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Ferdinand The Bull

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Formed by Pennsylvania-based frontman Nick Snyder, Ferdinand the Bull is an indie-folk collective rooted in big hooks, carefully crafted songwriting, and a dynamic stage show.

Raised an hour from Philadelphia in Kutztown, Snyder later moved to Pittsburgh, where he launched Ferdinand the Bull in 2013. The band was initially an acoustic project, its songs punctuated by vocal harmonies, heartland hooks, and the influence of rootsy contemporaries like The Avett Brothers. Released in 2013, the self-produced Ella EP introduced that stripped-down sound, with Snyder handling all songwriting and instrumental duties apart from harmonica. The band’s lineup grew over the next two years, bringing a new sense of energy and dynamics to Snyder’s songs.

Things began to expand with 2015’s Amber Skies and the Evergreen, an EP that made room for mandolin, banjo, swooning strings, and thick stacks of harmony. Recorded nearly an hour outside of the city, Amber Skies and the Evergreen helped Ferdinand the Bull build its reputation as one of the city’s premiere folk revivalists.

“When we started playing in Pittsburgh, there wasn’t a big folk scene,” Snyder remembers. “If you wanted to play shows, you had to play in local basements. We were playing with a lot of punk bands and rock bands who had loud, distorted guitars. They’d finish their set, and then here comes this folk band with a banjo. We learned to be boisterous and to keep the energy up. We learned how to make people listen.

Days We Forgot arrived in 2016, marking the band’s full-length debut. It was followed two years later by Painting Over Pictures, an album that found Ferdinand the Bull expanding and electrifying its sound. Inspired by the organic folk music of the band’s early influences as well as the anthemic, festival-friendly sounds of Arcade Fire, Painting Over Pictures featured drums, a string quartet, horns, and electric guitars. The album spent two weeks on the NACC Top 200 chart with a peak at 130 and climbed to #8 on the College Radio charts, earning airplay on hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

Now a high-energy folk band for big stages and bigger crowds, Ferdinand the Bull hit the road, playing everywhere from Seattle to Los Angeles. They also rose toward the top of the midwest’s folk circuit, opening an amphitheater show for Josh Ritter one minute and playing alongside Rusted Root the next. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reviewed one of the band’s performances in Oregon, noting that the music “inspired non-stop dancing,” while Noisetrade gushed, “They craft some pretty musical magic.” Meanwhile, networks like the Discovery Network and PBS featured the band’s music, broadcasting Ferdinand the Bull’s music to a national audience.

Ferdinand the Bull continues to evolve its high-spirited sound with an upcoming EP. Recorded by the bandmates themselves and mixed by the Grammy-winning engineer Craig Alvin (Brittany Howard, Kacey Musgraves), the record showcases the sturdy songwriting that’s always served as the group’s foundation, as well as the adventurous arrangements that have transformed the group from a one-man band into something much bigger.

Mar 24
Ian Noe
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