11 Questions to a Nashville Musician: Scott Clay

Scott Clay (Photo by Spencer Johnson)Photo by Spencer Johnson

While there is a multitude of musical genres that my ears enjoy, there is one that really hits my sweet spot. That is the versatile singer-songwriter who makes an LP that shifts through a variety of song styles. The latest record, “Let It All Lay Bare” from Nashville’s Scott Clay does just that as well as lays claim as one of the best LPs I’ve heard this 2022.

This record, the fifth full-length from Clay, kicks off with the title track that is an Indie Rock lover’s dream. You can check out the video and hear for yourself. From there, Clay offers a gentler ballad style and even throws in some funk to display his songwriting and arranging skills. I’m super-stoked to get to tell you all about this great record. And it will drive you crazy like it did for me trying to place whose voice Scott’s sounds like. (Skip the last paragraph if you want to try and figure it out on your own.)

Thank you, Scott Clay, for this solid recording and for your extensive and informative 11 Questions interview. Hope to see you perform here soon. And I suspect that I’m not the first to tell you could front a Counting Crows tribute band!

Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?

I am originally from a small town in eastern Washington State called Richland, WA. It’s a city that is surrounded by potato and apple fields, but also hosts one of the largest plutonium production facilities in the country known as Hanford. Both my father and my grandfathers are nuclear chemists, so I was raised in a very engineering and scientific-minded family.

As I got full-time into touring, Nashville began to fit perfectly as a hub for access to great music markets, and as a wonderful city for connecting with people in the music business. I also love Nashville weather, especially coming from Washington State winters. Nashville has proven to be such a great place to challenge myself as an artist and to network with other like-minded individuals. I also love the history of Nashville music culture and have enjoyed delving into that as I have spent time living here.

What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?

The very first record I ever bought was Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College dual-CD set. I bought the album at my local mall as I was first learning guitar at age 14. I can’t remember the name of the record store, but I do remember spending hours looking through their collection. It was such an investment in those days to purchase music. Especially at a young age when money was tight. And a dual-CD would cost you upwards of $30. But I did love that album so much and continue to listen to it, and it was a very musically challenging album, especially the guitar work that was done on it. I remember learning some songs off it right as I purchased the album. I explored both discs front to back and truly enjoy the songs on that album.

The most recent record I purchased is The War on Drugs’ vinyl Lost in a Dream. I was sitting at a pasta shop in Portland where they played vinyl records, and I loved it so much on vinyl that I had to buy it for myself. I’ve got a nice little collection of records that I’ve built up over the years, buying them mostly at live shows. I love to add to that collection slowly as a way to remember live events I’ve attended. The War on Drugs album is amazing, and I love how they develop their songs from an analog drum machine loop and build out the melodic and rhythmic elements of the song. The electric guitars on the project are especially amazing.

First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?

The first concert I ever saw was in my high school gymnasium. It was an Australian rock band named Newsboys. I remember that the sound was so incredibly loud. I had never been to a show that had so much energy. I also remember that the drums were on a riser that lifted into the air and spun around, and the drummer did an amazing solo while the drum cage was spinning. I had no idea that a show could be the way they performed that day! I remember my ears ringing, and I’d never experienced that in my life and was so amazed by all that show offered.

I recently went to Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, TN and got to see the Brothers Osborne perform live. It was such an amazing festival, and I love how well-organized it was. Its location right on the river made it so convenient and relaxing. There were some amazing acts, but the Brothers Osborne certainly were the highlight for me! They did a part of their performance where they brought couches and lamps onto the stage and played a laid-back acoustic set. It was amazing to see that. The guitar work in their band is absolutely astounding.

Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?

I would love to see Dean Dillon added to the Music City Walk of Fame. His extensive catalog as a songwriter and influence on so many performers (George Strait, David Allan Coe, Kenny Chesney) has had a lasting legacy, and I would love for him to be commemorated for his work as a songwriter!

Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?

My coffee hang in East Nashville is Elegy Coffee on Gallatin Pike. It’s got strong drip coffee and a great patio area to relax in the sun. For pizza I love Bella Napoli near 12 South. Great wine, wood-fired, and Neapolitan-style food!

What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?

I truly enjoy Peter Bradley Adams’s A Face Like Mine album which was recorded in 2017. It’s got such powerful songwriting and production, and it’s one that I continue to discover more and more layers and meaning as I listen.

Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?

Cook Out is such an easy answer! It’s hard to beat a Cook Out burger and shake at 3 a.m.!

The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.

I’d pick Audrey Collins, Angela Soffe, and Gabrielle Metz!

What are your favorite music venues to play in town?

I really enjoy Cabana Tabs and Bold Patriot. They put on some great writer’s rounds and do so much for the music community. It’s an essential way for songwriters to connect and grow, and I feel like these venues do so much to nurture that for us writers! I just did a livestream from SIR Studios for my album release and that is another really fun venue to perform and record at!

Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.

I’d love to see Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, front men from the Band of Heathens, end up full-time in Nashville!

Finally, what’s in your musical future?

I’ll continue to perform live shows in support of this album over the coming two years. I’ve got dates in Nashville, Denver, Chicago, and Seattle and many other markets coming up in 2023 and beyond. I’m also in post-production on an 11-song record that I recorded with producer Ben Ellman in New Orleans in January 2022, so I plan to finish mixing on that album in Nashville sometime in 2023 as well. I’ll also be recording some live footage at shows next year and cannot wait to get that live footage posted to YouTube! There are some music videos being released this month on YouTube as well, so be sure to check out what’s coming out now at https://www.youtube.com/c/scottclay!


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