Winaschnitzel Nails the Triple Crown • Best Rock, Original & Alternative Band

After Stellar Showing at Review Music Awards, Winaschnitzel Contemplates Next Steps

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Review Music Awards,   From Issue 930   By: Jason Dean

26th May, 2022     0

At this year’s Review Music Awards, Bay City group Winaschnitzel didn’t miss a beat, picking up momentum from their solid 2021 awards showing when the band’s two founding members were recognized for their respective talents.  

At its core, Winaschnitzel is brother-and-sister duo Steven Schnettler and Shannon Schnettler. The pair started playing music together before their teens, with their first collaborations being worked out in Steven’s bedroom. Last year, Shannon landed the Best Female Rock Singer honor, while Steven picked up Best Rock Drummer

This year, the siblings garnered repeat honors for those awards, but the full band also made an impact, earning top fan votes for Best Rock Band, Best Alternative Band, and Best Original Band.

Over the past year, the band added David Clare on guitar and Conor Larkin on bass and background vocals. The pair’s contributions were immediately felt, both onstage and in the recording studio. 

“It was cool to go from a two-piece to a four-piece, with each of them contributing to the writing process of new songs,” says Steven. The band is finishing an EP of five songs, which will be released sometime this summer. David wrote three of the songs and Steven wrote two, with Conor contributing song ideas as well. 

It would seem that the band’s momentum was building for an unstoppable run, but fate never passes up the chance to throw a fork in the road. The first bit of news was that David would be moving back to Minnesota, where he had been living since 2015 before returning to mid-Michigan last year. 

Before his first move to Minnesota, David and Steven played together in The Seagulls, a tight trio (with Steven on bass and vocals and Chad Hughes on drums) that specialized in high-energy rock. On April 20, the band played a reunion show at the Bemo’s Annual 4/20 Bash, recapturing the band’s magic for one night.

The celebration would be fleeting. Mere hours later, tragedy struck when the Schnettler family home caught fire. A bunny hutch that was positioned next to the back of the house caught fire after the wiring in a heating pad shorted out. Within minutes, the entire house was engulfed in flames. The family, including Steve Schnettler, Sr., daughter Chelsea and her son Conor, all got out safely, but the home was severely damaged. The family has been displaced for at least a year as the restoration process runs its course.

Papa Doc Studios was a father-son project that blossomed into a full-fledged recording studio and rehearsal space. Housed in the basement, the studio was a labor of love that Steve Sr. started “to keep the kids off the streets.” The studio has captured many recording and livestream sessions – not only of The Seagulls, Winaschnitzel and other projects that the Schnettler kids were involved in, but also of other bands like Barbarossa Brothers.

“The studio and band room were created for my kids and their friends, not as a business, but a place where they could hang out, [keep] occupied and [have the] ability to create and explore their musical talent,” says Steve Sr. “In the last 10 years there has been a lot of talent in this basement and it’s fun and loud.”

Steven contributes much of his development as a musician to the studio space that was available, both as a player and a creator/manipulator of sound. “Studio magic” has been captured on many occasions over the years, “moments that would have evolved completely differently if not for the creative space,” offers the multi-instrumentalist/producer. 

Shannon contributes nearly all of the lyrics for the band. Through a stream-of-consciousness process that the singer describes as therapeutic, she professes, “This is coming from my subconscious and sometimes I’ll discover a deeper meaning when I listen back during our rehearsals.”

Fortunately, no recordings were lost to the fire. That includes many hours of recordings captured by Charles Williams, who honed his skills at Papa Doc Studios and also bequeathed his archive of master recordings to the studio. “Charles was a big influence on the success of Winaschnitzel,” observes Steve Sr. “I started running sound for my kids when they first started out on the music scene, but later after meeting and becoming good friends with Charles, I trusted that job to him whenever he could.”

The restoration company had the task of removing some 460 pieces of electronic equipment from the walls and studio and dismantling a web of more than 200 cables running through the ceiling. The loss will be covered by insurance, and Steve Sr. plans to rebuild the studio. But it won’t happen overnight. “It’ll probably be a year and a half before we can do anything in the basement,” he projects.

Funds received from lost equipment will go into “newer and better gear,” says Steve Sr. He’s not sure they’ll try to re-create the elaborate music video style lighting, though.

As for the band’s immediate future, they plan on doing acoustic duo and trio shows, with Conor joining the duo when he’s available. In addition to being involved in a highly in-demand wedding band, Conor has his own project, The Stevedores, which also plays throughout the area.

Before we end our conversation, the proud father makes sure to plug the June 30 Winaschnitzel show at Tavern 101, the Friday of 4th of July fireworks weekend. The group will be a trio that evening.

As for the aforementioned EP to be released sometime this summer, Shannon confirms the band has not decided on a title yet. “All the songs revolve around a theme of reflection, specifically reflecting on the self,” she says, offering a glimmer of insight into what’s to come. 

Look for Winaschnitzel to continue to bend ears and raise neck hairs as we anticipate what may be around the next curve for this compelling group. 



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