The Pitch: Is this the first time you've toured the United States?
Claude Hay: Yeah. I kinda did a few gigs on the West Coast, but they were just random gigs a couple years ago, not a proper tour.
Being as how you're a one-man band, what do you bring with you, in terms of equipment?
It's always a bit of a logistic nightmare. I've got about four large flight cases, so I’m carrying, like, a small kick drum and snare, and things to trigger all my cymbals and that kind of stuff. Then, all of my effects pedals and boards. Generally, I bring two guitars, as well. I've got a double-necked, twin-neck kind of thing which is a bass and a guitar. I bring a sitar, as well, so there's quite a bit of gear. It's an absolute nightmare, and that's about the absolute smallest I can bring with me when I travel on an airplane.
There was a recent interview with Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs on Sound Opinions, where she talked about the perils of looping in a live situation. Do you have any issues, or do you have it down at this point?
I kind of get in there and practice on a song for a couple of months before I'll test it live. Really got to know it almost subliminally just to feel really comfortable. If you muck it up, it does kind of ruin it. It is a bit of a challenge to get everything down. There is a lot going on that I've got to hit. My feet are playing the drums in real time — hitting the cymbals and kicks and all that sort of stuff — and I'm basically just looping bass lines. It is basically kind of a challenge to get down. But once you get going, once you get used to it, it seems to be kind of all right.
Generally, if I've got a new song, I'll spend a couple of months on it in the studio, when I can — if I've got time off. I do probably spend 11 months out of the year on the road, in Australia. There's a lot of touring, so it's quite hard for me to practice my new songs. Generally, if I hit a new town, or if I've got a couple of nights off, I'll sort of jam on it there in a studio. Or I tour around in a motor home in Australia. I've got my own little space there, with a generator and battery system. I've got all sorts of amplifiers in there that I can plug into and sort of jam in the middle of nowhere, if I need to.
Do you find yourself in the middle of nowhere often? I know there's a lot of open space in Australia.
Most of the touring places I do are on the coast. I don't really go through the middle of Australia, because there's not many venues or gigs there. I do pretty much travel from north to south, constantly. That's where I do most of my work: along the coast.
I kind of like it. After a gig in a small town, I drive down to the beach — we've got lovely coastal beaches in Australia — and just park there with the motor home. Waking up in the morning, right on the beach, you pull out your guitar and have a bit of a jam. It's kind of where I do a lot of the work. If it's a nice little town, out the way there, you can pull up and do your work. It's a nice sort of environment. It's a good place to write music.