Local filmmaker Clayton Hardee, aka Clay Otis, openly admits that he more or less stumbled into his musical career.
"I had no intentions of doing music. I didn't do my first record until I was 30, and that was because a movie I was working on got turned down," Hardee said. "I sang a song to Jake [Vest], and the next thing I know we started doing a record."
Recorded at High/Low Recording over three days last spring, Hardee's third full-length, Citizen Clay, sees The Sheiks joining his longtime backing band, Dream Team, providing more depth to the improvisational music that serves as the backdrop for Hardees' vocals.
"From the get go, the Dream Team has been on everything I've ever played on," Hardee said. "My backing band has always been Greg Faison on drums, Brent Stabbs on bass, and Jake Vest on guitar. But then I got to be friends with The Sheiks and fell in love with them a couple years ago, and they've been killing it since we asked them to join the band."
Described by Hardee as his biggest sounding record yet, Citizen Clay is equal parts "bloated '70s rock and the punk rock response to bloated '70s rock," which is Hardee's way of saying it's diverse. Lyrically, Hardee said that Citizen Clay unfolds like a news program, examining social issues like pharmaceutical drug abuse and wealthy excess. Approaching his lyrics the way he approaches film-making, Hardee said that Citizen Clay is also his most thematic album to date.
Clay Otis and The Dream Sheiks celebrate the release of Citizen Clay this Saturday at the Hi-Tone, with the recently reunited Chinamen and Perfect Prescription opening. Doors open at 9 p.m., and admission is $5.