Interview // The Clockworks
Over the past eighteen months, The Clockworks have been building up their reputation on the UK music scene and when gigs were still happening, were one of the hottest tickets in town. Following a move from Galway to London, the band signed to Alan McGee’s Creation23 record label. They are now due to release their new single ‘The Future Is Not What It Was’ on June 12th.
I caught up with the band for a chat.
Howya lads! Who are you and where are you?
We are The Clockworks. James McGregor, Seán Connelly, Damian Greaney & Tom Freeman. Normally we’d be in North West London. Now, thanks to Covid19, we’re home in Loughrea Co Galway.
You’re signed to Creation23, run by the legendary Alan McGee. It seems that McGee picked you guys up really early on? How much of a leg up was that?
It was huge for us. It was a big decision to move to London last year and it really paid off. McGee is ferocious, everybody knows that – he loves music and he loves us. We’re very fortunate to have such a legend in our corner.
You guys are from Loughrea in Galway and Tom from Limerick? How much has your hometowns and upbringing influenced your music?
I think our upbringing heavily influenced us. James and Tom grew up in London, so there was an element to which London was home too, and as a band we always had that romantic notion of “making it in The Big City”. And I think forming a band in Galway, which doesn’t really have any precedent of bands coming from it and working really hard to make it happen was exciting to us. We were in our own little bubble in Galway, with a small musical community of artists with differing musical styles and levels of diligence. We just wrote about what we wanted to write, and played what we wanted to play, without any clique or scene to conform to, until we were ready to move.
Your lyrics are very observational, you talk about everyday life but the rhythm in which you talk about these things is very poetic. Did the lyric writing start as poetry?
My writing started as just words or lines on a page. I didn’t call it poetry, although it wasn’t prose. I would usually approach one of my parents with a single line to see what they thought. I was obsessed with couplets and neat little punch lines. To be honest I still am. Once I got really into music then the lines became songs. And that was when I realised how good some other people were at writing poetry and lyrics.
‘Can I Speak To A Manager Please?’ was released as a B-Side to ‘Bills and Pills’. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ve every right to lose your temper as you’re singing. But, you never do and that’s a thing of beauty. You never raise your voice with the customer service rep when you sing ‘Can I Speak To A Manager Please?’ Who have you been working with on the production for the tracks?
Thank you, I think our songs are rarely about losing your temper. There is often frustration or angst involved but it’s usually trying to describe a feeling rather than having a go at someone.
We’ve worked with a number of producers over the last couple of years, it’s been great to see how different people work because everyone has their own way of doing things. That B-Side was recorded by Paul Tipler in a studio in South London.
You were living in Galway together before the move to London, what prompted the move?
We always knew we’d move some day. It felt like a necessity. We set a goal; sell out the Roisin Dubh (our local music venue) in 6 months, and get out of there. We did it and we left.
Living in London, chances are that you have actually been ‘Stranded in Stansted’ at some point. What are your tips for passing the time before flights?
We tend to cut things quite fine… we haven’t had a lot of waiting, we’ve had a lot of running. We don’t necessarily recommend that, though.
What’s the biggest thing you had to get used to when you moved to London?
The noise of the bakers who work under our apartment 24 hours a day. They really make a racket.
You’ve been played on radio across Ireland and the UK, playing bigger gigs all the time, and have been on Soccer AM also. What achievement are you most proud of so far?
Soccer AM was a childhood dream, so that was great. Seeing our songs be sung by people in a crowd. There’s a certain magic in those moments that I’m most proud of, no matter the size of the crowd.
I saw you guys at Notting Hill Arts Club a while back and the energy on stage was amazing. Is there a pressure to keep a high intensity set going?
Thank you. Not really, no. We enjoy high intensity gigs. I think it’s a product of how we are rather than a choice. Short, sharp…it’s how we like to do things.
You’ve got a new single ‘The Future Is Not What It Was’, coming out on June 12th Good timing with a name like that. What’s the inspiration behind this single?
The song was inspired by two things. Firstly, it was trying to put words and music to the feeling that everywhere you look, things are wrong, and the cynicism that follows. There’s also the idea that the present looked better in the past than it does in reality. Like when you look at the early sci fi films and stuff you see that a lot of people really thought we’d be in some technological utopia by now, but in reality technology has come a long way, but a lot of our major problems are the same.
You released ‘Bill and Pills’ as a 7inch, will this track get a vinyl release?
This song is digital release only for now.
What way do you consume music now? Do you buy CDs or Vinyl, stream?
Streaming is number 1. We have a record player at the house, and we do pick up vinyl now and then if something catches our eye. It’s nice to have something to hold.
Obviously, with festivals and gigs cancelled, you’ve had to change some of your promotional plans for this summer. Have you had to rein in some of your expectations for this year because of lockdown?
Yes, but I think that everybody has. Gigs are out, probably until 2021 at this rate.
We’re happy at home, writing, sending each other demos. Keeping the releases coming via Creation23. We’re going to hit the ground running when venues open their doors again.
What are you looking forward to doing in ‘the new normal’ world?
Getting on the road with the band, playing our music in front of real people. That’s what we miss the most, and one thing we won’t ever take for granted again.