The brand new fourth studio album by celebrated independent blues rocker Claude Hay shows that he knows his way around a hook. Roller Coaster highlights Hay’s writing just as much as his unique guitar and vocal approach. His just-kicked-off album tour sees him hitting the Gold Coast in mid-October, and, like previous tours, will end with one lucky fan winning one of his handmade guitars. We chatted to with the multi-talented muso himself just before he hit the road.
In what ways does Roller Coaster express an evolution of your musical or lyrical style?
It’s the first album I’ve done as a band, I thought it was time to move on from the stomp loop thing for an album and not be restricted by having to stay in repeating chord progressions as often faced with when using a loop pedal. It was so refreshing for me to just let loose.
What came first for you – making the music or making the instruments?
I wrote a lot of the songs on the road over the past year or so just simply singing into my phone. I love writing whilst driving, I find it very therapeutic. Also I built a new guitar for this album called Jeri which is made from a Jerry can and has similar tones to a steel body resonator but a little different. So that did definitely influence a lot of the writing as well. I’m actually making another Jerry can guitar to give away at the end of the tour, to enter just go to website and fill out the form for free and you could win my Frankenstein…
How does the relationship between you and a self made instrument differ to that of one you have bought?
I definitely feel more attached to the one’s that I make but the main reason why I build them is to have a guitar exactly the way I want them, I put a lot of switches on them that really suit the one man band thing, I can go from a bass to a guitar to a piano at the flick of a switch. Plus it’s so much fun and extremely rewarding.
What do you prefer about playing solo, and what do you prefer about playing with a band?
They both have their benefits for sure. Solo you can change the key of the song on the spot, put different accents in on the fly and play it as long or short as you want. All the decisions are yours and touring is a hell of a lot easier. Band is fun because you’re a part of something, making decisions, hanging out with a good bunch of people is always a good thing. Musically there’s no limitations and more ideas can come about when you click with other musos.
If someone hadn’t heard your music, how would you describe your style to them and what artists would you use as comparisons?
Blues/rock/groove/funk hillbilly disco….Influences Ben Harper, Queens of the Stone Age, Parliament P Funk, Sly, CCR.
Where are some of your favourite places to tour?
Netherlands, cause the gigs and people are always great. In Poland the people are extremely friendly and it’s such an interesting place. East coast of Oz as well, it’s so beautiful, backing up the motor home at some quiet not known beach after a show and then waking up in the morning looking out to the ocean cooking a good breakfast is one of life best things…
Claude Hay’s Roller Coaster tour comes to the Kingscliff Beach Hotel on Friday 21 October and Advancetown Hotel on Sunday 23 October. Visit the website for full tour dates and information on how to win his guitar.
IMAGE (c) J & A Fotographie