Your Heart Breaks: From One Project to Another

by Bennett Hanson

Clyde Petersen is a die-hard DIY guy with his hands in many self-made pots. Whether making wild music videos for Seattle bands, crafting materials for stop-motion videos or art installations, filming his show titled “Boating with Clyde,” making an animated feature film, playing in bands, learning to play the lap steel guitar or just chillin’, Petersen does it his way. But this DIY-er  is no self-absorbed cave-dweller. “Storytelling is what I’m most excited about,” Petersen said. And to tell stories, you need an audience.

On June 18 this multi-talented artist and his band Your Heart Breaks will have an audience of stoked Bellinghamsters. The queercore legends are bringing their skills to Make.Shift where they will be joined by Kimya Dawson (known for her featured songs in the movie Juno), Ghost Mice and other local acts.

Made up of Petersen on vocals and guitar, Zach Burba on sax and keys, Chris McFarlane on drums, Jacob Jaffe on guitar and Craig Peters on bass, Your Heart Breaks explores indie pop and lo-fi and isn’t afraid to add a personal touch. But there’s more to Petersen.

“I definitely consider myself a punk – even though punk has changed so much in the last 40 years,” he said.

A veteran of the Bellingham scene, having attended WWU and Fairhaven College, working at Boundary Bay attending and playing shows around town, Petersen will soon be back in familiar territory. “I loved Bellingham so much that I just stayed around there for years,” he recalled.

Your Heart Breaks will be performing songs from their new album America, which will be released in Seattle the day before the show. America is a self-described surf-pop record about touring the U.S., hittin’ the beach, going to college in Bellingham, the Staten Island Boat Graveyard, the late experimental disco-cellist Arthur Russell and the strange details of daily life, Petersen said. America is unique from the band’s prior releases. “The album is full of saxophone solos,” Petersen said, adding, “I think this album is less personal and more of an external look at the strange land of North America.” The band recorded the release and filmed a music video just last month in Anacortes, where it was produced by musician Karl Blau, a longtime friend and inspiration of Petersen’s who has even appeared on previous Your Heart Breaks releases. However, as busy as Petersen is, America wasn’t the only album he recorded in May.

Oral History is the debut album of Mandate, a “political punk” band that Petersen formed with an old friend from Bellingham (guitarist Corey Brewer), drummer Marc Mazique and Lori Goldston on the cello. ManDate writes songs about current events and has been known to rock a venue where a jock-strap touting dude pole-dances on a bar, Petersen said. “Our shows are super weird and special.” But ManDate’s energy carries over outside the venue as well.

The drummer, Marc Mazique, recently rallied his marching band to a flotilla for the cause of “Paddle in Seattle,” the demonstration in May against Shell’s plans to drill for oil in Alaska and the Arctic – just two years after halting Arctic exploration due to an oil rig fire and safety failures. If there’s ever been a good use for a marching band, other than, you know, blowing hard, Mazrique sure as hell found one.

ManDate also has a self-proclaimed artsy side and plays around with film and will even have its own limited supply of ManDate-flavored ice cream at Full Tilt Ice Cream in Seattle. The flavor is a play on a dirty banana split, Petersen said. If you are unaware of what exactly a dirty banana split is, urbandictionary.com will fill you and your partner in… with a warm butt-banana and two scoops of your favorite ice cream, “hopefully not chocolate.” Petersen said the ManDate ice cream will have bananas, salted nuts and chocolate. Bold move.

Given the often political nature of his music, one might wonder what Petersen’s general outlook on life is. “Doom!” he said, adding, “It’s pretty rough in the world these days, though it’s been rough the whole time.”

Rotating between bands and between music projects and film projects, Petersen seems to have a full plate. Still, he manages. “Sometimes I rotate through and come back around – sometimes the music will chill out for a while and sometimes the film stuff chills out for a while,” he said. When asked if one talent takes priority over another, Petersen said he tries to strike a balance between his skills. “Playing music and making films kind of go hand in hand, I don’t separate them from each other.”

He’s currently working on an animated feature film called “Torrey Pines.” The film will revolve around Petersen’s coming of age in a 1980s San Diego home with an undiagnosed-schizophrenic single mother. So far, Petersen has raised over $31,000 for the film through Kickstarter.com.

One benefit of having so many different projects and talents is that it can open the doors to travel, which Clyde has done extensively, touring with the likes of Kimya or solo. One memorable moment for Petersen came from a tour with Kimya just after Juno was released, which featured a number of Kimya’s songs. “The shows were so insane and were packed super hard,” Petersen said. “I got to experience a little bit of Kimya’s world – seeing how emotional people get around her music and having some of that transfer over to his songs.” Petetsen also recalls a fan telling him, “I’m the only gay kid in this town and it feels really lonely – thanks for coming here.”

When traveling, Petersen takes the DIY punk spirit with him but he also finds it in others – he views his travels as building a community. “Taking that community on an international level is really nice.” Well Clyde, until next time, bon voyage!

LIVE SHOW: See Your Heart Breaks at Make.Shift on June 18 with Kimya Dawson, Ghost Mice, The Baltic Cousins and Pretty OK. For more information on the band, go to yourheartbreaks.bandcamp.com. 

Published in the June 2015 issue of What’s Up!