The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world








Until last week I had not heard of Claude Hay, but one of the best things about The Rockpit is that you get the chance to hear all kinds of great new music.  And really there is nothing quite like finding a new band or musician that you love. So thanks to chance and a few e-mails I find myself putting a copy of Claude’s latest album ‘I Love Hate You’ into the CD player of the car. He had me at the first song.




There are several Claude Hay’s though: one is the writer of great songs which whilst they may have a soul based in the blues, have a hard rock tinge to them. Another is the man who makes his own instruments and creates songs from loops and experimentation. The third is the man we’ve come to see tonight – the one man band who somehow manages to recreate his songs alone in a live setting.




Fremantle’s Fly Trap is a great intimate venue with comfortable seating and cold beer: and despite the fact that this is Claude’s first visit to Western Australia (primarily to support blues legend Joe Bonamassa at the Concert Hall in a couple of days time) and that Xavier Rudd is playing a sold out show down the road, and that it’s Grand Final night there’s a good crowd in.







Support tonight comes from two great local musicians: Morgan Bain and Junior Bowles. Morgan opens the night with a nice mix of originals and great covers including wonderful versions of ‘Ain't no sunshine’ and ‘Tip of my tongue’. He makes a lot of good noise for one man and an acoustic and well worth the effort in seeking out. 




He leaves with a great, wailing blues, dripping with harp tons of soul, that really showcases a great voice and makes you realise that he has more than a bit of Butler and Harper about him.




Junior Bowles is if anything even more interesting: citing Robert Johnson and music pre-1940’s as his primary influence he steadfastly refuses to call his music The Blues; preferring ‘Industrial Folk Music’ or even ‘Extreme Industrial Folk’. We take the point to a degree but chuckle that he’s such a big fan of Robert Johnson, who to me would definitely be the picture next to the word ‘Blues’ in my dictionary!




There’s definitely a more traditional approach at play in junior’s set, opening with a song called ‘Photograph’ that has a real anachronistic sound and even hints of Bluegrass. As the set progresses you start to see some unconventional touches creep in, but the traditional and above all honest approach to his songs certainly make a connection. ‘How Low’ from last year’s vinyl-only release is a perfect example of that honest approach: it is a great dark blues with some lovely picking amidst the riffs, and has the feeling of an impending storm, as the hollow body guitar resonates.




There is nothing wrong in trying to refrain from using the word ‘Blues’ because of the bad connotations, but to some of us the Blues has never been about that- it is a primal force of nature neither good nor bad, that brings out a song from the soul. A warm rendition of Robert Johnson’s ‘They’re Red Hot’ just proves how timeless music is. And to close there is a wonderful authenticity to the slide into ‘Waltzing Matilda’ during ‘Lonely Man’ that closes a great set.




Even before the main act we know one thing: Xavier Rudd may be sold out around the Corner at the Arts Centre but we'd rather be here.




Claude Hay



Claude tells us before he gets up onstage that he does have a setlist but never follows it and it seems fitting really. After setting up and thanking the supports he opens with ‘Get Me Some’ after some beautiful slide and bass. It’s a great way to start with my favourite track from his 2010 release: ‘Deep fried Satisfied’.




There’s a change of homemade instrument from ‘Betty’ the double headed bass and guitar hybrid made from a kitchen workbench, to a sitar-like instrument made from what looks like a lovely piece of wood. ‘Smile’ is a great song that builds from a solid bass and gives you a real appreciation of the real-time coordination required to play both guitar and drums whilst laying down loops and sample to build the back-beat.  The result of course is one man that sounds just like a band.



A quick glance around the audience clearly confirms that two songs in we are all already big fans and the applause just underlines that.



’Stone Face’ from the new album follows and shows that whilst Claude’s sound has certainly changed from that first CD the essence and the core of the music is still fundamentally the same. Picking up ‘Stella’ - made from a baking tray from K-Mart
gives us a cross between, well a baking tray and a resonator. It’s an unlikely but wonderful sound.



Between songs we hear the story about seeing ‘Betty’ by the side of the road and imagining guitar from the bench-top that she was in those days, thankfully one of the benefits of Council roadside clear ups is the song ‘Two Zero Seven’ again from Deep Fried. The instrumental classical/Spanish slide guitar takes you on a frenetic journey to the sun and bursts with energy the song just builds to explode.




‘Blues Train’ again from the new CD comes amid tales of trips to the UK, playing on a train and the lack of traffic on Perth roads! There’s also a light-hearted chat with imaginary band members while a broken string is changed.  




The rest of the set seems to pass all too quickly. But the most apparent thing to everyone here is that Claude has some great songs, and we get the whole box and dice from riff rock and bluesy bass, to touches of funk, some spacey slide and an almost North African beat that leads to an audience clap along. We get a song not-yet-named into the bargain – a big bold ‘Hillbilly swamp and stomp’.




Claude’s rendition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ is inspirational, taking the essence and injecting it with  an Indian flavour before recording and layering samples of voice that on playback take on the form of a gospel choir. You really have to experience that one!









We end with a pair of great songs – one of my personal favourites – ‘I Love hate You’ from the new CD – and one that if you want to hear where he is at the moment you really do need to listen it. It’s the soul of the blues encased in hard rock with a huge hook. It’s amazing to watch Claude at work during the song – as he plays a bar or two and then plays back the loop, before showing us how the drums work.  



We close with one of the best from Deep Fried: ‘Don't give me that shit’ and as the last few notes ring out no one in the room wants it to end. For a song born from getting your frustrations out about getting tipped off by a used car salesman in Sydney it’s a winner.




And with that Claude thanks us all for coming down, admitting that ‘I'd be bored shitless if I was sat here by myself’. It’s been a great night and we hope that we get to see him over this side of the continent again soon.









by Mark Diggins

photos by Shaelene Roper

(c) Metal Mama Photography