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"Shortly after that he smashed my Vandals album.  I still own it and should probably hang it on my wall." - The Clamor

Posted: April 8, 2024
I think “punk” came first and the music later, so I guess I had no choice.  I knew the music of The Clash, Generation X, and The Pistols very early on but in the beginning, I had no name for it, and I didn’t recognize it as a movement until 1982-83. 

Photo credit: Piama Habibullah

“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It's freedom.” – Patti Smith

The quote from Patti Smith couldn’t have been more honest. She also happens to be one of my all-time lyricists. So, she could be spot on with almost anything that she quoted about. 😊 Patti Smith was compelling, and she was a storyteller, but in her own brand of authenticity. 

However, this interview is not about her. It is about the content of her quote. I am a huge fan of punk rock. It is freedom, and some bands have learned how to use it wisely. I think about the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, Green Day, Agent Orange, and Suicidal Tendencies. All these bands were successful in expressing themselves as Punk bands. Instrumental and inspiring to many bands and artists that came after them. 

I have found that the Punk genre is misunderstood by music lovers because they don’t understand its purpose. They don’t recognize the freedom it creates. The Punk genre opens the ability to express oneself without recourse or judgment. Once people understand what defines punk artists, then they will appreciate the purpose behind Punk music. Open your ears, without judgment, and impartiality. Your world will be filled with unadulterated substance. 

Our guest today is The Clamor.  I was totally blown away by their ability to be authentic, despite what others think. Listening to their music is a celebration of life and freedom. Can you dig it? Hopefully, you will be as stoked as we were. 

ABOUT THE CLAMOR

Their first release since their debut album last March, "Trick & Bout" channels a captivating New Wave/Post-Punk vibe and delves into the thrill of living dangerously, embracing risks, and discovering a sense of home amid chaos and spontaneity. For the art on his upcoming singles, Aaron recruited artist Bill Smith renowned for his work with The Cure, The Jam, Genesis, Kate Bush, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Queen, The Stones, and countless other classic album covers. Aaron is the Director of Audio Visual at MoMA and has an incredibly long producer credit list in music, film, and theatre including with 3LD, WNYC, and BAM, and has produced over 1000 shows with regional and national bands and is a former member of punk outfit DANDELION WINE.

INTERVIEW WITH THE CLAMOR AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. I find your sound compelling, and it is honest. How did it all begin for you? When did you decide that Punk music was going to be your genre of choice?

The Clamor:  Thank you!  I think “punk” came first and the music later, so I guess I had no choice.  I knew the music of The Clash, Generation X, and The Pistols very early on but in the beginning, I had no name for it, and I didn’t recognize it as a movement until 1982-83.  I had this bully of a stepfather at the time who had a stack of “girly magazines” as they used to call them, one of which was a Penthouse Magazine that did a feature on Punk/Post-Punk, and I remember being enthralled when I made the connection to the music I was hearing to what seemed to be a real ragtag, anti-authority movement.  I remember bringing it up to him and he went on a tirade on how awful and useless punk rockers were and I knew at that moment that that was who I was and who I was going to be forever after.  I think he knew he fucked-up.  Very shortly after that he smashed my Vandals album.  I still own it and should probably hang it on my wall now that I think about it.  

Guitar Thrills: Who were some of the bands that you listened to? What was your takeaway from listening to punk music?

The Clamor: The Clash, Subway Sect, The Cramps, T.S.O.L., The Fall, and I was also really into the local music scene when I was a very young kid in Florida so bands like Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades, Lovegods in Leisure Suits, and really the bands my friends put together were what inspired me the most. And that lasted all the way through to the late 90’s. I used to book shows for a couple of Florida live music venues (Up N’ Atom and The Black-Eyed Susan) and ran my own thereafter (Galaxie 500) before moving to NYC in 97.  I spent many years of my life gladly and enthusiastically promoting other people’s music and it was all very natural and mutual back in the day.  It seems a bit less so to me know which is a real shame.  It seems oddly competitive now.

Guitar Thrills: Patti Smith mentioned in one of her famous quotes, that punk music is a freedom of expression. How would you define it? 

The Clamor: It’s a moving target for sure and very subjective but I can tell you that when I was growing up it was all very anti-authority, politically liberal, and anti-commercial, and that ethos translated into a DIY individualistic approach to musical creation. One thing I never considered punk to be is something that could be identified by a specific sound. I mean, The Cramps sounded nothing like The Clash, who sounded nothing like the Dead Kennedys, but they all shared that similar ethos.  It was all about individualism. That’s not to say that the music punks make can't also be described in subgenres especially if it has an overarching genre-representing sound. e.g. hardcore, psychobilly, new wave, etc.  

Guitar Thrills: Did you ever think about singing another type of genre? 

The Clamor: No, I feel like even if I was playing straight-up cumbia I would personally define it as punk.  Maybe I would be alone in that but that’s OK, too. 

Guitar Thrills: I seem to gravitate to different types of music. It all depends upon sound and quality. If it seems “cookie cutter” then there isn’t much for me to get excited about. I listen for things that haven’t been done before. Authenticity comes to mind. What would you quantify as being authentic about your style of music?  

The Clamor: I completely agree.  I crave some element of surprise when I hear a new song and it’s a requirement for me to fall in love.  As for my stuff, I suppose I have to leave it to the listener, but I would hope it’s found somewhere in the lyrics and the use of unconventional “rock” instruments.  

Guitar Thrills: Have you ever considered capitalizing off something another band or artist has done? 

The Clamor: No, never.  I would be horrible at copying someone else's sound or even worse their stage persona.  As much as I love Lux Interior of The Cramps for instance, you would never see me wearing low-rise leather pants and fellating, my microphone. I loved him though! 

Guitar Thrills: Do you ever get concerned that you may offend someone by your lyrics, or live stage performance? 

The Clamor: Unfortunately, I tend to offend people pretty easily in general.  Just ask anyone who has been to a dinner party with me. With my music, I likely haven’t truly offended anyone that I know about since I was a teen during the satanic panic era when our parents thought all punk rock music was satanic.  

Guitar Thrills: Artists like to say they enjoy sending a message. Is that the first thing that comes to mind when you compose music? 

The Clamor: I think I have always had a subconscious urgency to communicate something true, and to do so in what I hope is an interesting way.  Even if it ends up a little blurry or maybe too poetic for others to make clear sense of. When I come up with a simple chord progression or even a guitar licks my concentration immediately goes to the lyrics and then I build the music around them.  I really consider myself more of a lyricist or songwriter over being called a musician.    

Guitar Thrills: How important is your guitar choice? What brands do you use? 

The Clamor: I hate to say it since this is Guitar Thrills Magazine but for me, it’s not important at all if the action is low enough for me to play it comfortably.  I wrote most of The Clamor’s first album and all the new singles on my Gretsch parlor guitar.  My electric is a Fender Strat and my bass is a Fender Squier both of which do the job.

Guitar Thrills: Who makes up the band that you perform with? Where did you meet them? Do they share the same music concept as you? 

The Clamor: For the 4 new singles coming out we have the core team of Gary Atturio on bass, Kirk Schoenherr, Omer Leibovitz, and Jeff Berner on guitar, and Layton Weedeman on drums,  as well as a lineup of contributing musicians which include Sydney Anderson’s backing vocals, Robert Cimitile on marimba, Aleida Gehrels on viola, Wells Hartman on synth, Will Raines on organ, Nicole Williams on cello, and Shin-Yi Yang on guzheng. And of course, me. I write songs, sing, and play guitar, synth, and organ.   

I’ve known Omer Liebovitz who produced The Clamor’s first album for many years. He and the drummer Layton Weedemen were in this excellent Brooklyn band together called The Courtesy Tier which I liked very much. (Coincidentally Omer played with Patti Smith a couple of times when she did surprise shows at MoMA where we both work.) Omer introduced me to Jeff Berner at Studio G in Williamsburg who produced, tracked, and mixed the new singles, and then to the good folks who make up the core musicians on both the debut album and the new singles.  

All these musicians I was lucky enough to work with have their own things going on (which I encourage everyone to check out) so I think our musical concepts are quite diverse as you might expect. What I do know is that they are all such pros, so kind, and absolute blasts to work with.  The important stuff.

Guitar Thrills: That is insightful. Do you have any releases coming up that you would like to talk about?  

The Clamor: Yes!  Thanks for the opportunity to say so.  I have 4 singles coming out over the next couple of months, Trick and Bout on April 5, You Bring Out the Demon in Me (a Subway Sect tune) on May 3, Staircase Stomp on May 31 and New Harder Hit on June 21. 

Guitar Thrills: Where can your audience come to see you perform live?

The Clamor: Hoping for this summer so please keep a lookout! Follow us on IG and Facebook! 

Guitar Thrills: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for me. I look forward to publishing our interview in the next issue of Guitar Thrills magazine. Please keep in touch and let us know what is transpiring in your music career.

The Clamor: The pleasure was all mine, Ed.  Thank you!




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