Ryan Clark almost didn’t live long enough to see his passion project come true.
It was October 3, 2021, two days before a private listening party for Hookworm one, the upcoming debut album from her label Hookworm Records.
He called his wife to tell her that his left arm was numb and his chest was tight. By the time she got home, “I was asleep and my left arm was blue,” Clark recalls. She took him to the emergency room, where they sat him in a wheelchair.
“After that, I have no more memories until October 10,” he said.
Clark had suffered from an aortic aneurysm, the same disease that killed actor John Ritter. He underwent a seven-hour open heart operation and remained in the hospital for about three weeks. He considers himself lucky.
“Most people who have aortic aneurysms don’t go to the hospital,” says Clark.
Although he is still recovering, he would not miss tonight Hookworm one night out at Last Exit Live for the world.
The four songs Hookworm one The EP features tracks from the bands Phoenix Paper Foxes, The Psychedelephants, The Woodworks, and Shovel, and it’s not the first project to emerge from Clark’s mission to promote and support local music.
Prior to the birth of Hookworm Records, Clark’s blog, “Keep the Greasy Side Down,” was a columnist and cheerleader of local music. (The title comes from a saying of his grandfather.)
As Clark explains, he dated ASU in the ’90s and followed Tempe’s flourishing music scene during this time. But when he returned to town after years of teaching up north in Pinetop, he had lost track of the local independent music scene.
It was 2017, and Clark was in shock when he learned that his younger brother had committed a murder.
“I was like, ‘What’s the point? What’s the point of life when the going gets tough?'” He said. “I had a kind of Shawshank Redemption moment: Take care of living or dying. Find something to live on, and for me, music has always been that thing that has helped me. ”
Writing the blog, performing constantly at concerts, and taking photos for bands helped establish his street reputation in the local music scene, he says.
Then, in 2019, he teamed up with local musicians Kevin Michael Prier of The Real Fakes and David Rhodes of Big Finish to create Hookworm Records. (Pray and Rhodes then abandoned the project.)
“Hookworm’s goal was to give Arizona independent bands the star treatment,” says Clark. “I was in love with Arizona indie music, but a lot of bands don’t have the resources to record in the best studio they can be. They end up doing a lot of DIY stuff.”
His plan was to get groups to record an unreleased song with producer Bob Hoag at the local Flying Blanket Recording studio.
The independent trio The Woodworks, which features on the album with their song “Callus”, were on board early in the process.
“We have been friends with [Clark] for a long time, and he’s always been an active fan, “said Woodworks guitarist and singer Solo Lounsbury,” He came to us and had the idea to record with Bob at Flying Blanket where so many of our local artists favorites have recorded – that was sort of a no-brainer. ”
The Woodworks, along with the other bands on Hookworm One, were exactly the kind of acts Clark wanted to promote: “young, vibrant, doing neat things, always having big dreams,” he says. “I was trying to sum up an era of Arizona indie music.”
Paul Balazs of The Psychedelephants says the band jumped at the chance to be on vinyl. Their contribution, “Triangle Sky”, was a jazz song that they reorganized to have a more rock sound.
Flying Blanket registration for Hookworm one “It was probably our best studio experience as a band,” he says.
Clark has big plans for Hookworm Records after the EP’s release night. Hookworm two is already well advanced and will include six groups, including Birds + Arrows of Tucson. A pair of Spring Showcase concerts (Friday February 25 at Club Congress in Tucson and Saturday February 26 at Unity Through Community in Tempe) featuring Hookworm two the groups will advance the mission of promoting Arizona talent.
“There’s a lot of love and a lot of hard work going into the album, and I think it shows in the recording,” Lounsbury said. “Ryan is so excited and really wants to point out that great music doesn’t just come from national artists. There are so many people out there who can bring something really amazing to the table in your backyard.”
Hookworm One Record Release Show. With Paper Foxes, The Psychedelephants and The Woodworks. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., Friday January 7. Last live release, 717 South Central Avenue. Tickets cost $ 15 plus fees.