Interview with Blood Tide’s Matthew Clagg

We checked in with Blood Tide creator Matthew Clagg ahead of the release of his bands second EP release, GNARLY, streaming everywhere on June 19.

Deathforms: How did Blood Tide form?

Matthew Clagg: Blood Tide began as a series of recording experiments. I was hearing sounds and feeling things that were someways parallel and someway a full departure from music I was making in bands at the time. I also love to learn, so I think I just wanted to do something hard and take a side route to finally playing guitar, and learn how to record and learn how to write my own songs. I had been writing on guitar since around 2006, but I didn’t take any of that work seriously until much more recently. One of those old ideas was the first thing I recorded, originally called Spanish Boots, it was written and recorded on a classical guitar into an iMac built in mic into Garageband. The basis of that became Piss In The Streets, the opening track on Gnarly.

After a batch of four songs had been written that were all bass and drum driven, I picked up my guitar again during an acid trip. I hadn’t played guitar in about three years after I became very self doubting. I sat in a square hallway and played the guitar, that only had three strings left on it at the time. I played it very slowly and enjoyed the reverberations and decays of the notes that turned into weird chords. I ended up chasing that for a while and that led to a few years of focused practicing, trying to achieve the sound I was hearing and feeling inside me. At one point during this effort Mason Monigold was in the room and sat down on the drums and then, boom, everything sounded great and just fell into place, then Blood Tide stopped being the name that I used for a catch all for one off experiments and became a full fledged band.

After a year of playing and recording our first EP, Doug Horacio Holguin Lynn asked us seconds after finishing a donut shop set if he could join us playing bass. We put him on a one year trial period which he has passed. I love my bandmates so much, they are my brothers and my life would be less exciting without them.

DF: What is your favorite song on the new album, GNARLY? Why?

MC: All of them are favorites at different times. Times of day, periods of the week, emotional highs and lows. Each one comes from and opens up a door to a whole realm of thoughts and feelings. The one I need to access the most often, though, is Failure Meditation. I fuck up many many times a day and I need a constant reminder that I have indeed survived each one, so this ends up being a very functionally useful song to listen to.

DF: What dictated the song order on GNARLY?

MC: The conscious and subconscious efforts and decisions of the group. At the time of decision it suddenly seemed obvious, like it had always been one way, and would always be one way. I think the record starts fast and wild, exciting and weird with Piss In The Streets. It’s a fun one to open shows with, too. Then it gets murkier with some deep digging into personal duality on Where Did We Find the Power. Failure Meditation just had to be third, probably to come after Where Did We Find The Power. It’s like an answer – yes you will always be an asshole, get over it and try harder. On The Last Night From Within a Dream is sort of soothing, which I always like in a final song. But it also puts all the other ideas and emotions in a place, and to rest.

DF: What’s your favorite Blood Tide song to play live and why?

MC: I’ve always wanted this to be an impossible question and I think that we’ve achieved that. It would be easier to pick my favorite hiking trail, though that too would be impossible. Even if you narrowed it to Kansas hiking. Each song, for us, is a wildly different path. Different valleys, different trees, different skies. Generally during sets we all just look at each other in between songs to try and get a consensus as to what we should play next based on how we are all feeling. Usually once a name is spoken out loud it becomes super inevitable, like it of course is THE only song that could be played next. So each set carries a totally different weight, even if the same six songs are played, the order affects the performance of each one.

DF: Who are your main musical influences, for this band specifically and in general.

MC: The sound of locusts, death rattles, post-rock bands that get heavy and heavy bands that get pretty. Sounds that get the blood pumping, sounds that bring tears, sounds that bring laughter. Sounds that sound like life refusing to die. Sounds that you hear in the dark.

DF: What’s up next for Blood Tide?

MC: We have another four songs in the works that may bloom up to six in time for recording. We’ll keep playing shows, we’ll make more friends, we’ll write more jams and we’ll open our hearts to more plants.

DF: What other projects are you working on?

MC: Right now Mystery Blood is preparing to record an EP, Saura Mandala is working on an LP, Concubine is recording our first demo, Rival Cliques is blasting off into gear space as we explore every possible sound we could make, Dougie Jones & the Sonny Jims are writing the next three records simultaneously, and I’ve been making a lot of videos.

DF: What drives you to stay so busy?

MC: Ever since I knew what art was I wanted to make it, but it took me until relatively recently to really get going. I remember sitting for hours as a kid not knowing what I should be drawing, then drawing the same few shapes over and over. A house, a swing set, and jet planes. Now that I’ve seen, heard, and read art and lived thirty-four years of life in this fucked up world that is full of beauty and love, I know what I want to draw and what I want to make music about. I have an ocean of ideas and a puddle of time in which they might be brought to life. Every second of life is precious. I love my down time, but ever since I started making art, making art is my downtime. I don’t work hard, I relax hard. Which just happens to involve and look exactly like hard work.

Check out GNARLY, streaming everywhere on June 19 and on audio cassette through This Ain’t Heaven Recording Concern.

Photo credit: Joe Simpson

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