By Laura Kebby
Sometimes what you really want in a new city is just someone to be awkward with. Someone who likes the same music as you, drinks numerous pints and will unashamedly call out idiot sports fans whilst the band are trying to do their thing on stage. This moment happened for me when I met David, Heather and Nicholas from Claws & Organs for the first time on a Sunday. It was early afternoon at the newly named “Last Chance Rock n Roll Bar”, a cloudy Melbourne one at that and I had already moved tables four times. Artists always tell me how nervous they are sometimes prior to an interview, hot tip for young players, your interviewee is just as nervous as you, but they are just better at hiding it. Thankfully things fell into place, leaving just enough time to chat about tunes, ‘adulting' and traveling before I was able to catch the awesomeness that is Claws & Organs on stage and in the flesh.
“What did you guys get up to today?” I asked curiously, always wanting to know what the whole ‘behind the music’ is really like for artists. Grocery shopping, going to the gym, morning adult stuff I guess” Heather shrugged only just before Nick interjects with “well I don’t know about you guys I played video games all day”. The band comprised of David Crowe, Nicholas Hart and Heather Thomas, play music that is raw, unapologetic and so wonderfully appealing to the head nodding guitar shredding uniquely sultry masses. Self described as Shoe Grunge, a term I had never heard before I quizzed the band on their sound. “Some one kind of called us that once, and we just sort of went with it. I guess our sound is kind of grungy kind of shoegazy and it seemed like a good fit for us and it sounded a little cute I think” Dave laughs. “And Claws & Organs, I gotta know, where is it from?”. “It was really just the least stupid name on a long list of stupid names”.
With Heather’s inclusion to the band, it’s apparent that their sound had really progressed towards a much grungier tone. “With our old bass player we were I guess, a bit punkier almost more a garage band really” says Dave with Heather interjecting “I added the goth and the sadness” through laughter. In terms of favouring darker undertones within their music Dave commented “I’ve always found it easier to write in a minor key, and anything else just kind of feels a little forced… we are much better at making people feel bad about themselves it seems!… it’s kind of cathartic in a way though, those sad songs”. “This is definitely true” added Nick “just ask my parents”.
As we headed inside and the first band took the stage I’ll admit I was both excited and completely unsure as to what the mild mannered trio would offer on stage. Knowing that this would be their last gig before Dave and Heather headed off to the States to explore the world and be the quintessential tourists, my expectations were pretty high. To say the (very) least, I was not disappointed.
Nick was an absolute standout on drums. Taking on a real Janet Weiss approach to every single downbeat, he seemed to relish in carrying the band through with an unprecedented force. Heather was stoic, grounded and mysterious in the way all great bass players are, holding steadfast to one side. When her time came to step up to the mic her voice was a really great combination of sultry-grunge and punk rock. Now… David Crowe. He becomes an entirely different entity whilst on stage. Throwing himself around, totally owning the space. He became so animated at one point that I could have sworn he would be gunning for the microphone stand and end up flailing and crashing around amongst the crowd - my one true hope for Sad GrrrlsFest 2016.
Before I wrap up my words about this incredible band, I will take the time to comment on an issue that is unfortunately extremely relevant in todays society. I don’t particularly like the turn of phrase “punk scene” or actually any particular scene at all, actually just the word scene in general. It brings to mind secret meetings of hipsters categorising people in underground bars or the middle aged warnings my parents gave me as I left the house as a teen “be careful of that scene now young lady”. But, in saying that, I do like to use the term community, and this is something that is very important to me. The whole ethos behind Sad Grrrls fest is part of the reason why I wanted to be involved in the first place and I was reminded of this during the Claws and Organs set this fateful Sunday afternoon. A group of (not so) delightful middle aged white guys entered the bar looking for yet another excuse to “drink as much beer as possible” and “get away from the nagging wife for a change”. One such (not so) delightful lad decided that that I should “immediately leave the pub” and head out with “him and the boys” to “have a much better time” all words were whispered in my ear as he proceeded to stand behind me whilst putting his hands around my waist. I’m not going to dwell on this but I do think it’s important to not only call out awful behaviour at gigs but also praise artists who back up their fans when they see this happening. I may be 5’3 however I’m not one to be walked over, and when I fronted this particular (dickhead) gentlemen Dave stopped the set and continued to call him out on stage. And for this I am thankful. Because the gig was incredible. A really flipping solid set from a great group of musicians that really killed it on stage. Claws & Organs are a band that I personally cannot wait to see perform at Sad Grrrls fest, as they bring their own brand of shoe grunge and banter to the masses. My advice to you. Look out for each other, be decent human beings, and listen to Claws & Organs.