Saviour Machine is a unique band. Saviour Machine has a unique story; a story that could be larger than the band itself. Formed back in 1989 by the brothers Eric and Jeff Clayton, it became an artistic vehicle that could carry the creative minds of both Eric and Jeff, and travel their musical vision in the heart and soul of the audience. But there are different kinds of audience, so let’s just talk about that specific audience that remained close to the heart and soul of Saviour Machine. That audience will never forget the first time that listened to Saviour Machine I (1993) or Saviour Machine II (1994). That audience was shocked at the first time that witnessed the live ceremony of Saviour Machine, and some of them later, couldn’t handle the Legend trilogy. But that incomplete trilogy, was something that no one could handle; not even the artists themselves. And then, sometime after the entrance of the new millennium, Saviour Machine was no more and Eric Clayton was lost…
by Andreas Andreou
The Man. Eric Clayton. A visionary artist and performer. His legacy so far is more than just music and his story is more than just a story… In 2004 Eric got diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that got worse over the course of some years. The story is known, so let’s just copy the statement: “We are all familiar with the American healthcare system. You’re not insured, there is no money, we’re gonna pump you full of pills. All kinds of them. The ones that make you feel numb, afraid of everything, weary of contact with anyone. The ones that make you feel dead inside.
This is not a state in which an artist can create. Especially not when you’re dealing with the end of the world every day. Slowly but surely, both Eric’s musical career and his social life burned out. Saviour Machine was dead, his marriage fell apart. With little more on board then some clothes and a baseballbat, Eric Clayton retreated to a trailer in the middle of the Utah dessert, determined not to be found by anyone.”
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring” - David Bowie
The Scars in the soul of Eric Clayton were created from deep artistic and emotional wounds. A different kind of audience (not the one we spoke about in the beginning), the bold and ambitious Legend trilogy, the music industry, health, things that shouldn’t happen but happened, and things that never happened… And then, Eric Clayton disappeared. Someone could even write a book about those years in the life of Eric Clayton… But actually, this book is already written by Eric himself; The Collective Journals 1997 – 2009.
There were two turning points in the period of Eric Clayton’s life after The Collective Journals 1997 – 2009, so let’s go somewhere in the mid-10s. Eric was invited by Arjen Lucassen to perform at the Ayreon spin-off The Theatre Equation (2015) in Netherlands. Then, one person enter his life and another one left the mortal world. Eric met his future wife, and David Bowie died. David Bowie and Black Sabbath are Clayton’s biggest influence. Jeff Clayton has even recorded an amazing complete album inspired by Black Sabbath, while in my recent meeting with Eric, once the show in Athens was completed, his first words to me were, “Great t-shirt!”… I was wearing a Black Sabbath one.
Along with his brother Jeff, Eric decided to pay a tribute to David Bowie and started the Bowie Decade project, in which, for a whole year, they recorded and released on bandcamp, a Bowie cover (from his first decade) every month! I’ve been following Eric Clayton since ages and it was very nice to see that the desire for music was back again. This whole procedure was like a redemption and month by month, you could see the evolution of music. Shortly, former members of Saviour Machine, Nathan Van Hala (keyboards) and Charles Cooper (bass) joined this project and that eventually led to the reunion of Saviour Machine.
Listen to the Bowie: Decade project HERE
The writing sessions for new Saviour Machine material started and it was announced that the album will be called Saviour Machine III. However, during those writing sessions - that will take their time, and the album won’t hit the record stores before 2021 – Eric came up with material that didn’t exactly fit for Saviour Machine; it was different and deeply personal…
The Band under the name Eric Clayton & The Nine was formed in 2018. As Saviour Machine are currently not able to tour, Eric formed this band, and they started playing selected concerts, performing Saviour Machine songs and few covers.
Eric Clayton had already decided to move permanently to Europe (specifically in Germany) in the summer of 2017. Then, he was teamed with few talented musicians from the Netherlands: Jeroen Geerts (guitar), Bas Albersen (guitar), Rob Dokter (bass), Twan Bakker (drums) and Ludo Caanen (keyboards). Eric Clayton & The Nine performed seven live shows during the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, including Hammer of Doom festival and Brainstorm fest. During that time, new songs started taking shape and now, a new album is already written. The album will be named A Thousand Scars and shortly, the band will enter studio for recordings, with Devon Graves helping with the production.
The live show in Athens, is the ninth show of Eric Clayton & The Nine, and that number seems more suitable than ever before. When Eric Clayton & The Nine were announced that will perform two dates in Greece, 27th of September in Thessaloniki and 28th of September in Athens, at Demons Gate Festival (along with names like Meden Agan, Doomocracy, On Thorns I Lay, Sorcerer and Saturnus), the Greek audience was expecting something unique. Few fans in Thessaloniki weren’t really satisfied, but the ninth show of the band in Athens, was full of passion and emotions, both from the artists on stage and the audience.
The masks were on stage, but Eric wasn’t wearing one. He doesn’t have to hide anything, anymore, and the band started with “Helter Skelter”, a cover from The Beatles. And then, the masks were off and classic Saviour Machine songs filled the venue. “Christians and Lunatics”, “Enter the Idol”, “The Mask” and an amazing performance of the “Killer”. Then, Eric said that he needs to perform the next song and it was something personal, so David Bowie’s “Five Years” was the next cover. While in the first minutes of the show it seemed that the band needed to find its steps on the stage, we already started to experience something unique. Just like what we really wanted from such a band; and even more. Eric’s voice still sounds emotional and his stage presence is captivating. As for The Nine – The Band, I don’t think that Eric could find more suitable musicians to share his vision and all together share the same passion and love for music. Jeroen and Bas on guitars, Rob on bass, an amazing Twan Bakker on drums and Ludo on keys, all were magnificent.
“Ludicrous Smiles”, “The Wicked Window”, “Son of the Rain”, “Ascension of Heroes” and the apotheosis of “The Stand” (probably the highlight of the night) were next in line. At that point, two new songs were performed, from the upcoming A Thousand Scars album, “The Space Between Us” and “American Whore”. Both of them sounded very good and it seems that the debut album of Eric Clayton & The Nine will be an inspirational, emotional and beautiful release.
A very different performance of “Carnival of Souls” was next, and the show ended with “Legion” and “Love Never Dies”. Eric went off stage and became one with the audience. The kind of audience we spoke about in the beginning. The kind of audience that is one with the artist. The artist we missed for so many years, and finally is back with us.