Ferdinand the Bull was the first band featured in Adda’s Sunday Showcase series, a weekly livestream highlighting Pittsburgh-based musicians. The band, comprised of singer/songwriter Nick Snyder, bassist Jon Leff and drummer Pete Peters, formed in 2013 and has been playing the Pittsburgh music scene since.
Nick has always been surrounded by music his whole life. “We would always have music playing in the house or in the car; whether it was my brother running in circles listening to ‘Surfin Safari’ by the Beach Boys, or my mom singing James Taylor's 'Sweet Baby James' to me as I would go to sleep. I've been a vigorous music lover ever since I was a kid,” he says.
Nick started playing guitar and piano in the early 2000s and formed a band with his brother, Jeff. He eventually joined a group called “The Acoustic Roadshow” playing shows with them as he entered high school. He had been writing songs for years but was too nervous to perform them until he went to college.“In my mind my brother was the singer and I was the guitar player,” Nick says.
That all changed when he was a freshman in college and he recorded and released an album of songs, later asking a few friends to help bring the sound to a live audience.
At the time, Nick was an avid fan of The Head and the Heart, so most songs were inspired and built around vocal harmonies. He used to use those harmonies to hide his shaking voice from the crowd. Since then, they have played shows all over the country in cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Texas, Charleston, and Boston.
Ferdinand the Bull’s sound is intimate. It’s based in something emotive and real, “like you could hold the songs' hand, put your head on its shoulder. That's what I'd like to be. Something you can reach out and touch,” says Nick.
One of Nick’s first and most formative inspirations for songwriting is Elliott Smith. “Any song or album of his was a masterclass on composition and arrangement,” he says.
Smith had a tattoo of the artwork for the Story of Ferdinand, a Spanish children's book, on his right arm and it’s visible on the album artwork of “'Either/Or,” which is Nick’s favorite of his albums. This connection to Elliot Smith is the main influence for the band’s namesake.
Tuning into our Sunday Showcases gets you more than just great music. We pair every event with a charity or nonprofit organization of the artist’s choice; that Sunday was the Pittsburgh Food Bank. Whether it’s a livestream on Adda’s Instagram or a show around Pittsburgh, Ferdinand the Bull has some big things in the works worth checking out.
If you want to know more about Nick and Ferdinand the Bull, make sure to follow them on social media to hear more about new projects and any upcoming shows @ferdinandthebullband.