By Joe Gagliardo
He was influenced by his bass playing 8th grade teacher, and his first instrument was a National EBO. Following a few early efforts, Clay Tomasek set the instrument aside and opted for life as a roadie. That experience gave him the itch to start playing again, and he teamed up with Lee Popa, a soundman he had been working with, and by the mid-1980’s they had put together the earliest version of the Slammin’ Watusis.
Influenced by the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement that had been a big part of the punk and late-70’s music scene, the Watusis played wherever and whenever they could, often joined on stage with guest musicians who happened to be in the audience.
One-by-one, Clay and Lee added musicians as they went along—Fast Frank on harp and sax, guitarist Mark Durante and drummer Benny Saphire. With a punk rhythm section, a metal guitarist, melded with the jazz and blues influence from Fast Frank – the Slammin Watusis emerged as a unique ensemble.
A chance meeting with an Epic records executive in the late-80’s, thanks to Jay O’Rourke of The Insiders, resulted in two LPs for Epic, Slammin’ Watusis, and Kings of Noise. The two albums are hard and raw, reminiscent of the MC5.
The band toured extensively, including stints with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, and Living Colour.
Check out “Livin’ in Sin” https://youtu.be/62NUDmNwabo
Check out “Madness and Mania” https://youtu.be/LQqVdXqoEbk
Clay played a ’71 Fender Precision on the first release, and a ‘64 Fender Precision on their sophomore effort – which remains his go-to instrument today.
Since 1990, Clay has anchored Green, a band that has enjoyed great success in the U.S. and Europe. Their music is an amalgam of British Invasion, pop and rock, mixed with soul. Green continues to record and perform live, catch them if you can!
Check out Clay’s melodic bass lines, reminiscent of his influences of Paul McCartney, Bruce Thomas (Elvis Costello & The Attractions), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), and Motown.
“Long Distance Telephone” https://youtu.be/lJz-aW9X-1U
“Broken Promises” https://youtu.be/0VPHUvxqgNA