While it isn’t necessarily a homecoming for Pittsburgh’s The Clarks, it’s close enough. Having originated at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the band honed its skills playing colleges, frat parties and dive bars before becoming one of western Pennsylvania’s most beloved acts.
The band has released eight studio albums, with another one in the works, and shared the stage with the likes of John Mayer, O.A.R. and Steely Dan. When they return to State College on Feb. 28 to play at Levels, it will be pretty simple for them to fall back into that old undergraduate groove.
“We have been in the State College market for many years and have played a lot of different venues,” bassist and vocalist Greg Joseph said. “There’s a sense of nostalgia about coming back to State College that certainly drums up a lot of stories from fraternity parties, dance marathons, campus shows, club shows and big outdoor events.”
Having been together for close to 30 years, The Clarks have seen the music and entertainment landscape change dramatically. They still possess the energy that made them such a live draw, and they were able to use their storied experiences to expand and experiment with their songwriting process.
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“Our sound has gotten slightly more grown up,” Joseph said. “Our early days were all about that youthful energy, we loved to play hard and offer that ‘take no prisoners’ approach. But as we grew, we learned how to really play our instruments and write more interesting music. Where our music was once more about getting fans to move and shake, today it’s more about the crowd singing, and that always feels really good from the stage.”
In order to have audiences singing along with the band, there always has to be new music coming along. For the past 10 months, The Clarks have been busy planning and recording “Feathers and Bones,” their first album since 2009’s “Restless Days.”
“The new album process has been quite a long ride and the results are going to be very special for us,” Joseph said. “There are a few new flavors for us on this record and some great stories, and we have managed to knock out a few tunes that are just going to rock. Musically, there is a lot of fun built into the record and it just goes to show that a new project always breathes new life into a band.”