An Interview with Clay Melton

0 0
Read Time:7 Minute, 36 Second
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thumbnail_Original-Logo-899x1024.png

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with the talented Clay Melton. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his newest music, his opinion of the music scene today, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

If you’re interested in learning more about the work of Clay Melton, you can head over to his website and dig in. Enjoy this interview with Clay. Cheers.

Andrew:
Clay, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Clay:
We’ve been making it happen! So glad to be back to live shows to some degree and to have finally released the music we created during the pandemic.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?


Clay:
The standout memory to me was hearing Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” when riding along in my father’s car when I was about ten. The sound of the guitar solo just blew my mind. From there guitar was my biggest interest.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences?


Clay:
From Hendrix I went back to the influences he would mention in interviews I read and footage I could find at the time. Players like Buddy Guy and Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, all the King’s of which I have to say Freddie is my personal favorite, although I love BB King and Albert King almost equally for their individual reasons. They’re all legends to me. I got into Stevie Ray Vaughan and Zeppelin not long after diving into Hendrix as well and enjoyed going back to their influences as well; I’ve always been a big music nerd. [Laughs].

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events first. Tell us about your new EP, Back to Blue.

Clay:
I had been preparing for the next record pre-pandemic and knew I wanted it to be more guitar-driven than my most recent releases. Songs were starting form and when the pandemic shut everything down last March 2020 I actually had just started to pen the title track, “Back to Blue.” The rest of the songs came together over the next year. I’m really proud to have gotten this record out despite the past year’s challenges and I have our hardworking team who helped put this record together to thank.

Andrew:
What lyrical themes do you tend to explore with your music? Is your music intensely personal, or are you only telling stories, so to speak?

Clay:
I like to keep some things open to subjective interpretation or leave enough relatability in a subject so maybe people can feel connected to the message as well. With “Back to Blue” and “Excuses” they both began as sort of lyrics addressed to me.

“Back to Blue” broadly speaking that when life is putting you to the test or you can’t seem to keep your head up or in the song’s instance, your lover has left you, maybe for someone new, when life has you down sometimes all you can do and maybe the best thing to do is get back to what makes you feel like you, in my case it was putting on some old Blues records and sitting in my feels for a while for a change.

“Excuses” was lyrically directed at myself surrounding the notion, “A songwriter only feels like “good” as his newest song,” and how when there hasn’t been a new song that you like as a songwriter for a while you sometimes feel a little bit of imposter syndrome on being an artist at all. So, I started out writing this to myself kind of in the vein of, “Come on man, you’re a songwriter, what do you get to say?”

Andrew:
How about the production side of things? Do you self-produce, or do you bring in outside voices?

Clay:
All of my songs usually start in a home demo format or are born from rehearsal jam sessions with the band. However, it is born I usually end up finishing the song fundamentals like rhythm and chords then bring it to the band to bounce arrangement ideas around.

For this project, we had a multitude of production teams involved as we recorded it in several places including two live cuts. Tracks 1, 2, and 5 (“Back to Blue,” ‘Excuses,” and our ZZ Top Cover of “Jesus Just Left Chicago”) were all recorded, engineered, and produced by Danny Jones (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Etta James, The Neville Brothers, Patti Labelle) at Across the Road LLC in Katy, TX.

“Say That You Love Me” was recorded in Aug of 2020 at White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas. We hadn’t been on a stage since the shutdown but felt like this song had the best energy when performed like a live cut so we hired Grammy award-winning Engineer Malcolm Harper of ReelSound Recordings to come out and help us capture the track which we made a live video for as well. Sebastian Cure Mixed and Kevin Butler of Test Tube Audio Mastered.

Track 4, “Texas Cyclone,” was recorded live as a three piece from an Airbnb living room in Austin Texas after a studio block we had scheduled got canceled the day of due to a COVID outbreak in the studio before we had arrived. So, we made the best of things, scrounged some gear from home and our friends in Austin, and went to work with the hope that we could at least get some good demos done. But with Sebastian Cure leading the way engineering and producing this one we ended up capturing some special moments that weekend. Sebastian has been a long-time producer and friend of the band.

All of the other tracks were mastered by Nick Landis.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? What are a few of your favorite albums, and why?

Clay:
Yes, I love vinyl! Cassettes were the first form of music I was left alone with. I remember my parents had a suitcase full of them when I was about 6 and I remember sitting on the floor popping in old Country and Classic Rock tapes. I started collecting vinyl more when I was in High School and still keep a stocked shelf or two under my record player in the living room at home. I’m a sucker for the physical experience of opening a record, reading the liner notes to find out who played what and where they cut it. And enjoying the songs in the order they were intended to be heard. I love it.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Clay:
I love my southern food. My whole family is pretty passionate about good. The Cajun side of my family knows how to make some great gumbo and I definitely spent some time during the pandemic trying to perfect my roux. I think I got it down nowadays.

Andrew:
In your opinion, what is the state of the music business these days? Should artists be hopeful? Scared? Both?

Clay:
This topic deserves a high-budget documentary. [Laughs]. Mostly because I think the everyday music fan might not quite understand how much streaming has exponentially hurt independent musicians and the industry. The monetary value of a song is nearly non-existent outside of licensing which is not as accessible to every artist the way physical format sales used to be to an extent.

But I think artists should be hopeful. Not only because I truly believe determination is a major factor to making it through this industry; but also because despite the reality that artists can no longer expect to make the same kind of income from physical sales, luckily the same fundamental of being a successful working band apply. Just got to get in the van and go play some shows and sell your merch!

Andrew:
Last one. We seem to be nearing a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of COVID-19 restrictions. That said, what’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world?

Clay:
Tour! We’re starting to fill up our Fall 2021 and 2022 calendars. I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ll be opening for Grand Funk Railroad at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas, TX on Oct 3rd. They’re Rock ‘N’ Roll legends and I sincerely can’t wait to share the stage with them. You can find tickets for that show, our tour schedule, and more at www.claymelton.com.

Interested in learning more about Clay Melton? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Social profiles
%d bloggers like this: