Thursday, April 24, 2014

Interview with Hamilton, Ontario's Hey Clown

Hey Clown in all it's glory!

Back on April 15th I covered Hey Clown's new self-titled EP ( Now I am honored to present an interview with this very cool, Hamilton, Ontario-based five-piece. For those not in the know, Hey Clown, who have been active now for 13 plus years(!), play a hair-raising blend of hard rock, hardcore and heavy metal that is instantly addictive and downright desirable in this day and age where false metal bands like Pop Evil  (sadly) get all the press. Unlike those kinds of gawd-awful acts Hey Clown's vibe is real and their music, incl. the new (free-digital download) EP, is rewarding! I want to thank the band for taking the time to chat with us and and I would encourage each and everyone of you to download the EP and spread the word about this hard-hitting five-piece! As always it is up to each and everyone of us, whether you consider yourself to be a casual listener of heavy metal, a real fan of the genre and it's various offspring or (like me!) a total FANATIC, to keep the scene alive! And we do that by supporting underground and indie acts WHEREVER they might be found! We do it by sharing band's like this with fellow heavy metal brothers and sisters and by going to shows and spreading the love! We're all one family so support each other and show bands like Hey Clown that they are appreciated and that we've got their backs through thick and thin! Right? Right! OK, enough of my soapbox preaching for the day. Here's the interview so read on and enjoy!

Andy-Thank you guys for taking the time to talk with us. Let's start with the band name and history shall we? Could you give our readers a rundown on both please?

Dave (Hey Clown' bassist)- I was sitting in a local coffee shop, as we did quite often back then, and it just came to me...Hey Clown! It had a certain ring to it. There's no real meaning behind the just sounds cool. The band started out being myself, Cody Morris and Mike Haines. We were just a band that jammed in someones basement until Toui Manikhouth joined. He was the missing piece at the time. We quickly became a pretty serious band (in our eyes) playing all over Ontario and even down to the states. Since day one though, the one thing that Hey Clown always lacked was that ever so crucial front man. We got by and had an absolute blast doing it. I would not have changed anything about it. These were some of the best times of our lives. Eventually life events got in the way for Mike and he decided that he needed to move on and leave the band.  After that the band kinda stopped playing. We maybe played a show a year just because it was fun to do. Several years down the road Andrew Rous joined the band. He has been a good friend of all of ours for quite some time so it worked out perfectly. He already knew the songs so everything came quite naturally. We ended up playing a couple of shows instrumentally with Rous and then Andrew Shaw came into our lives. We couldn't have asked for a better front man. He is everything Hey Clown has ever wanted and has exceeded expectations. We feel very lucky to have him.

Andy-Whose who these days in Hey Clown? 

Hey Clown-
Toui Manikhouth - Guitar
Dave Pettigrew - Bass
Andrew Rous - Guitar
Cody Morris - Drums
Andrew Shaw - Vocals
Andy- Talk to us about your new lead singer would you. You spent some 13 years looking for that last piece of the puzzle correct?

Toui - I went to college with Andrew and through similar interests and good vibes we became friends very quickly.  I always knew he had a very musical background; we were both involved in our own musical endeavors while we were in school and I saw him perform a couple of times.  At this point we (Hey Clown) had already gone through about 3 vocalists and Mike decided to take on a lot of the responsibilities of fronting our band vocally.  Time went by, we didn't play too many shows, and inevitably Mike left the band completely.  We needed somebody who would bring something completely unique that would compliment what we did with our instruments, somebody who was smart with their delivery vocally and lyrically, and more so just understood what were trying to do musically. We definitely got some offers from people to fill that position, but in the end it was when Mr. Shaw came into the picture with his genuine talent and background, we all knew right from the start he could potentially be our guy.  He started jamming with us in the summer of '13 but it was the start of 2014 when he officially joined and when we started to buckle ourselves down as a 5 piece to start working on our material.  It took him only 3-4 solid practices with us before we realized that what he brought to the table was exactly what we were looking for and within 2 months, he exceeded every expectation that we had for someone to take that role.  His work ethic was awesome and just how quickly he picked up on everything and how it sounded when everything all started coming together, it was surreal. The transition has been seamless and an absolute pleasure to have him play with us so far and I can't see him not being a part of what we're doing. As far as I'm concerned if it took us 13+ years to get to this point, then it was definitely worth the wait.
New lead singer Andrew Shaw attacking the mic!

Andy-Other then being "loud" how would you best describe the band's sound to those who have never had the pleasure of hearing you?

Andrew Rous- It's always hard when asked "what kind of music do you play?" I always default to "heavy".  While "Metal" or "Heavy Metal" don't necessarily qualify, it's also not hardcore or punk really.  But there's elements of all of those in there.  We have an aggressive sound. Loud and heavy.  Aggressive Heavy Rock would be my best shot at formalizing it.
Andy-Name game time. List your influences if you would.

Hey Clown-Sepultura, Refused, Slipknot, Deftones, Hum, Dillinger Escape Plan, Everytime I Die, Chore, Shallow North Dakota, Fiftywatthead, Kittens, Soulfy, Metallica, Iron Maiden, just to name a few, and that's just the heavy stuff.
Andy-Who are some of the bands that you've shared the stage with?

Toui-We've played with a lot of great independent bands but the ones that stand out for me are: Shallow North Dakota, Pureblank, Chore, Keelhaul, Fiftywatthead

Andy-What's a typical live show like for Hey Clown?

Andrew R.-It's a whole new creature now.  We just played our first show with Shaw this past week.  It was a whole new dynamic and we loved every minute of it.  He brought an energy that was missing before.  I can't wait for our upcoming shows because I know it's only going to get better and more comfortable.  It's a different show completely and I think people are going to dig it.

Andrew S.-Imagine a hydrogen bomb going off…then add a couple of high profile assassinations, mixed with random dance moves and a black hole.

Cody-A typical show for us is pretty sweaty and loud. We tend to be pretty high energy. It's hard not to be high energy when the wonderful people watching us are as well. With the addition of Andrew Shaw on the mic we hope to engage an uncontrollable energy out of our listeners.
Hey Clown tearing shit up!

Andy-You've been around for a long time now, but this EP looks as if it's you're first real recording output. Is that correct?

 Toui- This EP will technically be our 2nd release.  We put out a 3 song EP close to 10 years ago that was recorded by Chris Bell (Chore).  I think I can speak for all of us when I say that was our first real recording experience individually.  It was recorded on a digital 8 track at Dave's parents house in Dunnville, On.  We were pretty young back then and didn't really take the whole recording process as seriously and meticulously as we do now.  One of the songs that was on our first record (The Gardiner) we changed up and re-recorded for our new EP.  We also contributed a track called "Heavy Metal Vomit Party" to a compilation disc called Steel City Music about 8 years ago, and it primarily showcased a lot of great independent artists from Hamilton.  This new EP is a fresh start for us and an introduction to what's coming.  We have tons of material and now that we've solidified an official line up, we can finally start thinking about putting out records.

Andrew R.-This was my first recording with Hey Clown, and my first real recording session of anything.  It all went incredibly smoothly and I really enjoyed it to be honest.  I've been a close friend of the band since it's creation, and its great fun being involved with the band now.  But Mike was a great guitar player and songwriter so I had big shoes to fill.  These recording sessions sort of felt like a proving ground for me and everything went great and we are all really  happy with how the EP came out.  So I guess I'm safe...for now.

Andy-The EP was produced by Steve Haines right? How did that come about? 

 Toui-Steve Haines is actually Mike's (our old guitarist/vocalist) cousin.   He's a seasoned veteran in the Hamilton music scene and we've had the pleasure of playing with his bands a few times over the years.  He started to get into tracking and producing a while ago, and ran into Dave and Rous at local guitar shop and offered his services to us when we were ready to record.  One thing lead to another and he ended up doing these 3 songs for us over the course of a year.  He genuinely believes in us and he proved it by spending so much of his time on this tiny record.  

 Andy-So far Hey Clown has only released digital material. Are there any plans for physical releases down the road? Will there be other merchandise for fans to secure? 

Toui-Digital is much easier to put out and spread more quickly nowadays - which is what we wanted initially.  We've already started talking about our next record, which we will definitely release physically day one.  

 Andrew R.-We hope to have shirts and stickers or something real soon.  The music was just easier to release digitally and for free at this point.  We just want people to give us a listen and hopefully come back for more when we can get a tangible record released.  It's funny that in this digital age, as much as everyone downloads, you can't escape that need for the album in your hands.  I know that's generally how we all feel, so we are extremely motivated to get something pressed and in people's hands, and on their shelves.

Andy-That's really how I feel. I've got nothing against digital material (esp. seeing as that's primarily what I review on a day to day basis), but there's just something about the feel of a physical release whether we're talking about CDs, cassettes or (my ideal format!) vinyl! But anyway, on your bandcamp page it says that Andrew Shaw wrote the lyrics for the music. That sure sounds like it was a quick transaction from new member to head writer and then into studio! Was it really all that quick or am I just making it sound like it was?

 Toui-We started recording this EP before Andrew officially became a member; once he joined, he was aware that there were 2 songs ready for him to record, whenever he was good to go.  Not only that, but he also had a catalog of 17+ songs to learn.  As opposed to rushing things like we've done in the past, I wanted to make sure that we did it right this time - especially because I knew that we had something special with Shaw now in the mix.  We took our time with it, and so did he but everything progressed at much faster rate then we all originally anticipated.  I would send him a couple of mixes here and there for him, just to use as reference and he sent them back a couple of days later with vocal takes he did at home and a set of lyrics.  When it came time to practice, he already had material that he worked on prior because of the recordings and was ready to go.  His work ethic is insane and attributes to what we've been able to accomplish and why we've come so far in such little time.  The dynamic was right, our songs sounded completely fresh, we were a new band and we had a record out - from the ground up, all in about 10 practices.  
Andy-And speaking of Andrew, what's his background? By the sound of his vocal delivery this doesn't sound as if it's his first rodeo!

Andrew S-This is actually the first time I've been in such an "Aggressive" band. Growing up, I have always played in more alt-rock bands. I've always been influenced by Radiohead, Patrick Watson, Broken Social Scene, Etc. HEY CLOWN has become a completely new canvas. It feels fresh and alive, loud and catchy, a 
whole new experience, which brings out the best in what I would like to say to an audience. We all mesh so well. The veterans with the new blood. 

Andy-I could agree more! So, where can our readers find out more about Hey Clown?

Toui - The easiest place right now is our FB page.  We update it quite frequently.

Andrew R- Come to our shows!  Talk to us! This is the best way to experience Hey Clown and I would recommend it to anyone.  But also visit our Facebook, Twitter, and Bandcamp pages. 

Andy-That might prove difficult for me though seeing as I'm in Ohio! But man alive, if I could make I would make it for sure as your sound is killer! Given that, has there been any label interest shown so far? I would think that your brand of metal would have a lot of appeal!

Toui-No label interest so far.  We just focus on what we're doing right now and we don't take any help offered to us for granted.  That's the important thing. We're very appreciative of the smaller things people do for us whether it's making the trek to our shows, taking pictures, saying nice things to us, etc.  Music is a very tough market to get into and it's the smallest actions that can potentially reverberate the most.
Andy-That's a shame (the no label interest part). Hopefully that will change though as the word gets out about your band. With that said, any famous last words? 

Toui-Be nice to each other.


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