The Australian singer-songwriter has a habit of retooling whatever he gets his hands on, from his car to his favorite music. He built his new album, Deep Fried Satisfied, with memories and experiences in mind.
Australian musician Claude Hay is a do-it-yourself kind of guy. He built his own house. He customized his own touring van, complete with a recording studio. He even makes his own instruments. And his music is DIY, as well.
Using looped slide guitar, sitar, bass and electronic percussion, Hay puts a signature stamp on traditional blues. As heard on his new album, Deep Fried Satisfied, Hay likes to lace his blues with a healthy dose of funk.
"I listen to a lot of American loud rock," he says. "But I guess my main influence from the blues side of things was that movie Crossroads. My jaw dropped when I saw that movie."
When it comes to his music, memorable encounters play a significant role. "Get Me Some" was inspired by Hay's first encounter with New York-style pizza.
"The culture behind that pizza there was fascinating," Hay says. "['Get Me Some'] kind of stems from that. I thought it'd be fun to write about and incorporate it into the music."
Being the handyman he is, the singer-songwriter built his own guitar: a twin neck carved out of a slab of maple that had previously been used as a kitchen bench-top. The first neck generates an acoustic or electric tone, while the second one produces a bass tone.
Hay says he's a fan of the loop pedal, a small foot-activated device into which he plugs his guitar. The pedal electronically alters the guitar's sound. He's also made a habit of providing his own percussion in performances.
"I've made these pedals that sort of whack a snare drum, and I've got another pedal I hit for tambourine," Hay says, adding with a laugh: "You don't have to put up with smelly bass players or out-of-time drummers. You just learn to put up with yourself, really."
Hay is also pretty handy with tools outside the musical spectrum. He recently traded in his small van for a much larger, more comfortable motor home.
"I can spread my arms out and put a tool box in there. I do carry a big tool box around with me," Hay says. "The car breaks down everywhere you go, and out comes the tool kit."
His retooling obsession extends into his music. He says every time he hears a song, he thinks of how he could apply his own stamp on it. The album includes a cover of Queen's "We Will Rock You." Hay says he admires the band and its harmonies, and thought there was no better band for him to "turn inside out."
"I actually find it hard to do a cover," he says. "It'd take me three months to find a song to do. I don't know what it is, but I have to really change it before I like it."