Q&A - Clock Opera
Q: Can you tell us about your musical habits as a four-piece and how you've develop such a unique sound?
A: We wrote the album in a variety of places, from the grounds of a castle, to the top floor of a London office block and a disgusting rehearsal studio which smelled and felt much like a sewer. We relied less on our homemade samples that featured heavily on the first album and sought to keep as much space as possible. Then we broke the habit of the band’s lifetime when it came to recording the album - we got in the same studio at the same time to record together, in a quick and intensive fashion, whilst staying in a caravan on the island of Sheppey, which has a pretty strong end-of-days feel to it.
Q: Do you draw your influences from external musical influences or is your focus on being more experimental deliberate?
A: Experimentation for it’s own sake is fun, and we have a lot of stuff that didn’t make the album, but the quality of the song and how well the experimentation is integrated nearly always trumps that aspect for us. We are as influenced by our surroundings as anyone else, but this is quite an insular record, and I’m not sure which of our favourite artists are audible. I always prefer to ask other people who we sound like and hope the answer isn’t unpleasant.
Q: Can you tell us what your favourite festival experience is and why?
A: Berlin Festival was a definite life highlight for me when touring our last album. We played in a cavernous aircraft hangar, which was completely empty as we set up 20 minutes before we played. Then we returned to play in front of a vast sea of people, who had all been watching another, perfectly dovetailed show. Roskillde is similarly brilliant and I’d really love to go back to Melt in Germany to see the giant crane glitterball laserfest.
Q: Can you tell us about your new album ‘Venn’ due to be released in February of next year? What inspired the album and how did the recording go?
A: Most of the album is inspired by a miscarriage that my partner and I went through and the fallout from it. I realise that’s not a common theme for an album, but it affected me greatly and dominated my writing for a long time. It felt important to respect and not be afraid to talk about that. It's not uncommon but people don't address it, especially men. Recording the album was intense in many ways, as much to do with the music we'd written as the subject matter, but provided an enormous release.
Q: On 11 November, the world paid tribute to Leonard Cohen and his wrenching musical journey. What did you appreciate about Leonard Cohen and how has he inspired you?
A: Leonard Cohen was a massive part of my musical life, a beacon of words and emotion. So brutally concise in arrangement. So many people don’t put much weight of importance on lyrics - for him they were utterly integral. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie & Prince going within one year has felt like razing half my musical home town. I can only hope they don't put up ugly flats and a Tescos.
Q: What other artists dead or alive would you work with if you could?
A: Right now, I feel the need to get in a room with Scott Walker, Nina Simone, Raymond Scott & tune-yards. I would most likely stand and watch.
Q: In a world jam-packed with sub genres how does Clock Opera define themselves musically?
A: When we started, I made the error of attempting to do just that, partly as a joke. The name chop-pop then followed us around for a few years, despite our connection being tenuous at best. So I won’t make that mistake again.
Q: If you could list two songs each that define your journey within Clock Opera, what would they be?
A: Once And For All was a central part of our first album and it still connects with me very strongly, after singing it hundreds of times. On this album, after a period of writing songs that didn’t work, I wrote Changeling and it opened the door to the rest of Venn. I remember exactly where I was when it came out and it still feels like the nucleus of all that came after.
Q: How did the band start, where did you meet?
A: We started in my very small bedroom in Clapton, London. An old band had recently run its course and my and all my stuff were crammed into about an 8ft square room. I sat at a small old sewing desk and wrote the beginnings of what was to become Clock Opera. I used to live with Andy and had recorded Che playing drums in an old band of Andy's. They both joined me to play those first songs and we made more together, culminating in our first record, Ways To Forget. We toured a lot, then stopped to write the follow up, which took a little longer than we all expected. Our old keyboardist and friend Dan Armstrong left and new wonderman Nic Nell stepped up and in about a year ago.
Q: What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions with the next album and for the band?
A: After an unexpectedly lengthy break since our first album, we’re so glad and excited that people are waiting to hear this one. We toured a lot last time around, but there are so many areas of the world that we haven’t been to & I’d deeply love for us to visit South America & Japan. One Tokyo visit whetted my appetite enormously. We’re all keen to give USA a good crack, but all in good time.