CLOWwNS – Interview 2015

CLOWwNS have an excellent reputation as a fantastic, dramatic, meaty presence on the live stage and their début album has been whispered about for months and months. By the eventual release on Monday 29th June anticipation had reached fever, particularly after their recent singles 'Trousers' and 'She Says I'm A Clown' had found champions on BBC 6Music proving their appeal extends beyond the live show. Close examination of The Artful Execution Of Macho Bimbo proves that when you strip away the sweat, energy and intensity you still find exceptional song-writing beneath and that is a rare talent (as you can read in my review here). I caught up with guitarist and founder member Andrew Claridge to find out a bit more about the band;

Can you give us a potted history of CLOWwNS?
CLOWwNS was an idea first. [Singer] Miles Heathfield's idea. He told me about the idea whilst we were drinking in the old Freebutt, after which it quickly became an idea with some songs. Then it became a band. Past members include Andy Halliday, Tom White, Matt Twaites and Alex White, all of whom made significant contributions to the cause. These days I find it hard to imagine the band without the bang and boom of Damo Waters and Etienne Rodes. I love them very much.

Has the sound changed much since the early days?
In a word 'no', in three words, 'no, not really' and in six words, 'no, not really…. well, a bit'. It's become broader and better executed but essentially it's the same racket it was always meant to be.

Many of the songs seem to reference clowns/fools and their ilk-which came first, the band name or this theme?
The band name and lyrical preoccupations were born together. It's a comfortable straitjacket.

How do you go about writing the material -is it a joint effort?
I've heard both Keith Richards and Bono declare that they believe their songs are already written and they simply pluck them out of the ether. Which is rubbish of course, but when Miles and I first convened in an attempt to write some songs, we quickly discovered that our respective ideas dove-tailed almost seamlessly and the songs came thick and fast. Almost like we were plucking them out of the ether. These days we generally spend more time crafting them. Once we get into the rehearsal room with Etienne and Damo the songs often change shape until we're all happy with them, a process that is occasionally frustrating, but mostly not frustrating, and frequently very enjoyable.

Your début album sounds great-where did you record and what was the process like?
Why thank you very much. We recorded with Joe Watson, with the final mix being done by Cameron T. Devlin of Hidden Cam Studios. The process was quick-fire, followed by pacey, interrupted by a very great meandering, a final decision, some more meandering and another final decision. We're hoping the next one will be more straightforward.

Who is Macho Bimbo?
We've all met Macho Bimbo. Some of us ARE Macho Bimbo. Most of us are just wary of him.

If you had to sandwich yourselves between two bands to create the ultimate evenings entertainment who would they be and why?
I'd like to be sandwiched between the familiar beauty of a reformed Smiths and the strange. perplexing world of Brighton's very own Vile Imbeciles.

I've heard you re-imagine songs by The Specials (Ghost Town) and Ian Dury and The Blockheads (Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick) live-is that late 70s-early 80s period a big influence on you?
Although that era of music was the first to capture my imagination it's a coincidence that the songs we've covered are from that period. We have some kind of vague, self-imposed, remit that any songs we cover have to have made it to the top of the charts in some form, and there just aren't that many chart-topping tunes that fit the CLOWwNS aesthetic. We do have another cover version in the pipeline. It's by Adam and the Ants. From the late 70's-early 80's period. Maybe you do have a point.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
I rarely listen to music. The last band I fell in love with were Vile Imbeciles. Their most recent album, 'D is for W', is a work of genius.

What's next for CLOWwNS?
We'll continue to play more shows (next Brighton gig is Fri 25th September at The Prince Albert) whilst getting on with the business of recording album number two and we're keen to find a manager. If you'd like to manage CLOWwNS we'd be very pleased to hear from you. Very pleased.

Adam Kidd