Based out of Washington, D.C., Black Clover is a self described “experimental” music band, taking on varying genres and sounds based on the song you hear. Born out of a group of friends who started playing together for fun in middle school, the band split as each member pursued their own path. Their upcoming album, appropriately named We Used to Have a Band, focuses on these different courses of life.
Eddie Generazio is perhaps the most recognizable of the group. He became a nude male acrobatic exotic dancer, and was named in October 2013 as Washington D.C.’s “Hottest Stripper and Gogo Dancer” by the Washington Blade for their “Best of Gay D.C.” edition. He also works as a poet, publishing two books, entitled Crimson and Caramel and The Maniac in the Coffee Shop. Meanwhile, Corey Bartos became a Native American interpreter, and Sam Haywood spent his time as a patient at a mental institution.
The band certainly doesn’t shy away from their sordid histories. In fact, they celebrate them and include them in the tracks as inspiration for their music. After close to a year of following Eddie on Facebook, (known on stage as Christian Lezzil), I finally worked up the courage to get past my crush and ask him, and his band mates, a few questions.
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What inspired you to reform this group after the time apart?
Eddie: Well, we’ve always stayed in touch, but it was when Sam lost it. That’s when we all realized that being in a crazy band made us less insane. We found ourselves extremely frustrated with the paths that we were taking. Corey was a Native American Interpreter at Jamestown. I was a stripper, and Sam was a madman.
In some of your songs, you seem to joke around a lot with those topics What types of challenges did you find with embracing the humorous side of things?
Eddie: I’ve always found that the easiest way to cope with the things that make you uncomfortable is to turn it into art. We just happen to make art that turns out so bizarre that it seems funny. We laugh a lot when we are recording. I think it is out of sheer relief that we can finally rest easy.
Corey: I think the challenge was accepting that the honest story was the craziest and most interesting one we could do. We always thought we had to be someone else to be interesting. Accepting that we could actually have a better album by just being honest, instead of trying for anything in particular, was really the most challenging.
Eddie: We are just three best friends who live very different lives. When we get together we have the strangest stories of what happens to us. We are nonjudgmental and love each other as brothers so we can laugh at ourselves in a way that would destroy most other people.
Wow. That’s really quite inspiring! How do you deal with judgment when it comes from outside sources?
Eddie: We were always the kind of guys who would put puppet shows and robots in our stage performances. We never really cared what others thought. If we entertain people, that’s amazing. It is really entertainment that we were offering. If they didn’t like our style of entertainment, they could find another band to judge. If you are on board, let’s party but if we aren’t your flavor try something new. As a stripper, also, this same scenario exists even though you are naked and performing acrobatics. It’s all the same. Open yourself up to judgment, and hopefully you’ll hit your audience where it matters. Be honest, or naked, whichever the case may be, and the longer you bare your brains, naked before that judgmental crowd, the higher your chances are of making a beautiful connection.
Corey: I mean I guess we’re pretty well seasoned when it comes to judgment. It’s kind of an every day part of being a human. There’s always some higher rung you can aspire to and consequently there’s always someone who is going to disrespect you for not being there. No need to take judgment too seriously. I think that’s part of what this album means to me. It’s like when you have to fart, but you’re in a formal situation so you go somewhere else and let it rip. That’s what the studio is for us: a place to let it all out.
Do you feel that your album will be a venue to inspire others to shed the judgments of others and just be themselves? What would you ideally want to see happen from this?
Eddie: I think it’s kind of like exposing ourselves as case studies. We are three guys who used to have hope and ambition. We used to have a band. We used to be excited but now we just do these weird jobs. The album kind of encodes a lot of that frustration and translates it through an array of metal, gospel, psychedelic, viking, fantasy, pop rock comedy jam. It’s just a mural of our generation’s misery resurfaced in a shout or howl of laughter and musical artistry.
Corey: Well I would really like to see honesty return to music. I feel like others could potentially learn a lot from this. Most of all I just hope that others who have found themselves involved in the harsh weirdness that is life will feel less alone, in spite of living in an environment where we are surrounded by polished, airbrushed fantasies.
I’m blown away by you guys. Truly. Powerful words. Final question, and thank you guys so much for your time! What was your favorite moment of making this album?
Eddie: My favorite moment was getting together with my two best friends, getting away from all the spotlights and attention. I’m really just an introvert. All of the attention that I received as an entertainer kind of left me as a deer in the headlights, so just being able to get back with my two best friends and be one of the trio was enough for me. Also, re-acquainting myself with my old drum set. It had been so long since we had given up our dreams of being star musicians together. I’m very sentimental. It was quite honestly like being home again.
Corey: I think it was when Sam and I were sitting in the studio with our guitars wondering if anything was even going to come of us driving all this distance to be together. We were working on a riff that would eventually be [the song] “Frankie’s Off His Meds” and honestly I think we were both kind of pessimistic at that point. Suddenly Eddie miraculously appears making his beaver howl heard before we see him jump on the drum kit. The song wrote itself. It’s like we’d never missed a beat. That, or when we were taping pennies to our shoes to try to emulate the sound of tap dancing. It was so magical because we started explaining how the song went from sludge metal to samba and he just had this look like, “Of course it does.” We’re Black Clover. We used to have a band.
— Aaron Wallace | @Aaronforever87