Exploring Entertainment in Florida's 850 & Beyond
Clepto bassist and vocalist Freddie Al-Hajj talks to 850 Music about touring, band life, and living the dream.
I’ve been describing Clepto as a what would happen if System of a Down was a straightforward punk band. Luckily, Freddie seemed okay with that. “That is actually the most used comparison we get after a show, which is pretty cool because they are awesome. That is a good way to sum it up. We both have a gypsy kind of thing going.”
Part of the reason the comparison sticks is because of the bands’ shared Lebanese and Armenian backgrounds which is present in their music.
Clepto is a Canadian based band that pulls from their Lebanese, Armenian, and Greek heritages to create a unique form of punk music. They first popped on my radar over the Fall, when they played a show at Destin’s Hard Rock Cafe. Although I was unable to make the show, I was utterly enthralled by their music and work ethic.
I watched as they strung together a European tour on their own. “We made it. I don’t know how. but we did it. We did the whole fundraiser thing to raise money to buy the van and the gear. Then we did this job for our friend’s mother, our payment was the plane tickets. So we had the gear and the plane tickets, but didn’t really have any shows booked. We ended up getting three shows, and two of them cancelled, but the third one was awesome. We just kept picking up shows and made it through Europe. It was unreal.”
The band is about to embark on a new tour across the states. “It is cool to come back to the states again,” says Freddie. “Which for me, it is cool that we actually pulled it off easier than last time. It was as easy as getting in touch with everybody that we met and we booked this North American tour in no time.”
The tour will make at least two stops in the 850 area:
2/26 at The Handlebar in Pensacola
3/1 at Zeeps in Ft Walton
Clepto also has another album in the works which they plan to release this year and tentative plans to tour Japan.
In some respects, it is easy to look at Clepto and think they made it. Whatever that magical benchmark is for a band to reach. “We always get, ‘You are living the dream’. That’s the big one. I understand how from the outside perspective it is the dream, but everything you do has its ups and downs. Some days we will sit in the van and it six hours of driving and we are going crazy. We will start yelling at each other ‘You are living the dream man!’ And we will just start acting like psychopaths and yelling that out.”
On a more serious note, this statement from Freddie is perfect. “Come to our shows and support your local music scene. Without a local music scene in all cities everywhere, we can’t tour. If you want to make a difference, start going to shows.”
16th – Saturday – Chicago, IL @ Halsted Harp
17th – Sunday – Chicago, IL @ Township
19th – Tuesday – Columbus, OH @ The Shrunken Head
21st – Thursday – Indianapolis, IN @ Melody Inn
22nd – Friday – Nashville, TN @ Foobar
23rd – Saturday – Columbus, GA @ Plug Uglies
24th – Sunday Dothan, AL @ Jennings Skate Park
26th – Tuesday – Pensacola, FL @ The Handlebar
1st – Friday – Fort Walton Beach, FL @ Zeeps Bar & Grill
2nd – Saturday – Ocean Springs, MS @ Squeaky Lizard
6th – Wednesday Austin, TX @ The 29th Street Ballroom
8th – Friday – Fort Worth, TX @ The Crow Bar
9th – Saturday – Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
11th – Monday – El Paso, TX @ The Mansion
13th – Wednesday – Phoenix, AZ @ Ripz Bar and Grill
14th – Thursday – Phoenix, AZ @ The Rusty Spoke
15th – Friday – Ventura, CA @ Billy O’s
16th – Saturday – Long Beach, CA @ Di Piazzas
17th – Sunday – San Diego, CA @ The Yard
Can you help fill the gaps??? Send the band an email firstname.lastname@example.org