Desperate Times
(Hi-Fi Doley-T)


From the land down under comes organist / vocalist Clayton Doley and his sensational 2012 CD entitled Desperate Times. These are in fact desperate times yet Clayton’s 9 track CD is so much fun you won’t 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 Clayton’s 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 Clayton’s 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 there’s some fine covers of “Seventh Son” and “Chicken Shack” to help firm up Clayton’s blues cred. Desperate Times is a fine pick for jazzers and blues buffs who like to rock out. presents an interview with


mwe3: What’s 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, it’s 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: What’s 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 after listening?

CLAYTON 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 DJ’s have been playing it a lot and it has been in the charts for some time now, that feels fantastic.

mwe3: What’s 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.

CLAYTON 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 1950’s and 60’s 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 artist’s 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 what’s the chemistry like between you and the other players on the CD? What guitars are you featuring on the CD?

CLAYTON 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 the album.

As for my instruments, I play the Hammond B3 organ and it’s 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 70’s 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.

mwe3: 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 can’t 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. It’s 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 @


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