Tin Pot Clay Man is hitting the ground running in 2022 with the release of ‘What Will They Think’.
Formed in a single bedroom within the throes of lockdown using furniture and household items for soundproofing, Melbourne’s fresh-faced Tin Pot Clay Man arrive with their debut EP ‘What Will They Think?’, released on Thursday, March 24.
The apt new solo project of multi-instrumentalist Gaurav Jaswal, Tin Pot Clay Man’s debut packs a punch with a unique fusion of shoegaze and vibrant 80’s post-punk soundscapes, building in intensity and power, both as it progresses through the five tracks and with repeated exposure.
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Previously creating music for eight years as Dal Santo, Tin Pot Clay Man sees Jaswal take his music to new heights, anchored by powerful vocals, pearly melodies, kinetic rhythms and sonic effects all wrapping and wriggling around each other as perfect complements.
For an artist that traditionally cut his teeth with a blend of ska, indie and reggae music, the rock vibe and prevailing vocals came as a very welcomed change for Jaswal who initially began Tin Pot Clay Man as a means to pass the time in lockdown.
“We [Dal Santo] had big plans going into 2020 until COVID hit and then it was home time. To pass the time I built this makeshift bedroom studio for demoing,” Jaswal explains.
“There were leads, microphones and household items (supposedly for soundproofing) everywhere. It was chaos! But once I started getting some momentum, I realised I was developing a new direction with my sound which I was too excited not to share!
“About a dozen crappy demos later and out came Tin Pot Clay Man.”
Using the lockdown periods to write much of this release, the EP is deeply personal and experimental for Jaswal. Taking inspiration from 80’s pop music like The Cure, Tears For Fears and Madonna, alongside more modern indie/rock and shoegaze bands like DIIV, Beach Fossils and NewDad, the EP epitomises Jaswal as both an expert songwriter and proficient musician.
“A lot of this EP was written in lockdown which I think reflects the mood a little bit. It could be pretty challenging at times with so much time away from family and friends so this was a great way to channel a lot of those emotions,” he says.
“Once I was happy with the writing side of things, the tracking came together really easily. I was also lucky to work with my dear friend and producer SERF (Rory Maxwell) who was really helpful in getting the sound I was after.”
The result is ‘What Will They Think’, a clear-eyed artistic statement spanning five compelling, fierce tracks. Featuring previously released singles ‘Hostile Reset’, ‘Sleepover News’ and ‘Social Parody’ in 2021 (the latter getting a feature on Melbourne’s RRR radio station), the EP further includes opening track ‘At Home’ and closing title track ‘What Will They Think’.
With electricity that is palpable and raw, these five tracks explore themes of isolation, insecurity and grief after navigating a challenging two years, making each piece resonate profoundly with listeners. An overall studio creation of extraordinary dexterity and attention to detail, here Jaswal has presented his most intimate feelings and emotions for the world to see in this cohesive set of tracks in an entirely new songwriting process.
“To be honest, most of the songs I had written for other projects were a lot less serious. But I think writing those songs was still a way to channel more serious emotions and experiences that I had been going through. This experience definitely felt rawer.
“The opening track ‘At Home’ was quite literally written in lockdown, about lockdown but also explores the idea of feeling isolated and wanting to escape without consequence [“Til the oil breaks, I will run away with you…it might offer something or take it all away”].”
Combining a particular emotional potency with incredibly catchy lines and irresistible melodies, the EP also touches on the subject of racism in ‘Sleepover News’ and ‘Social Parody’, inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. The EP also reflects Jaswal’s real-life challenges of assimilating to Australian society in the title track ‘What Will They Think?’, being a first-generation Australian-Indian.
“When I was writing this EP, there was a lot of discussion surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement which made me reflect a little bit about my own experiences growing up in Australia and how I would previously shy away from my own family’s culture. My family moved here when I was 4.
“Being first-generation immigrants can sometimes make you feel lost between where you are and where you’re from. I touch on this with songs ‘Social Parody’ [“I am not a son to God or anyone who watches over me”] and ‘Sleepover News’ [“They’re counting sheep over you and I wanna go home”].
“But I think I really drive the point with the EP’s title track ‘What Will They Think?’ – which I realised more recently was a common question in my own mind when trying to fit in or be more “Australian”. Ignoring your own identity can definitely bring you to breaking point [“The roots are falling out, it won’t hold anymore”].”
While a deep-seated melancholy lies at the heart of these tracks, the heavy feeling is juxtaposed by strong, driving basslines, commanding vocals, big solid drums, purposeful guitar licks and tones, and an ambient, tasteful synth that ties into that 80s feel across the entirety of the release.
Fresh from a debut live gig to a nearly sold-out crowd at The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar and delivering a howling, audacious performance at Aireys Inlet Open Mic Festival, Jaswal performs live on stage with a band, replicating the energy of the studio project.
“Even though this is a solo project in the studio (for now), I was really keen to make this a band on stage. I felt that that would translate the songs best when performed live.
“I was lucky enough to meet Sam Marks (drums) and Lewis O’Brien (bass) last year. My old friend Victor St Clair played with Dal Santo a few times and happened to own a keytar so I begged him to join us. Once we got together, things fell into place easily which made me realise I’d made the right call doing the band thing!”
Poised to be festival crowd-favourites, Tin Pot Clay Man has already proved to be a powerhouse – and one we’ll be paying extra special attention to in 2022.
TPCM will launch ‘What Will They Think?’ at Old Bar on Friday, 25th March supported by Blanco Tranco, SERF and Silent Income.