If I had to pick the best part of being a member of the Wired Wrong team, it’s all the new bands John has turned me onto and ones I’ve found combing for new music. Last Friday through text, John inadvertently gave me a list of new shit I needed to hear, and every band he suggested was on point. While going through the list, I get another text from my buddy Farmer of Shame Finger fame. “Drop everything and look up and listen to Claw Marks American right now” pops up on my phone. Farmer’s not big on hyperbole, so I did as I was told.
To say I was surprised by the record I found, Claw Marks American’s Prairie Grove, would be a gross understatement. The album begins with a screaming folk punk monster, “Ram’s Head Blues,” which is essentially the rest of the album distilled, but only in a way you’ll find after pouring through the entire work. You take a right turn from there into “Saludos,” a biting hardcore track that brings me back to seeing The Chariot at the skatepark we used to have in the Memphis suburbs. And then, out of fucking nowhere, you hit “Home Sweet Home,” a quiet country ballad that makes me want to call my Mom because I miss her way more often than a 30 year old probably should. This is just the first 15 of 49 minutes.
The rest of the album continues in similar fashion, alternating between passionate, heavy tracks to belted folk songs, and at one point even going into a synth heavy, auto-tuned track, “Breathe,” that feels like it would be at home on a release from Justin Vernon’s Volcano Choir. It really is incredibly impressive from start to finish. So with that said, if I had to pick the second best part of being a member of the Wired Wrong team, it would be that now I can just shoot a message over to a band I love and ask if I can pick their brain for a spell. As such, below is our conversation with the boys in Claw Marks American:
WW: What are your names, ages, and instruments?
CMA: Chase – 32 years in this body. Guitar & Vocals
Brock – Just turned 30 this month. Happy Birthday, Brock. Hope you like your new guitar. Bass & Vocals
Philly – 35 anos. Guitar & Vocals
Kirby – 28. Drums
WW: Where are you from and how did you meet?
CMA: We’ve all just kind of known each other forever. Brock and Chase are brothers (so literally forever.) Essentially, just through living, hanging out, and playing music in here in Arkansas. So I really, really like the new record. How long did it take as far as writing and recording? Kirby says “The entire Avenger Series… just about.” But I think it’s just under 5 years. To be fair, this record took a lot of effort to pull off. And we had our trials and real life things along the way. The last 2 years of that have probably been focused on pre production demos and then into actually making the thing with Chris at East Hall Recording.
WW: In what I’ve read, you describe yourselves as a Grunge band. There’s so much ground covered on Prairie Grove that you could have chosen pretty much any genre and I would’ve agreed. What lead to the Grunge identifier?
CMA: We honestly don’t know what to call it. It’s a real pickle. Maybe it’s a silly problem to have?
WW: Who are some of your musical influences?
CMA: As a band?? James Marshall Hendrix, The Staple Singers, Billy Joe Shaver, Tim Campbell, Jeremy Digby, The Distillers, Sam & Dave, Dwight Yoakam, The Chariot, Mewithoutyou, Poison the Well, Funkadelic, James Brown, Black Flag, Listener, John Prine, The White Stripes, Nirvana, The Weakerthans, Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Hall and Oates, Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Refused, Aretha Franklin, PERCY SLEDGE, The Melvins, The Mars Volta, Tom Petty, Damien Jurado, Magnolia Electric Co., this could really go on forever…
WW: Do you have plans to tour any time soon?
CMA: Hell no. We would rather our band stay together. We’ve talked it over, we like the idea of shorter runs, as in 10 days or less at a time. Ideally, long weekend endeavors or elaborate vacations to warm places. By the way, if anybody would like to pay for us to go to Japan… We’ve got some sushi to eat and an unsanctioned street fight to enter.
WW: Were there any things in particular that inspired the lyrical content of the album?
CMA: The Matriarch, altered states of consciousness, brothers, our children, friends, family deaths, a journey into mindfulness, discovery of personal magic, addictions, the art of George Rodrigue, nature and science documentaries, new ideas, post cards, evocation ceremonies, you name it. Lyrically, this record just kind of happened to us. At some points it’s purely a panic attack that made it to 2 inch tape, at others it’s designed to help with difficult situations.
WW: My wife made some incredible vegetable skewers yesterday while listening to the album, I can grill but the prep work is key and she nailed it, so I just wanted to say thank you for that as I believe you had something to do with it.
CMA: Sounds like we should arrange a dinner party to enjoy some fellowship and cooking for each other. Hearth and Home.
WW: Who are some of your favorite authors, particularly ones that may have had an effect on your songwriting?
WW: Henry Miller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yukio Mishima, Chucky B., Willie Nelson, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh
WW: Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to in the future?
CMA: We have a show coming up at a beautiful little DIY venue in Fayetteville AR. We’re playing with some of our best friends in Judason Void (See also Bonse of the Earth) and T.V. Preacher. It will be our first time out since the new record has been finished, we’re looking forward to making some moments.
It feels like it’s time to share this thing that we made.
WW: Where can everyone find your music and info on upcoming events?
CMA: We’re all up on facebook and instagram. Our music is on all the digital platforms. It’s also totally cool for everybody to just email us or slide in the DM’s. Maybe you could just email us your address to sign up for snail mail surprises. Maybe somebody could DM or email us and we could all work together on something. Things could get cool.