape Music for mixing.
“It’s remarkable how these tapes have survived this long and sound this good,” Cavazo said. “Escape really has done a great job. I can’t be happier with the final product.”
During the first week “Snow at Last” was released, it sold out on both Amazon and Best Buy and a waiting list was formed.
“It’s not a good thing, but it’s not a bad thing,” Cavazo said.
The limited release album is currently only available in the compact disc format.
“It would be great if they could do vinyl,” Cavazo said. “We’ll see what happens with it.”
Cavazo has read all the reviews of “Snow at Last.”
“The reviews on the record have been positive,” he said. “It’s looking pretty positive right now. I feel good about it.”
Nalbandian’s documentary also allowed the other band members to reconnect with Ellison, who now lives in Florida. Carlos Cavazo currently lives in Los Angeles and Quadros now lives in Burbank. Tony Cavazo has lived in Murrieta since 2002.
“We got the recognition that everybody forgot about,” Cavazo said. “It made me feel good to see that, to watch that film.”
Snow returned for a sold-out 2011 show at the Key Club in Hollywood. Ellison was not part of that concert; the lead singer was Freeman, who was with Hurricane at the time and is now with Last In Line.
Ellison will be with Snow for a Nov. 8 concert at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Hollywood.
“We got the original lineup together. That’s the cool thing,” Tony Cavazo said. “I think we’re going to sell out on Wednesday night Nov. 8.”
Snow may have a concert tour in the future.
“Everybody’s willing to do it,” Cavazo said.
Carlos Cavazo would need to coordinate Snow tour dates with Ratt performances, although Tony Cavazo noted that Vivian Campbell balances Def Leppard and Last in Line.
Snow signed a two-record contract with Escape Music.
“If it does well they’re going to want more,” Cavazo said.
It would please the Snow members.
“We want to go back to the studio and record some material that was never recorded,” Cavazo said. “I want to finish my career on a high note. I’m going to go until I’m 80, 85 years old, as long as I can play.”
Cavazo is now 62.
“At my age I can still do it at a high level,” he said.
That will allow for many more performances of Snow songs as well as releases of recordings from the band’s initial era.
“I’m just glad to share the legacy of Snow because it was a great band,” Cavazo said.