Clay J Gladstone | Credit: Supplied

Meet Corey Taylor’s ‘New Fkn Favourite Band’: Sydney’s Clay J Gladstone

Sydney/Eora-based maniacal punk rockers Clay J Gladstone have offered up their latest single ‘Death By Idle Hands; out now via freshly acquired independent record label DefWolf Records. The new song follows April’s ‘Postmodern Teenage Angst’, and further teases a debut album set to drop later in the year.

Coined Corey Taylor‘s “New Fkn Favourite Band” when they supported the Slipknot frontman on his solo tour last December, Clay J’s new single remains on brand with its lyrically neurotic and sonically diverse backbone. Produced by ARIA award-nominated producer Shane “Buddah” Edwards (Trophy Eyes, Hellions), ‘Death By Idle Hands’ is a true story about not being able to sit still – for better or for worse. Music Feeds sat down with Clay J Gladstone’s fearless frontman Tim Wisbey to get to know the Sydney four-piece a little better…

Clay J Gladstone – ‘Death By Idle Hands’

Music Feeds: Introduce yourself— what’s Clay J’s story, and how did the band form? 

Tim Wisbey: We’re Clay J Gladstone from Sydney. Part Blue Mountains, Part inner-Sydney. Initially Clay J was a solo project. Started during the pandemic. Interestingly it started out with electronic emo punk songs, something to keep me busy. I booked a show at The Chippo in 2021 as a bit of fun. Matty (our guitarist) who at the time would be considered an old acquaintance from school (we somewhat had beef when we were 14, ahh teenage love) for some reason showed up at the show. It was me and a PA singing bad versions of what could only be described as Wish-Oliver-Tree-meets-My-Chem. Anyhow, Matty vibed, we got pissed, settled our beef, and agreed to start a band. The rest is history.

MF: How did the name come to be?

TW: The Clay is a reference to the lead character in the Netflix show ’13 reasons why’ because well – I seem to strictly write depressing lyrics. The ‘Gladstone’, is a ref to a pub in Sydney (The Lord Gladstone) that I lived next to for many years cutting my teeth as a struggling 20-something trying to figure shit out. The J, well I just liked the idea of sounding like a rapper. It’s definitely the worst band name ever which is why we love it.

MF: Congrats on your new single 6’Death By Idle Hands’! What does this song mean to you?

TW: It’s a bit of a monologue lyrically. It’s about not being able to sit still, which is probably a good thing for me. The term ‘Idle hands’ means finding trouble by way of boredom. Musically this is probably our biggest, heaviest mosh song yet. The solo is what gets me, it’s so disgusting it makes me feel pretty.

MF: You’ve been teasing a new album — where does this song fit in the midst of new releases? Is it a good indication of what’s to come?

TW: Yeah we’re releasing our debut album at the end of the year. ‘Death By Idle Hands’ is the second single. Without giving too much away, I’d say what you’ve heard gives a taster of the album aesthetic. Noisy, loud, Clay J sprinkles with no fucks given. It’s probably the most honest record we could have made. It gives me anxiety about some of these lyrics going live with how personal some of the tracks are. But such is life. Probably a necessary beast. There will be something for everyone, can’t wait to get it out and move on.

MF: What was the process like for writing this one? Talk us through a day in the studio with Clay J?

TW: Typically I’ll send around a shitty demo. The boys will provide feedback or add to and try some things out to see what sticks. The initial version of this track had the outro as the chorus. I was adamant we needed a nice sounding emo cry-me-to-sleep chorus to offset me screaming ‘Death’. But Cole and Sammy basically told me they hated the chorus which broke my heart. They felt it needed a level up. Something big. In pre-pro, our producer Shane Edwards agreed with the boys. We played with a few chorus versions and nothing was sticking vocally. Sammy sent through a massive riff which just felt right. We tried lyrics, didn’t need it. Just a few La’s. And we had our mosh lord song!

MF: You’ve signed with DefWolf Records – what’s the story there? How did that come about?

TW: We’ve known Dan [Antix] for years. He recorded our first EP Dead Friends. He was starting a label at the same time that there was talk about seeing who we wanted to release the album through. It ended up making sense to just make a decision quickly and work with a guy we trust and who gets shit done. We’re too old to play games or muck around, in an unforgiving industry. We just backed Dan and he backs us. It’s a casual arrangement underpinned by hard work, we’re in it for the right reasons. Release music that we want to. Play shows that we want to. Lose money our way.

MF: You toured with Corey Taylor last year – where he coined you his new fave band. Did you grow up listening to Slipknot?

TW: The boys will prob kill me for saying that I didn’t haha! Obviously I’m a massive fan of the mainstream bangers though!! Some of the fellas are obsessed with Slipknot. I think Matty cried at the gig. Corey was hyping us up the whole tour and even went on a bloody PR rampage pumping us up to random publications. Thanks Corey you ledge!

MF: The DBIH music video shows how anarchic a Clay J show is – what’s been the wildest show you’ve played?

TW: I would have to say our sold out Sydney headline at the Chippo, or perhaps even supporting Hellions a couple of years ago at the Metro. Come back Hellions btw. I think anytime all the boys shirts come off you know it’s been a good show. The Chippo lost a whole lot of roof paint that night, sorry about that!

MF: Quickfire questions… Big room shows or small sweaty shows?

TW: the smaller and grosser the better. 

MF: Horror movies or chick flicks? 

TW: Looking for Alibrandi. Whatever that is. Shout out Pia Miranda. 

MF: Write lyrics or music first?

TW: Both at the same time! Though probably melody over lyrics. It depends really.

MF: Cardio or weights?

TW: Hmm. Depends what I’m obsessed with in any given month haha. I’m a massive BJJ nerd so arguably Cardio by default. Do like some manly, manly weights though. 

MF: Savoury or sweet?

TW: Savoury all day. Cheese and bacon pie, macaroni and cheese and you have my heart. Throw in a Tooheys New and you have my soul.

Further Reading

Love Letter To A Record: Clay J Gladstone’s Cole Wilkins On Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘Transatlanticism’

LISTEN: Sydney Pop-Punks A Swift Farewell & Clay J Gladstone Team Up On Heartfelt New Jam ‘Stressed Out’

Sydney Punks Clay J Gladstone Drop New Single ‘Where Do Ya Want Me?’

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