Music interview – Clay: ‘If we can sell out Stylus then the world is our oyster’

Clay are set to become the first unsigned band to headline Leeds University venue Stylus.
Clay are set to become the first unsigned band to headline Leeds University venue Stylus.
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When Leeds band Clay step out on to the stage at Leeds University venue Stylus in October it’ll be the realisation of a long-held ambition.

“It’s something we’ve been building up to since the inception of Clay,” explains guitarist Jack Harvey.

“Leeds is our home town so the shows feel like a special occasion anyway but I think we’ve kind of exhausted the Brudenell Social Club and all that. We wanted to make a bold statement. After the Stylus it’s the Academy then the Arena, so it is a big deal and we are really looking forward to it.”

It’s believed that the indie-pop four-piece may even be the first unsigned band to have headlined one of the city’s biggest music venues. “We did a little bit of research and we couldn’t find anyone else that had done it, so that is an accolade in itself,” says Harvey. “If we can sell that out then the world is our oyster.”

The Stylus show is part of a national tour for the band, who are steadily gaining national exposure. “The venues around the country are getting bigger,” reports Harvey. “We’ve upgraded in Liverpool compared with the last show we did there; we’re doing a bigger show in Birmingham. We’re doing shows in Glasgow, Newcastle and London as well. They’re all getting bigger and it means the world to us to see an actual physical growth.”

The band pride themselves on having a “tangible fanbase”. “In the day and age we live in there’s so many bands who exist solely online,” says Harvey. “You go on their Spotify page and there’s 32 billion listeners yet they play a show and there’s three people there. We’ve always aimed to be the band that has a real movement and I think that’s why our fanbase is so invested in us because they can feel the growth as well.”

It sounds a world away but we want to be the biggest band in the country or the world. I think that’s just how we are as people. I think our music’s ambitious and hopefully people will get it.

Jack Harvey

Clay set a lot of store in their live shows. “We are meticulous. We have our own lights rig which for a band of our size is quite ambitious, I suppose. I always say we try to put an arena-sized show in a small venue.

“We just try and progress, which I think in any art is so important. Not just musically but how we look, how we are on stage, the lights. It’s all got to be an evolution and that keeps people interested.”

The guitarist and his brother Joe, who’s the band’s singer, had a vision for the band from its formation. “Clay succeeding is Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. We’ve sacrificed everything else to pursue the band. You’ve got to be ambitious. There’s no point setting your sights low. It sounds a world away but we want to be the biggest band in the country or the world. I think that’s just how we are as people. I think our music’s ambitious and hopefully people will get it.”

Saint, the band’s third single, premiered on BBC Radio 1 earlier this year – “Which is a first for us,” Harvey says. “We we found that out it was such a humbling feeling. It kind of strengthens your resolve and tells you you’re doing something right when you get that kind of recognition.”

The band’s next campaign is “likely to be an EP, that’s something we’re working towards,” says Harvey. “We’ve been in the studio down in London sporadically recording quite a few tunes then we’ll pick the ones that we think are best suited to each other.

“We’ve been working with David Goodes, who’s the guitarist in the band Alphaville. We have such a great relationship with him. He’s got a lovely home studio so we just go there, stay in a nearby hotel and the magic happens.”

Clay play at Leeds University Stylus on October 21. www.facebook.com/clayweare

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