Find out how Clem Snide got its name … and more!

Andrew Hampp

Eef Barzelay (center; on floor) and Clem Snide will bring their trademark brand of tongue-in-cheek songwriting to Cleveland’s Beachland Tavern this Tuesday.

Credit: Andrew Hampp

For Eef Barzelay, lead singer of indie pop band Clem Snide, it’s all about the name.

Despite sounding like a really nasty cold, the band’s quirky moniker was actually lifted from a character in William S. Burroughs’ novel Cities of the Red Night.

“It’s a goofy name in a lot of ways. I came up with it when I was 20,” said Barzelay, now 35, whose own name is a product of his Israeli upbringing. “The character was introduced as a professional asshole, which I thought was cool and funny. It kinda fits the music, in a way.”

Indeed, the equal parts smarmy and clever name fits the majority of Clem Snide’s music to a T.

The band’s newly-released album End of Love, its fifth for SpinART Records, is a consistently witty, occasionally a dead-serious album reminiscent of Wilco and the early ’90s R.E.M. with a little dash of Johnny Cash country, courtesy of Barzelay’s mid-summer move from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Nashville, Tenn.

The band will continue to move across the country when it plays Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom on Tuesday at Beachland Tavern.

In addition to a new multiple genre sound, End of Love also features some of the most memorable lines since Mean Girls.

Take the track “Something Beautiful,” for example. Backup singers repeatedly coo, “You make me wanna …,” followed by a list of activities from Barzelay that makes Ashlee Simpson’s alley cat reference on the similarly themed “La La” seem downright boring by comparison.

“Sip Lysol from a cup/so clean it hurts,” “fold the map improperly” and “smoke every cigarette that’s ever been made” are among the more interesting examples of this.

Elsewhere, on “Made For TV Movie,” Barzelay muses for an entire song on a Lucille Ball biopic he never even saw.

“I was actually sitting on my stoop in Brooklyn,” Barzelay said, “when a bus drove by with a big ad on the side for a made-for-TV movie about Lucille Ball. I don’t know. It sparked something. I wrote the song right then and there.”

Most poignant, however, is “Jews For Jesus Blues,” in which Barzelay voices his resentment with God.

“I thought I was empty ’til I paid the cost/Now that I’m found, I miss being lost,” he sings.

Winning couplets such as this came relatively easy for Barzelay, who said he pushed himself especially during the writing of End of Love.

“I just try to make the words as interesting as I can,” Barzelay said. “With this record, I just kicked the doors open a little bit and really wanted to expand the writing a little bit.”

As far as what fans are supposed to make of lines such as “Guess what? Your pain’s been done/to perfection by everyone/and the first thing that every killer reads is Catcher in the Rye” (from “End of Love”), Barzelay says you’re on your own.

“The music belongs to the world now. It’s for everyone to interpret.”

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].