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1016

I caught back up with Levi Clark (Misled, Southern Brutality, 1016) after hearing about several new developments with his new band, 1016. You may remember him from our previous interview earlier this year. As it turns out, what I had been hearing was true. Things were falling apart, things were being rebuilt, and the promise of his long-awaited EP was back under the microscope. In this visit, we took apart the constructs, the destructs, and the changes in scope that occurred as a result. And I think you’ll find the new developments intriguing and the ongoing project showing more promise. 

Now, I know Levi personally. And if I had to name him in a nutshell, I’d say he’s a beautiful tragedy. “Tragedy” in the cinematic sense, where the viewer follows the main character through several hardships, some of them self-imposed. He’s the kind of person that will give you the shirt off his back, and doesn’t conceal his own flaws. Which makes him beautiful in my eyes. And though at times in valleys, he is persistent in his pursuit of the mountain top. During the first interview earlier this year, I got to hear a demo of an exciting new single, Gettysburg. This song was inspired by time Levi spent cleaning and reconstructing the tomb of a soldier from the Civil War. Happening upon a small booklet inside the structure, he was able to craft a song from words on the pages of this long-since forgotten soldier’s diary. On that demo, Tiger Agnelly sang vocals and Brian Ardoyne (Dang Bruh Y?, Blackwater Canal) was on drums. Since that time, both were now out of the picture. A fact for which Levi took blame. “By this time my friends probably think they are looking at my delusion. But it’s not my delusion. But I’m going to go a little bit back in time. I fucked up. I had two of the greatest musicians I ever could’ve had the chance of working with. Tiger Agnelly and Brian Ordoyne. Brian was our drummer. Still my brother, still my best friend. Tiger, incredible singer. But yours truly, I’m human, and I have a pattern of fucking up. It is what it is. And I apologize for it. So, the band all but dissolved.”

Next on the chopping block came their singer, Ms. Jennifer Leech. Though they were revealed reluctantly, creative differences became obvious between her and Levi. And in the end, she too was out. Last came Trey Heflin (Genocide). Through a series of… we’ll just call them “mishaps” that occurred on a short tour with Southern Brutality among other things, Trey found himself on the other side of the stage from what was left of 1016. Jamie Clouatre (13 Below, Cut Throat), the bassist for 1016, is still on board and aside from Levi is the only remaining original member. And as if I had to say it, that about does it for the “destruct” portion of the tour.

Now, onto a more positive aspect of this business called show! The “construct” began with vocals. Levi wouldn’t name the new singer outright. Apparently, she has a sibling that is an accomplished singer, musician, and performing artist and wishes to remain anonymous until 1016’s EP release performance. But this person has a background in opera. And to hear Levi tell it, during practice she pulled a vocal range out of her diaphragm which resembled that of Ella Fitzgerald and stopped the drummer mid-stroke. Often times, when a director writes a part in a movie, they write the part with a certain actor in mind. Likewise, recognizing the sharp contrast between his previous singer and the new one, Levi has gone back over some of his songs and rewritten them in order to showcase the new singer’s style and capability. “She and I would converse over the phone and she would ask me to give her a backstory about the songs; about the mood. I know where she’s at, and she knows where I’m at. Now we’re working. But she says she’s not much of a lyricist. So, I’m going to draft out lyrics of what the song should be saying. And she can put it in her own words. We’ll just take it from there. And that’s called collaboration.”

Hailing from Kennabra (Kenner, La. to those out the loop) William Shiver slid into place as the new drummer for 1016. His past bands include Execution, and Suture. And he also did a little bit of work in projects for bands Guilt Trip and Gutter Sludge. He’s spent most of his music career dwelling in heavy, technical death metal bands, with a little bit of doom and sludge metal peppered in between. And he feels as though 1016’s southern blues emphasis will be a nice change. One thing about him that will definitely not go unnoticed is his mammoth drum set. I couldn’t begin to aptly describe this thing… no one could. I had to include a picture of it below to stand in for my lack of descriptives. Personally, I can’t wait to see this fella bang something out on this monstrosity! And for it, 1016 will become an interesting dynamic. Because Levi is currently the drummer for another band he is in, Southern Brutality. We should be hearing this thing smash and crash soon, as their single is slated for August of this year (2022). And Levi is aiming for an EP release after Mardi Gras the following year.

And now for the third and final leg of our tour kiddies, the changes in scope! Now you might ask, huh? What’s left? We broke the whole thing apart and rebuilt it. Well, in the process, we brought in a drastically differing vocal element. While all of this was occurring, Levi was still writing. A change in singers further changed the direction of this process as we discussed earlier. But Levi also added other tools to his box. One of which was Martin Felix. Now we have all seen several different versions of the band supporter. Someone wears your T-shirt. Someone else might help you sell tickets for your next show. And so on. But Martin is a bit of a music scene anomaly. You see, Martin is a 65-year-old staunch local heavy metal music scene supporter. And in his capacity as both a scene supporter and a personal friend, he upped the studio cash to get Levi and 1016 further down the road to EP success. When asked about Levi and this generous contribution, he had this to say. “Brother… I’ve enjoyed seeing him on drums. I’ve enjoyed seeing him with Southern Brutality, Misled, Cain, and jamming with Twelve Years Driven. I’ve enjoyed seeing him learn the guitar and seeing him bust his ass for the desire of his dream.” For Levi, the arrival of good fortune has been accompanied by the rigors of a prescribed deadline. To squander such opportunity, in his own eyes, is to do the unthinkable. So, through disagreements, differences, and fall-outs, he has pressed on.

We’ve all had these experiences in life. So, I realize some, at this point, may wonder what is so notable about his struggles; notable enough to base an article on. And I’ll confidently say it’s the result that lies in waiting. I heard the unreleased demo for one of his singles, Gettysburg. And I can’t help but praise him for not only the body of work, but for the article from which the concept was born; a dead man’s lament before days of battle. Levi is no stranger to the sentiment of historical piety. To the contrary, it’s in his veins. When speaking on the blues and its heritage, he frequently draws attention to Robert Johnson. If you don’t know who that is, it’s ok. It’ll be our little secret. Just tuck this in your back pocket. Robert Johnson was one of the most influential songwriters and blues musicians to have ever strummed six strings. Back in the 30’s, he sat for two recording sessions, producing twenty-nine songs. With only that and three known photographs, this title of “most influential” has been affirmed by countless blues and rock gods over the past seven decades. So, yeah, now you know who Robert Johnson is.

Levi paired his love for Robert Johnson with his own strange twist on the song Hell Hound. When asked about this particular song, Levi had this to say. “So, Robert says, ‘You gotta keep movin on. You gotta keep movin on’, right? The dog will be like, ‘so you thought you could keep moving on.’ I’m writing from the hound’s perspective.” For this and other tracks included on the EP, Levi chose Last Exit Studios in Hollygrove. It’s owned by Eric Reed, drummer for Dead Machine Theory. Levi added, “I know Duane Simoneaux (OCD Recordings) is probably reading this saying ‘you should have come to me!’ But Duane and Eric are two different breeds. When I’m doing my drums, I have to go to Duane. I have to. Duane knows my drumming style. But Duane as a producer, he wreaks havoc on guitars. And I’m not that guy. We’re bluesed out. He is a guitarist. And as a guitarist Duane would intimidate me more.” (Neworleansmusicians.com actually did an interview on Duane and OCD recently. You can get a feel for what Levi’s talking about in that article on our blog page.) Levi also cites the studio’s location as an inspiration in itself. “It’s right where it needs to be. It’s in a home in Hollygrove, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city. It’s in a neighborhood that just exudes the blues man’s energy. And that’s what I’m going for.” Ever the altruist, his quest to honor the forefathers of the blues has led him through some interesting doors. For one song, he implemented the use of what others might rightfully call junk. “It’s called 1016 the Blues Child. We set up the mics like cans; Like Robert Johnson singing through a can. And I literally went in there with a guitar with a cracked neck. You couldn’t tune it worth a shit. The strings were old. I drop tuned it and it just came out. It just had that guttural feel to it.” In knowing Levi, one could easily tell that he absolutely lives for music. Before being laid to rest in a pine box, Johnson’s final words were, “I pray that my redeemer will come and take me from my grave.” And though our old friend Martin Felix may not have changed the scope of this 1016 project, he may have changed Levi’s destination.







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This Guy Levi

“I got inside of it (the tomb)… I dug down a little further, and it was about the size of a cigarette pack. It looked like the little bible you get from Sunday school. And I knew immediately what it was… I could barely read any of the words. It was weathered and in bad shape. But I read those words, that poem, and it hit me what this guy was going through.” What Levi held in his hands was actually a diary containing the last words of a man headed off to battle in the Civil War. He would go on to include this in his upcoming EP, Gettysburg.

Levi Clark grew up in Metairie, Louisiana in typical American hard-working household. They built cars, they played football, they worked on dead people, and they played music. Okay, maybe not entirely typical. But they were close knit and full of life. The youngest of five children, he began to gravitate toward music at a very early age. And there was certainly a wide variety where he was raised. Levi remembers, “My brothers were listening to Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin; there was Woodstock basically in that room. And my sisters listened to LTD, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Peabo Bryson. Mom had Coltrane and Billy Holiday. Dad had Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, ZZ Hill, Muddy Waters.” His first experience making music was on his brother Avery’s drum set. At the age of six, he snuck into his brother’s room with the intention of figuring out what drums were all about. But with no drum sticks in site, he proceeded to break a drum head using a brush and a comb. Being a percussionist, part of the discipline his father handed down was playing Led Zeppelin IV over and over, and making Levi learn how to play the proper way, this time with actual drum sticks. “Every time I made a mistake, I got popped with a drumstick. And when this (interview) comes out, my brother Avery will find out how I learned that because he has no idea that I got my ass tore up for breaking his drum”, Levi recalled.

            At family gatherings, the Clarks didn’t break out the radio. The family would bring their instruments and a live session would serve as entertainment for the occasion. With his brother Avery on drums, his other brother Ronald on bass, his step-brother Donald on keys, and his cousin Wade on guitar, the gatherings became real events. “They were kids, barely in their 20’s! And they’re back there playing Hendrix. And they’re back there playing Muddy Waters, and Sly and the Family Stone” Levi exclaimed. Music would always be a huge influence in Levi’s world as a child and even to this day. At the young age of five, he got a chance to see his father DJ at a dinner reception for his brother. And one could argue that this experience forever changed his life. The place was packed, everyone was on the dance floor. And to close out the night, his father played Who’s Loving You by the Jackson 5. Levi explained, “I had already known that Michael was my age when he sang that. And I’m watching these grown, drunk ass men belt out the words being sung by a 5-year-old. At that point it became my disease. I thought, I wish I could create something that made people move the way I saw those people move.”

            With an ear for the drums, Levi would spend the rest of his life in pursuit of his new found passion. Though his first band was known by the name of Never Fall, his first gig was a sold-out show at the municipal auditorium with a band by the name of House of Dread. He was just sixteen years old. Accompanied by his two cousins, he showed up with all his gear only to find out that, unbeknownst to him, the band had hired a guy named Kufaru to replace him. Yet he didn’t cower, nor did he break. Wounded, betrayed, and dressed to the nines, Levi got on stage anyway. “It’s a live gig man”, said Levi. “Shit’s gonna happen that’s out of your control. Not everything is going to go the way you want it to happen. You just have to duck and cover and move forward.” With a hard lesson learned, he went back to playing with Never Fall which, according to Levi was a three-piece progressive rock band influenced by bands like Rush and Saga. And oddly enough, he would be using his brother Avery’s drum kit. On the bill with Big Sum, Exhibit A, and Dead Eye Dick, Levi recalls one night playing at Muddy Waters, in Uptown New Orleans. “So I’m on stage during our last song doing my Neil Peart thing, my big rock thing (insert mouth drum sounds here), you know. I hit the last note and found out that someone had put a door behind the drum riser. When I hit this last note, the centrifugal force threw me back and through the door to the outside. I had to run back inside and up on stage to close out the set.”

As Levi was well aware, paying dues came with the territory. But the common goal was always to make it to the big leagues. One time at practice, he found himself face to face with an A&R for Sony Music Group. The only thing more they wanted was a bassist and a rhythm guitar player to make the outfit complete. At the time, Levi was occasionally jamming with another band by the name of Sobriquet. From that experience, he was able to call on some friends. As Levi explained, “I contacted Michael Prado and a guy by the name of Brad Richoux. They were ready but Adam and John decided that school was more important. And they were right. John went on to be a banker or some shit but Adam went on to do work for Steve Vai.” Always moving forward, Levi would form his new band Cain immediately following.

            Cain would start out playing at The Abstract on Magazine Street, and even got an opportunity to Play with Green Day before they made it big. To hear him paint the picture, Levi described The Abstract as the CBGB’s of New Orleans. “They had Dang Bruh WhY, Cain, Apostacy, Abuse played there. One of Philip Anselmo’s projects called The Satanic had played there. It was a shithole. But it was the best shithole. It was the atmosphere, the ambiance. To get any further underground you’d have to go to Haiti. But it grew. It grew like an oak.”

            I wanted to shift focus a bit so I inquired about a bar in Fat City that so many people of that era used to frequent. Arguably, it was one of the most important bars for the metal scene in the greater New Orleans area. This gem was known as Zeppelin’s. With bands like Crowbar, Sevendust, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, Obituary, Anal Cunt and countess others, and often for as cheap as five bucks, you couldn’t find a better place to go see live rock music. Alongside this hotbed of talent came networking and opportunity. And Levi with his band Cain was eager to come up. He thought back to one such fortunate night playing at Zeppelin’s where his band scored a chance to perform on tour with Sevendust. “We showed up that night, played our asses off, and hit it off pretty well with Lajon. We threw all our shit in a minivan and followed them.”

            Remembering a time after a particularly rough day on the job at the funeral home, Levi told me how he came to meet his now guitarist and closest friend, Trey Heflin, at the Ski Lodge in Fat City. “I drive up with my entire 10-piece drum kit packed into my Nissan Pulsar, don’t ask me how. But I get in there and standing on the bar, smoking, drinking, doing shots is Trey Heflin. We had played with his band called Genocide at the time. And about a month after that gig we got a call from The Abstract to go do a gig at the New Orleans Music Hall. (We played with) MeJack, Gwar, and Rawg. That was insane. Genocide would end up being Cain’s brother band. We would play around town with them. I haven’t left that dude’s side since.”

            Albeit small, the metal scene was very interconnected at the time. Sometimes, the same guys you heard on the local radio station that day were the same guys you saw in the bar that night. And Levi’s experiences were no exception. “I was at Last Stop one night when I actually got a chance to hear the Down’s album NOLA record demo there. Philip (Anselmo) had gone in there some time after midnight when the crowd had thinned. I heard Temptations Wing, Underneath Everything, and Eyes of the South. I said to Philip, ‘man I don’t know if you know it man but that’s some bad ass shit.’ That was the first time I actually saw Last Stop…. Stop.”

            As a current member of not one but two bands, Misled and Southern Brutality, he’s somehow found time to cultivate a new sonic venture. Levi’s latest project, 1016, is named for the address of the house he grew up in, where his love and obsession for music began. Resonating an influence of blues from his mother and his father, he maintains that 1016’s style is raw, uncontrived and unpretentious. His vision is to see it fester into a disease that will infect as many people as possible. (That ought to trip a few Covid algorithms) Following 1016’s eminent EP, Gettysburg, their first album will come. And they hope to spawn a tour shortly thereafter. When asked about his vision for the band, he cited no one particular direction, literally. “I’ll put it to you like this. The same vision that Robert Johnson had, the same vision Leadbelly had; they had no vision. They just did it.”

            Whether it be visions or messages, both can be found hidden in the sounds coming through your speakers. Levi pointed out one such message conveyed through the power in 1016’s melodies. “The reason why we’re tuned to C and still playing the blues shit is to show people you don’t have to be blast heavy. The technique I’m using is a blues technique; the call and response technique. And the reason I do it tuned like this is to get rid of that whole death core, metal core, blues core… whatever you want to call that shit. It’s called Rock and Roll man.”

You can find footage of an interview with Levi on our videos page here or on our YouTube Channel.

BAND RUNDOWN

Jennifer Leach on vocals

Levi Clark on guitar

Trey Heflin on guitar

Jamie Clouatre on bass

Drummer TBA

The upcoming EP Gettysburg features Tiger Agnelly on vocals and Brian Ordoyne playing drums.

Author: David Trahan, President of Neworleansmusicians.com