The Sneaks Frontman Jay Lawson Like Really Loves His Beer

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(image: F.J. Hughes)

Jay Lawson, the frontman of Baltimore-based electro-rock band The Sneaks, is a beer guy. Even if he got signed to a huge label tomorrow, he’d reach for a beer to celebrate.

“Well, maybe I’d put beer in a Champagne bottle,” says Lawson, whose side project, cvltlife, with Center Stage sound engineer Daniel Hogan, is all about dance music. “I’d want to flow super hard with the Champagne, but when it comes down to it, I’m secretly sipping beer.”

Lawson has just come out of a winter of writing new material that he’ll take to the Baltimore—and D.C., Chicago and Detroit—stages soon. Until then, you can listen to cvltlife’s first track, “Fool.” “It’s about being too into having fun with love to nourish it and make it forever,” says Lawson.

We talk to Lawson about that thing we love to talk to people about: drinking.

On Baltimore Beer

“For awhile, the only thing anyone knew was Natty Boh, which is no longer even made here. It was kind of the prototype for Baltimore beer. But there are a lot of craft breweries here now; Union is, perhaps, the favorite. Their Duckpin brew is the one I’m most typically reaching for or some other kind of IPA with a little bit of bite.”

On Pre-performance Drinks

“I’ll tell you what I used to do pre-performance and what I’ve learned to do pre-performance. I get nervous, so I used to get to drinking as soon as I could. It would start with whiskey shots to loosen up, then I’d be sipping beer while we’re setting up, then maybe sipping whiskey through the show. … I realized I wasn’t as in control of my performance when I did that. So now before a show, I’m typically drinking coconut water, and then I’ll ease in with a beer. And then after we play, I have a shot of whiskey and a pickleback, which here in Baltimore is different because they’ll mix in a little bit of hot sauce.”


Jay Lawson likes to keep it simple with a whiskey shot and a beer. (image: EHStock)

On Picklebacks

“Again, I used to drink a lot of whiskey, but that love can go a couple of different directions, and sometimes it can go the wrong direction. If I have some with a pickleback, it’s like an exclamation point at the end of that whiskey experience, if you will. I’m not craving the taste of whiskey, because it’s not lingering on my taste buds.”

On Dietary Drinking Restrictions

“I myself don’t have a gluten intolerance, but a lot of my friends do, so I keep New Belgium’s Glutiny around the house for them. And then I have a do-it-yourself station with a little motivation. I like setting up a bar with a couple of sliced fruits and some mixers and liquors so guests can kind of explore. I’m fully into welcoming people into my home and letting them make it their own.”

On Pony Glasses

“It could be as simple as a big dude complex like, “Yeah, I got this huge hand and this tiny cup!” but I like pony glasses because I sip and refill and sip and refill. It’s a nice little ritual, and it keeps the bubbles fresh, and it makes me feel like I’m having multiple beers in one, like I’m getting more bang for my buck.”

On Being a Waste of Wine

“I trust when someone says I should pair a wine with a meal, but I feel like I’m wasting the wine. I watch people and I see how much they love it, and they know all of the stats like their favorite basketball players. But I’ll leave the Michael Jordan to the wine drinkers.”

On Drinking and Friendship

“I’ve got a good friend who started The Sneaks with me, Dylan Salmon, who opened an oyster cellar. It was a pop-up shop, so it was just a temporary location, but one of my greatest memories of drinking was walking into his spot when it was crowded. He had this smile on his face, and he was sweating and running around, doing all of the things, and I was off to the side, taking it all in. I looked over my shoulder and saw that he had a beautifully made cocktail waiting for me. I don’t even remember what it was, but it was delicious. I’d have whatever he’d hand me.”

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