Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Clamfight Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Well we had our record release show at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly, with Thee Nosebleeds, Wizard Eye, and Kings Destroy last Friday night and it was an absolute blast. We'll be in Connecticut and Rochester, New York in a week, and back in the Philly at the end of the month before playing "The Eye of the Stoned Goat" festival in Delaware with Iron Man, Pale Divine, Beelzefuzz, and a bunch of other excellent bands on Feb. 9th. Beyond that it's lining up as many shows as possible for the spring and early summer.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and how it differs from previous recordings?
We made a conscious effort to be more direct with the songs on "I Versus the Glacier" and to craft a more cohesive record than "Volume 1." We're proud of the first one but those songs were written over a period of years, whereas the window that we wrote "I Versus the Glacier" in was much tighter, and the songs that came later in the writing process were definitely written to fit what had come before. "The Eagle" was probably the first song we wrote for this record, and besides leading off the record it really sets the tone for the rest of the album-a main riff that's as heavy as anything we've ever written, screaming vocals, and a bridge that gives us license to wander a bit before bringing it back to end on the bruiser riff again.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?
On a superficial level the lyrics for "I Versus the Glacier" seem all over the map but it's an intensely personal record for me and most of the lyrics interrelate to the point where it's almost a concept record. Besides the wild card songs like "Age of Reptiles: Rhedosaurus" and "Stealing the Ghost Horse" most of the songs are are about perseverance in the face of death and how you move on after that kind of a loss. Whether finding peace through the sweat and ache of manual labor as in "Mountain" or buying yourself a few hours escape through Frank Herbert's "Dune" series in "Sand Riders" most of these songs are somehow tied to grief and how you learn to live with it. Essentially for a record full of pretty dark imagery it's ultimately very positive.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?
I'll let Sean handle this-Well, since Scissorfight was taken, we chose the next best thing. But seriously, to understand where the name came from, you have to get into the mindset of 4 guys in their early twenties who are constantly trying to one up each other. We've been friends since high school, some of us before that, and we've grown up together, both as musicians and friends. We like to make each other laugh, and when somebody threw out the term "Clamfight," I think it was Joel, we all agreed it sounded like the name of a metal band, and we made it so. At the time, I (Sean) could only make it home to jam once a month, and we knew it would be years before we could do something more frequent. We weren't sure what was going to come of those jam sessions, so the name wasn't of much importance. When I finished school and got settled back home, we actually had a handful of songs in the bag and we liked the direction we were headed, so we stuck with it. Admittedly, it may not have been our best decision as a band and since then we've actually kicked around the idea of changing our name, but that would be like admitting we're trying to accomplish something we're not. Since those early jam sessions, we want to hold true to the idea of great friends writing good music together but we don't want to take ourselves too seriously in doing it.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
Recently we did a weekender with Kings Destroy and Black Pyramid which was a great time. Great guys, great bands, and some pretty well received shows. Philly's always great because it's home, and when all your friends are in bands sometimes the only way you see each other is when you're sharing a bill, so Philly shows are almost an excuse for everyone to hang out as well as play a show. We're also really lucky to be friends with some incredible Philly bands and since we never want to have a bad show in front of our buddies when they've just destroyed the place, we tend to play extra hard. Beyond that we always love playing Rochester, Delaware, Baltimore, basically any place where people are willing to get in your face and bang their heads along with you.
Performance wise we value intensity over musical perfection any day. It's always a little odd to me when you see a band finish playing and it looks like they barely broke a sweat. I'm not sure I'd feel right about getting off the stage without being covered in sweat, blood, and with my drum kit any less than half destroyed. I'd feel like I phoned it in, and that's just not what we do.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the new release?
We've all got full time, capital "J" Jobs, so anything like a full US tour is impossible at the moment. However we love to travel and play shows as much as we can while maintaining rooves over our heads. I would say if you're east of the Mississippi you will have an opportunity to see Clamfight this year. Beyond that I wouldn't completely rule out a western US run at some point, it's just a matter of getting the logistics together.

7. The new album is coming out on Maple Forum, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?
We've known JJ Koczan, the Grand Magus of the and the Maple Forum for a years, actually since we were first starting out and playing shows with his old band Maegashira, who were incredible by the way. He approached us when we self released the our first record, "Volume 1" in 2010 , a record he pushed pretty hard through the, and since we were pretty horrible at self releasing that record I'd have to give a lot of the credit for getting the word out about it to him. When it comes to "I Versus the Glacier" he's been beyond patient and supportive, we really can't say enough about how much the guy means to us.

8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of sludge?
It's been pretty positive and we love hearing from people outside of the US. We sold copies of the first record to folks in Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, and the UK to name a few, and it really means a lot any time someone reaches out to us to either buy a record or tell us they dug it. We've also gotten some great reviews out of Argentina and again, we can't say enough how much we appreciate it.

9. Are there any other musical projects going on these days?
For as long my Clamfight schedule allows I'm drumming for two pretty amazing cats in Delaware who operate under the name of Heavy Temple. Speaking only for myself, I'd describe it as female fronted psych-doom and it's great stuff, it's an honor to be part of it. Beyond that Sean and I have had this long gestating fishing themed-hardcore band called Shad Time for ages, perhaps in 2012 people will actually get to hear it.

10. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
This is something we've talked about quite a lot recently and we've started easing our way back into writing mode. Things could change of course, it's always a pretty organic process with us but judging by what we've written so far, I think you'll see Clamfight getting back into longer songs and experimenting with dynamics more. We really set out to make "I Versus the Glacier" as direct and aggressive as we could, but on our next release, be it a split, ep, or full length or what have you, you'll probably see us going in the opposite direction somewhat while still maintaining that aggression.

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Honestly, Pink Floyd is probably the band we listen to the most in the truck, and by a pretty wide margin, and that's definitely a big part of why we're eyeing expanding our dynamic range down the line. Since the beginning of Clamfight bands like Clutch, Tool, Pantera, Sleep, Eyehategod, Crowbar, and Mastodon were all pretty influential on us as well.
When we were actively writing "I Versus the Glacier" Sean and I both swore off listening to anything current for fear of accidentally being influenced so I think we both missed a lot of great records that came out in 2010/11 and we're both playing catch up right now and digging the hell out of the last Yob, High on Fire, Red Fang, Hooded Menace, and Om releases, and obviously the new Neurosis record hasn't left my car stereo since my fiance gave it to me for Christmas.

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Sean and I are the resident rednecks of Clamfight, a lot of our non-music time is spent fishing, and I'm spending as much time goose hunting as possible right now. Louis is a home beer-brewing monster and Joel's our MacGyver car guy and jerky making wizard. Beyond that I've got a few short horror stories floating around on the internet with probably some more surfacing in 2012, again, depending on how busy Clamfight keeps me.

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview? Thanks for taking the time to ask a few questions and as always thanks to anyone who's come out to a show, bought a CD or a shirt or offered us a floor to crash on. We're looking to meet a lot more of you in 2013.

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