Just ahead of last week’s release of Lucid Again, we had a chat with Clowns frontman Stevie Williams about the making of the album, the constant need to change up their sound and the progression they have made since their debut album in 2013. He also gave us an insight as to what we can expect from their upcoming tour, which will see them include the monster track ‘Human Terror’ on the set list for the first time.
Firstly, congratulations on the album! How does it feel to be able to finally share it?
It’s pretty relieving, we’ve been sitting on it and writing it since October 2015, and it’s been a very slow and gruelling process. So now that we’re finally at the tail end of it and people can actually listen to it, it’s very gratifying.
Was there a reason the band spent so long working on the album?
You know, you can’t push perfection (laughs). But in a less egotistical way I think we just wanted to make sure it was perfect before we released it. And we didn’t feel rushed to get it out. It’s only been just over two years now since our last record and around six or eight months since our last single, so we just wanted to make sure there was crosses on all the T’s and dots on all the I’s before we released it.
There is quite a lot of diversity and different sounds on it, was that something you intentionally wanted to do, or is that just the way the recording sessions panned out?
It’s definitely something that we thought about and intentionally worked on. We just have a bit of a dislike for bands that continually release records that sound the same. We don’t want our band to be like that, so we intentionally used different guitar tones and different styles of song writing to embellish the songs in a way that the listeners haven’t heard from us yet. In saying that though, I’m sure there will be a bit of backlash from the hardcore fans or the punk fans who think that we have sold out or whatever. Which is kind of a ridiculous statement because to sell out would mean that we would have to make some kind of money. But it’s really something we kept an eye on, we just really wanted to make a record that was still good and still sounded like Clowns, but wasn’t a Bad Blood volume 2.
Is there anything that you’re particularly proud of on the album or any songs that really stand out for you?
I’m just pretty stoked with the whole record and the way it has come out. I think my favourite track on it would be the last one called ‘Not Coping’, it kind of really epitomises that sound that we were really going for, still seeded in punk and hardcode rock but has a few elements like Eddy Current Suppression Ring-style garage and psychedelia. It’s only nine tracks which is kind of weird, because our other albums have been twelve and fourteen, so it doesn’t really feel like we’re releasing that much music. Although, this is the longest record we have released.
The band’s first album was from back in 2013, do you think there has been much of a change in the way you write and record from then until now?
Yeah, well our first album was a little bit conjunct in its writing process because a few of those songs we had released way earlier, like ‘Repeat After Me’ was released almost two years before our first album I’m Not Right. But the story of that album is that we were doing a bunch of seven inches and releasing them ourselves, and we managed to catch the eye of Poison City, who we worked with and had a relationship with, and eventually they said they’d like to put out a record of ours.
So at the time, all being around 20 and 21, we were like “holy shit, we should definitely do that”, but at the time we didn’t have the material, so they picked up a bunch of our stuff we had done over the years and packed it together, so the name of the record is almost the perfect metaphor because it certainly wasn’t right. We didn’t sit down and think about a track list or write a record start to finish. We just did what we had to do to get on the label.
With Bad Blood we did sit down and think about writing a record start to finish, and considered the track listing and segues between tracks and try to write a record that you can listen to from start to finish, but sound wise it was a continuation from I’m Not Right. So with Lucid Again, we just went in wanting to make a record that was good, something that sounded completely different but at the same time still sounded like Clowns.
Do you think for future albums you’ll continue with this more recent sound or change things up again?
Nah! I think that anyone who is a fan of our new garage, psych tones will be a little bit displeased to hear that we are probably going to drop it for the next record. We don’t want to create the same record twice so we’re just going to keep exploring new sounds.
You guys have just finished up a European tour, how was it?
It was awesome, it was our third time there and every time we go back it just gets better. It almost feels like we’re a bigger band over there than we are in Australia, which is becoming a pretty crazy reality.
On stage the band puts in such huge amounts of energy, is that hard to keep up when you’re doing a tour that’s 25 plus shows?
Yeah, from time to time, especially when you’re away from home for so long or you’re having a shit day, it can be pretty hard, but at the same time this is what we do with our lives and this is what makes our lives enjoyable. So it’s fairly easy to flip yourself into an optimistic state of mind, even if you are having a shit day. You just have to think, “maybe I’ll just get a bit drunk before we play”, then once you start playing it’s just so much fun.
You’ve got an Australian tour coming up really soon, what can we expect from that?
Yeah, we’ll we’re definitely going to be playing a mixture of the new album, Bad Blood and our oldest album, and I think we’re going to try and play a few songs from our earlier seven inches, which we haven’t played in years and years. I guess maybe, because the album only comes out tomorrow, we don’t expect people to know the record from start to finish by the time we tour, so we’ll definitely play a few key songs off it. We’re also for the first time going to play the song ‘Human Terror,’ which is the last track on Bad Blood, which goes for about twelve and a half minutes.
We’ve never played before because it’s too long and I don’t even know why we decided to put such a challenging song on the record. Ever since we put that record out we’ve had people bugging us to play it, but we’ve always been like “no it’s way too hard”, but this time around we are actually going to play it, which is exciting.
Check out Lucid Again here or catch Clowns on their tour dates below:
Friday 2 June – The Billabong, Kuranda **NEW VENUE
Saturday 3 June – Railway Hotel, Darwin
Sunday 4 June – The Boston, Perth
Thursday 8 June – Miami Shark Bar, Gold Coast
Friday 9 June – The Zoo, Brisbane
Saturday 10 June – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle
Sunday 11 June – Imperial Hotel, Sydney
Thursday 15 June – Enigma, Adelaide
Friday 16 June – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Saturday 17 June – The Corner, Melbourne
Tickets are on sale now via clownsband.com