Throughout December, the Henry Clay People are playing free shows each Monday night at The Satellite in Los Angeles, culminating with their annual New Year's Eve gig (which is $10). What we didn't expect to hear from the brothers is that after these shows, the Yorba Linda-bred outfit will be taking a prolonged hiatus, with no plans to move forward in the future. Joey and Andy Siara explained to us why the time is right for the band to take an indefinite hiatus.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): After last doing a residency at The Satellite in 2009, why did you decide to revisit it at this point in your career?
Joey Siara: Having been on the road a lot and outside of a couple of secret shows here and there, kept our local profile minimal the past couple of years, we've gotten away from some of the stuff we've loved like playing these free shows. It's a good point for us, especially since there's a lot of soul searching going on. I'm turning 30, the drummer is leaving the band after this, it's a monumental fork-in-the-road moment that causing us to be sentimental. Recording the live album at The Satellite and working with a cause we believe is representative of the glory years of the band.
Isn't it a little early to say that the glory years of the band are over?
JS: I don't know. We're definitely at a crossroads right now. I think everyone in the band feels that inner buzz that “is this it?” It's definitely a weird moment for the band and there's something cool about not knowing what's going to happen to us next. I think because of that, we are that much more dedicated to making these December shows count and matter, and have all the sentimental value that they should have.
So does this mean the band is going to split or just needs time to refresh and recharge the batteries?
JS: I think we need time to refresh and recharge, but in that time, I think there's a possibility that we're going to come to the conclusion that this is it. I'm reluctant to say that because I don't have any reason to walk away right now. We felt like if we walked away after this record, we'd be proud of it instead of making another record that could be shitty.
Andy Siara: I think the same thing. I think our spirits have been crushed but the music industry by and large after this last record. We poured everything into it and we stand by it, but only a few people heard it.
JS: I disagree with that. I don't think our spirits were crushed by the last record.
AS: Well my spirits have been crushed.
JS: I don't think we ever foresaw the record as being lauded or called historic by people. I think our expectations were pretty reasonable. But at the same time, you put a lot of effort into something, you want to stand by that product and look back in 20 years and be like “I'm proud of this and want to preserve it.”
Do the other bands playing at the shows know that this could be your Last Waltz moment?
JS: Actually, very few people that know our band know what's going on. People out there have heard us say that we don't know how long the band is going to be for and there are some people that will take this with a grain of salt. And maybe they should.
AS: But we are losing our drummer, someone who Joey has been playing with for 18 years and me for 10. That's a very real thing and something we never truly dealt with on that level before.
JS: It's one of those questions like “can The Henry Clay People go on without Eric?” We tried before and it was pretty hard and I don't know if I'm willing to try it. It's like making a pizza without flour.
Was Eric's decision to leave the band the impetus for you guys to reevaluate things?
AS: Not necessarily. Eric leaving the band more directly impacts the idea of what The Henry Clay People are.
JS: I would say that me turning 30 and evaluating where I'm at and where I want to be has had more of an influence than Eric leaving the band. His leaving to pursue architecture is probably the result of the same introspection, which are some the themes addressed in our record. There's a lot of things we've passed up on because of this band. It's such a bizarre, interesting way to run through your twenties. It's full of regret and excitement. I love that the band has given me opportunities to stunt my growth.
Was it worth it?
JS: The net positives outweighed the net negatives. It was worth it because the suffering we've had to deal with in this band is mostly temporary. I hope to live for a long time and look back at the temporary suffering and say “whatever, I got to see the country and got to play music on stages and met some amazing people.” That part was absolutely worth it.
AS: I'm a little younger, but I wouldn't trade it. We made so many new friends and played so many great shows. Before the band, I had only been out of California a couple of times and I have a second home in five different cities now.