The Henry Clay People Keeps it 25
By Lynn Lieu
So, you have a new album Twenty Five for the Rest of Our Lives coming out in June. What can you tell us about it?
It’s easily the record that I’m most proud of and our most cohesive in terms of sound and theme. We made an effort to ask ourselves along the way if this was a record that we have liked when we were teenagers. I think it is. I think I’m pretty tired of hearing records that I’m “supposed” to like and want something a bit more immediate.
You guys are also returning to your original lineup. What brought this about?
We shrunk back down to [a] 4-piece which is how we started off. It keeps all the guitars loud and the dynamic between the instruments is very straight forward. The lineup drifted over time but on the newest record we got present and past members to contribute, and it felt great. Our original bassist, Noah has one [of] my favorite tunes on the record. Unfortunately, he can’t tour with us so its not totally our original lineup but 75 percent. Our new bassist Harris is great and feels like he’s been in the band way longer than he actually has.
What were your 20s like? Memorable moments? Regrets?
Twenties are great and terrible and everything in between. I’m 29 now. On one hand we got to quit our jobs and head out on the road and make rock and roll records and see a ton of cities and meet interesting people. On the other hand we lost long-term girlfriends, strained relationships with band mates and friends, suffered some serious hearing damage and took some major gambles with our career prospects. So maybe it all comes out a wash. I do have a few regrets. I would have worn earplugs earlier on and I would have made a better follow up record to For Cheap or for Free.
I’m turning 26 this year and I hear that’s when it all slowly goes downhill. What do you think? Can’t we all just stay 25 forever?
Twenty-five is great because you are out of college a few years and have managed to get-by as an adult while still being able indulge in occasional irresponsibility. Nobody expects you to have it all figured out yet. I feel like hipster culture tries to preserve “25ness” forever. But I’m weary of what the long-term effects of that could be. I think it might make everyone too self-absorbed and skew our ideas about suffering. It’s ridiculous how little I have thought about the long-term. I don’t have an end-game. Maybe our parents were the same way.
You’re not too far away from the Inland Empire. Have you performed at Pappy and Harriet’s before?
We played Pappy’s like three or four years ago at my friend’s birthday. It was blast. We ended up doing two sets. One outside and then one inside ’til the bar closed. We faked our way through a bunch of covers that we half knew. Good times.
What can audiences expect?
I’m not sure. Some shows we’ve been on Blitzkrieg mode and playing fast punky sets. Other shows have been a little more on our heals and jokey and what not. I guess we can be kind of a moody band. At least it keeps things less predictable.
I have to ask: Have you met Stephen Malkmus?
I have not met Malkmus. I’m not sure if I want to. I think he’s a really smart dude and easily one of my favorite songwriters and I might want to just leave it at that. Meeting your heroes has got to be weird and confusing. Everyone’s just a human. I like to think of my music heroes getting bad diarrhea sometimes and when we experience that we are kind of at our most human. Malkmus, Springsteen, Jarvis Cocker all get the runs.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I think I’ll leave it on the diarrhea note.