Christian Clark is the quintessential musician — sanguine, but not laconic, when he describes the formation of his band, Neveready. One of six members, he both sings and plays guitar. Clark’s distinctly Southern Californian drawl and punctuated sentences (“jeez man,” “like,” “you know”) accent the “je ne sais quoi” that makes Neveready, a self-proclaimed not-ska band, so distinctly Californian. Theirs, a soulful blend of punk, horn and funk grooves, is the type of music that leaves you dizzy in copacetic blues. Neveready enlivens a space with their music — something that’s often relinquished at the mercy of convention. This sets them apart from their contemporaries.
The Daily Cal: Why is making music worth it?
Christian Clark: People have a good time. People enjoy themselves. One particular incident was when we got to play at Willy Calabrese’s funeral … we played only one song. But it was the very last song of the funeral … and Willy was my best friend, just a great guy. When we got the chance to play, Mrs. Calabrese stood up and started dancing and just smiling and stuff. Just that feeling, like our music — and music in general — can make someone who just lost her son that happy? That’s really powerful.
DC: How has Neveready progressed?
CC: We’ve been playing for four years now, and we’ve really grown together as a group. Four years of hanging out all the time … we’ve played hundreds of shows. Some of the songs that we still play are songs that we wrote four years ago, and we’ve probably played like a thousand or more times. So it just becomes second nature. It’s something that we can do in our sleep, basically. It gets to a point where you practice so much that you just gel really well and know, without even looking, “Patrick (Hallahan, on saxophone) is going to do this right here. He’s going to play this note.” I just know that.
DC: But you guys aren’t all in the same area anymore. How has the Bay affected your music?
CC: The majority of our band lives in San Diego, and that comes out in our music. There’s a lot about San Diego that we love, like surfing and the beach. That’s cool. But since I’ve come to Cal and lived in the Bay Area, I just have a different outlook on things.
DC: Like what?
CC: The Bay Area is a more diverse area and a more soulful community than San Diego. San Diego’s very laid back. And the Bay Area, especially Berkeley, is a big area — but it’s very diverse. You meet a lot of really cool people. And so I think getting out of that (San Diego) was very important. I’m really influenced by a lot of artists from the Bay Area, as well.
DC: Whom, specifically?
CC: There’s this artist, Tim Armstrong. He started a band called Operation Ivy — it’s a punk and ska band. After Operation Ivy broke up, he started a band called Rancid, which is one of the best punk bands out. He also is in a band called Transplants, and he does a lot of solo projects. He’s an amazing artist from the Bay Area.
Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day is from the Bay Area as well. We actually had the chance to play at Cloyne with Billie Joe’s son (of band Emily’s Army) … I would say Billie Joe, Tim Armstrong. Those guys really characterize what the Bay Area means to me.
DC: And what is that?
CC: It’s hard to explain. I would definitely say that the energy is an important aspect of it. Their music really encapsulates a lot of the energy that I feel in this area and the energy that you just feel being a kid in college.
DC: Is that what you’re trying to channel?
CC: We want people to stand up, dance, have a good time and not be worried what other people are thinking about.
DC: Where do you see the future of the band going?
CC: You know, it’s hard to say. We’re not in it necessarily to “get popular” or anything like that. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. We’re all just in it to make the music. And recently we’ve been writing some really good songs — some songs that motivate us to just keep going with it. We’re growing as artists, and we’re writing a lot of stuff that we really like as supposed to writing out of convenience. (Now, it’s) like, “Hey, we’re a band. We need to write some songs.” Things inspire us, and we know what we want to portray in music. You kind of have to work up to that, and it’s cool that we’re starting to get to that point.
DC: If we were sitting here a year from now, celebrating some accomplishment, what would that be?
CC: Going into music and hoping to be popular is not a really good way of doing it. When you go into something with that mentality, you undermine what you’re trying to do in the first place. You can’t have art that’s real if that’s really what’s in the back of your mind.
My goal is to make music something that I can do for the rest of my life, because there are realistic considerations, and obviously that’s why we’re all going to college. That’s why I’m going to Cal. We can’t just drop everything and hope to play music. But I’m hoping that a year from now, I can have a little more hope that in the future I can just go around and play shows and make people happy for a living. That’d be cool.
Contact Zoe Kleinfeld at [email protected].