REXBURG—The lounge is hot despite the biting February chill outside. There are students packed inside the small space, standing on couches and chairs, all nodding along to the beat and trying to catch a glimpse of the band at the front of the dimly lit room: The Clay Temples. The band isn’t selling albums on the top of the iTunes charts, but at this moment, Eric Hsu and his bandmates feel like they’re rock stars.
The Clay Temples consists of six members, all current students at Brigham Young University-Idaho. There’s vocalist Chirs Blodgett, guitarists Charlie Alpert and Eric Hsu, drummer Matt Gooch, bassist Alex Holloway and keyboardist Rachel Gooch. They’re young and hopeful, doing what they love while trying to balance life and school.
“It gets stressful and can be pretty time consuming,” Hsu said. “But it’s fun.”
The Clay Temples formed shortly after Matt Gooch and Hsu met while they both attended Hillcrest High School in Idaho Falls. Gooch was a junior and Hsu a freshman, but their dedication to music and their talent brought them together in a way nothing else could. They picked up the rest of the band members from their classes and formed the band Hsu had long dreamed about. The band had a bit of a hiatus, however, when several of the members served two-year missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Miraculously, the break wasn’t the end of the band and Hsu could resume his childhood dream when his friends returned and joined him at BYU-Idaho.
“We weren’t very serious in high school, actually,” Hsu shares. “We would just kind of hang out and jam. It wasn’t until after everyone came back from their missions that things got real.”
Hsu began playing guitar when he was a kid and always aspired to be in a band, but his self-diagnosed laziness prevented him from being really serious about playing until high school when he picked it up again. Listening to The Clay Temples’ music, though, that’s pretty hard to believe. Hsu plays like a natural and writes most of the band’s songs with Gooch, while singer Chris Blodgett provides the lyrics. The rest of the band contributes here and there during the creating process, but Hsu, Gooch, and Blodgett have got a solid system and style established. The three like to channel artists like Guns n’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream when songwriting. The classic rock influence is evident in The Clay Temples’ original music.
“We like playing some covers too,” Hsu said. “Like ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’ Everyone loves that song. We play some Cage the Elephant, too, to throw in some slightly newer stuff.”
The band books gigs around Rexburg and Idaho Falls, like the one they played in the lounge of Mountain Lofts earlier this winter.
“We played three shows in February,” said guitarist Alpert. “It was almost every weekend. We’ve tried to cut it back a bit because we’re all so busy with school. We love doing shows, though, and we’d love to do more if we had more time.”
The Clay Temples play in various small venues around the area, trying to put themselves out there as much as possible. Their first show was in Sammy’s in Rexburg.
“We got tight with the booking guy from Sammy’s,” Hsu recalls. “We could just call him and ask him to hook us up with a show. Our friends help us out a lot, too with putting our name out there.”
The band is beyond dedicated to their music and to gaining recognition. They host their own social media sites that they use to spread their music to a wider audience. On the band’s Facebook page, fans can listen to The Clay Temples’ recently-released EP that showcases three of their original songs. It’s a small start, but a start nonetheless.
“We want to release an album this spring and then go on a mini-tour,” he said excitedly, sharing the band’s hopes for the near future. “If we can do much more than that, it would be amazing.”
The Clay Temples have definitely come a long ways from their laid-back high school days, both in maturity and skill.
“I wanted to name the band The Balloons at first,” Hsu laughs. “Thank goodness that was shot down. We’ve changed a lot since high school, man. It’s not always easy. Equipment malfunctions, we can’t always book gigs. But when you’re on stage playing and people are singing your songs with you, you feel awesome. And that’s why we do it.”
No one can tell the future for The Clay Temples, but the band will probably keep in mind the attitude expressed by their own lyrics: “Don’t want to know just what to future might hold, it goes on, it goes on, it goes day after day.”