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IN CONVERSATION: John Clay Talks With Leisure Tank

Leisure Tank are an alt-rock three piece (formerly two) who’ve just released the single ‘We Don’t Burn Anymore’. Not only is the track a bit of an earworm, K.C (singer/guitarist) is quite happy to indulge my questions concerning the suject of love in lyrical content and its incremental impact on the listener.

John Clay: You’ve just released yet another enchanting track with a melody to die for. What came first, the words or the music?

K.C: The part where I sing ‘baby’ over and over again….A Led Zeppelin fan’s wet dream.

John Clay: So that part came first followed by the music? How easy was it to inject meaning into this song of a relationship that’s lost its fire?

K.C: It came with the music. I was playing around with a row of chords and kept singing ‘baby’ on top of it. So both at the same time. I think, when writing a song, it’s mostly all there, when you find the first little bit, like a block of stone for a sculptor and then it is your job to extract the song , shape it and make it accessible. I think these first chords were already about a fading passion, but I needed to find more words and structure to express it and make it into a song.

John Clay: We’re obsessed with love and our music as a global culture never seems to run dry on the subject because of it. Have you ever consciously attempted to sculpt a different subject out of what first appears to focus on love?

K.C: Not consciously, but some songs do have different subjects or are using the trodden old path of love songs to lead to different subjects.

John Clay: Perhaps it’s a case of the medium benefitting from the eccentric worldview of the artist rather than the oddity of the subject matter. The video for the song being full of black balloons comes to mind. What significance do they bear on the track?

K.C: Well, balloons are very decorative, aren’t they. And black balloons are sooo stylish and I look great in them, that’s the selfish main motivation, ha! But apart from that I was hoping the viewer gets a kind of ‘party’s over’ vibe from the balloon scenes.
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John Clay: They do look good in the hut setting. How does the red confetti figure into the equation?

K.C: Contrast? Cheap David Lynch colour code copy….

John Clay: Certainly lends the song a certain emotional disquiet. Care to give the walking in the open spaces some commentary?

K.C: If one loses the connection to a close person it can feel like being thrown into the unknown, the woods, the desert or some kind of wilderness.

John Clay: Is the loss of connection to a person supposed to be part of a relationship? Pop music and mainstream romantic films suggest otherwise.

K.C: I guess that depends. But of course we lose and reconnect in any kind of relationship. I would say it’s a daily struggle.

John Clay: Yes, and yet it’s arguable that people allow the unachievable idealism of romance in songs and movies to distort their expectations. ‘We Don’t Burn’ anymore, or at least the discussion regarding it is refreshing in that way. Where do you stand on the responsibility of the artist/the welfare of their audience?

K.C: You mean if my song can make someone feel better?

John Clay: Yes, that would be good to know, although I was referring to the old question as to how an artist – at least in some quarters – be expected to make art that takes responsibility for what their audience does in direct correlation of a piece. Marilyn Manson got a lot of stick for those school shootings years ago. Can songs about love be written irresponsibly?

K.C: I don’t think our song is a particularly controversial piece to begin with and no action taken by an individual should be blamed on an artist.

John Clay: Understood. Have you ever had your stance tested by any song written by yourself or by a friend, and if so, I’m interested in the details.

J.C: No.

John Clay: Well, with all that said it would be remiss to not get your take on how the pandemic is affecting the band. I’ve asked many musicians about this aspect. How has the lockdown affected Leisure Tank and are there some positives to the situation?

K.C: We are unable to rehearse or play concerts during lockdown. I am using the time to write and luckily we have had some releases in the pipeline. But we won’t be able to play our release concert for ‘We Don’t Burn Anymore’, which is very sad for us. Also recordings have been postponed. But I think we are lucky that we have modern technology to stay in touch and work on songs.

John Clay: I saw you live three times last year for good reason so am a little miffed the show is off. Do you think the new songs will benefit from any insights about this very surreal time we’re in, or is it too soon to tell?

K.C: Oh thank you, always a pleasure to play for you! Ah…good question. I guess we have to brace ourselves for a few upcoming albums focussed on loneliness. But I don’t think my writing is so in touch with the current situation. I would love to be able to digest things that way but I tend to slip into more subconscious inspiration and not deal with what’s right in front of me. I think to keep working, in general, is the tough thing to face right now. Isolation can be really boring and it’s hard to keep the inspiration coming.

John Clay: I for one would be happy to hear a novel take on loneliness from you guys. It’s quite refreshing to speak to an artist that’s willing to wait until they’ve properly ingested the truths of this troublesome time. Care to mention three bands that have been on your radar?

K.C: Do you mean new bands or older influences?

John Clay: No big bands if possible. Bands on the underground. Bands you’ve perhaps played with. Bands that you feel have something genuine to offer others. Blue Statue shared a stage with you last year. Bands on that level.

K.C: We have played with great bands recently.
Pink Suits:
Dead Horse

John Clay: Good to hear, I’m sure (I trust your taste).Thanks so much for talking to me and do let us know here at the blog should you wish to jump upon the watch party/DIY video gig craze. I’m sure we’d love to inform our readers x x

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.