Forge spoke to Joe from CLAY ahead of their show in Sheffield at The Rocking Chair…

How did you first form the band?

Me and Joe are brothers, so we naturally gravitated towards one another when writing to varying levels of success initially. Almost without noticing though, we had amassed this plethora of material, most of which was drivel, admittedly; but there was this one ‘Sun Dance’. We knew that song was special so we pursued it. Rob was a childhood friend who we had lost contact with for a few years, but was subsequently recruited when we discovered he was handy on bass. After auditioning several drummers and not finding ‘the one’, we met Danny at a house party and drunkenly invited him to a rehearsal the following week. He came and fitted in perfectly. We subsequently released ‘Sun Dance’ which was immediately picked up by BBC Radio 1 with Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens, and HBO American show ‘Ballers’.

Who do you take inspiration from when writing music?

Our tastes are almost consciously diverse, Jack tends to write the majority of the music and takes inspiration from a lot of hip hop stuff. Joe writes the vocals and thats kinda influenced by more 80’s style pop stuff. Inspiration is everywhere though, and sometimes certain words will evoke a feeling and become songs. It varies constantly.

Where was the first venue you ever played- what was the gig like?

Our first ever show as a band was a tiny bar in Leeds called Verve. In hindsight we were probably pretty terrible, but I remember at the time thinking it was great for a first show, and knowing that, despite being the only ones who believe it at the moment, we were onto something special.

Best gig you’ve ever played?

We embarked on our first headline UK tour in August this year, and we played a sold out show in Birmingham. We’ve played some huge shows i.e. Leeds and Reading Festival, Isle Of Wight, but to sell out a room full of people in a different city solely to see your band, is so special.

How was it playing locally over summer at Live at Leeds and at Reading and Leeds? How were they different?

Incredible, they’re both festivals we’ve all gone to religiously before we started the band, so to return to play them to enormous crowds is insane. We love it though and its everything we work so hard for, so it wasnt unexpected. Live at Leeds I suppose is a slightly smaller scale to the bigger festivals, but still incredible nonetheless.

What’s the biggest problem you face as a new band?

Its a strange one. Obviously, the world we live in now is interactive in every way, so even though social media can help a band in some amazing ways, it can also be incredibly frustrating. You get these sort of ‘virtual bands’, who have every accolade under the sun e.g. ‘global viral chart number 1 on Spotify’, ‘top of the hype machine charts’, ‘most blogged about band of the year’ etc. yet they never seem to play shows. They never seem to release music. On paper they’re the hottest artist in the world but they put a show on in their hometown and can’t sell ten tickets. Mind boggling.

What tips would you give anyone in a band wanting to break onto the music scene?

Never let anyone dictate your art. A fat middle aged man with a drug problem who lives miles away and has never written a song in his life, shouldn’t be telling you what music you should be writing. The best music is honest, innovative music, so try and hold on to that for as long as possible.

Next steps for CLAY?

After our December UK tour, we’ll be going on tour in January with Declan McKenna, and after that… we shall see…

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