By Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa Correspondent
In the Spring I became acquainted with a London punk band called B-Movie Thieves (a really great band, I might add). Their manager at the time was a gentleman named John Clay aka “Clark Kent”. John Clay is not only a musician and manager of bands but also is a music journalist who “ambushes” famous bands and musicians all over London. Since interviews are often difficult to obtain (lots of red tape with management) I have to say I admire the bravado he has. He is out there with his trusty iPad, lurking around corners and alleys, waiting to pounce. His videos are often not only entertaining and hilarious but also contains a lots of interesting information.
Since Rock At Night often likes to offer a glimpse “behind the scene” in the music industry (check out a lot of our audio podcasts on iTunes), I thought John Clay would be the perfect chap to interview. Maybe it is time we ambushed him! Check out the dialogue below:
RockAtNight: I have seen your “ambush” videos and wondered how this got started?
John Clay: I was offered the chance to review some bands at ArcTanGent Festival in 2013. I took an Ipad with me and ran amok. Clearing things with management? Hell no!
RockAtNight: So you took matters into your own hands? Good for you! Are people startled when you approach them? Has everybody been cooperative?
John Clay: People aren’t startled anymore! No, now they ask to be ‘interviewed’ or try to get into the frame when my little techno monster comes out of the bag. Some bands are a little cantankerous. Fat White Family for example. Thank god they are. Makes things interesting.
RockAtNight: From a video perspective..yes…you can show who are nice and who are jerks. Do you have a background in journalism?
John Clay: I have no issue with a suspicion of my motives as it often helps me re-examine them or streamline my actions. Not interviewed a jerk yet as such. Still waiting! I studied Media Studies at G.C.S.E and A Level and have written about bands on and off since 2007 or so. I don’t think of myself as a journalist, at least not all the time.
RockAtNight: You manage bands, correct? Do you play music too?
John Clay: Currently I manage no one. That’s a result of some very recent ‘re-examining.’ My biog gets updated according to the ever changing tides of the scenes I document. I play guitar and sing but the channel I look after has taken over my life somewhat. YouTube has swallowed me whole.
RockAtNight: Yes, it is very demanding being “Clark Kent”. When did you start going by that moniker?
John Clay: Now, that’s a long story Chyrisse. It all started when I was in a band called Colossus. We all wore black till I decided that my skin colour didn’t afford me enough visibility in such dark garments. In 2007 I bought a Superman T-shirt … the rest of Superman’s attire followed swiftly! When I decided to write about bands it made sense to use Clark Kent as a brand to grab attention but less for myself/music. It’s all about ‘getting bands to notice each other’. As a faceless quiet videographer I could only achieve to much. But as a character …. well.
RockAtNight: Aha! Now, it makes sense! What type of genre was the band and what types do you listen to?
John Clay: Colossus was Nirvana but with loads more FX and my blues/punk snarl. And there was of course my buddy Rob on shared lead vox as well. He had a sweetness in his voice that I could only dream of. We were loud and over ambitious. Perfect really. I listen to anything that makes me wanna smash shit up. I really won’t though. I’m too English. I’d probably feel a little down if I knocked a glass over, know what I mean?
RockAtNight: Yes, tea and crumpets does make one a little feisty, hence, the need to cut loose. 😉 Are there any bands we should be watching or should check out?
John Clay: Oh! Soooooo many bands! Hotgothic (surely my fav’s to interview) use bass a drum machine and warped humor to make interesting observations about pop culture. If you’re a fan of Bret Easton Ellis then you’ll simply love Hotgothic. There are of course B -Movie Thieves. Please put a link of your interview of them in this piece? For the uninitiated, they sound like The Stooges, but somehow not. Cold in Berlin are another good band. Doom rock with a front woman who sounds like Grace Slick, but after she’s been living on a desert island with only Nine Inch Nails and Black Sabbath records. There’s Fur Cough, Mystified and a whole heap more. We don’t have all day though, do we? See why I do the channel?
RockAtNight: Excellent! We’ll be checking these bands out and of course, you know I’m smitten with B-Movie Thieves. Is there anything you would like people to know about John Clay AKA Clark Kent? Any upcoming news on the horizon?
John Clay: Keep a spotlight on ALL those bands please. They don’t know how good they are, y’know? And how could they? With mainstream platforms as jaundiced and blinkered as they are., It will only take one of them to ‘make it’ and the rest to follow I guess. But that’s just one avenue of goodness. So long as they all keep playing in an unaffected way and look out for each other then they’ve already ‘made it’.
Anything else to know about me? Nah … they know enough. Anything else on the horizon? If I told you I wouldn’t kill you …But you’d never be heard or seen of again!
John Clay: HA!
RockAtNight: Good think I’m here in the U.S.
John Clay: I have agents everywhere.
RockAtNight: We’re already wiretapped here!
John Clay: HAHAHAHA! The one thing I will tell you is that there is a music programme that allowed me to interview all the crew and bands on set. The vids will be up later in the year 🙂
I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. I travel between the US and UK seeking my dream! My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse