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Claws and Organs on fresh starts, hard yards, and staying grounded

“If you’re in a band you should be doing it because it’s fun, not because you want to become some huge megastar.”

Melbourne three-piece Claws and Organs have been lying low for a while. The post-punk, garage-rockers put out their first EP back in 2013 and followed up with I Am Scum and Nobody Should Love Me, before practically falling off the grid.
 
Fast forward to 2018 and they’re back on scene, equipped with a new drummer and two new tracks.
 
“We’ve ramped up a little bit as of late,” says singer and guitarist Dave Crowe. “We had a quiet patch for maybe 12 months, but we’ve re-energised and had a bit of a lineup change, which has been a real breath of fresh air.”
 
Crowe, alongside Heather Thomas on bass/vocals and Miranda Holt on drums, make up Claws and Organs as we now know them. However, the band has seen a lot of changes over the years.
 
“Initially it was me and two other dudes, so since it started I’m the only one that’s stuck,” Crowe laughs. “Heather joined four or five years ago because I wanted to get more of a Pixies vocal. So, like the harsh male vocal, and then more of a sweet female vocal to contrast it.”
 
Welcoming Thomas into the group helped push their sound in a new direction, forcing Crowe to approach their music in a different way. This allowed them to carve out their own style, setting themselves apart from other bands in the post-punk genre.
 
“I think over time my songwriting has adapted to fit in with hers a lot more. It’s probably a bit more distinct rather than just run-of-the-mill garagey punk stuff we did to begin with.”
 
Then, last year the trio had a shake-up, with their former drummer deciding to give up the sticks and part ways with the group. Band breakups are often construed as messy or hostile, but Crowe insists that wasn’t the case.
 
“It was one of those things where he wasn’t feeling it anymore,” he explains. “People vary in what they want to do and what they can commit to. We’re still friends so it’s not like it was bitter.”
 
However, his departure did leave Thomas and Crowe feeling unsure about the future of Claws and Organs. They were forced to think about whether the band was something they wanted to continue with, and how much energy they could afford to invest in it. Thankfully, they were introduced to Holt by a mutual friend, and her inclusion sparked a fresh wave of inspiration for the rockers.
 
“Once we got Miranda, our new drummer in, we went for it. It was a real reinvigorating experience, and it’s like starting a new band without having to start a new band. You’ve already got a set dynamic and it’s just finding out where that person sits within that dynamic, and that was, fortunately, a very easy process.”
 
Riding that high allowed the trio to get stuck into recording new music, as well as make a triumphant return to the live circuit. Not only have they been playing gigs all over the city, but they also managed to win a spot on the VB Hard Yards lineup, and will be representing Victoria when the tour kicks off in October.
 
“We didn’t really expect too much to come out of it to be perfectly honest,” Crowe says. “There were posters up on Facebook, online stuff everywhere, which I didn’t really notice for a while. Then we thought it actually looked like a pretty decent competition, so we thought ‘Why not give it a go? You’ve got to be in it to win it,’ and turns out we actually ended up winning.”
 
They were one of 600 bands from Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales to enter the competition, and secured their place on the lineup through public votes. Having a tight-knit music community in Melbourne helped the three-piece take out the win, but it also made the voting and promoting process somewhat tricky to navigate.
 
“There are only so many opportunities that you can get so that competition element can come into it pretty easily,” explains Crowe. “When we were promoting it, someone jumped on and had a bit of a rant ‘Music’s not a competition and this, that and the other,’ which I kind of understand.
 
“We were up against Going Swimming and Shiny Coin, who are both bands that we’ve played with in the past. So, it was almost bittersweet in a lot of ways, because when it’s such a good bunch of bands that you would love to see get this kind of attention, you wish it could go round.”
 
The VB Hard Yards is designed to give up-and-coming bands the chance to mingle with headliners like Alex Lahey, Raave Tapes, Waax and Tired Lion, as well as gain exposure to an interstate audience. It’s undoubtedly a leg up for the group, as well as a pat on the back for what they do.
 
“It’s a good acknowledgement for the amount of work that gets put in, for the lack of recognition a lot of the time,” Crowe says. “If you’re in a band you should be doing it because it’s fun, not because you want to become some huge megastar. Because, if we’re being honest, it’s probably not going to happen.
 
“That’s not to say if we didn’t win we’d just be going ‘oh, this sucks’ but we’re stoked. It really helps you want to stay motivated and keep doing what you’re doing.”

Catch Claws and Organs at Northcote Social Club on Wednesday October 13, for the Melbourne leg of VB Hard Yards. Register online for your chance to be there at the VB Hard Yards website.