Monday, 30 January 2017

An Interview With CLAY ~ 29.01.17

I think it's safe to say that Clay had a pretty big 2016; relentless touring saw them performing far and wide across the country to huge, often sold out audiences- delighting fans, both old and new, wherever they went. A new single, 'Stay Calm!', was unleashed in April- and then came the release of a long awaited three-track EP 'Heaven', as well as yet another jaw-droppingly brilliant single in the form of '6AM'. The Leeds based quartet have proved themselves to be one of the most industrious and dexterous acts in the country at the moment. That euphonious musical brio that they've become known and loved for, plus a huge social media presence and following, has lead to an irrepressible leap in their musical careers, and I think it's only a matter of time before they hit the big time.

The band have just embarked on yet another UK tour, supporting the talented singer-songwriter Declan McKenna... and I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with them prior to their triumphant hometown show at Leeds' Brudenell Social Club...

How did it all start for you guys? How did the band first come about?
Joe: We'd all been in bands before... me and Jack are brothers so started writing together.
Jack: It was weird because I was writing with Joe, and I was jamming with Rob at the same time... so I was kind of cheating on them both!
Joe: Moonlighting, as it were...
Rob: Player!
Jack: And then we came together. It clicked straight away, really. We had the song that became 'Sun Dance' and that kind of moulded us together. That was the first release.

How long have you been together now? 
Jack: About two years, really.
Rob: September 2014 I think was the official start.

What did you grow up listening to and did any of that influence you to want to make music yourselves?
Joe: Definitely! All our parents played around the house was like 80's music so I think that brushed off on us. I really remember Rod Stewart being on a lot, and Duran Duran.
Jack: I don't remember being that into music really up until the age of about 15. I wanted to be a footballer! Then I realized that wasn't going to happen, so naturally I gravitated towards music. Me and Joe had always played the guitar and stuff.
Joe: I remember being in the front room with my mum and dad and they were like 'we need to get you a bit of a hobby,' and they said 'you either do jujutsu or play guitar'. I didn't really fancy getting my head kicked in so I thought I'd play guitar!

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about what you do; writing and recording a really great track, or getting to perform it live?
Jack: The whole experience in general, really... from starting to write a song in the bedroom, to having it sung back to you by 300 people in a different city... that's rewarding for me.
Joe: I think for us, what still blows our mind is going to different cities and having sold out shows... that's just crazy. The other day we were walking around Liverpool, having earned the right to be there... that's weird. We couldn't even get emails back from promoters to put shows on at one point, so to be selling out shows in like Cardiff is crazy for us.

Can any of you remember what your ultimate dream or goal in life was aged 10?
Rob: I wanted to be a pilot at one point.
Danny: Funnily enough, mine was to be a famous drummer. So that's that one achieved!
Joe: I think I'd just gotten into Beyblades at 10, so probably something to do with that and Pokemon.
Jack: Yeah, we were really into Beyblades. We had an air hockey table and we used to play Beyblades on there! We are the furthest thing from rock and roll...

Joe, Rob, Jack & Danny

Is there anything that you've done so far- whether that's a certain show that you've played, a particular track or perhaps something else entirely that you're especially proud of?
Joe: When we wrote 'Sun Dance', we knew that was the one to go with. Zane Lowe picked that up and played it as his last 'next hype' before he left Radio 1... and that had been on my bucket list since the start, really. We were in Liverpool, we'd just played a show for my birthday... we'd been scrolling through Twitter in the hotel room and realized that Zane Lowe was leaving, which we were pretty shocked about, and then we got a call from our manager telling us that he'd picked us as his last 'next hype'... we were just blown away.
Jack: That was a special moment.
Rob: Especially because the gig was so bad!
Joe: We were on before a Swedish metal band.
Jack: Two swedish metal bands...
Danny: A scary situation to be in when you're only 17...

Has anyone in the band got any bad habits that annoy the hell out of the rest of you?
Joe: Just being bloody legends all the time! We spend that much time together that I think we've all just ironed out our imperfections.
Jack: I don't think we have any bad habits, really. Me and Joe used to argue a lot, but I don't think we do now... or one of us will compromise.
Rob: We irritate one another every now and again... but it's all fun.
Danny: My brothers from different mothers!

You've spent a lot of time on the road in the last year or so; what would you say are both the highs and lows of touring?
Joe: The lows... your diet.
Jack: We've done better this time!
Danny: We haven't.
Joe: I think, in total, we've eaten about 600 Greggs' sausage rolls.
Jack: One tour we'll develop a bit of an affection for KFC... the next tour it might be Greggs. This time it has been Greggs.
Rob: Well for you two it has... me and Danny have been smashing a lot of curries.
Jack: We had a Dominos in Newcastle! But I do think this time we've been a little bit better... and I wouldn't even say that's a low point, I quite enjoy that!
Danny: Yeah, you enjoy it at the time but then the day after you just think 'I'm fat'.
Jack: The highs though... playing radical concerts. It's a bit of an escape from reality being on tour. It's such a great routine... soundcheck, play, eat some shit food.
Danny: I'd say the low is coming home.
Joe: Days off are awful. You'll do six shows in a row and get into the swing of it, and then you'll have a day off and come home and you get knocked out of sync.
Jack: The post tour blues are hell. I remember the first tour we did, when we came home I was at googling for open mic nights to go and do. We didn't do it in the end!

You've just announced your biggest shows to date in Cardiff and Manchester for later this year... have you got anything special planned for them?
Joe: We've been discussing it over the last few days actually about doing some pyrotechnics!
Rob: We'll see what we can get in on a budget!
Joe: We'll do something mad, but I don't know yet. We kind of need to really though don't we... there'll be 700 people in Manchester so I don't think we can get away with a flashing light and a party popper! We did think about balloons... but people are scared of balloons. I used to go to school with a lass who was scared of balloons. Someone bought a pink one in once and she started screaming. What's the term for having a balloon phobia? There is a term for it because I remember calling this lass it.
Danny: We're gonna do something dangerous. Fire... a lion on stage or something.
Jack: We might put you on a platform and just push you out into the crowd, Danny.

If you could time travel for a day, where would you go and what would you get up to?
Rob: I'd like to see what the dinosaurs were up to, personally. Human life is boring to me... I've experienced it.
Joe: That's very profound! I'd go back and see if Ozzy actually bit that birds' head off.
Rob: It was a bat, for a start...
Joe: Bat, then. I'd see if he bit the bat, because there's no footage.
Jack: I don't know where I'd go... I'm not really arsed with the dinosaurs though. I might do something heroic... go and kill Hitler before he got into power.
Danny: Or save John Lennon... that's what I'd do.
Rob: But it's the butterfly effect isn't it, so you can't. If Adolf Hitler dies then someone else will just take his place.
Jack: I'd take his place and be nice.

Finally... what's in the pipeline for Clay throughout 2017?
Joe: Get bigger! That's it. We've been working towards getting massive, and we're kind of on the first phase, I guess.
Rob: It does feel like the cogs are turning!
Joe: We kind of started with that August tour and set our sights on certain venues... then we moved on to the December tour which we smashed. With these May shows... if you'd have told us last August we'd be playing them in May we'd probably have laughed.
Jack: But yeah, we're just gonna get bigger.
Joe: Like Arnie did! He was a nipper wasn't he... and then he got big.
Rob: I don't think he was ever classed as a nipper. He was always rather large, wasn't he?
Jack: We've got some new music.
Rob: Oh yeah, that too! Write, record, release.
Jack: The new stuff is the best we've ever written, and we're really proud of it. We're buzzing to get that out.

Check out Clay and their latest single, 6AM below

And just so no questions are left unanswered...

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