sacramento / What I Am Listening To / Word. / Words.

What I’m Listening To: Ean Clevenger.

What I’m Listening To is a series where we talk to exciting artists and musicians and get a five-song slice of their current playlist. 
“I was in a famous Christian ska band called Silage for a very short time at the age of 17 when I thought Christianity would save me from my illicit lifestyle. “

Photo courtesy of Ean Clevenger.

Ean Clevenger was immersed in music from an early age, courtesy of his musician father. “He liked to blast Frank Zappa, Cream, and Iron Butterfly around the house when I was a little guy,” said Clevenger, singer/founder of the band Creux Lies, founder of promotion company Lull Presents, and this month’s curator of the WILT playlist.

“There was always a guitar or synth laying around, some recording equipment, etc., so being the kind of kid that got picked on a lot (elementary school nicknames: big butt, bubble butt, fag boy, etc.) I spent a lot of time in my room listening to records and learning how to play them with said instruments. I also, did and do have a big bubbly butt, so I guess I have to give credit where it is due; thank you for my talent, butt.” His adored older brother was an early punk rocker as well, complete with cool clothes and playing “Fear so loud in his red 60’s VW Bug that I would cry.”

Clevenger loved it. In fact, in a first grade talent show, he lip-synced “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, dressed up like a member of KISS. “I begged all my friends to do it with me. Only this kid named Zack Gallen or Galling stepped up… I think he ran off the stage crying though because it was the first time he ever heard the song and …well, it was just a savage performance.”

He went on to start his first band at 13 called PLAD, a misspelled tribute to the kind of pants he had seen some punks wear and an acronym of People of Legitimate Alternative Direction. “I wrote some really horrible 3-4 chord punk songs about equality and doing meth.” Since then not a year has passed that he hasn’t been in some sort of musical project or band. “I don’t think my mental health would be good if I was. Thus, I’m a happy, chill, big butted man.”

His current band Creux Lies has a somewhat more convoluted origin story. For years, Clevenger worked on punk/hardcore projects despite his favorite bands being The Cure, Depeche Mode and the like. “I decided at some point I would die, and thus, should attempt to do something entirely off from what I was known for musically.” So he started a band called Number Station “and spent about 5 years trying to convince everyone that post-punk and shoegaze was cool to play again.”

Along the way, he recruited “guitarist extraordinaire” Barry Crider who stayed while most members came and went. Eventually, they met David Wright, “our synth/hardware/software/died hair brainman” and they decided to overhaul the whole idea. “We sought [out] a couple other dudes that enjoyed a good brewski, a nice synth jam, anything Nick Kroll does, and our current path to darkness. With that then came diode striker/drummer Topher Snyder, and man of unknown basses/sex icon Kyle Vorst, and we were off to the endless bounty that is now Creux Lies.”

They changed their name because they were sick of Number Station, which they had always hated even when it evolved into NMBRSTTN. The acronym version “only fueled more confusion and distrust in our rationality. No one knew how to pronounce it, and at one point Jon Daly, the epicenter of comedy of our generation, tweeted us… calling us, ‘Number Satan.'” It was the final straw.

They worked hard to find a name they could get behind and settled on Creux Lies (creux meaning hollow in French). “When we launched the new project we, like all bands, went on a hunger strike, and eventually, in the midst of our final conscious hours, we decided to rip off Depeche Mode and find a French word and an English word combo. … ironically, now everyone calls us, ‘Crux Lies.’ Being [of] French … descent, it really pisses me off how ignorant the Americans are. It’s pronounced like crew. Yes, like, Mötley Crüe.”

As the founder of Lull Presents, Clevenger says he has promoted music “forever.” He started Lull in 2016 to bring the bands he liked to Sacramento. Though he loves the city,”I think we have a lot of improving to do in our promotion of up and coming sounds across the country and world. We are always behind the trends in major markets.” Plus, he says all his years on the road taught him how to take care of over-traveled musicians. “I get a boost from making them feel loved during their difficult endeavor.”

Running a promotion company isn’t all good feelings and great music though. “It’s actually really stressful and you lose gobs of money because you know–music is free now. Then you watch your favorite bands kick out the jams, you have a drink and a few hugs [then] rinse, repeat.”

And the name? “I wanted to lull Sacramentens (Sacramenantonians? Sacramentenites?) to sleep with amazing post-punk/synthy/reverbed dark joy, and steal all their cash. Idk where I come up with anything. It’s all a ruse.”

In addition to Creux Lies and Lull, Clevenger DJs, manages a fifteen person beer bike, substitute teaches and develops web content. When asked how he balances it, he replied, “Let’s just be real here. I am a vampire. I never sleep. I never get old. The guys tell me there is some enchanted picture of [me] somewhere getting old. My life isn’t really about balance, it’s about trying to do find success and happiness in the midst of a world set against an artist trying to become [them]self.”

So what is Ean Clevenger, vampiric musical jack-of-all-trades listening to? Let’s find out.

Bronski Beat-‘Smalltown Boy’- “This song is the ultimate mix [of] pure pain and pure joy. It may evoke a seriousness of dance that transcends the occasional Sunday afternoon housecleaning rump shake. This song just hits that sweet bloody spot in this old man’s dead vampire heart.”

Choir Boy-‘Hellmouth’ – “The first time I heard ‘Hellmouth’, it was through the amazing and baffling video version of this song. I started laughing because I thought, ‘I have just acquired enough aesthetic ironic energy here to build a high-rise apartment building in the middle of the Sahara desert in the shape of a penguin.’ Then, I think I started crying because the singer/songwriter Adam Klopp has really brought something I could never invent to the fables of music history. Adam 100, Ean 0.”

Dangerous Toys-‘Scared’- “Look, this is maybe one of the worst songs ever created. It’s despicable. The words are simply nonsensical, the content is of a 12-year-old’s mind. Many of the lines do not rhyme. Watching this song in video form brings on a whole new level of suffering to the viewer. It’s inane, savage, doltishness at best. It’s fresh, disease-robust excrement. I have a fetish for terrible music, and I love every second of this song.”

The Doobie Brothers-‘What A Fool Believes’– “If you are of humankind, and this song does not evoke pure ecstasy throughout your central nervous system the absolute single second you hear that synth riff for the first time at the beginning and throughout this track–then I recommend immediate eardrum removal. You are basically dead inside…  No sweeter colors of sound were ever used to describe the journey of love and loss. Thank you, Michael McDonald.”

Soft Kill-‘Whirl’-“This song is one of the most enchanting creations of the entirety of post-punk as a genre. It’s a beautiful pop song. I never get tired of it. I wish I wrote it. I wish I could find the balanced brood and confidence Toby [Sinclair] can harness. This is my favorite song of the decade so far. If you aren’t familiar with Soft Kill yet, you will be soon. I’ve heard the demos for the next album.”

Will you be able to catch Creux Lies live this year? “Not quite yet, but let’s just say there is some really cool stuff in the works for next year…great bands coming through, partnerships, regular events, dare I say fest…. no I don’t, I kind of hate that term… let’s come up with something new.”

However, they will be playing with Vancouver band Actors in Sacramento on March 29th, 2018 and the Portland Festival From Out of The Shadows on April 7th. Keep an eye out next summer for their “wild touring and antics” when their forthcoming album (tentatively named Two of Swords) drops. “Zone” the first single off that album will be out at the beginning of 2018. Find out more here.

Words: Katta Hules.

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