Cat On The Wall caught up with Kay and Ryan from the superb Candy Claws…
Cat On The Wall: For those of our readers who have yet to discover Candy Claws please introduce yourselves! What is the band’s history? What is the meaning behind the name Candy Claws?
Candy Claws: About 14 billion years ago, an unexpected explosion happened. Within the first milliseconds the expansion and cooling created the conditions under which all kinds of particles formed. Ever since then, the particles have been moving in the forms of suns and planets, comets and dust. Many of the planets were a special distance from their suns, and their molten surfaces were shrouded in cloaks of water vapour. As the magma cooled into stone, it rained for many millions of years, and on our planet the first signs of life appeared about 3.8 billion years ago. The particles of that first explosion were still moving, but now in more complex ways. And now look around! So strange that this place of unthinkable complexity and soft, slow beauty had its origins in such fantastic hot violence. Candy Claws is our way to be part of this unfolding beauty, a chance to add our own ripples to the reverberations of Mother Explosion.
We started making music together about two years ago. Who what will happen?
The name Candy Claws has no special meaning. It’s just a name Ryan always had on reserve in case a new band was birthed. It’s nice because of the contrast it sets up – the sweet and innocent with the sharp and dangerous. We don’t really know what to think of it as a name. It seems a bit silly, but some of the best music has been created under terrrible names, if you really think about them (The Beatles, Radiohead).
COTW: ‘In The Dream Of The Sea Life’ is your first album? How did the album come about?
CC: We spent two years recording songs, hidden away. We wanted to be able to focus all our time and energy on the album, because the album is the most important form of music, we think. The lyrics always had a nautical theme, it’s just where our minds were naturally drawn. Then Ryan found a copy of Rachel Carson’s 1951 book “The Sea Around Us” on a shelf in his grandparents’ house, and the album became clear. Miss Carson’s book, though scientific non-fiction, is imbued with such beauty and mystery, written in such elegant prose it feels more like poetry, a hymn to the sea. That’s what we were feeling for in our recordings, too, so we decided to make the album a ‘musical companion’ to the book. In June of 2008, we went to Italy with Kay’s art class, and recorded ocean sounds on the shores of Portovenere and Monterosso. Then in October Ryan went to the Philippines with his mom, sister, and grandmother to meet their extended family for the first time. He recorded more ocean sounds at San Fernando and San Esteban on the island of Luzon. It was important to us to include sounds we had recorded ourselves, in places we loved, because sound effects tend to be gimmicky, but this way it seemed a lot more personal, and it’s exciting to be able to say the album was recorded in three different countries! Anyway, we made all the music in Fort Collins at a place called Flashy Storm, which is also called Ryan’s Bedroom when he goes to sleep.
COTW: Have you performed live and if so do you enjoy the live experience? Can you tell us about any memorable performances?
CC: We recently added our best friend Wesley on drums for live shows, while the two of us play guitars. Kay’s is doubled up an octave by an effect pedal, for a sparkly sound, and Ryan’s is doubled down an octave, for basslines and the heavy sound of the universe. The songs are more rock & roll than the album, but hopefully you can still tell it’s Candy Claws. Also, the stage is dark and we wear glowing eyes, which blast photons at the crowd at 670 million miles per hour. The biggest mystery is this: Even if a fearful audience member tries to flee the approaching light beams, they still shoot toward them at exactly 670 million miles per hour. And if a desperate fan dives toward the stage, they would still measure the light to be moving at precisely 670000000 mph, contrary to Newton, who states that if you move toward or away from an object moving at a constant velocity, its measured speed relative to you will change.
COTW: Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you construct your songs? What’s the creative process?
CC: Our favourite bands, who really influenced the album, are the Beach Boys, Starflyer 59, the Lassie Foundation, My Bloody Valentine, Cornelius, and maybe you can guess a few more?
For songwriting, we usually start with a small melody, and write chords around it. The recording process is often the writing process, too. We sample our instruments, then manipulate them with computers. Song structure is very important to us, because we like our songs to be more than a collection of unrelated melodies and sparkly sound effects. We can play through the album on just two acoustic guitars and the songs still hold up as songs. We’ve embraced the pop format, partly because it’s a way to make our experimental side more accessible, but mostly because it’s one of the most fascinating challenges in music – making pop music that explores new realms of sound. Brian Wilson was the best at it. He’s our favourite!
COTW: What are you listening to/reading right now?
CC: Right now we’re really into mid-century science fiction. Kay is reading “The Golden Apples of the Sun” by Ray Bradbury and “The Songs of Distant Earth” by Arthur C. Clarke. Ryan is reading “The Nine Billion Names of God,” also by Clarke, and just got a copy of “Childhood’s End.” Exciting! As far as music, Ryan is on a Beach Boys kick, discovering early glimpses of Brian Wilson’s genius even in the early albums. We’re also listening to a lot of Space Age Lounge Music, like Esquivel and Bob Thompson. Also, the first Goldfrapp album is haunting and beautiful. Very great!
COTW: What are your plans for the near future?
CC:At the moment, we’re recording a new album called “Hidden Lands.” It will be a musical companion to a book called “The Secret Life of the Forest.” Some early sounds appear in these videos:
Also, here’s our latest video, for the song “Catamaran,” which appears on “In the Dream of the Sea Life.”
Interview by Jo Whitby