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New rock band is making waves on Okinawa

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-02-21

Raw energy, a solid rock n roll sound, and some powerful vocals are what the new band "Clay Sun Union" are all about. Their music is a great combination of classic rock n roll and modern rock, mixed with an original twist of the band's own personality.

Although Clay Sun Union is young, being formed in September of 1996, they play as if they have been together for much longer. The oldest member, and most musically experienced, is drummer Mike Wadkins. His twenty one years on the drums provides a solid rock n roll beat, and his outstanding playing gives the band a core to follow. "Swamp" adds his talent to the band with some mean bass playing. His bass gives the band the necessary deep sound to crank out some good rock, and he sets the tempo for guitarist Nick, who amazingly has only been playing for two years. Nick makes up for his lack in years of playing with a natural instinct. Mike B provides the punch for the band with some outstanding lead guitar. His sharp sounds echo the classic guitar solos that every rock band should have. Lyrics and vocals, which are provided by the talented Jon Shliesmann, complete the link to the band's music. Schliesmann's powerful voice can range from anywhere to hard sounding to smooth and poetic.

This band is definitely one of the best rock n roll acts to hit Okinawa's music scene in a while. They follow the footsteps of some great local bands from the 70's and early 80's, such as "Murasaki" and "Condition Green", but they definitely have their own distinct sound. Their music is easy to listen to, and will give any rock n roll lover some true listening pleasure.

The five members of Clay Sun Union recently finished recording a CD that is scheduled to be released on February 28. The tracks are all original, with 9 good quality songs, plus one bonus song, which is a "jamboree" version of the last track.

The selection of songs flow together nicely, and the band's characteristic sound comes through on each one. The group is currently working on trying to get the CD on the shelves of local music stores, but fans and interested listeners can pick it up over at the popular Club Fujiyama on Gate 2 Street.

Clay Sun Union sounds great coming off a compact disc, but their real talent lies on the stage of their live performances. They give off some incredible intensity to their audience, and the band really plays to their full potential as musicians. Nick explained the energy the band creates by saying, "Swamp and John B. are the catalysts, and then they really get me into it." They can be found playing to a packed crowd at many of the small live houses here on the island, as well as playing in front of thousands of fans at some of the big concerts, such as the "Peaceful Love Rock Festival". They once had about 600 people pile into the Club Fujiyama, which they consider their home base. During their live concerts they also will play versions of other popular rock songs. "We mix up songs and give it our own twist," explained "Swamp".

The band has made their immediate goal to get signed by a major recording label. "I've jammed with many musicians, but I've never felt more assured about a band as I do with this one," said Wadkins. They are looking to promote their CD in hopes of getting a chance to get a major break. "We've brought a lot of different styles to this CD, and each one of us has brought their own influences," said lead singer Schliesmann. All the members expressed their will and desire to take their music anywhere in the world. "We are looking to spread our music across Asia, if given the opportunity," further explained Schliesmann. The band just might be doing that, as long as they keep playing like they are now. If they get the chance they deserve, they are about to catch a big wave to take them across the waters of Okinawa.

If you are a fan of music, make sure you see Clay Sun Union this year, or get their CD over at the Club Fujiyama. You can catch these guys at the Club Fujiyama on February 27, 28, and March 6. They will be at the Futenma E-Club on March 4, and over at the Kadena O'Club on March 7 and 28. You can also e-mail the band for more information, or for concert dates, at belleym@kic.op.jp. Keep an ear out and eye open for Clay Sun Union this year.

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