There’s a lot of layers to Dan Dinsmore. When he’s not creating a glorious maelstrom of unique beats with The Clay People he can be found running his web design and development/PR/Marketing firm Overit or co-managing one of our favorite labels, Magnetic Eye Records, alongside founder Mike Vitali. Yet he still made time to talk to us about TCP’s resurgence and more and for that we are forever grateful.
But I digress.
For those not aware of The Clay People, Dinsmore attempts to describe their sound:
“I think it’s more of a feeling that it gives people. I think there’s a lot of truth to it. Y’know, lyrically there’s a lot of truth behind the mocky, kitchzy message….there are deep messages there that are all kind of life experience messages. Getting into the genre stuff: due to the diversity of the background of the people that are in the band you’re going to hear influence from everything like ’80’s Pop/Industrial/Dance to Led Zeppelin to Tool. At the end of the day I’d say it’s an alternative metal. Kind of Chemical Brothers meets Tool.”
As for their resurgence, Dinsmore recounts what the catalyst was to catapult the band from being an “In studio project” (Which was the case with 2007’s Waking The Dead) to a full-time band once again:
“The Cold Waves shows (In 2013) were definitely an introduction to getting the folks back together because there was a purpose behind it that was bigger than the band. There were some personal attachments to whatever that mission was at the time. I started playing in another project called Owl with my buddy Chris Wyse and we were doing quite a bit of playing and recording and touring. Dan (Neet, vocals) had his things and Brian (McGarvey, guitars) was focused on some other types of things so we kind of just took a break and I was pretty focused on something else. Probably 4-5 years ago, and I had stayed very close to Brian McGarvey, and I have a studio here (At Overit) so I said let’s get together because he had some songs and I had recorded some stuff for him on his independent solo release so we were always pretty tight. And we got together and basically just started jamming and recording on the spot and we had such a great time. You know: that magic feeling! And I was motivated to do a record but if we’re going to do it I want to make it very legit, very true, not worried about industry and just be really honest with music and try to make the best Clay People we can.”
“And that’s kind of where it started and we just started working and recording and playing. It was a lot more organic of a process. It was similar to the self-titled release. There were some internal issues that plagued some of the members of the band and personally, I don’t feel without those particular members you can actually do The Clay People. It was a process and we had to be very supportive of Dan’s trial and tribulations through his addiction but we continued to write and record and write and record and fine tune it and had a great time. Looking back on the record, it means a lot to us personally and not just musically but lyrically. There’s a lot there. And because I’m so close to it and understand that it’s so truthful. It’s hard for him (Dan Neet) to actually get up and sing those lyrics because it’s so personal.”
“What we tried to do with this record is stay true to all that diversity but wrap it into a sound that’s cohesive and that is difficult when you’re working with so many different types of personalities and also just different types of musical influences. That’s not easy so that was the goal. And we wanted to create something that would affect people and then when you get into the lyrical content of The Clay People I think that’s a whole different conversation and I personally don’t think there’s another person that I know that can approach lyrics like that or a delivery like that. He’s a very unique individual.”
With a new record out comes the inevitable bout of touring and recent shows have proven to be eye opening for the drummer:
“The past shows that we’ve been starting to do are the best shows we’ve ever done! The band sounds way better than it ever has. The shows are off the chain. I’m surprised and ecstatic about it. The crowd is so motivating and so into it. It’s just a great feeling. The difference between a Clay People show and any other project I’ve played in is that it’s like you’re together with the audience. It’s sort of like a community thing and it’s a really cool experience. They’ve exceeded any expectations I had. And you don’t know! You’re gone for ten years and we weren’t Nirvana! You don’t know what’s going to happen. People grow up, the industry is a mess, the genre y’know, does anybody care? We’re very happy and thankful that people still care.”
The backbone of The ClayPeople, Dinsmore’s drumming is almost as recognizable as McGarvey’s guitars or Neet’s voice and that may have to do with Dinsmore’s approach to the instrument:
“For me, it’s a two sided thing. I look at drums a little bit differently. I think it’s an expressive thing, an emotional thing that if you can affect somebody to feel something through playing drums (laughs) well, that’s the goal! I always appreciated dynamics a great deal as much as I did the blistering technical craziness. It just kind of meshes. It’s not really intentional of any sort. I guess what I’m most proud of is that I think that I’m getting to the point, and I always feel that I have a long way to go, where it’s actually a reflection of myself. When I first played with The Clay People I was in another band that was doing fairly well and these guys had just finished Stone and I was asked to come in and play and audition and, to be honest with you, I go in and start playing and I don’t even know what kind of music this is (laughs) and I think that was the beauty of that. It is definitely something that you can’t really, and I know bands like to say that…y’know, The Clay People are The Clay People. Sometimes we’ll be like White Zombie or it’s a Ministry-type thing and other times it’s like the Chemical Brothers!”
Touching on the music industry today versus when The Clay People were releasing records in the mid ’90’s, Dinsmore acknowledges what the major differences and challenges are now:
“The music industry has drastically changed. The world has changed. You’d hear a band and you’d know every person in Ministry and what they do and what their dog’s name is. You really dug into attaching yourself to being a part of an act. And you’d listen to the whole record and you were excited about a whole record. That doesn’t really exist too much anymore just due to the amount of data you can get with Spotify and all these types of things so that creates a problem for a band that wants to create a vibe and a record. It’s more single based. So that’s different than it was.”
The conversation shifts towards his company, Overit, and how The Clay People came to work with Magnetic Eye Records:
“I run a company called OverIt. We’re a digitally-based interactive company that does a ton of different types of things and we have a huge production facility with a recording studio and video production capabilities so we’ve been working pretty hard on how do we reach people so that’s the really exciting part for us is that we’re able to deploy marketing tactics that are a little more intricate on a very high skill level and be able to really benefit from that. The bigger labels are not really doing it correctly and we’re actually starting to do a lot of work for labels based on those types of things so there’s that side of it.
“So Magnetic Eye and Mike Vitali…I recorded a record with Mike who started Magnetic Eye Records and we recorded a record for this band called Ironweed. I’ve known Mike for a long time and he’s always wanted to work with me and OverIt on growing the label. And I didn’t really want to get involved with a label but after we developed these tools and these types of things I basically merged or acquired the label. It’s Mike Vitali who started the label and myself who are the owners of the label. We’re bringing The Clay People in and basically testing because even The Clay People fall out of the niche of what Magnetic Eye is. You have to be careful with that. I believe the label’s going to grow. It’s never going to leave its’ roots of the type of music that it’s putting out. We wanna stay true to that and we’ll probably, as we grow, have sub brands of different genres or different types of things.”
“With Mike, he had an outlet for different various types of things…distribution, connections, good relationships… so we kind of went into business together is basically the deal. And we were doing stuff on OverIt records but without a staff dedicated to the label, it’s really hard. This guy, Jadd Shickler, is basically the operational element and is just so phenomenal and I’m just so happy to have him on the team.He’s a stand up individual. He’s passionate. He cares. He’s smart. I’m just really thankful to finally have somebody that is full-time working on music. So now we have a team of people who are working on the label full time. We’re hoping to really take that to another level and stay true to basically for musicians by musicians and offering reasonable deals and partnerships really with bands to help them be able to push forward because you could put stuff out yourself but who’s gonna see it? It’s a different world so how do we do that? So we have a strategy on how to do that and we’re pretty pumped up about Magnetic Eye and we’re going to keep moving forward.”
As for the what the future holds, Dinsmore offers up some good news for fans:
“We’re going to be playing a lot. What I can say is that, without a doubt, it’ll be the most extensive type of playing that The Clay People has done in a long time.We have material and we’re going to be working on new material all the time so this isn’t a one off but we’re going to work this record for a year. It’s gonna be a year that we’re supporting this effort for a straight year. I would imagine that within a year all of our basic tracking will be complete. We want to release another record either late 2019 or by summer 2020. We literally have another twenty seven songs that we laid down tracks for. We’re so deep into material that it’s overwhelming.”
And there you have it! The Clay People’s new record is out now through Magnetic Eye Records! You can read our glowing review by clicking here and get your own copy by clicking here. For info on Overit, head here, and for the latest on The Clay People, including up-to-the-date info on where you can catch them live (And trust me, you’ll want to go to a show), head on over here.