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Artist Interview: Blues-Rock Prodigy, Clay Melton

It’s a universal language that brings people together and I always strive to treat music sacredly because of the kind of good it can do for others.
Blues-rock prodigies are a special breed. They live and breathe the fiery swagger of electric guitars and the irresistible allure of rhythm-soaked sounds. That’s Clay Melton’s musical calling in a nutshell. At only 27, the Louisiana-born and Texas-based blues-rocker has already spent 14 years performing live. His powerfully raspy voice and wicked guitar licks leave no doubt he’s grown up in the school of barroom blues-rock.
Back to Blue, a 5-song EP coming July 23, 2021, is Melton’s follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed, full-length debut Burn the Ships. Back to Blue, which Melton began recording November 2020 in Austin and finished May 2021 in Houston, boasts production and engineering credits by Grammy-winner Danny Jones (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Patti LaBelle, Etta James) as well as Clay himself.

At the center of Back to Blue is “Say That You Love Me”, a scorching blues-rocker that immediately positions Melton as the future of the genre. The song and its accompanying live gig video are proof positive that Melton is a blues-rock dynamo, an artist with an incendiary soul.

Another standout on Back to Blue is the title track, a modern blues ballad dashed with rock and R&B seasoning. The song is also Melton’s emotional manifesto written during a worldwide pandemic that further validated the potent pull of creating music. Also of note on ``Back to Blue is Melton's spirited cover of ZZ Top’s chestnut, “Jesus Just Left Chicago.”

Clay Melton is quickly establishing himself as a rising star, most recently picked to open for Grand Funk Railroad at on the Chevrolet Main Stage at the 2021 State Fair of Texas. Past credits also include opening for blues-legend Robert Cray and platinum-selling artist Chris Daughtry.

How are you taking charge of your music right now?
Taking charge in a creative sense it seems everything I’ve been pursuing lately has been about capturing the ‘live’ essence of the trio and the music that we make as a band in a room and putting that approach to work in my songwriting, arranging, studio approach and live performances. It’s part of the reason we chose to record our upcoming record as a live album.

How are you charging up while promoting your latest and greatest?
I’m always looking for new ways to keep the creative process fresh and that often melts into the relevant promotional process that goes along with sharing music with the world. Our team’s main focus when the “Live in Texas" drops this summer is hitting the road to share these new songs in person with our fans.

What is a big declaration you want to make known when it comes to your music?
Music is supposed to be felt right? That’s a fundamental of what makes all of our favorite songs. Obviously I’m big into communicating the ‘live’ feeling of my band and that’s important to me for several reasons. One of the most important reasons being that I have strong convictions about the idea that music can create a moment, especially when you’re watching and participating in humans coming together to make rhythms and melodies on instruments while others sing and dance in harmony. Music is healing and speaks to all of us despite any of our perceived differences. It’s a universal language that brings people together and I always strive to treat music sacredly because of the kind of good it can do for others.

Is there more of you as an artist that fans haven't seen yet?
Most definitely. Musically I’m the kind of person that will always be chasing or learning something unknown to me. There’s plenty of demos that will have to wait for the "alter ego" release (haha). Although, with the writing I’ve been doing over the last two records, 'Back to Blue' and our upcoming album, ‘Live in Texas’ I feel very grounded in my direction in regards to the writing and when it comes to the live shows and in studio I feel like I’m chasing exactly what I want to be both sonically when it comes to things like guitar tones or drum sounds as well as the fundamentals of the songs I’m writing and arranging with my band, Zach Grindle (drums) and Zach Cox (bass).

What do you have lined up performance wise for your fans to listen to the music?
We’re very excited to be hitting the road this summer to support the release of ‘Live in Texas’ - all of our tour dates are on our website!

Is there something that you could take it or leave it when it comes to the music industry?
It’s no secret there’s a lot of vultures in the entertainment industry. There’s a whole lot of hands who had absolutely nothing to do with helping the music come to life still dipping into the pockets of artists. My advice is to learn what it means to own your own music. Being an independent artist is underrated.

Before you get into what you'll be making next, what is something that is the deal breaker for you on whether the project gets made?
Most artists are always on to the next thing creatively, I’m certainly that way although I’m also the type that will plan those creative intentions intensely with the help of my team because that is all part of helping to share the music we make and release. I’m very hands on in the planning and execution process for the music as well as the business side and honestly the biggest deal breaker or question I ask myself often is whether or not this next “project” is honest to how I want to share my music with others. That includes how the music comes across both sonically or how the band is presented visually. Being at a stage where I feel like I’ve found my own “voice" within my writing and instruments, guitar and vocals, it’s extremely important I think that I continue to stay true to that voice.

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