Q&A: The Henry Clay People's Joey Siara; Playing Sunset Cove Amphitheater Tonight

Pavement-reminiscent, no-frills rockers the Henry Clay People sound more like they came from the heartland than the rough and tumble, glam streets of L.A. They'll transform from heavy guitar riffs and a bleeding heart one minute to drunken escapades and a troubadour-like piano sound the next, making a new name for West Coast rock and giving a voice to the laid-back generation with their unpretentious, no-holds-barred, slacker guitar rock.

Singer/guitarist Joey Siara spoke with New Times about musical inspirations, their new album, and what fans can expect from their Boca show with the Silversun Pickups, Against Me!, and a special appearance by West Palm Beach's Lavola tonight at Sunset Cove Amphitheater.

New Times: How'd you come up with the band's name? Are you guys big fans of the 19th-century American senator? Or just "great compromisers" like he was?

Joey Siara: The band's name was a compromise of several different bad band names. About six years ago, we came up with a list of names, and none of us could agree. We were almost called "The Elk." "The Forgotten Presidency of Chester A. Arthur" was another contender. The Henry Clay People was more about the spirit of compromise. It's not a good name, but I hope it's not God-awful either.

How'd you come up with your new album
Somewhere on the Golden Coast?

We recorded Golden Coast with our pals Aaron Espinoza [Earlimart] and David Newton [the Mighty Lemon Drops]. The idea behind the record was to capture a fun sloppy live set so we tracked most of the record playing live in a room together onto tape. No headphones. Eventually we realized that there were definitely parts that needed to be overdubbed and so we ended going back and tweaking with some of the mixes and refining some of the guitars/vocals. But overall, when I listen to the record it sounds pretty much how it did the day we recorded it.

What was the inspiration behind it? What can fans expect?

People have been telling me that it sounds more world-weary than our previous records. I guess the major difference is that we were on the road for most of last year and that was our first real dive into the world of touring. Quitting our day jobs, sleeping on hardwood floors, scraping by on $10 a day, and then returning home to find out that your home life inevitably changes. Girlfriends, friends, family -- nobody's life stops when you are on tour. That was a big adjustment for all of us. The irony is that I feel the whole "being in a rock 'n' roll band" is kind of my attempt to shrug off responsibility and to keep the adult world at bay for the time being, but after last year, I think it's safe to say that everyone in the band did a lot of growing up. So yeah -- there's a lot of growing up and coping with changes. But I also don't think the album is too much of a stretch from our previous ones. It's still loud and guitar-heavy.

Any big musical influences for this album?

The Replacements are my favorite band. I can't hide that fact, and I don't want to try. We added our pal Jordan Hudock to the band last year, and I feel like his piano parts have brought out our inner Mott the Hoople. So yeah, the Mats, Mott, maybe a little Big Star.

What made you decide to hop on tour with Against Me! and the Silversun Pickups?

Silversun was kind enough to invite us on the tour. We have been pals with them for the past year or so, and we have had mutual friends in L.A. They came out to some of our shows, and we hit it off. Against Me! is a bonus. Never met them, but I'm really excited to get to see them play. I've heard they're good dudes.

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Christine Borges
Contact: Christine Borges