“You can’t ride off of a leather jacket forever,” claims Clay frontman Joe Harvey when Clash ring him for a chat. “I think so many bands come out and fluff it because they’ve done it too early or the songs aren’t good enough. One thing that surprises me is how many bands have everything but the songs – they’re more conscious of what jacket they’re wearing than having a good chorus. Image is a big thing for us, we want to be a visual band 100 percent, but we’ve always said you need to have the songs as good as the image or even better.”
Until recently the four-piece from Leeds, made up of Joe, his brother Jack Harvey on guitar, bassist Rob Gration and Danny Armitage on drums, had gathered and maintained their ascent solely, and even now with a freshly penned record deal with LAB Records, the band are still firmly in charge of their future. “We played Deaf Institute back in December and the sold out room was jumping and singing every word to the songs, I was speechless. It’s crazy how we’ve gone from writing lyrics on a page to everybody singing it that blows my mind,” says the singer.
Blown minds aside, it’s easy to see how the Yorkshire band have garnered a relatively large following. Sonically their music flits between electro-pop and indie rock threaded sharp synths and dense riffs. Lyrically Joe and Jack share the majority of the songwriting duties with influences in Mike Skinner, Alex Turner and Jamie T bleeding through. “I like very English colloquialism, very quintessentially British phrases and quite literal phrases. I usually write the majority of my lyrics when I’m drunk on a night out in Leeds, so it’s quite observational quotes that are written down in my phone as a bit of a note as to what’s going on around me,” explains Joe.
At the beginning of the year the quartet joined Declan McKenna on his UK which acted as yet another poignant moment for Clay in realising their ambitions as a band. “That was the first tour where we really connected with every audience, they seemed to really get it. When you’re in the studio writing songs sometimes you think a song may be too intricate and people might not get it as such, but I think people don’t realise how receptive people are as music listeners and music fans. It was the perfect fanbase for us, young kids who want to listen to good music and go for it,” he begins before addressing the band’s goals further.
“I want to inspire a generation, I want to be at the forefront of it. People are scared to say it, not in a way of, ‘I want to be like Oasis’ because that’s where people fall down. People are trying to regurgitate old music, they don’t aspire to write anything new and they don’t aspire to create new sounds. Maybe that’s why it’s taken us a bit longer than other bands because we’re set in our ways. One day people will get it and it will be perfect. Until that day we’re going to continue writing the same vein songs and it will work.”
What: Unashamed rocketing pop choruses with electronic waves and indie undertones.
Get 3 Songs: ‘Saint’, ‘6AM’ and ‘Honest’
Fact: Recent cut ‘Saint’ is a reply to previous single ‘6AM – “It’s the alternative perspective,” says Joe.
- - -
- - -
Words: Shannon Cotton