A Conversation With...

Do You Remember The First Time? Allen Clapp “Very Peculiar Feeling”

allen clapp

Guest post by Allen Clapp:

When I hear that song now, I just think of how great it felt to finally discover what I was supposed to be doing musically. I had finally found my place, and it was singing and writing popsongs. Leading up to that song — and the batch of four-track stuff I started recording in late 1989-early 1990 — I had been playing in a band with my high school friends and we had just broken up earlier that year. It was a mix of people that is pretty unbelievable when I think about it now . . . two of us (Maz Kattuah and Larry Winther) went on to form garage rock meisters The Mummies, and one of us (Dan Jewett) went on to play with Adam Duritz in a pre-Counting Crows band called The Himalayans. Then there was me. I rehearsed with early incarnations of both bands briefly, and kind of knew it was time to go off and do something on my own.

So it was this feeling of trying to carve out a place for myself that was gong to be different, and at the same time, my friends were having some pretty serious success. I ditched (most) of the psychedelia and surf of what we had been doing as a band, and I also picked up the guitar around then. Having played piano since age 6, it was liberating to learn a new instrument. And the fact that I wasn’t very good at playing guitar was a definite plus, because I wasn’t tempted to do anything too complicated. And I learned how to use my voice to complement what I was doing musically, and as a consequence, I think I discovered my voice. Never really knew what I should sound like until then.

The other major — and probably most important — thing that happened around that time was that I married my best friend and was head-over-heels in love. So there was a lot of change going on — old band breaking up; graduating from Berkeley; getting married; starting off on our own. I think it all led to a feeling of wanting to make a name for myself in the world doing something fresh and new.

Around that time, Maz was just starting up his fanzine, Four Letter Words, and he was looking for a couple bands to put on its inaugural flexi disc. I gave him some of the new stuff I was working on, and luckily, he really liked “Very Peculiar Feeling.” I think he was trying to get me to go in more of a pop direction for a while (he had been making me mixtapes of The Orchids, Microdisney, The Church Grims, Honeybunch, and St. Christopher for the past year) and so I took a stab at it. I would always bounce stuff off him to see what he thought, and he ended up putting out my first proper single, “A Change in the Weather” as well. Looking back, I’m really struck by the talent and creativity of the friends I was surrounded with at the time. It was really contagious and inspiring.

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