David “Tufty” Clough has been one of Indy’s shining beacons in the local rock scene for the better part of three decades. He has been the bass player in Toxic Reasons, the Zero Boys and Bigger Than Elvis. His fluid, yet blindingly fast bass lines made up the cornerstone of all these groups. That unique sound (as well as his Liverpudian accent and gregarious personality) has made him one of the most recognized and respected figures in town.
Tufty also helped start the alternative Future Shock store in Broad Ripple and slowly built it into one of the most successful and long-lived independent businesses in the village. More recently, he has built his Fountain Square nightclub, Radio Radio, into one of the hippest rooms in town, acting as sort of Indianapolis Knitting Factory, bringing a wide range of eccentric bands to town while hosting several “firsts” — regularly adding video and movies to the mix and making Radio Radio a non-smoking venue.
NUVO: Was it hard at first to balance your ambitions as a businessman with that of a rock and roll bass player?
D.C.: Yes, and it still is. Part of me wants to be the artistic musician and just concentrate on the creative side of things, and the other part of me wants the security of being financially stable and independent.
NUVO: What is your fondest musical memory?
D.C.: The first time we went to L.A. with the Zero Boys. We played with the Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat. There were about 3,000 people there. The intensity of the crowd and the reception we got was overwhelming after playing to just a few people in Indianapolis.
NUVO: Of all the bands you’ve played in, which one are you most proud of?
D.C.: I would say the Zero Boys, because I got goose bumps when we recorded Vicious Circle. I still get chills to this day when I hear or play that record.
NUVO: Bruce Stuckey, Paul Mahern and Danny Thompson are all strong frontmen you’ve played music with. What have you learned from these guys, and have you ever had the desire to front a band?
D.C.: It’s a tough job being the spokesperson for a band. I sang four or five songs a night in Toxic Reasons, and that was enough for me. I wouldn’t want to put people through anymore than that.
NUVO: Do you have any regrets?
D.C.: Having the Toxic Reasons guys talk me into joining Toxics, quitting the Zero Boys and spending 10 years of my life in a van when I should have put that energy into the Zero Boys — where there was a lot more potential for success.
NUVO: What lessons have you learned from running Radio Radio?
D.C.: Running a club is a lot harder than I thought it would be. It’s hard to make everyone happy. It’s a tricky balance between being a businessman and being an artist. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.
NUVO: What future plans do you have?
D.C.: I don’t know. The last couple of years, I have been studying filmmaking, so I’d like to do something with that. Danny and I have been talking about taking Bigger Than Elvis to Europe. We’ve had more people ask about Zero Boys shows. Who knows? Maybe we’ll sell everything, Roni and I will get married and we’ll move to Hawaii.