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The Henry Clay People Record Soul-Searching Album for Twenty-Somethings

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 16:07

Henry Clay People

A. Dola Baroni

Growing up can be hard, but do you really wish you could stay young forever or is it just a fear of change? California rockers The Henry Clay People explore that very subject on their new album, Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives. Singer Joey Siara dug especially deep on this album, writing as if it were the last album they’d ever make. Thankfully, the band isn’t giving up just yet.

It’s Siara’s honesty and intensity that has given the band a new sense of purpose. The Henry Clay People have toured with Silversun Pickups, Against Me!, Motion City Soundtrack and are currently headlining shows across North America.

College Times caught up with Siara while they stopped for dinner on their way to play a show in Detroit.   

College Times: So, your album has a really cohesive theme. How did it come together?

Joey Siara: It comes out of the thought of quitting the band. I have really bad tinnitus, which is permanent ringing in the ears, and I just thought, crap, I can’t keep doing this forever. I thought about walking away from [the band], at which point I said, “No, I’m not going to walk away from it yet.” I can protect my ears every night, and I want to make one record that I’m very proud of [and] that I don’t really feel is compromised. I felt like having my ears be messed up kind of motivated me to really be in touch with what I wanted to say and not half-ass it. That’s kinda how it started, just that feeling of “this could all go away,” so I might as well say something that I want to say and make it matter. That way when the band is long gone and I’m an old man somewhere I can look back on this record I feel most proud of. Now having said all that, I still want to continue doing the band. Doing an honest record like this has given me more confidence. I think our fans have responded positively and like it when there’s not the bullshit filter.

How was it digging into your past?

It’s interesting. Not to get all heavy, but I was in an eight-year relationship that came to an end as a result of the band and being on tour and obviously there were other factors that contributed to the relationship’s demise. Part of it was just being in your 20s and the amount of changing that you do. That’s a lot to go through with another person. When you break up with somebody and you’re approaching your late 20s, or you’re approaching your 30s, you start to really do some major soul searching. What got you here? Who the hell are you without this person that you’ve grown up with? And where you want to go from there? Me and my brother were going through similar relationship turmoil at the time, which makes for great subject matter to write songs about. [laughs] That’s one of the best parts about rock ‘n’ roll – you always have songs about broken hearts and relationships that go wrong.

So after all your soul-searching, do you have any advice to college kids?

Yeah, I’m full of wisdom. [laughs] You know, it’s interesting because a lot of our songs have that theme of you go to college, you do what you’re told, you follow all the rules and even if you follow all the rules there’s no guarantee that anything is going to be great for you in life. There’s part of me that thinks when you graduate you have to look at who you are. Do a lot of self-examination. It’s not all fun and games until you get a job … The biggest mistake I made when I graduated college was feeling like I was done learning. I had my diploma and degree so I stopped reading books and I stopped arguing and debating with people because I felt like college was the time to do that. I realized my brain is getting dumber by the second so I got back into reading news and being politically informed. My advice is to keep constantly educating yourself. Use college as momentum to keep learning in the real world and don’t stop.

The Henry Clay People w/Source Victoria, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.222, CrescentPHX.com, Thursday, July 19, 8 p.m., $8 to $10

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