Guitarist Clay Bennett from The Ariston

The Ariston Special Edition Tees: Clay's Tee

We’re thrilled, delighted and positively over the moon to unveil the first in our new and exclusive collection of special edition graphic tees designed in collaboration with alt rock band The Ariston.

We present Smiling Idiot Tee. Crafted from 100% soft jersey cotton and screen printed with long-lasting, eco-friendly inks, this tasty graphic tee is not to be missed. 

Smiling Idiot Tee 100% cotton graphic tshirt

The Ariston are guitarist and frontman Luca Slade, lead guitarist Clay Bennett, bassist Will Parsonson, and drummer Finn Bunce. Each tee in this exclusive collection has been designed by one of the boys in the band.

First out of the gate is guitarist Clay's Smiling Idiot Tee. Clay had a very specific vision for his t-shirt, as we were soon to find out. Working with him on his design was a breeze and an absolute pleasure.

Smiling Idiot Tee is available for pre-order now. Don't wait. All pre-orders include free TOC laces, stickers and a letter of thanks from Clay.

To discover what inspired the design, we asked Clay to spill his beans. Read on!

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Please introduce your tee.

Clay - My tee is called Smiling Idiot. The chest print is a design I drew in basic form years ago. I would spend hours drawing and redrawing it.

Maybe it’s obvious what it is, but it’s a crying, smiling face. It’s based on a song I wrote back in 2019, also called Smiling Idiot, about a condition I have called pseudobulbar affect (PBA).

Tell us a bit about PBA, in you don't mind.

Not at all. PBA is a neurological condition to do with emotional incongruence. It causes physical outbursts that don’t match your mood or the intensity of your mood.

I can feel sad and start laughing - a real belly laugh - like I’ve just heard the funniest joke ever. Or I’ll laugh hysterically at things I found only slightly amusing.

Smiling Idiot Tee 100% cotton graphic tshirt

Didn't know PBA was a thing.

It’s a condition that doesn’t get talked about much. I have predominantly laughing PBA, but I can also be in a good mood and just start sobbing uncontrollably.

It used to be really bad. Now it's not so severe. These days I can usually control it. But even now people will ask me, 'Why do you laugh like that?' and say, 'It wasn't even that funny.' I wish they wouldn't.

The name Smiling Idiot reflects how PBA used to make me feel. It's why the crying, smiling face symbol is so important to me. Me putting it on a t-shirt is me owning it and owning PBA. I won't let it control me.

The Ariston guitarist Clay Bennett

More power to you, brother. What's on the back of your tee?

The back features two ace cards. The aces not only refer to the band, but ace is also a name for people who describe themselves as asexual. A for Ariston; A for Aces.

Specifically, I identify as demisexual, which is one of a bunch of sexualities under the asexual umbrella.

Demisexuality is where you need to have a close and established emotional bond with someone to have any sort of sexual feelings towards them.


We appreciate you being so open and honest.

The reason I wanted to include this is because I know a lot of people struggle with sexuality and depression. Perhaps they're not gay, they're not bi, but they're also not feeling completely straight.

Sexuality isn't always as black and white as we make it out to be. It's okay to like someone just because you like them; that's enough of a reason.

Being able to identify as demisexual gave me confidence, hope and the feeling that I wasn’t alone, which was needed when I was going through depression and didn’t know what I was feeling.

You’re not alone. Other people feel the way you do. You’ll be okay.

The Ariston guitarist Clay Bennett

It's fair to say you had a very clear idea of what you wanted your tee to be.

Yeah, I was very specific. After that first meeting we had in London, ideas were flying. I already had a strong idea about what I wanted by the time I was on the train home.

I gave Skev a very detailed brief about what I felt the tee needed to include. We bounced ideas around. Skev would experiment with things and give me options.

The process was extremely organic and very collaborative. He made it really easy for me. No dilly-dallying. No stress. In fact, the only stressful bit has been on The Ariston side, trying to get decisions out of Will, Finn and Luca! 

The Ariston alt rock band

Why did you want to collab with us on these tees?

We wanted to give something back to the fans. We have the kindest, most loving fans. At our live shows we have dedicated fans who would follow us to the ends of the earth. We have people who come to every gig, and fans from abroad who come over just to see us. It’s incredible.

This time last year, we collaborated with War Child UK. I said if we raised £1,000 I would dye my hair blue, bearing in mind we didn’t even have a thousand followers at that point. We smashed it within the first week! Mind-blowing!

We couldn’t be more appreciative of our fans. We want to be able to give back more than just the music. There you go, that’s your quote!

Nicely put. Did you dye your hair blue?

Yes, and it wrecked my hair! That’s why I usually wear a cap on stage. My hair really thinned out. Clumps were falling out in the shower.

The thing is, I don’t know why, I didn’t stop dying my hair blue for quite a few months. I clogged up my university dorm shower with blue hair, four or five times. It’s thickened up some since, but it was a complete mess.

It’s been great working with you on this, Clay. You have created a damn fine tee! Cheers, dude.

Thanks, guys. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. It’s made up of things that mean a lot to me and that I’m sentimental about. Thanks for letting me talk about them.

I’m so excited to share my Smiling Idiot Tee with the world. I hope people like it.

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▶︎ Smiling Idiot Tee is available now, exclusively from our online store.

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