Clarke: Dose of Soul and Funk

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer

Scott Roeder | Staff Photographer
Clarke blends sultry vocals and jazzy rhythms on its EP released earlier this year.

You’ve probably dragged your heavy books through the Student Center while using all your energy to keep your gaze straight-ahead on the “catwalk”—the only path in between the benches at the terrace. And more importantly, you’ve probably tried to keep your attention away from the Student Center stage where X band attempts to gain the attention of students eating their $6 salads or drinking their frappuccinos in that mermaid cup.
One of these bands has probably unexpectedly made you slow down your pace. Maybe it’s because of drummer Brijesh Pandya’s (first-year music major) jazzy sticking and funky rhythms. But, it’s probably due to James Clarke, the main writer and singer for his band Clarke, who sounds a little like that guy from Maroon 5. After completing its first EP (simply self-titled) earlier this year, Clarke looks to get its music out of open mics and into an intimate venue near you.

New University: How’d you guys get started?

James Clarke: Last year, I did a lot of solo stuff and played around campus. I met [Pandya] in music class.

New U: Where do you guys usually play?

Clarke: Usually open mics in Santa Ana at the Gypsy Den or Alta in Newport [Beach].

New U: I saw you guys playing on Ring Mall the other day and your vocals seem to be the integral part of your music. Do you take lessons?

Clarke: For singing you can’t get trained, it’s all style.

New U: So, Brijesh Pandya, the Maroon 5 influence is obvious. But who else do you listen to for some inspiration?

Brijesh Pandya: I’m really into REM right now and mostly soul and jazz. But [Francis, our guitarist, and I] are really into Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

New U: You guys finished your self-titled EP not too long ago, how was it like being in the studio?

Pandya: It was a really fun experience for me. It was my first time in a professional studio.

Clarke: Yeah, I basically wanted to be around for [the entire] … recording, so I lived in that studio for a month. There was one day where I worked 10 hours straight with no breaks.

New U: You guys seem to have a lot of fun on stage. What’s your favorite song to perform?

Pandya: I love playing drums in general, [but especially] for this band because everything is so funky. But “Gettin’ Lucky” is the big one.

Clarke: Yeah, that’s a good song. I also like “The Bleed.” I basically wrote that song with the idea that it would be something everyone liked, and it turns out most people do.

New U: You guys have been around the block this year as far as on-campus performances (Starbucks, Take Back the Night, more recently Fashion Interest Group’s show). What was your most memorable show?

Pandya: Our show at The District was pretty cool. It was so Goo Goo Dolls style [in reference to the band continuing to play despite rain]. Our show last week for Fashion Interest Group was interesting, too. Being surrounded by all those well-dressed people when I was the sweaty drummer was a little awkward.