The Wall Clocks are billed as being a Detroit-based band, but the truth is the local rock band's roots formed in Dearborn, where bassist John Mazzei raised his son Jonathan to love and play music.
The two formed the band with Jonathan's friends, and now they're looking to take their sound international.
The four-piece band–featuring the younger Mazzei on vocals and guitar, Joe Giese on guitar, the elder Mazzei on bass and Breck Crandell on drums–will be bringing their '60s-esque, unique rock 'n' roll sound to the Hard Rock Cafe Detroit's Battle of the Bands Friday at 8 p.m.
The winner of the competition will go on to compete nationally for the opportunity to perform on the main stage at London’s Hyde Park during Hard Rock Calling 2011, a three-day music festival.
The Wall Clocks are no strangers to the spotlight.
The band has shared the stage with the Gin Blossoms and The Romantics, just to name a few. Lead singer Jonathan Mazzei hosts a radio show Tuesday nights on WUMD, 's campus radio station.
The group also won a at Royal Oak's Fifth Avenue in December, which landed them the honor of playing Rockin' the Eve in downtown Royal Oak on New Year's Eve.
Jonathan Mazzei, front man of this rock outfit, sat down with Patch to talk about the band's past and their continued success.
Dearborn Patch: How did you meet your fellow bandmates?
Jonathan Mazzei: My guitarist, Joe, and I have been best friends since we were 3 years old. Family friends kind of got us together and we've been playing music together for quite some time. It kind of started as the basis of a couple of different bands, which has actually turned into what is now The Wall Clocks. I went to high school with my drummer; when I met him we ended up becoming really close friends and he joined the group. That's kind of where it stands today.
Patch: How did you come up with your band name?
Mazzei: There's not a great story to it, but the funny thing about that was that I had a really awful band name idea. When we were trying to think of names, I was sitting on a couch in the living room drinking something. You know how when you drink, you tilt your head back and look up? The first thing I saw on the ceiling was a ceiling fan. I had one of those moments where I thought it was a real revelation and that was going to be the name of the band: The Ceiling Fans. I had a bunch of logo ideas for it. I got on the phone to kind of tell everybody that I had this great idea.
The phone rang about twice before I realized what an awful name it was. So, it just got me kind of thinking about (household) objects that maybe sounded a little better. The Wall Clocks came up and it lent itself to a lot of imagery that we were interested in. The concept of time and the sort of infiniteness of things. We really like antique, retro-looking things such as antique clocks. It just sort of all fit within that name. It seemed like the only name that we could really use.
Patch: Who or what inspired you to become a musician?
Mazzei: My dad (bassist John). He's played my entire life and he always had music around the house. I'm sure that he was the first and greatest inspiration from the start. He gave me my first guitar and showed me the basics of it. He turned me on to all the music he likes, which is a lot of stuff from the '60s such as the Eagles. I also took a real liking to John Lennon and Jim Morrison. Even the people from bands today.
Once I started delving into modern music there have been a lot of role models that I've found. They really showed me what it was exactly that I wanted to do. The kind of artist I wanted to be.
Patch: In your own words, how would you describe your music?
Mazzei: We have a really hard time putting a genre to ourselves sometimes, but we definitely have roots in British rock from the '60s. We try to put a lot of diversity into it and bring it into today's world and not just be a '60s cover band. We try to stay true to our roots and put our own twist on it. We really try to make it an art form and put our own spin on it and make sure it's relevant today. We want it to be enjoyable and, hopefully, timeless.
Patch: What have been some of the high points of your musical career?
Mazzei: New Year's Eve (playing Rockin' The Eve) was definitely a high point for all of us; it was a great thing to do. Just to play on that stage with those bands, it was awesome. We got to watch The Romantics from the side stage and to see the hometown guys perform was really great.
Another high point was that we won the Ambassador Magazine award for "best local band," I think it was a year or two ago. That was voted on by the readers. I think the biggest thing for us is that wherever we go we always seem to get a really good response. People seem really moved and refreshed by what we do. At that point it becomes less about the achievement, where it was that you played, it's more about the people who were there.
Patch: Do you have an album out?
Mazzei: Yes, we've got a record out right now, it's called Odds and Beginnings. The best place to find it is you can get a hard copy at our shows, or you can download it on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc.
Patch: What are you looking forward to in 2011?
Mazzei: This year we're hoping to get back in the studio. I'm the main songwriter of the group. I've been doing a lot of writing over the last few years and I'm really itching to get that down. We're really hoping to put together another full-length recording this year. There's some talk going around right now about maybe doing a single because we're itching to get something out there kind of quickly. We're thinking about doing a new single over the next few months and then hopefully later this year getting another full-length record of all brand-new original songs out there.
For more information on The Wall Clocks, visit thewallclocksband.com.