Capital Region punk/metal industrial rock legends The Clay People busted out of the underground over the weekend, playing their first hometown gig in years on Friday, June 17th at Albany’s Empire Live. The enduring icons not only gave fans a preview of their forthcoming studio album, Cult Hypnotica, but also used the occasion to debut their very own comic book.
From modest beginnings in the underground Industrial Darkwave scene, to the breakout release of their self-titled major label debut, it has been a long, strange journey for these Albany rockers. Born from the unique creative bond of Daniel Dinsmore, Brian McGarvey and Daniel Neet, The Clay People first started making music together in 1989. In the decades that followed, the band would add guitarist Jared Weed and bass player Eric Braymer and go on to share the stage with internationally known touring acts such as Stained, Static X, Clutch, Rob Zombie, Disturbed, Filter and Stabbing Westward to name a few. In 2020, the band seemingly rose from the dead and released Demon Hero and Other Extraordinary Phantasmagoric Anomalies & Fables, a bold and massive sounding album that sent a clear message: this band is far from finished.
In fact, 2022 is shaping up to be one of The Clay People’s most prolific years in quite some time. Having spent the pandemic unleashing their trapped energy and recording a deep library of new tracks, the band just put the finishing touches on their latest studio album, the highly anticipated Cult Hypnotica, which is set to drop on July 1st with supporting dates expected to be announced shortly thereafter. To help get the hype train going a bit, The Clay People decided to treat some of their oldest and most dedicated fans to a taste of the new material during a hometown throwdown performance at the new, yet familiar Empire Underground in downtown Albany, a venue highly reminiscent of the former Northern Lights in Clifton Park where TCP played some of their most legendary shows.
Opening the performance with a bit of a mash-up cover of Lo Fidelity Allstars “Battle Flag,” it wasn’t long before the bedlam picked up proper with “Colossus,” the song that inspired the band’s new comic book of the same name. The comic, which was collaboratively produced by Top Cow Productions, Inc and Epitome Studios, was one sale for the first time at the bands merch table. After a squealing version of “NoW,” The Clay People then busted out a song everyone in attendance seemed to know, “Plug” off their 1998 breakthrough self-titled album.
You can’t give inLyrics from “Plug”
Living in this guilt of sin
Losing your grip
What can you make of it?
Are you a part of it?
You can’t give in
Spending much of the show perched on top of the front row barricade, frontman Daniel Neet’s stage presence was powerful and commanding. Dressed all in black, wearing sunglasses and resembling the late Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) a bit, Neet’s unique voice effortlessly shifted from gravely baritone, to spoken word, to all out fits of shouting rage. Still sounding great after all these years, Neet poured everything he had into this performance and with enough vigor of a man half his age.
After “Plug,” The Clay People would then debut a series of songs off their upcoming album, including “Turn Me On,”” Cult Hypnotic,” “Drugs,” She Loves,” and ” Destroy All Humans,” before returning to the TCP staples like “X-Ploding Head” and “Pariah” which had the whole crowd banging their heads in unison and shouting “I don’t want to die here.” After working their way through “Strange Day,” the band would then play the most commercially successful song in their catalog, 1998’s irresistible riff heavy classic anthem, “Awake” and finally bring the performance to a close with one of their oldest songs, “Stone.”
A little older and wiser, but just as intense. While their sound has evolved over the years, The Clay People have always stayed true to their heavy punk roots and despite the odds, have managed to stay relevant for more than thirty years. Outlasting most of the bands they came up with and with a new album right around the corner, it almost feels as if The Clay People have found the fountain of youth. With the type of physically demanding music they play and their equally demanding stage show, you have to wonder how long these guys can perform at this type of level. When contemplating that very question, vocalist Dan Neet simply grinned and said, “Like a cockroach. You can’t get rid of me. We’ll keep going until we’re dead.” Cult Hypnotica comes out on July 1st.
The Clay People | June 17, 2022 | Albany, NY | Empire Underground
Setlist: Battle Flag (intro), Colossus, NoW, Plug, Turn Me On, Cult Hypnotic, Drugs, She Loves, Destroy All Humans, X-ploding Head, Strange Day, Pariah, Awake, Stone
Check out the full gallery of photos from the show and fan recorded video of “X-ploding Head,” “Awake” and “Stone,” below from NYS Music Photographer Zak Radick