the land down under comes organist / vocalist Clayton Doley and
his sensational 2012 CD entitled Desperate Times.
These are in fact desperate times yet Claytons 9 track CD
is so much fun you wont feel desperate after rocking out with
his album. In his list of musical influences Clayton cites great organ
icons like Booker T. Jones, Brian Auger and Billy Preston and you
can bet that those guys would like Claytons approach to rootsy
jazzy pop. Interesting that Clayton was actually invited to Toronto
Canada by singer-songwriter Harry Manx and the whole album was in
fact recorded in Toronto. In addition to Claytons soulful singing
and B3 organ work, Desperate Times features some killer, near
Clapton-esque electric guitar work from Champagne James Robertson,
with Clayton also getting backed up by solid drumming from Davide
Di Renzo. Liner notes shed some light on Clayton's musical mission
here. Most of the originals click and theres some fine covers
of Seventh Son and Chicken Shack to help firm
up Claytons blues cred. Desperate Times is a fine pick
for jazzers and blues buffs who like to rock out. www.ClaytonDoley.com
mwe3.com presents an interview
Whats the story of Desperate Times, where and when was
the music written and recorded and what does the meaning of
the title track say to you? Seems like a really perfect song for this
time in history. You really nail it.
CLAYTON DOLEY: The album for me is like a postcard to myself,
its the musical memories from a great year spent abroad. My
wife and I decided to leave Australia and experience a change of scene
before having a child so we packed up and moved to Toronto, Canada.
I soon started playing every Tuesday evening at the Orbit Room, a
great club with a house Hammond B3 organ. The club owner invited many
of the amazing local musicians to join me each week so I met some
of the best players early on. We used these gigs to work up some songs
that I had previously written in Sydney. We also worked on some new
material together as well as jamming on some old favorites and standards.
It was at the end of all those Tuesday nights and near the end of
our time in Toronto that we went into the studio and cut the album.
As for the title track Desperate Times, it is basically
a common blues theme of loss and ruin but it began when I realized
after living in Toronto for a few months, that I started noticing
and recognizing the same homeless people on the streets just as I
had in Sydney a few months before. It made me think about how it only
has to take a few bad breaks and wrong decisions for your world to
start turning upside down. Especially in our current economic climate
it seems bad luck can happen anywhere at anytime to anyone.
mwe3: Whats the music world like in Australia these days
and how does it feel to put your music out there on the world market?
It certainly sounds like you have a lot of bases covered on the CD,
from blues to rock and instrumental jazz. How do you balance such
a wide musical mix? How have the Australians responded to the Desperate
Times CD and what are you hoping that people will come away with
DOLEY: In North America and Europe the population is so huge that
it seems like you can make a good living specializing in one niche
market if you want to. In Australia however, the market is relatively
small so many musicians find they have to diversify to survive. So
with that Australian spirit, I wanted to include a wide mix of styles
that I like playing but focusing in on the common threads and still
have a cohesive album. The organ trio format is such a distinctive
sound that it is perfect for blending genres. I have probably brought
in more styles than most but it just felt right to do so. I found
that because the other two musicians on the album have their own unique
styles that their involvement in the project was also a unifying factor.
Another point of difference with this album was including some cover
tunes. Up until now I have only released original material but for
this album I wanted to also include some cover songs that I have lived
with and have been playing my whole life. The result is very personal
for me but hopefully for the listener it is an interesting journey.
To my knowledge no one has made an album quite like this that broaches
current topics with modern pop sensibilities but still working within
a very retro format, that may be a contributing factor to the modest
success and critical acclaim that it has been receiving. I have been
amazed by the response in the blues community around the world, radio
DJs have been playing it a lot and it has been in the charts
for some time now, that feels fantastic.
mwe3: Whats your musical background like? Where and when
did you grow up and what were your earliest musical influences and
when did you start studying music? Who were your favorite artists
and albums when you were growing up.
DOLEY: I grew up in a small city called Adelaide in South Australia.
My parents were not musicians but we had a piano in our house so I
started tinkering from an early age. I would try to copy what I heard
from my parents 1950s and 60s rock and roll records and
later the blues of Muddy Waters and Otis Spann. In my teens I joined
some local blues bands where I was always the youngest and worst member.
That was the best way to learn quickly, throw your self in the deep
end and see if you sink or swim. Luckily I swam and I kept on improving
and joining better bands over the years. With the guidance of the
older musicians and the new records I was discovering like Jimmy Smith
and Donny Hathaway, I taught myself over time how to play and write
blues and jazz and soul music.
I was 16 years old when I started to do professional gigs around Adelaide.
It was an exciting time, still in school and playing gigs, getting
smuggled into to venues by my band mates because I was under aged.
Then at 18 I moved to Sydney to try my luck in the big city. I am
glad I did because almost as soon as I arrived I began playing with
some of the biggest names in Australia. These days I am still trying
to find the right balance of working with touring acts, playing on
other artists records and recording and playing my own music.
mwe3: Can you say some about about your gear, what keyboards
and other gear do you use on Desperate Times and whats
the chemistry like between you and the other players on the CD? What
guitars are you featuring on the CD?
DOLEY: The guitars on the album are from the fabulous Fender Telecaster
playing of Champagne James Robertson. He comes from an
alt-country background but he can play pretty much anything, so he
brought some really fresh ideas and new perspectives to my material.
He was the right man for the job because when I was thinking about
the sound I was trying to achieve for Desperate Times, I knew
I wanted it to be an organ trio record but I wanted it to be different
and edgy. I wanted to avoid the usual safe wooly jazz guitar tone
that almost all organ trio records have and find a guitarist who could
play blues and jazz but not play standard licks with a standard tone.
The amazing Davide Di Renzo played the drums on the album, he plays
with some of the biggest names in Canada and yet he is really down
to earth. I loved his positivity and his extremely lyrical and musical
approach to the drums. The chemistry had to be right between the musicians
as some of the music has extended jams, so I picked musicians not
just for their talent but also for their personality. We had a great
time playing with each other, not only in the studio but at also at
live gigs and hopefully you can hear that fun in our performance on
As for my instruments, I play the Hammond B3 organ and its
bass pedals on this album but in general I play and collect all sorts
of vintage keyboards. I have a large storage unit full of keyboards
and gear such as Wurlitzer pianos, Fender Rhodes, a Hohner clavinet
and pianet, a mellotron, some 70s synths and of course a collection
of Hammond organs and Leslie speakers. There are also some old microphones
and preamps and effects pedals in there too. One day I would like
to have a studio and enough room to have them all out at once but
until then I keep collecting stuff and pulling out the right keyboard
for the right project.
What other activities do you have planned for 2013 and beyond including
new music, recording, other things in the planning and upcoming stage?
CLAYTON DOLEY: I spent some time in New Orleans earlier this
year, soaking up the music, food and atmosphere. I managed to see
some amazing bands and play with some amazing musicians. I had the
crazy idea while I was there that I wanted to make my next album there
in New Orleans, so I had a look at some studios and I am making plans
now to make it all happen. I have some new songs and I cant
wait to hear how the local flavor will work on them. I will try to
tie in the recording with some Canadian touring that I have coning
up later in the year. Its quite a long way to New Orleans from
Canada but at least it is not as far away as it is from Australia.
So hopefully by the end of 2013 I will have recorded something with
the intention to release it in 2014.
Thanks to Clayton Doley and Belinda Krause @ www.ClaytonDoley.com