Zal Clemin­son’s /Sin’Dogs/

Gui­tarist goes back to his pre-SAHB heavy roots, with the fo­cus on songs rather than make-up and guitar flash.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - Zal Clemin­son’s /Sin’Dogs/’s de­but al­bum Vol 1 is out now, self-re­leased.

Af­ter start­ing out in The Bo-Weavles (“the best-look­ing beat group in Scot­land”), Glaswe­gian gui­tarist Zal Clemin­son grad­u­ated through hard-edged pro­gres­sive rock­ers Tear Gas be­fore mak­ing his name as the half-clown/halfPier­rot co-fo­cal point of mid-70s chart­busters the Sen­sa­tional Alex Har­vey Band. Fol­low­ing SAHB’s split in 1977, Clemin­son joined Nazareth and worked with Elkie Brooks, Midge Ure, Bon­nie Tyler and Fish. Af­ter a brief post-Alex SAHB re­union, Clemin­son ’re­tired’ in ’08. But, as his metal-driven /Sin’Dogs/ project proves, you can’t keep a good clown down.

What prompted your re­tire­ment ten years ago? When we re-formed SAHB we tried a cou­ple of singers be­fore bump­ing into Max Maxwell, who had a great per­son­al­ity and gave the songs his own spin. When we started re­hears­ing with Max I got the bug again: let’s get dressed up, put the make-up back on, put on the full show. So we did some tour­ing.

It all went sweetly, but I was keen to move for­ward. I was writ­ing songs, get­ting new ideas, look­ing to progress, but I didn’t get an aw­ful lot of sup­port. The rest of the band were quite happy to come along and dance to Delilah. I felt like a trib­ute to my­self. So I pulled the plug, moved to Cyprus and took ten years off.

What in­spired your re­turn?

I was in Cyprus for four years, but went through a bad spell with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. I re­alised I had to do some­thing. My first and only thought was to pick up the guitar, mainly as a form of ther­apy. And, lo and be­hold, here’s a song.

Songs started com­ing quickly. I got in touch with our key­board player, David Cowan, to do some record­ing, and ma­te­rial just kept com­ing. So I ended up putting /Sin’Dogs/ to­gether, to get the mu­sic out there.

/Sin’Dogs/ are sig­nif­i­cantly heav­ier than SAHB.

I’ve re­turned to my roots. Tear Gas were a heavy rock band, so I’ve gone full cir­cle. I’m back to play­ing the guitar the way I pre­fer to play it. With SAHB it was very di­verse, lots of dif­fer­ent styles, a lit­tle bit over-in­dul­gent for me. This is me get­ting back to play­ing a more ba­sic heavy rock where you look straight at an au­di­ence and give them ex­actly what they want.

And the re­ac­tion’s been great.

“This is me get­ting back to play­ing a more ba­sic heavy rock.”

You haven’t repli­cated Tear

Gas, though; the /Sin’Dogs/ sound is un­mis­tak­ably con­tem­po­rary. That’s my aim. I’m a big fan of bands with pro­gres­sive orig­i­nal­ity. Ra­dio­head, for ex­am­ple, who are head and shoul­ders above every­one else when it comes to de­liv­er­ing dif­fer­ence, or­ches­trat­ing their songs, pre­sent­ing their mu­sic as a sound­track. Soundgar­den too: very pol­ished, pow­er­ful songs. That’s where my head’s at in terms of writ­ing.

And you’re clearly hav­ing fun.

You’re right. I get an adren­a­line buzz ev­ery time I get dressed up to go on stage. I put out that en­ergy at ev­ery per­for­mance, and when you give it out, you get it back. In SAHB we en­joyed be­ing a nice en­sem­ble band who could play, and play well, but at the same time we wanted to have fun. And I still do. IF

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