Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
For me, a big reason on why I write music can be traced back to May 25th, 2018. That was the day I saw my favorite band of all time, Queens of the Stone Age, play at the Dome Arena in Rochester, New York. I remember being out of my mind with excitement leading up to the show, but once the lights dimmed and the band started playing the first couple notes of 'A Song for the Deaf', everything around me kind of faded away and all I could do was watch them play the music they loved and think; "That's what I want to do with my life," Since then, I've been writing and releasing original music. Currently, I have a single out right now called Migraine, but more music is on the way.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
The craziest thing that's ever happened to me during my music career is definitely being able to work with the people I did for the recording of the Migraine single and my upcoming EP of the same name. George Rebello from the Bouncing Souls and Hot Water Music providing drums, and Nick Ruroede from Lost in Society providing bass was such a crazy thing to wrap head around. Hearing them going wild on their parts in the studio brought my musical vision together in a way that I don't think anyone else could have done. It was also amazing to work with John Seymour from Media51. John is credited with working with bands like U2, Santana, Dave Matthews, Sick Of It All, Thursday and more. It was an absolute pleasure working with these guys, and everything came together perfectly.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I would say the high point of my musical path so far would be the Migraine EP recording sessions. It was really amazing being able to sit down and work with the people that I worked with. I felt really creatively free and the music we laid down was exactly how I envisioned it in my head. There's still a lot more to come though, and I can't wait to get back into the studio and work with those guys again.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
As a solo artist, I approached songwriting very differently than I did with my previous band Sunsets From Jupiter. Instead of group brainstorming sessions, now I sit down, pick up a guitar and my note-book, and try things out. Usually things work out really well and I'll walk away from a writing session with a ton of new ideas that I can spin into songs. From there, I'll expand or combine ideas to form new songs. After that, I'll start workshopping lyrics using a pretty similar process of taking ideas I have and expanding on them or combining them with others to form full lyrics. Every now and then I'll have some duds, but I always hold onto them in case they can be added to other songs in the future. My key thing is that I'm always coming up with new guitar riffs or lyrics here and there. Though some of them might take some time to fit into a song properly, I always hold onto them and to use them in any way I can.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
I would say the biggest problem facing Indie Artists today would definitely be getting your name and music out there. We live in an age of technology where there are millions of bands and artists available at your fingertips, so the biggest problem I've noticed was how hard it is to get above and afloat on top of the seemingly endless sea of artists and bands. It’s definitely a daunting task, but one that I’m ready to face and push through.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
The band that comes to mind when I think of bands I would like to share a stage with is Idles. Ever since I discovered Idles a couple of years ago, they have been one of my favorite bands. I think the sounds that they produce on their albums are really inspiring and make me want to push myself and my instruments to their limits just like they do. I also had the pleasure of seeing Idles recently on Sept. 15th at King’s Theatre in Brooklyn. They sounded awesome, had an absolutely amazing stage presence and put on a phenomenal show. If I ever had the chance, I would jump on the opportunity to share a stage with Idles.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsals generally see me and whoever I’m playing with forming a set and running it 2 or 3 times. From there, we’ll pick certain songs to come back to and smooth out parts or transitions to make sure that everything sounds as good as it can. Since it’s a live show, we might change things up in some songs structure-wise. We might extend solos, extend bridges so we can fit band introductions in or mess around with song endings and transitions to make the set run smoother. From there, if time allows it and we have room in the set, we might sneak a cover in for fun.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
The song that posed the biggest challenge for me to write was definitely Migraine. Even though it’s a relatively simple guitar riff, Migraine went through a couple different versions, each with their own takes on a driving chord progression, with different rhythms and melodies. I wanted Migraine to sound loud and in-your-face while also remaining groovy and easy to get into, and a big part of that was making sure that the main guitar part and vocals pulled you in right away. In the end I settled on a progression made up of only a handful of power chords and that did the job perfectly. From there, I expanded the song by writing aggressive, shouty lyrics and adding in a solo that’s full of screaming bends and smooth slides. Going and listening to the final version of Migraine definitely makes me think I achieved everything I was aiming for and more.
What's coming up in the future?
The next big thing that I have in store is the rest of the upcoming Migraine EP. The Migraine single was just a taste of everything that’s coming soon and in addition to Migraine, I have 3 more songs that make up the full Migraine EP. I’ve also been writing more music ever since I finished the recording sessions for the Migraine EP, so even though I might not have a name for an album yet, the wheels are definitely turning and everything’s moving in that direction.
Tell us where fans can access your music?
One of the easiest places to find my music is through my website. I have links to all major streaming platforms there, as well as the links to my social media accounts. You can find my website at https://claykunegomusic.com/ and you can find my Linktree page, which has all of my streaming links and social media links, at https://linktr.ee/claykunegomusic .
About Clay Kunego
Clay Kunego is a solo songwriter and instrumentalist out of Red Bank, New Jersey. Clay’s music lends itself to a diverse, yet cohesive grouping of grunge, punk, hard rock and more. Clay also appeared as a member of Sunsets From Jupiter as their Singer and Guitarist. You can hear Clay’s music in his first ever single as a solo artist, Migraine. More music is on the way so stay tuned!