Gospel Claws

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Gospel Claws
Background information
Origin Tempe, Arizona, United States
Genres Indie rock
Years active 2007 - present
Labels Common Wall Media [1]
Modern Art Records[2]
Associated acts Dear and the Headlights
The Through & Through Gospel Review
Spiritual Warfare
Sloan Dylan and Good Company
Samuel L. and the Cool Js
Website www.gospelclaws.com

Joel Marquard
Sloan Walters
Scott Hall
John Mulhern
Jef Wright

Bob Hoag
Past members

Haendel Balzora
Mark Erickson

Wesley Hilsabeck

Gospel Claws is an indie rock band based out of Tempe, Arizona.



After leaving Dear and the Headlights in 2007, Gospel Claws lead-singer and guitarist Joel Marquard returned to his job as a delivery-man for FedEx.[3] His attachment to music, however, could not keep him out of the scene. That same year, he began collaborating with his friend Sloan Walters, drawing from the catalog of music that he had written over time outside of Dear and the Headlights.[4] These two songwriters eventually recruited John Mulhern and Scott Hall to fill out the rhythm section.[4] Ironically, it was Marquard's day job for FedEx that led him to make the connections necessary to solidify the band's line-up. One day, he found that he had a delivery for Wesley Hilsabeck, a talented guitarist that he had met in the past. Recognizing the name on the package, but not finding him at home, Marquard left a message which eventually led to Hilsabeck joining the band.[3][5]

The band's choice of name has been a consistent subject of discussion. Although the band bears the name Gospel Claws, and its members originally connected through church experiences, Gospel Claws is not a Christian band.[6] The band has also had to deal with the constant misspelling of its name, as writers and promoters have listed them as Gospel Clause instead of Gospel Claws. The band's first full-length album's name, C-L-A-W-S, stemmed from that issue.[5] Band members have stated that they sometimes regret their original choice of name, and have considered changing it.[6]

First EP and C-L-A-W-S[edit]

Gospel Claws released its first studio recording in 2009. This self-titled EP would create some early buzz for the band. Brandon Nolta at Boise Weekly enjoyed the record's "new-retro vibe" and said that it was "well worth your currency, no matter how inscrutable [the band's] name."[7]

The band would continue to pick up momentum with its first full-length album, C-L-A-W-S, released in October 2010. This album was recorded almost entirely live by Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording,[3] and was very positively received. One critic raved that, "combining indie rock, folk and a bit of soul to produce their own distinctive sound," Gospel Claws' "musical ingenuity separates them from the crowd."[8] Kate Bracaglia at Phrequency.com said the record "is full of the type of slosh-y summer anthems that make you feel alive—from the pounding beat and stylish, [ Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ]-style guitars of opener 'Walk me down' to the sing-song-y, campfire feel of 'Summer nights lakeside.'" [9]

The positive album reviews attracted some significant national attention and translated into some commercial success. C-L-A-W-S spent 5 weeks in the top 100 on CMJ Top 200 and 4 weeks on the FMQB Submodern charts with the album peaking at No. 2 and the single "Walk me Down" at No. 6. After C-L-A-W-S, Paste Magazine named Gospel Claws the top Arizona-band "you should listen to now."[10] This record was also featured on NPR's program All Songs Considered.[11]

Their expanding success allowed Gospel Claws to open for such acts as Wild Nothing, Cotton Jones, No Age, Plants and Animals, and Portugal. The Man.[12] In March 2011, they showcased at SXSW.[13]

Put Your Sunshine Away LP[edit]

For Gospel Claws' second LP, small indie-label Common Wall Media could only agree to provide a little more than half of the record's funding. This meant that the band had to come up with at least $3,000. To reach their goal, the band agreed to use money earned at shows, and to set up a Kickstarter to solicit funds.[14] In the end, the band collected $4,520, or 113% of its original Kickstarter goal,[14] and will use the funds to record their album with Bob Hoag at Flying Blanket Recording.

Their successes, unfortunately, also came with some significant challenges. First, after recording almost half of the album, Wesley Hilsabeck had to leave the band.[15] The band was able to replace him, but they will miss his contributions.

Then, even more serious, lead-singer and guitarist Joel Marquard was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer.[16] Fortunately, the cancer was caught in its early stages and, after treatment, Marquard has been declared "cancer free."[17][18] The cancer diagnosis did nothing to slow the band down. They started recording their sophomore album while Marquard was undergoing treatment[17] and it is still due for release in the fall 2012.[16] While the new album's stated influences — '50s doo-wop, Sam Cooke, and the Beach Boys — do not point to an aggressive sound, Marquard has stated that it should not be much mellower than the group's 2010 debut C-L-A-W-S.[17] In jest, the band has also stated that "The running joke at the moment is if Gospel Claws' new record (due out this fall) sounds a little less ballsy than the first, at least there's a valid explanation for it. 'Most bands' sophomore records are kind of mellower than the first, but usually not for medical reasons.'"[19]

Finally, in another tragedy for the band, guitarist Mark Erickson died in August 2012.[20][21]



Release date Title Label Notes
2008 Self-titled EP Common Wall Media
2010 C-L-A-W-S Common Wall Media
Modern Art Records
2012 Put Your Sunshine Away Common Wall Media
President Gator Records
Vinyl LP released in collaboration with President Gator Records



  • Phoenix: We Love It (Stinkweeds, 2009)[23]
Track: "I Don't Want To Care Anymore"
  • When In AZ (Independent Compilation, 2009)[24]
Track: "New Modern Girl"
Track: "Walk Me Down"
Track: "Pale Horse Dry Cleaning"
  • You Heard Us Back When, Volume 9 (Zia Records, 2015)[28]
Track: "I Can't Wait"


  1. ^ "Common Wall Media"
  2. ^ "Modern Art Records"
  3. ^ a b c Grimm, Beca. Best of What's Next: Gospel Claws, Paste Magazine, Nov. 30, 2010 retrieved 2012-05-07
  4. ^ a b Music is Amazing Blog retrieved 2012-09-07
  5. ^ a b Gospel Claws Release C-L-A-W-S, Guerilla Geek, Oct. 27, 2010 retrieved 2012-27-07
  6. ^ a b Woodbury, Jason P. Joel Marquard Makes a Mess of Gospel in His New Solo Project, The Phoenix New Times, Nov. 10, 2011 retrieved 2012-07-06
  7. ^ Nolta, Brandon. Gospel Claws: Gospel Claws, CD Review, Boise Weekly, July 9, 2009 retrieved 2012-05-07
  8. ^ Kidwell, Mallory. Gospel Claws Attract Indie Music Lovers, The Old Gold & Black, Dec. 2, 2010 retrieved 2012-09-07
  9. ^ Bracaglia, Kate. What I'm Listening To: Gospel Claws, Phrequency.com, Oct. 20, 2010 retrieved 2012-09-07
  10. ^ Vitcavage, Adam. 10 Arizona Bands You Should Listen to Now, Paste Magazine, Mar. 8, 2012 retrieved 2012-09-07
  11. ^ "New Mix: Paul Simon, The Decemberists, John Vanderslice, And More", National Public Radio, Nov 16, 2010
  12. ^ "Gospel Claws - C-L-A-W-S (2010)", Music is Amazing, Nov. 10 2010
  13. ^ "Gospel Claws", SXSW 2011
  14. ^ a b Gospel Claws Kickstarter Page retrieved 2012-05-07
  15. ^ Gospel Claws Blog: Lost A Claw, May 16, 2012 retrieved 2012-05-07
  16. ^ a b Sandoval, Anthony. Joel Marquard of Gospel Claws Takes on Testicular Cancer (With His Friends), The Phoenix New Times, Up On the Sun Blog, Jun. 21, 2012 retrieved 2012-05-07
  17. ^ a b c Sandoval, Anthony. Gospel Claws Frontman Fought Cancer and the Indie Community Chips-In to Help Him Out, The Phoenix New Times, July 12, 2012 retrieved 2012-03-08
  18. ^ Anguiano, Ana. Valley Music Scene Rallies for Gospel Claws Frontman's Medical Bills, The College Times, July 12, 2012 retrieved 2012-04-08
  19. ^ Masley, Ed. 7/14: Indie acts stage benefit for Gospel Claws' Joel Marquard, The Arizona Republic, June 22, 2012 retrieved 2012-05-07
  20. ^ Golfen, Joe. Local Songwriter Mark Erickson of Colorstore Dies, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 2. 2012 retrieved 2012-07-09
  21. ^ Dominic, Serene. R.I.P. Mark Erickson of Colorstore, Roar, and Gospel Claws, Up On the Sun Blog, The Phoenix New Times, Sept. 2, 2012 retrieved 2012-07-09
  22. ^ Sandoval, Anthony. President Gator Launches This Weekend at The Crescent Ballroom, Oct. 11, 2012 retrieved 2012-09-13
  23. ^ Leatherman, Benjamin, "Stinkweeds Offers a Killer Comp of Local Music for Record Store Day", Phoenix New Times, Apr. 17 2009
  24. ^ Masley, Ed, "Local music notes: 'When in AZ' covers local bands", AZ Central, Sep. 3 2009
  25. ^ Hoag, Bob, "This Is Flying Blanket, Volume II - Studio Compilation CD"
  26. ^ The Balls Benefit Compilation Bandcamp Page retrieved 2012-18-07
  27. ^ Woodbury, Jason P. Download: New Gospel Claws Song: "Pale Horse Dry Cleaning", Up On the Sun Blog, The Phoenix New Times, July 13, 2012 retrieved 2012-03-08
  28. ^ Zia Records "You Heard Us Back When, Volume 9" Tracklisting announced!, Zia Records Blog, Mar. 13, 2015 retrieved 2015-04-01

External links[edit]