A couple of years ago Aleksei Plinte packed his bags and headed across to the United States to imbibe the American rock ’n’ roll scene. It was a journey that would satiate his thirst for rock ’n’ roll and provide the catalyst for the formation of Plinte’s two-piece dirty-rock band Clavians. Armed with two guitars he’d bought while in the US, Plinte teamed up with Tim Ali on drums and Clavians were born.
Plinte’s previous musical outlets had been the odd solo show and the obligatory high school band. Ali’s jazz background provided the ideal foil Plinte’s jagged guitar licks. “I met Tim about two years ago when I got back from a trip overseas. I travelled around America for about seven months and I saw music seven nights a week,” Plinte recalls. “I’d pull out the street press and go and see live music. I came back to Australia pretty dishevelled with a whole bunch of songs, got in contact with another drummer, but he couldn’t do it. Tim and I went off to his basement and we’ve been playing together ever since,” he grins happily.
It was through immersing himself in the American live music scene that Plinte found the inspiration and discipline to write the first batch of Clavians songs. “Basically it was just through hitting the road and seeing a lot of music. I was fortunate enough to see bands that two years later are finally getting some exposure in Australia,” Plinte explains.
While the Melbourne music scene remains the source of some of Australia’s most potent music, the US provided a critical mass of rock and punk attitude. “I’ve got a big appreciation for Australian music, and the local scene in Melbourne, but I saw a lot of things over there that made me want to pick up my instrument and play as loud as I could,” Plinte remembers. He also found himself in New York the night CBGBs closed its doors. “I was lucky enough to be at CBGBs on the last night when Bad Brains were playing,” Plinte points out. “I didn’t actually have a ticket but the bouncer took pity on me – I said I was from Australia and only over for a few more nights, and that I just wanted to put my head around the door. So he let me in for a little bit – it was mind blowing for those few moments. And the bar staff were kind enough to give me a t-shirt,” he chuckles.
Back in Australia, and Plinte and Ali started working up the raucous two-piece rock ’n’ roll act that would eventually be christened Clavians. “We were originally going to be called The Latvians, but we dropped that,” Plinte explains. “It ended up being this mythical name – it’s a cult who worship the moon. Clavians are a group of craters on the moon. Clavians are a part of mythology who used to believe the craters were divine eyes looking down on top of them. They were called the Cult of the Clavians. So it’s got a bit of mystery to it.”
Being one half of a two-piece band also has its advantages and disadvantages. “The best thing is being able to collaborate and both having an equal say without really any conflict,” Plinte notes. “Logistically it’s great, and there’s also an element of surprise on stage because we’ve quite a big sound – or at least we’ve been told that after our shows. The worst thing is probably not having a roadie to carry all our gear.
“Musically I suppose it would good to be able to get more ideas on board, so maybe it’s a bit restricting. But Tim and I are really passionate about going out and seeing new live music, so we make sure we go out at least two times a week. I’ve always worked around music, so the passion’s there.”
And therein lies the challenge of making yourself heard in a live scene already saturated with great bands. For Clavians, however, the pleasure is in the performance, not artificial notions of success. “We don’t really view it like that – we’ve always said to each other that whatever happens with the music, or airplay or cred or whatever happens along the line is just a bonus because we just enjoy it so much. In terms of opportunities for our recent tour, that’s been amazing, just being able to show our music to more people.”
Clavians have already released a debut EP, with another EP scheduled for early next year. “Everything’s done by us; from recording through to promotion, it’s all off our own backs,” Plinte explains. “We’ve been in bands previously where you get your money and you piss it up against the wall, but we’ve made a pact not to do that this with this outfit, and just put it toward the next record.”
Plinte is also keen for Clavians to get their music out into the public domain while it’s still fresh. “We haven’t gone the LP just yet, because being a two-piece we find we write so much, and some of these songs we just don’t want to dwell on,” he figures. “We have been at the stage when we can record them all in one setting, and we don’t want them to go stale, so we just want to release them. So if we can release an EP with six or seven tracks every six months or so, we’ll be pretty happy.”
Consistent with the duo’s affection for rock ’n’ roll, Clavians are working towards a vinyl release. “That’s the way things seem to be going,” Plinte acknowledges. “The aesthetics and warmth of vinyl is attractive to a lot of people. We’ve got quite a few friends who’ve released records on vinyl and just having it in front of you is pleasing.”
CLAVIANS launch their kickarse new single Skins at Pony this Friday December 17. They’re also playing The Espy NYE party on December 31 with Oh Mercy, British India and a million other rad bands – and you can check out myspace.com/clavians for a taste of Clavians’ next EP, and to buy their debut EP from earlier this year.