xperimentation is nothing new for the alt-metal band THE CLAY PEOPLE. Over the years, the Albany, New York-based band has brandished a lethal sound that has incorporated punk, gothic, industrial, metal and even dance influences. Throughout the nineties, the band, then known as CLAY PEOPLE released a steady stream of material that showcased the band's adventurous musical spirit culminating in the 1998 album THE CLAY PEOPLE, where the band had shed the use of sampling and had become a full on, durable live band with the muscle to bring their glorious noise to the live stage in the most organic way possible. The change in approach was so profound the band chose to add a "THE" to their moniker. After the turn of the century, the band's output had diminished due to a hiatus brought on by other musical commitments and solo projects. In the past two decades, there have been two releases - THE HEADHUNTER DEMOS (2001) and WAKING THE DEAD (2007). Now, THE CLAY PEOPLE have come back to order with a new album that marks a "creative peak" according to the band's front man and founder DAN NEET. The new album is called DEMON HERO AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY PHANTASMAGORIC ANOMALIES AND FABLES, and if you haven't guessed by the title, this is an album with something to say on life and all of the highs and lows that come with it. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with drummer DAN DINSMORE of THE CLAY PEOPLE regarding the new album. Here is how the interview went.
DEMON HERO AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY PHANTASMAGORIC ANOMALIES AND FABLES is a fantastic album and now that it's out there, how do you feel about the finished work?
It's good to see it actually come to fruition and be able to share it with the people who have been longtime fans of our music and to new people who are just now being turned on to the band. I'm just kind of eager and excited and happy that a new album by THE CLAY PEOPLE is going to be out. We're just really excited!
CHECK OUT THE MUSiC VIDEO FOR COLOSSUS!!!
I love the music video for COLOSSUS!
Yeah, the reaction has been surprising. We've done a lot of music videos that are already in the can. This was one that we had done during our first warm up show where we had taped a few songs. When we brought the album to the radio folks, we asked them what they thought should be the song that breaks the album out of the gate and they said COLOSSUS. I was like "really?" I didn't think that at all! I was just kind of surprised because the song is kind of cheeky but as the video was being put together, it just kind of made sense to me. At the production studio here, we were brainstorming and just thought that the GODZILLA idea was a good one because we all grew up on that kind of stuff. Putting that stuff into the video was fun and it actually spawned an idea for the second music video. With the live shots from that video, we are putting together the music video for the song NOW and the chorus in that song is about needing a hero, so there is a little bit of a political statement in that one, but it's also about everyone needing a hero. So we're going to be taking that concept and applying it to that video. Instead of GODZILLA, the motif will be the early stages of superheroes and that type of thing. After we had put the COLOSSUS music video out it was kind of surprising how quickly people dug it and how new fans have spawned because of it after a week or so. It's really nice to see something very positive take off that quickly.
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And talk about what went into the production of DEMON HERO.
We worked on it here at OVERIT which is my company. We have a large production facility with a recording studio. Basically, it was myself and BRIAN McGARVEY who produced the record and then we worked with a slew of people and various engineers for the tracking of it. We went back and did alot of mixing and worked with various engineers on that front and got samples form all sorts of different types of engineers. It just made sense for us to go back and work with this one one engineer named NEIL KERNON who mixed the record. We had worked with him on our self titled album and I worked with him numerous times on numerous things. For us, he's like another member of the band. He's just a part of who we are. It was just natural to use NEIL who did a great job and had to deal with me throughout that process. The recording of the album was done here at OVERIT with our staff and engineers. It was a good experience.
How is this album different from the band's previous releases?
I think we all went and did other things for a while. I think we kind of got to understand what THE CLAY PEOPLE is and what it meant to all of us. This time around, I think we had a very deep organic understanding about ourselves when we went in to do this, and as musicians, we didn't have anything to prove. There was no kind of industry pressure on us to get this thing done. It was more about wanting to create a really good THE CLAY PEOPLE record that was moving forward and not recreating anything and would allow us to grow and expand ourselves as writers and musicians. I think it was just very comfortable and the biggest difference was that it wasn't about worrying over whether it would sell or if the record company would like it. It was just about wanting to create the music that represented us and everyone was on the same page. That was what made it different.
What inspired this set of songs?
A lot of things. Life experiences have definitely inspired it. I think trial, tragedy and the different, strange anomalies that have happened to the band, as well as some very dark things that have happened to the members of the band. Life experience has really fueled the music and also the circumstances that we are surrounded by and living through these times that we are living in. There are not a whole lot of people going out there and doing new good rock music or hard rock or metal. There are a lot of good metal bands but I don't think that there is a lot of appreciation for it like there was back in the day. Another thing that has inspired the music is that data is coming at us a lot quicker these days than it was when in the past. When I was growing up, I knew every name of the guy in the band. I knew every song and I listened to the whole record. Hell, I probably knew where every member of the band lived. Nowadays, data is coming at you so fast that the appreciation for things and the attentiveness to something doesn't exist. Younger folks just aren't able to get that. It's not something you are used to these days. So we just wanted to make a great record. We weren't writing an album to house a perfect single. We just wanted to create a great CLAY PEOPLE record and I think at the end of the day we had some unfinished business, as a band, to take care of.
Talk about the other members of the band and what it is that you think each of them brings to the table that makes this thing work.
BRIAN McGARVEY is the guitar player. He brings a whole different type of perspective. He's very worldly and very aware of what's going on. He is also someone who brings a great calmness to the project and he's an amazing guitar player. He's very creative. He is always about pushing boundaries and continually moving forward and continually working on our craft. He is not the kind of person that is going to be satisfied. Even as we release this album, he is wondering when we are going to be releasing more material. He is constantly writing. DAN NEET is the vocalist. He is a founder of the band and he is probably one of the most unique singers, writers and front men that I've ever had the opportunity to play with. He is his own person. There is nobody like him. Nobody writes like him and nobody performs like him. When I get the chance to play with some one like that, it is very reminiscent of when you see someone exceptional like the first time you see PERRY FERRELL or the first time you hear RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE or LED ZEPPELIN. He just has that thing. It's always like a deer in headlights when you hear his lyrics and it just works out. He is the driver behind the band. We also have some newer members in the band. VEGAS NACY has come in and does a lot of background singing and he also performed on the record. He is just a great show man and driver and he's just a hugely positive person who is a great morale booster for the band. ERIC BRAYMER the bass player has been with the band for this record. We had a lot of different musicians play on the record, but ERIC has just been a buddy of mine. We've recorded records together. He is another person that brings a sense of excitement and calm to the band and then we have JARED WEED. He is the newest member of the band and what he brings is his expertise. He is a master of guitar and he also comes from this very heavy brand of music and it's like a shot in the arm. It's just nice to have somebody like that in the band. He's just so precise. It's an all around really positive, good unit.
How does songwriting get accomplished within this band?
In multiple ways. Typically, in the case of this album, BRIAN would come in with a riff and I would come in with some drum ideas. DAN would also come in with some lyrical concepts and beats because he comes from a very different type of musical influence. Usually it is BRIAN and I coming up with lyrical ideas and riffs and he and I would play and start working on things. When we would take it to the studio, is when I would start manipulating and crafting and expanding on the songs. There is also a guy by the name of MIKE GUZZARDI who will always be a big factor in this band. He helps us to dig deep into the song and come up with some different ideas. They might not be one-hundred percent completed songs. Typically BRIAN will come in and have a song that goes on for twenty-six minutes. It's really about feel. We have a lot of jamming that happens in this band. I know that is kind of corny and cliched but the band is best when we're jamming and hitting those magical moments and trying to capitalize on those.
With that being said, what songs off of the album have you been the most excited to get people to hear and why?
That's a really good question! There are a few. I think UTOPIAN LIE stands out because of its statement and what it has to say. It's a very well crafted song and I'm anxious to see how people take to that one. I believe BLOOD LETTER is probably my favorite song. Lyrically, it's just real. THE CLAY PEOPLE have touched a chord with people that have experienced not being the most popular person or have been put down and told that they can't do something. The music has spoken to people who are not super confident in themselves and I think that BLOOD LETTER digs really deep and its a very transparent outlet. There are some great performances in that song. GENRX is another favorite of mine, but I think it might go over people's heads. I grew up playing various different types of music - everything from ZAPPA to BUDDY RICH to MOTOWN. I got an opportunity to do a sequence in that song from a percussive standpoint that was an ode to the drummers. I love players like STEVE PERKINS and JOHN BONHAM and DANNY CAREY of TOOL but it also incorporates some LOUIE BELSON and BUDDY RICH influences. It was an interesting mix of progressions that were used in that song and I think that the song and the message is really good. I like them all really.
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You sort of answered my next question with that answer, but just to expand on it, what influenced you to get behind the drum kit?
Yeah. I know it's cliche but I'm not going to avoid it. JOHN BONHAM was definitely an influence, but there were some odd ones for sure. I was a big STAN LYNCH fan and he didn't get to record on half of the TOM PETTY records. There are a lot of varying influences. I think the influences were more musical influences as opposed to simply a drummer. When I started playing music, I started playing JACKSON 5 records and from there, it went on to things like IRON MAIDEN and RUSH and all of that stuff. It's all about people that get you motivated into making music and shoot that adrenaline into your arm when you hear them or see them or watch them play. It might not have been from a technical perspective but I think it's like an injection that gets you excited to play. STEVEN PERKINS did that for me. He made me excited to get back into it as well as DANNY CAREY from TOOL. It was very exciting for me. So there have been a lot of different types of musical influences. It's something I'm very passionate about.
With DEMON HERO, what is the big idea? What would you like for people to come away with after they hear it?
Just that THE CLAY PEOPLE are kickass! It's a serious band and this is new and that we've progressed and hopefully this is the best record of ours to date. Hopefully it is something that affects them emotionally and that it strikes a chord with them. That is really the essence of THE CLAY PEOPLE - the music affects the people that are really into it. It rings true with them. The people who listen to us are really die-hard fans and I hope that that will grow into a whole other audience and I hope that they walk away feeling like there is a lot more that this band can offer them. I hope they walk away wondering what we're going to do next.
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