An Interview with Clay Melton
By Andrew Daly
The modern blues rock scene is bristling with new and invigorating talent. Indeed, if you’re a fan of the guitar as it pertains to classic-styled blues, with just a hint of modern touches, to be sure, Clay Melton is for you.
With licks for days and the soul to back it up, Melton has been barnstorming stages for the past several years to fanfare on and off the stage. Sure, Melton can swagger and sway with the best of ’em, and his talent is readily apparent, but few have the songsmith that the young six-stringer seems to possess.
To that end, Melton has new music afoot, with “Alive on a Wire, and “Runner” proving to be still more outstanding music by way of the young prodigies’ prowess. But what’s most existing is that Melton and his band are hitting the road, visiting as many cities and stages that will have them. So, if you’ve not taken the journey, consider this your call to arms.
As he prepares to hit the road, Clay Melton dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to talk history, guitar, songwriting, new music, and a whole lot more.
What can you tell me about your latest music?
The latest music has been a lot of fun to make. I think the recent releases really show the different directions we’ve been leaning toward as a group.
How have you progressed from your last record? What does the current approach look like from a compositional standpoint?
Our latest single, “Alive on a Wire,” and our next release coming April 14th, “Runner,” are both our first releases since our last album in 2022, Live in Texas. We’ve taken a DIY approach to recording our new music by doing all of our tracking at my home in Houston, Texas, and working with our producer and mixing engineer, Sebastian Cure of Peregrino Media Studio in Barranquilla, Columbia, remotely. The band and I have really been enjoying the workflow of recording ourselves, and I think these two latest singles are a great representation of both ends of the band’s sonic spectrum of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and roots music.
Are you more comfortable in the studio or live?
I enjoy them both for different reasons. The feeling of playing live is something that is hard to replicate elsewhere in my experience. Studio projects are more of a labor of love and exploration that has the means to be shared with others. Alternatively, the live show, for me, is all about creating moments that connect everybody on stage and in the room.
Some have said rock is dead. Where do you stand on that notion?
I’m not worried at all. I think people will always gravitate towards watching people with instruments in their hands doing the ‘real thing’ and making it happen inside of a moment. There’s no greater thrill, in my opinion, as a concertgoer. These roots genres are timeless regardless of the style of popular music because of that aspect, I think.
What are some things you know now that would have been helpful in your earliest days?
Well, there’s certainly no set “path” for creating a career in the music industry, but I think many of the lessons we’ve learned have all reinforced something that I think the band has understood from the get. This is the fact that the fundamentals of being a working band still show results in sharing your music with the world and creating a fan base. I always encourage artists who are ready to bring music to the world to get out and play as much as they can as early as possible. I think life experience and playing with new crowds help inform what works and what doesn’t for an artist in a very clear sense.
What are some of the hardest things about making new music for a low attention span world?
I think the best way for me to approach writing and creating music is to not let too many outside factors in at the jump of a new idea. Just create and worry about the world later. Although when a song has made it past the band rehearsal test, and we get into the final days of a new track, I’ve definitely found myself editing out longer sections that I feel don’t uplift the entire idea or that might bore an audience if it’s not necessary to the song. It’s always an objective and new conversation for each and every song. They’re all unique processes in origin, and that’s something I love about songwriting.
How has your overall approach evolved from your younger years? Do you have any cringe factor when listening to older work?
Of course! I might cringe at voice memo ideas I recorded last week [Laughs]. I think being a healthy self-critic and being able to self-edit is a huge part of improving my songwriting. Part of what lets that happen is being ok with imperfections and simply chasing the idea first. That’s why children often have great attitudes and results when learning instruments or new skills; they’re not afraid of being judged or doing poorly and will persist through those beginning stages with confidence that allows them to have fun before they’re proficient. The same mindset goes a long way when it comes to creating!
What’s next for you in all lanes?
We’re on the road all over the US this year! Kicking off the next tour on April 23rd at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, then we’re off to the east coast for the “Alive on a Wire” spring tour starting in VA, MA, NY, and PA. All tour dates and music can be found at www.claymelton.com.
Clay Melton: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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