Tera Melos plays Three Links on Monday, Nov. 13.
After seven years of commuting between Texas and California, drummer John Clardy has finally left Tarrant County for good. Clardy, who grew up in Colleyville, became the drummer for the Sacramento-based math rock three-piece Tera Melos in 2008, but it's easy to understand why he had a hard time leaving North Texas.
Despite Tera Melos' sizable cult following, the free rent and practice space were just too good to give up. “A lot of it was [that] I could practice at home,” Clardy tells the Observer. “There was a room in that house where I could practice every day.”
But Clardy, who now lives in Los Angeles, will be back in town Monday to play Three Links with Tera Melos, which is touring behind its fourth studio album, Trash Generator. The band's sound is noisy and complex but also poppy, and it has a sense of humor. Tera Melos sounds like musicians who loved pop-punk as teenagers but later found Frank Zappa.
Clardy grew up in a musical family. His uncle is the late Mark Ehmann of local Beatles tribute Hard Night’s Day, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. Thanks to Ehmann’s influence, the Beatles became one of Clardy’s first musical loves.
Clardy’s first instrument was guitar, but he later gravitated to the drums, which are now his primary instrument. He spent many hours watching a VHS tape of the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, hoping to learn Mitch Mitchell's parts.
Clardy says his parents always supported his musical aspirations. One night, he says, his mother lied about his age to get him into a Hagfish show at Trees, where he got to meet the band's guitarist, Zach Blair.
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It was a pivotal moment for Clardy. “It’s funny because Zach Blair and I are still good friends,” he says. “He just wrote me the other day that he was really stoked on the new Tera Melos record.”
Clardy went on to play in a number of local bands, including Denton-based Fishboy. Tera Melos entered the picture when a friend of his, Bryant Williamson, told Clardy he'd heard that the band's original drummer was leaving and it was about to have auditions.
Clardy contacted Tera Melos through MySpace, auditioned and eventually landed the gig. He's been with the band through most of its success, beginning with 2011's Patagonian Rats. Since its release, Tera Melos has shared stages with Circa Survive, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Pinback, among others.
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The band took a long break after its third album, 2014's X'ed Out. During that time, Clardy taught at School of Rock in Southlake and cut two improv albums with Denton-based audio engineer Michael Briggs.
The new Tera Melos album, released in August via Sargent House, is a collaboration among Clardy and his bandmates, Nick Reinhart and Nathan Latona. They wrote the album in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
During the writing process, Clardy says, they'd often visit local hangout Donut Friend, owned by legendary drummer and producer Mark Trombino, who has produced songs for bands such as Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World. “That definitely fueled our writing sessions between their donuts and cold brew,” Clardy says.
Now, Tera Melos is on the road to promote those efforts, and Clardy is happy that journey is bringing him back to Deep Ellum, where he did his first bit of music networking. “It makes me really happy any time I see that I’m contributing back into that cycle of inspiration," he says.