With word of Jeff Clarke and crew's upcoming Fall tour with King Khan and the Shrines; Hellshovel debuts the all-American roadside attraction feature, "Drifting Through the USA". The video from Simon Letourneau and Lucie Vedel has you drifting through long stretches of road like a common cold, on the lonesome highways beneath the all encompassing blue sky. The motif of smoldering billows and vapors of smoke permeate the entire video, to match Jeff Clarke's chorus howl and call of; "I can see your eyes are rising from white smoke".
Searching for smoke signals in those vacant skies, the guitars simmer and boil as you are brought to the slow wind motion wave of old glory fixed proud, tall, and upright. Passing through the interstates we pass a truck on fire, as the scenery quickly changes to forest pavement trails, to alongside rainy water ways. The most eye catching are the expanses of desert lands where the group's primordial drums give way to barbecue pits and interludes of cactus prickled Arizona adventures. Film clip images of the band performing are combined with cloudy images taken from the passenger coach windows of vans, buses, and planes. As the "rising from white smoke" mantra becomes chanted in an increased intensity of immediate emergency; their KFJC performance of "Drifting Through the Galaxy" trades traversing the cosmos for an intergalactic coast to coast experience across the nation's golden interstates.
So with Hellshovel's upcoming tour with King Khan and the Shrines just around the corner, we began to badger Jeff Clarke about stories from his former band Demon's Claws, endless tales of debauchery gone awyr, and retelling stories of kicking with Khan, the Shrines, and the family.
What are some of your favorite and worst memories of Demon's Claws?
Favorite memories and worse combined; in hind sight, was during a flight to Bordeaux to start a European tour and having to convince the stewardess not to queue the pilot to begin a decend into the nearest airport too have our drummer Brian arrested after he drank a two sixths of rum and began this strange looking act of raising his arms up and then straight down onto the stranger seated directly in front of his seat's head. He repeated this until the guy of course leaned forward to avoid the next blow. Enraged Brian threatened him and demanded he turn back around , the stewardess intervened and offered Brian a muffin, he grabbed it and while telling her 'I don't eat muffins' squished it and chucked it on the floor. I began to panic because I could see all of the other stewardesses congregating discussing what to do about him. So I snuck the remainder of the rum from the off the floor at his feet and gave it to them, as soon as it was gone he seemed to instantly fall asleep. And every one relaxed. The next day he recalled nothing.
Or once in New York while there to record, our driver did too much coke the night before and with the anxiety it caused, he decided that we all needed to go home early because his grandmother had died five days before we had left Montreal and all the sudden he decided he needed to be there, but not before he had committed to driving us too New York. A week prior I had offered him him the option of not coming to New York but he insisted .
Now he wanted me to pack up the band before the recording had even started!
Meanwhile The rest of the band was passed out from the party. I knew they would have easily given into a early ride home. Not wanting this I knew I had to get rid of the driver. So I told him that, 'since your grandmother never made any records while she was alive, by you staying in New York in spite of her funeral, that this is a way she could pitch in on one dead '.
Affronted, the next instant he was squealing away in his car leaving us behind. The next morning and without mention of my having provoked this outcome, I broke the news to the others that the driver had in fact abandoned us. We ended up recording, 'Lazer Beams', and 'All Three Eyes', the next day. then had too spent $500 on bus tickets home.
Damn. So then, how do you describe the transition from the 'Claws to Hellshovel?
I would describe the transition from Demonsclaws to Hellshovel as a frozen turd being drawn from the freezer and being left beside the sink to slowly thaw, giving Dox and myself at the time a creative clean slate and the freedom to drift away from Montreal. We spent the next two years moving and touring Europe. Compared to Demon's Claws, the songs are slower and more spacey. We harness and manipulate the chaos. Where as Demon's Claws was often out of control for better or for worse.
Favorite memories of kicking it with King Khan and the Shrines?
Best times kicking it with the Shrines were in general while living in Berlin, Fredovitch had bought a bar and King Khan and his wife and I convinced him to hire me as his helper. Fred would shuck oysters while I would fuck everyone's drinks up. I have a terrible memory and no matter how many times Fred showed me how to make the same cocktails, two minutes later I would be making hybrids of two or three different drinks. Adding rum when it was vodka, and vodka when it was rum, or sometimes not putting alcohol In them at all. Fred never complained, God bless him. Fred was way too nice, he would forgive massive bar tabs for all the customers. Needless to say the bar Le Circle Rouge did not survive six months….
I was also living with the Khan family that winter in their living room next to the heater. Many years ago when the children were little, Khan told them I was their grandpa. They've seen me hung over complaining about hemorrhoids enough that they still believe it. Mirko from the Shrines was also the drummer for Hellshovel during this period. We love him. We've been to Sardinia and Israel together among other places.
What can you tell us about any extracurricular plans you all might have on your upcoming tour?
Extracurricular activities in America will include a visit to the Crystal Caves and the Apache Trail in Arizona
Is the "Drifting Through the USA" Simon Letourneau and Lucie Vedel part of the Hellshovel vision of the ultimate American road trip?
'Drifting Through the Galaxy" is an edited collection of videos Simon had taken on the last tour. Simon is also on top of being the bass player is a professional photographer from Paris. Please check out his work here or here.
Releases and collaborations that maybe brewing in the works?
Our new record will come out in the spring of next year. We are recording it at Bauer Mansion with Eric Bauer in San Francisco at the end of this tour. We are also heading to Greece to collaborate with our best buddies acid baby Jesus on another Voyager 8 album.
Catch Hellshovel on the following Fall dates with King Khan and the Shrines:
11 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah #
12 – Los Angeles, CA – Culture Collide Festival #
13 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s SF #
14 – Portland, OR – Dante’s #
15 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theater #
16 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s #
17 – Boise, ID – Neurolux #
18 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge #
19 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge #
20 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar #
21 – St. Paul, MO – The Turf Club #
22 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #
23 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge #
24 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Grog Shop #
25 – Detroit, MI – Magic Stick #
26 – Toronto, CAN – Horseshoe Tavern #
27 – Montreal CAN – Cabaret la Tulipe #
29 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall #
30 – New York, NY – Webster Hall #
31 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer #
01 – Washington, DC – Black Cat #
02 – Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall #
04 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West at King Plow Arts Center #
05 – Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree #
06 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia Bar #
08 – Lake Charles, LA – Dharma
09 – Houston, TX – Notsuoh
12 – El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls #
13 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom #
14 – Tucson, AZ – Topaz $
15 – Palm Desert, CA – Hood Bar
16 – Los Angeles, CA – Ham & Eggs Tavern
17 – Santa Rosa, CA – 1067 4th St. @
# = w/ King Khan and the Shrines!
$ = w/ Weed
@ = w/ Guantanamo Baywatch