By Kevin Heffernan
Clump flexes in debut with fresh style.
Kameron Plotner, Brandon Schlia and Jacob Smolinski make up CLUMP, whose debut album Stupid Idiot releases this Friday May 14.
“We originally got together to act as a backing band for Jake’s solo project (Wylie Something) as part of his performance at the label’s 9 year anniversary showcase (Feb 2020). We had so much fun doing that, we decided to stick together and take a new name, start writing some songs and see what happens,” says Schlia, who plays bass, guitar, synths, and occasionally approaches the mic. (Schlia also wrote and recorded the theme song to our bi-weekly Rise Report).
It may be their debut album, but it sounds like their third or fourth. There’s confidence in CLUMP’s neo-psych, post-punk, whimsical rock style. Likely from the combined years of experience each member brought to the table.
“From the very beginning we tried to put an emphasis on operating as a democracy where all artistic decisions, music or otherwise, had to pass through three separate brains before anything became concrete. For example, all the lyrics and vocal melodies on this album were written as a collective. Jake would make the first pass, then Kam and I would revise and redirect certain elements and then finalize it by consensus. The power of threes is a major tenant of what makes us CLUMP,” adds Schlia.
“Cut the cord. You don’t live there anymore. Take a break. Take a drag.”
– (From “86D”)
CLUMP’s music and lyrics dance up and down, reflecting a cycle of failing, lessons learned, attempting to move forward, and tripping up again. Desperate to move on, but unable to stop looking back. Vocals from Smolinski are powerful and confident, tones that evoke Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals. Now listening to the entire album for the 8th time, I’m taken to some other place and era. I can imagine hearing CLUMP out of a window, rehearsing in some hot Allentown apartment on a sticky Saturday afternoon in August.
“We’d only just started to gain some songwriting momentum when the pandemic set in – so we shifted from in-person practices to online file sharing to complete the writing process for this debut album. During that time Kam suggested we try and find a neutral location with a lot of open air to try and record the album with as little risk as possible. It so happened that Jake’s family owns land out in Humphrey, NY where they have an award-winning blueberry patch as well as a relatively isolated cabin. We rolled in there, setup and tracked the entirety of the Stupid Idiot LP over the course of three days, then brought it home to mix.”
Drums/Backup Vox – Kameron Plotner
Bass/Guitar/Synths/Backup Vox – Brandon Schlia
Vox/Guitar – Jacob Smolinski
Additional backups on “Dumb Shit” by Jazmine Frazier
Created at Wa Tera Swo Cabin, Curlys, and the Dojo I
from September to December 2020
Produced by CLUMP in Buffalo, NY
Engineered and Mixed by Brandon Schlia
Mastered by John Bohn
Artwork by Justin Ford