A Modern Day Tale of Talent, Achievement and Persistence

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 706   By: Robert E Martin

24th June, 2010     0

At a time when the artistry of creating popular music seems to have fallen into potholes of predictability, reinforced by soulless airbrushed digital creations that pass as songs circulated through all variety of social media networking, along comes a rock ‘n roll band named Finding Clyde to reclaim a bit of the passion, camaraderie, and purpose that should be associated with the alchemy of creating great Rock ‘n Roll.

While still in high school a few short years ago, this quartet of Essexville teenagers were performing in front of tens of people at such obscure local musical hangouts as the Snuggly Mug, contemplating college, careers, and the passages leading from adolescence to maturity.

Today they are a rising star on the vanguard of Michigan music, having just completed a full length CD on Bullfrog Records, which though not yet released has found one of its tracks, Time Waster, receiving regular airplay on sixteen radio stations throughout the United States, ranging from WIOG locally to such markets as Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee, and New York. Moreover, they sold out a recent local showcase performance at Bay City’s State Theatre to 600 intent fans and are scheduled to open for such luminaries as Tesla and Great White at the Bay City River Roar on June 25th, at the Chesaning Showboat with Buckcherry and Drowning Pool on July 14th, and at Vet’s Park with Alice Cooper on July 17th and 3 Doors Down at Kewadin Casino on July 23rd.

With two members living within a two-block radius and three stemming from the same family, the tale of Finding Clyde is not your average yarn of discovery or ‘coming of age’ as much as it is one of communal exploration – and in this reporter’s mind, that makes all the difference.

Brothers Joe Rivard (guitar & vocals) and Tony Rivard (bass) joined up with their percussionist cousin Marc Scott and mutual friend Jack Neymeiyer to forge the blueprint of Finding Clyde three years ago, when the group first assembled to rehearse for a high school talent show. But according to Joe, the moment of revelation actually came back when the group was six or seven years old.

“I got in a boating accident with my brother and some friends when we were really young,” explains Joe. “The boat flipped while we were tubing and I was in the boat and the moment that happened, I knew we’d be rock stars!” he laughs.

This Newtonian epiphany turned out to be prophetic, as the band’s debut 5-song EP, recorded in Cleveland while working with then-producer Matt Curry (who helped record Ozzy Osbourne and David Bowie, among others) opened the stairway to heaven that led to an alliance with Bay City’s Chad Cunningham (Chief CEO and producer/manager of Bullfrog Records.

Back in the late ‘90s, Cunningham started his Bullfrog label and re-recorded Question Mark & the Mysterian’s 96 Tears album, forging a long-lasting alliance and relationship with Mysterians’ guitarist Bobby Balderama. Cunningham later went on to sign Balderama’s blues outfit The Robert Lee Revue and became involved with another up-and-coming rock outfit, Lucid Jones.

After working with Cheech & Chong and other national acts, Cunningham pulled the plug on Bullfrog back in 2001.  “I lost my appetite for it with the Lucid Jones project,” explains Cunningham, plus the whole complexion of the industry was changing. But thanks to Bobby Balderama, he came into my office one day with a track from Finding Clyde and said, ‘You really need to get involved with these kids, because they have something and are definitely going somewhere.”

The rest is the stuff of Rock ‘n Roll fairy dust. Cunningham and the members of Finding Clyde re-ignited the kindred spirit that in turn bound them into a vision for the band, and events have been skyrocketing ever since.

With a new full length CD release recorded a few months ago at Pearl Sound Studios in Canton, with producer Chuck Alkazian (whom has worked with Bob Seger) the band is fully poised to bring all elements together as their music starts to percolate throughout the national airwaves.

When they first got together, various members of Finding Clyde had performed in different bands for close to 10 years.  “We’d been in a couple serious bands,” notes Joe, “as serious as you can be in high school; but this is the first one we all took seriously.”

“I joined a little later,” notes Jack. “They needed to borrow a keyboard, so I dropped it off and a week later asked me to join, seeing as they were using my stuff!” he laughs.

When the group first got together was there anything about the experience that forged an inkling they had something special going on?

“I think after we played that first talent show together, and being in a family, we knew something special was happening. We blended well together and it was pretty cool, because all the ‘issues’ most bands face we’d already taken care of growing up together. We started doing our thing, having fun doing it, and a couple months after that first show we started writing songs and things really started to click,” reflects Joe.

“We started writing right away,” adds Tony, “and knew that if we were going to do this we all wanted to be in an actual band writing music, not approaching it as a cover band performing in bars. Our goal was to showcase.”

When listening to Finding Clyde, it’s impossible not to be struck by the coloration of the material and the varied texture to the songs, which though traveling a broad stylistic variety, all share a common cohesive energy. Not only is this rare for many bands that tend to stick to one genre or idiom of music, but it’s truly remarkable for a group so young.

“Basically that’s because Jack enjoys different styles of music and Jack, Tony, and I have all been in different kinds of jazz and fusion bands,” explains Joe. “I think it was a combination of all that stuff when comes together when we write, because a song may start one way but other influences from other musical styles translate into our songs.”

Writing material for their new album wove over a definite period of time, but came to the group quite quickly. With 10 tracks on the album, the group says they have about five more skeletal versions of songs in the works.  “We wrote five songs right away and then started developing as we went along over a six month period of time as we retooled. We wanted to be honest with everything. If something sounded like it wasn’t going to work, we cut it,” states Jack.

“Lots of time when I write songs on any random night, I’m not planning on writing but end up going to the computer to press record and start playing,” reflects Joe. “Being the key writer, I’ll sketch out the basis of the song and the others will all rearrange it and add to my work. Plus Jack is starting to write songs and develop his own approach.”

“So far the songs we create simply come out once I start jamming,” he continues. “If I like a certain part I’ll keep it and match the lyrics to set the mood with the tone of the song. Then we’ll start to switch it up and do something different.”

When asked what each member of the band contributes to the sound of the group that makes it click, the usually Jack steps out first: “I’m the one that adds extra texture and funny bits to the songs, Joe is the meat and potatoes, Tony is the dessert, and Marc is the member that does things with sticks.”

Coming into the music game at the time they are, with the virtual state of music in a tremendous flux of peaks & valleys, especially in the way it is dispersed, what do the respective members of Finding Clyde feel distinguishes their sound the most?

“We’ve got real instruments and real vocals,” states Marc in an unequivocal manner. “It’s a classic archetype in one way, but the variety to our sound sets us apart. A lot of times when you pick up a CD of a song you like on the radio it sounds like the same song performed 10 times with slight variations, because we live in a world of singles now.”


Rock & Roll Dreams

So what was it like the first time the band hit the stage at their showcase performance at the State Theatre, with 600 people in attendance and frenzied 14-year old girls in the crowd?

“It was kind of surreal,” smiles Tony. “One time me and Marc were driving around and we heard one of our songs come on the radio from this car full of girls that was parked at a stoplight right next to us. They didn’t know we were right next to them, obviously, and we were driving this junky white car that was missing a hubcap. We thought it was funny because obviously they didn’t know we were in the car right next to them; and hearing our song on the radio, they probably thought the band performing it was a bunch of high rollers. It was a weird feeling, but we’re gonna keep that car forever!”

“It was surreal because while we’ve played shows before, the State Theatre show was a big crowd,” reflects Joe. “We came from backstage and people were cheering, girls were raising their hands in the air, and when we were signing autographs for the first time, we looked at one another and thought, ‘Hey, we could get used to this!’

In terms of challenges, they are constantly evolving for the members of Finding Clyde. “Recently I got married and bought a house and have a full time career,” notes Joe. “Plus I’m doing this band thing as well so it’s definitely a balancing act, but it’s all an awesome experience.”

“A lot of times, the three of us will be rehearsing and Joe will be at work at 6 PM,” adds Tony, “but if we know Joey can’t make it, we’ll just plug in and have at it, because it makes us a better rhythm section.”

“When you’re in high school you’ve got the luxury of living the band life,” concludes Joe on the subject, “which is nice to be able to do that. The balancing act comes in when you’re trying to be responsible yet also live the band life.”

In terms of artistic influences that have informed or inspired the group, they collectively point to one musical force that the entire band admires: “Marty McFly is the man – when he invented rock ‘n roll in the film Back to the Future. We put Marty at the top of all our influences.”

“Seriously, though, for me as a lead guitarist, I like 90’s style Billy Corrigan-type fuzzed up guitar tones,” notes Jack. “I also admire guitarists like Mick Ronson (who performed with David Bowie back in the ‘70s). My stuff is pretty broad and I listen to Brian May, George Harrison, and Smashing Pumpkins quite a lot.”

“I’ve always liked Pete Yorn,” states Joe,” who’s a bit obscure as a singer/songwriter, but I enjoy listening to him.  I like modern sounds. Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden are probably my favorite kinds of ‘band’ sounds. I prefer a nice raw recording, not digital. My Dad would play me Led Zeppelin as a kid and raw rock ‘n roll is what I like. But we all lean towards the pop experience as well.”

“All you need to do to see our influences is look at our equipment,” laughs Tony. “We have a Beatle Vox amp here, a John Paul Jones Ampeg bass amp over to the left, and an Eric Clapton guitar amp in the center, and Marc’s drum kit looks a lot like Ringo Starr’s.”

As they get set to drop their album and headline shows, especially opening for artists such as Alice Cooper and Slash & Billy Idol later in the summer, and with excitement running high, what are the group thoughts about hitting the stage in front of thousands as opposed to hundreds of people?

“I think it’s going to make us grow up very fast,” reflects Joe. “It’s going to be exciting, scary and fun all at the same time. I think it will be a blur and hope we can process it all. The shows you perform better at is where the crowd really gets into it, so odds are that will be better when hundreds as opposed to dozens of people are in the crowd. Just who we’re playing in front of is going to be awesome and surreal in itself. I’m hoping it will catapult us into something big.”

In terms of standout tracks on the new release, what are the group’s favorite numbers?

Thoughts of You reminds me of how we got started with the Bullfrog label and our involvement with Chad,” reflects Joe. “ Our five-song EP that we recorded in Cleveland a year ago, through the process of passing it around, got into Chad’s hands and onto his computer, and we were talking back and forth. But that’s a fully realized song that pulls it all together.”

“It depends upon the mood you’re in. I Don’t Care At All is my favorite because it sounds like Cheap Trick and starts with a whirling guitar and pulls you in. It’s a great starting track on the album,” notes Jack.

Be Someone is more your classic rock & roll,” opines Tony. “It’s a big power ballad and fun. I never get sick of it, but its fun to have quirky songs mixed in with the meat & potato material.”

So what’s the first thing various members are going to buy when they make a million dollars?

“A 1936 Austin Goat tail Speedster!” shouts Tony without missing a beat. “It’s the car from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I want that and the original Bat mobile.

“We all want that, though, so there will be a bidding war between us.

“And Dueling Deloreons,” concludes Jack.

“Remember, we’re all into Back to the Future.”

Finding Clyde’s album can be downloaded on I-Tunes and for more information, music, and a complete performance itinerary you can go to


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