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A Dirty Dozen with CLAY MELTON – February 2023

| 28 February 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Blues-rock guitar prodigies are a different breed…especially those who have Texas roots. Johnny Winter… Stevie Ray Vaughn… Jimmie Vaughn… T-Bone Walker… Freddie King… Albert Collins… Billy Gibbons… all have ties to Texas, all of them are unique and all of them are legendary. Yes, it’s a bit too early to put Clay on that list but don’t be shocked if he carves out a part to greatness.  He certainly possesses the musical goods and talent to do so. Like his Texas guitar slinger forebears, Clay lives and breathes the fiery swagger of electric guitars and the irresistible allure of rhythm-soaked sounds. That’s Clay Melton’s musical calling in a nutshell. At only 27 years of age, the blues-rocker has already spent 14 years performing live. His powerful, raspy voice and searing, wicked guitar licks leave no doubt he’s grown up in the school of bar room blues-rock. On February 24, Clay will release worldwide a new single, “Alive on a Wire,” and follow-up on April 14 with a second new single, entitled “Runner.”  His new album will eventually follow in late ’23 or early ’24.” We get Clay to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

“Alive on a Wire” is definitely the ROCK side of our rock and blues sound. It’s about the good kind of crazy feeling you can get while being on the road, doing the same gig in new places with new people can be exhilarating. We tracked all of the instruments for this release ourselves at my home in Houston, TX and it was then mixed by our producer Sebastian Cure in Columbia and Mastered by Kevin Butler in Austin, TX. A part I really love about this song is the bass line that Zachary Cox wrote for the solo. It’s very melodic and works with all of the guitar and vocal layers during the solo really well and then him and the drummer, Zach Grindle, sync up in a cool way for the final hits coming out of the solo. Check it out!

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I remember the moment vividly; I was riding in my dad’s truck when I was 10 and he put on Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” and it just completely blew my mind. I became infatuated with guitar from that moment on.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Electric Lady Land – Hendrix, Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin, and Rio Grande Mud – ZZ Top. I know it may seem like a basic answer but this list of artists and album kept me fed inspirationally for years and catapulted me to all of the different styles artists I grew into later, before and after their times.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Buddy Guy! I’ve always loved his playing and style and we’re both from Louisiana.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Being that road life is a very constant motion filled with long nights and lots of interaction, I tend to be more insular at home. I love to read, get out doors and I spend nearly all of my time with my dog, Fender.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We’re a rock and blues trio from Texas with emphasis on the rock. We do it all live and loud with real instruments. Like ZZ Top meets John Mayer. Comparisons are funny always from the get because everyone is coming from somewhere different objectively and usually if someone goes out of their way to tell us that we remind them of another artist, it’s usually coming from a supportive or complementary place. Just please don’t tell us we should go on American Idol, it’s not our scene, haha.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Kyle our tour manager is usually the most talented cook in the room, the drummer Grindle is on the drinks, and the bass player, Zach Cox, or I are usually pulling one or two guitars out to help the process along.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Opening for Robert Cray was a special one for me, loved his playing when I was growing up.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The biggest ‘pay off’ to me personally are the live shows and touring. Learning and falling in love with my instrument and writing music was first but once I began performing it only deepened my love for learning and playing. I genuinely enjoy life on the road, including some of the struggles, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so. If I couldn’t perform music, I would definitely go into producing in some form or fashion, if that’s cheating and still consider being a musician, I think I’d take a crack at being an author. Not that I have a book up my sleeve but, like I mentioned, I love to read and I also love the fact that a non-fiction author’s entire career is generated predominantly from the inspiration and story- telling they create within their own minds. Of course, there are editors and publishers involved eventually but the heart of their work is fully insular and I find that to be a romantic way to live. (And you can do it anywhere!)

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’d love to be asked “how was playing Red Rocks last night?”  – and hopefully my answer can be “great! I got to jam with Buddy Guy!” The question I get more than any other is typically the origin story question, how did you start and stuff like that; which makes sense to ask and is expected but I appreciate it during in person interviews when they don’t linger too long on the beginnings so we can talk about the now and future!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

The music industry is not necessarily an easy industry to learn or navigate without learning some hard lessons. I encourage artists that are trying to start up to try a couple things: if you haven’t played live much at all yet, get as much experience doing so where ever you can. If you can get live experience by also being surrounded by players that are better than yourself, you’ll learn twice as much. Lastly, do as much as you can yourself. Both on the musical and music business side of things. Book your own shows, make flyers, invite people, learn how live sound works, learn how to record demos, just apply yourself to learning the fundamentals of being a self-sufficient band. You’ll learn so much along the way.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Would have to go back to the beginning here, Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix. It was the first album he recorded in his new Electric Ladyland studios. I’ve read accounts from some of the sessions and seen interviews with Eddie Kramer who engineered the album and I would just love to be a fly on the wall for some of those songs!






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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