Candy Claws: The Story of a Young Ceratopsian
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If you’re looking for an interview unlike any other, look no further. Candy Claws founder Ryan Hover speaks with Progressive Man about his upbringing as a young Ceratopsian and his 100 million year history. Equal parts a walk through history and an inside look at the band, Candy Claws walks Progressive Man through their Mesozoic music making.
Candy Claws, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Right off the bat, could you tell us how the band first came together?
Not many people know this, but the band actually formed 100 million years ago. I was a young Ceratopsian hiding under a fern, and I looked out and saw the sun on the ground. It was about the same size as when it’s in the sky, and brighter.
A girl floated in front of it and threw 1,000 neutron stars in my mouth, and one reversed pulsar. She whispered as I fell asleep: “In your dream, it will be the 21st century. First, make an album of the Sea, then the Land, and finally the Mesozoic.” I’ve just finished all three, so I expect to wake up soon.
Where did the name Candy Claws come from? Did it kind of just come out of nowhere?
It came out of everywhere. I can’t remember a time when those two words weren’t married in my mind. Maybe it’s my real name? Do dinosaurs have names?
In this dream I’m a human and my name is Ryan, so I gave the name to our band. Is it silly? Is it awesome? We have no way of knowing.
Your upcoming album, Ceres & Calypso In The Deep Time, has a very unique concept to it. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
As far as I can tell, it’s about a girl and a white seal time-traveling through the Mesozoic Era (“When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth”), where I’m sleeping under a fern right now.
I think the girl was the one I saw floating in front of the sun on the ground?
I asked her her name, and she was saying, “This is planet Earth and my name is -” when she flew 7 billion light years away without warning, then came back to whisper my dream task.
Anyway, it seems one of your human archaeologists dug up a few scraps of her writing, and those are what the album is based on. I’ll include the following text from the record sleeve. Maybe it will clear things up, maybe just make it more confusing. Anyway:
recovered excerpts from
excavated alongside ZEPHYROSAURUS type specimen MCZ 4392
in Lower Cretaceous Cloverly Formation by Hans-Dieter Sues, 1980
“Ceres was a forgotten beast. She was the only one of her kind, a small seal composed of bones and snow. She had an invisible cloak and she had a secret appearance. Her white fur was translucent and illusory. Beware her inaudible sigh! Ceres was associated with time travel and caverns.” -p. 5
“Rolling inward in wild white billows, the waves devoured the front end of the ship, and the wind tore away the sails and the mast, flinging them high into the flashing sky. Calypso clutched wildly for the railing, and all around her the dark green feeling danced and flew.” -p. 47
“In a time before time, Ceres and Calypso began wandering the depths of the world.” -p. 202
Two additional fragments of manuscript were discovered in the same dig as those of “Blood Ark” and the Sues Zephyrosaurus, preserved in strata a few hundred million years older. They are written in the hand of a child still learning cursive:
“I’m climbing to be your one in a million”
“Across the Valley of the Sun / I close my eyes / Is she still there?”
-followed by “Bridge climber (you can hardly see me)”
So it’s some kind of narrative about these two time-travelers. Like all good art, I’ll leave the interpretation up to you. If you figure it out, let me know!
What was it that made you want to meld the Mesozoic Era with poetry by Jenn Morea? Were you aiming to mesh two completely different ideas or do you see a common thread?
Jenn has been a friend of the band ever since my dream began, so a collaboration was bound to happen. Her lyrics focus more on the feelings of Ceres (the white seal) and Calypso (the girl) as they adventure through this terrifying world where mammals don’t really belong yet.
Studying your mythology, it appears Ceres would be the braver of the two, wanting to “bring forth” some kind of experience, while Calypso would be the shy one, hiding like I was before I was visited upon by that blinding apparition.
Lyrics have always been the strangest part of music-making for me, so it’s always nice to find a different way of doing them. A human like Jenn obviously has a better grasp than a Chasmosaurus only dreaming he’s human.
Now, you classify yourselves as Dream Pop, but your music is incredibly diverse and genre bending. Your new album contains everything from ambient music to spaghetti western inspired songs. Do you guys try to stick to a genre or just let it flow?
Oh, we just say Dream Pop because I’m a dinosaur from the Cretaceous Period dreaming I’m a human in a band in 2013. But apparently our style fits the genre, so we’ll stick with it.
In my dream so far I’ve discovered some wonderful music, and I like to incorporate all my favorite parts into Candy Claws.
We’ve figured out a way to write an album of diverse songs, and still tie them together stylistically, mainly with the way our vocals are recorded and the dangerous levels of compression on the mix.
How long did it take you guys to get this album together? Did you run into any snags along the way?
This one took about a year and a half, which is now the average time for a Candy Claws album (“In the Dream of the Sea Life” took 2 years, “Hidden Lands” took 1). It took two weeks just to get the drums sounding right. I wanted that dry Beatles snare sound, but not being a real human, I didn’t have an innate sense of mic placement (I assume all humans are born with that?) so it took a while. I think I got it.
Other than that, the only snag was when I almost woke up back in the Cretaceous, and spent three recording sessions hearing herds of Hardrosaurs stampeding every time I hit the kick drum.
Once it’s released on June 25th, do you have any plans to hit the road to support the album? Do you have any upcoming show dates?
We have no plans right now, as I could literally wake up at any moment and 2013 would disappear, until it came around for real 100 million years from now. Our forte as a band is recording, and we’d like people to experience this album without us distracting them from onstage.
Speaking of shows, I’m sure you’ve played your fair share of them. Are there any that are particularly special or stand out?
The biggest show we’ve played and ever will play was at Red Rocks, opening for the movie Top Gun. We’re used to playing for 50 people at most, so 10,000 was unreal. It was like a dream within my dream.
Apparently two of you have a whirlwind trip through Europe planned! Tell us a little about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing while you’re over there.
My girlfriend Karen and I are backpacking across Europe for five months. We’ll spend the summer in Britain and Ireland, then the fall on the rest of the Continent. It’s a Harry Potter-themed trip, to see all the filming locations and walk around London ’til we bump into all the actors.
Where can people go to find your music?
People and Ceratopsians dreaming they’re people can stream all our music for free at candyclaws.com/listen
Thanks for the interview! Hopefully I’ll get to see it posted before the sun girl wakes me up. If she does, I’ll ask for another dream about 2013. I like it here. -Ryan