Since moving to the Capital Region in 2000, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Terry McClain has become an integral part of the music scene.
Over the past decade, he’s spent time playing with The Sense Offenders, The Ameros, The Crayons, Charmboy and his own projects, The Realside and The Guiltless Cult, among others. He’s also produced projects out of his own studio setup in his one-bedroom apartment in Watervliet, including Disposable Rocket Band and Happy Juliet.
But that’s not to say that the Tennessee transplant was initially welcomed with open arms.
“I remember being onstage at Lark Tavern before it was owned by Tess [Collins], and this is when you could still smoke in the bars,” McClain said recently from a bar in Albany. “And I’m playing a song, and honestly I was kind of playing it poorly — I really wasn’t, it was something I didn’t rehearse. But this guy came up — who I’m friends with now — he came up and as I’m playing, he just took a drag off his cigarette, stood right in front of me. And then as I’m playing and I’m singing, he just blew it right in my face.”
The Sense Offenders, with The Guiltless Cult, The Realside
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany
How Much: $5
More Info: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com
But McClain quickly bounced back, using any negative energy pointed his way to fuel his own creativity. His early collaborations with drummer John Brodeur, his bandmate in The Sense Offenders and The Guiltless Cult, helped ingratiate him.
“Most great songs are written off of great pain, so anything you can do to enunciate that or make that clear, it’s only gonna help you,” he said. “But I think after a while, knowing John Brodeur is what got me accepted into the scene. It’s one of those things — I think people take great pride in what they put together up here because it is so prolific up here, and they get a little scared sometimes, but we have people out there that break the rules, that go out, and they’ll mingle with anybody.”
At the end of the year, McClain will be returning to Tennessee, where he first kickstarted his music career in 1992. On Friday, he’ll have one last hurrah at Valentine’s, with a reunited Sense Offenders — featuring McClain on keyboards, lead vocalist and guitarist Tom McWatters, bassist Matt McWatters, lead guitarist Eric Halder and drummer Brodeur returning from New York City — headlining. McClain will also play his acoustic solo material as The Realside, and front his punk group The Guiltless Cult.
Audience members will receive a copy of The Sense Offenders’ 2007 self-titled debut with the $5 admission. Additionally, the entire show is being filmed for a live DVD release.
Creating a hub
But this isn’t the last that the Capital Region music scene will hear of McClain. Recently, he reconnected with a friend from his years in the Nashville area, Brent Rawlings, best known as the main sound engineer for Kings of Leon. Rawlings has a home studio in Rockvale, Tenn., known as DB Studios, and McClain will be working out of there.
His hope is to create a hub for Capital Region musicians touring through the area, and to continue to push the scene up here in Nashville. And eventually, he will be back in upstate New York.
“Not only am I planning to come back here, but I want to bring people down there to Tennessee and have a place where, if you need to crash, if you want to play a show, we can set up a showcase — and actually have some power and some media behind the event, because middle Tennessee is a huge music scene,” he said.
“It’s very easy to get lost, like L.A., unless you know the right people. I’ve played down there before — I’ve played to big crowds, I’ve played to no crowds. And this is kind of a different ballgame because this is the first time I’ve really worked with somebody who’s already established themselves on a global level.”
Among the local artists McClain has already talked to about getting into his new studio are Andrew Elder of Big Nixon, Brodeur, Matt Durfee and M.R. Poulopoulos.
“They’ve all expressed interest, and they have the sound,” McClain said. “There’s a great folk scene up here, so that sound is already tailored for the Nashville scene. Even Rob Jonas, I’ve told him several times I think he’d be a great Nashville songwriter.”
“The song itself is the most important part,” McClain continued. “And that’s the way Nashville is, it’s a songwriter’s town. And the more I think people take advantage of that, the more they can bring back here. You come down there, get some exposure, and then you bring it up here and build the scene up even more. That’s all I’ve ever done.”