Prolific New York session musician returns to rock on crunchy new single
Rob Clores has worked as a sideman for the past three decades, playing keyboards for a diverse range of well-respected artists such as Tom Jones, Colin Hay, Jesse Malin, Charli XCX and The Black Crowes, among many others.
But he also has his own solo career, under the moniker Split Second Meltdown, which shows that he is also a talented frontman. This is evident on his latest single, “Big Game Hunting,” which was released in late November to positive reviews and radio airplay across the U.S.
While the track is definitely hard-hitting modern rock in style, “It’s also a little pop, and has kind of a spoken rap verse,” says Clores during a recent call from his Jersey City home. “It’s got a lot of synthesizer, but still with a heavy guitar. I just love the power of heavy, grungy guitar. A lot of people are very surprised that I didn’t put out a keyboard record. But I’ve got the keyboards in there [as well].”
He recorded the song last summer, making a demo that he sent to his Los Angeles-based drummer, bassist, and guitarist. They passed the track back and forth, completing it entirely remotely.
As for the lyrics, Clores says, “I just thought it was an interesting concept: ‘big game hunting.’ You think of safari and lions and hunting animals, which I think is okay if you need to survive, but not for sport. So I was trying to twist it to mean big game hunting like people pursuing another person for a love interest.”
VIDEO: Split Second Meltdown “Big Game Hunting”
Musically, the song shifts gears a lot. “There’s a mellow Pink Floyd sort of section, but then it goes right back into a four on the floor energetic beat,” Clores says. “I thought that maybe the arrangement would keep people on their toes.”
“Big Game Hunting” follows another single Clores released last year – a re-harmonized, rearranged version of the Jimi Hendrix fave “Foxey Lady,” on which Guns N Roses guitarist Richard Fortus played. Before that, he released a self-titled EP in 2020.
Clores decided to launch his solo career because he wanted a change of pace from the the singer-songwriter realm that he’s mainly been hired to work within of late.
“I just needed more rock in my life,” he says with a laugh. “Lyrically, too, I think I just have more to say now. Earlier in my career, I didn’t really want to step out and be a solo guy – I preferred being in the background.”
After working as a sideman for so long, Clores admits that it’s been a challenge to make the switch to being a band leader, but he says he’s getting used to it: “Somebody like Dave Grohl is a big inspiration to me because he started his career in the back and he worked his way to the front. He’s a fantastic frontman.”
Even though he’s feeling more comfortable with being more in the spotlight, Clores says he’s still glad that he chose to use the name Split Second Meltdown instead of releasing his solo work under his own name. “A band name is more intriguing,” he says, “and I felt more comfortable having a project name, just because it’s fresh and I can use different configurations of musicians.”
Whether Clores is releasing his own songs or working with others, his immense talent is evident. He first gravitated toward music at an early age as he was growing up Leonia, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River from New York City. He watched his father sing and play the piano, and wanted to follow suit. “When I was six years old, I was plunking out some of the songs that he played,” he says.
Clores went on to seriously study classical and jazz piano, then started writing his own songs in high school. He went on to attend New York’s prestigious Manhattan School of Music, and immersed himself in the city’s rock scene. He has been an in-demand keyboardist ever since.
Despite a busy schedule performing with other artists, Clores is determined to keep up the momentum with his solo work. To that end, he has a full-length album planned, with recording this summer and a release date later this year. This time, he says, “I would like to record with a band in the room and not do any more remote stuff.”
For now, though, Clores is happy to have “Big Game Hunting” out in the world and getting such favorable attention.
“I get excited about putting my own music out there, just because I’m sort of new at it,” he says. “I just want to go for it – I don’t see any point in waiting!”