Clowns recently dropped album number three onto the world, Lucid Again. Just nine tracks, but an album that saw the band develop their sound, introducing acoustic guitars, some psychedelic wonderment and even a xylophone into the mix. Clowns are much more these days than the crazy hardcore punk band they started out as.
We grabbed some time with Jake Laderman, one of the founding members and drummer of the band to talk through the new album, their upcoming Australian tour and overseas success and what lies ahead for a band we determined to be “one of the most important bands in Australian music right now” in our recent album review. We caught Jake recharching his batteries following the band’s recent Europe tour.
So, Clowns have just returned to Australia after a trip around Europe for some shows, how did that tour go?
“It went really great and on so many levels. We felt we’re progressing over there (in Europe). The shows are getting better and it was great in the way that it was the first time we had played a big tour with this current line up. It was just really great, everybody got along and everyone just had a really amazing time.”
Groezrock of course, a big festival in Belgium. The line-up that featured, Pennywise, Ignite, H2O, CroMags, Deftones & of course our own Parkway Drive, just to name a few, and you guys played the main stage this year too! How did that all go, who’d you see, what were the highlights?
“That was the second time we’ve played Groezrock. Last year we were on the smaller stage but this time we played the main stage and I guess we made an impression the previous year as before we had even strummed the first chord the whole tent was completely full, so that was really exciting. An amazing show, very wild, and even though we played the main stage, there are no barriers for crowd control so people were just jumping on the stage and crowd surfing, so Stevie (Stevie Williams, Clowns vocalist) had a bit of fun.”
“As for the bands we watched, my favourite for the day was Deafheaven and also Oatbreaker, a local band. They were cool. Also, Choking Victim, a whole bunch of bands. It was just a really cool day, a lot of fun, we watched a lot of bands from the side of stage and drank a lot.”
“About a year ago we signed to a good independent label over there, This Charming Man Records, and I’ve come to learn over the past year that he runs a respected label and they’ve put in a bit of promo for the new record. Having played a few of the bigger festivals in Europe has certainly helped us too. I guess every single time we go back, it feels its growing, there is progression. It’s just really cool to travel half way across the world and have people love your music and sing the words back to you. It’s a really good feeling.”
Where was Lucid Again recorded, and what’s the idea around the title and artwork?
“We had a good rapport with the people who ran the studio in St Kilda where we recorded Bad Blood and they have some pretty amazing guitars and amps so we kind of felt like kids in a candy store with the amount of gear at our grasp. It worked so well, there’s probably a good chance we would record there again on the next album.”
“The first track we wrote relatively early on was called, ‘Lucid Again’ before we had named the album. I guess as the writing progressed for the album it naturally developed a psychedelic feel with some of the guitar phases and the title of that song presented as a bit of a theme of being in a lucid state so we went with it. We always knew we wanted the cover to be a painting but the abstractness of the painting and idea came when the album was written. The guy that did the cover is a friend of mine, a tattoo artist and he does some of the most incredibly weird and wonderful psychedelic art, Fergus Dupleix.”
On the new album, a few longer songs, some acoustic stuff even a xylophone. Is the band maturing with their sound, or was it concerted effort heading into the studio to do something or a bit more left field?
“I think the progression of our music was natural. Personally, I find myself listening to different music all the time, discovering new bands and influences weekly. On this particular record, I was listening to music with whacky phases and drawing a lot of influence from that but I think we consciously made the decision not to write two records that sound the same. I imagine the next album will be even weirder, if we can do that.”
Back to Lucid Again, the concluding track, ‘Not Coping’, the 9 minute epic, an absolute banger and probably my favourite track on the album. How did that song come about and will you look at playing that live? I want see what Stevie Williams (Clowns vocalist) does for the 5 minutes or so he’s not involved, it could get interesting!
“It’s a bit of dark song, about death and looking into the void of death and although it starts off like a dramatic pop song and then goes off from there. We wrote a 12-minute song on Bad Blood, ‘Human Terror, and enjoyed recording that so we thought ‘fuck it’ let’s do another one and it just felt really fun. To write a song like that all that it requires is just a bunch of people in a room and fuck around jamming for a very long time. It was fun to write, we’ll definitely play that song live next year for sure.”
You’re one of the hardest working bands in country over the last 2-3 years. If you’re not doing solo tours around the country you’ve hooked onto support slots for bands like Rise Against or The Sword just to name two and then there’s the overseas trips. Are you still in that enjoying phase of this band, i.e. you love playing shows all the time?
“I live for it. I enjoy the artistic side but to be honest I just love hanging out with those guys. We’ve got a relatively new line up but we all just get along and it’s just what we always wanted to do. The little progressions are exciting. I don’t see us slowing down, I dare say we’ll be speeding up. I think we’ll be putting out records more frequently.”
Hanny J was added to the line-up last year. What’s her background and what has she brought to the table with her input as she is also a renowned solo artist in her own right?
“Glenn Stewart aka The Drunk Promoter, from Brisbane mentioned her to Stevie and I, and we were intrigued by her voice. It’s such a unique sounding husky voice and I knew that it would complement Stevie’s vocals on the new record. Lucid Again was pretty much done by the time that Hanny joined Clowns but we had already discussed which parts she could sing and when she arrived and started laying down vocals we were all thinking she would be a great addition to our music. She has rhythm and to be honest, I’m really content with everyone’s skill in the band at present, it’s really strong.”
You’re mates with and have toured with punk legends Frenzal Rhomb, are they someone you to for advice? What influence were they for you as a band?
“They’ve been around for 20+ years and just really great guys, seen it all, been everywhere and probably experienced everything a band could of experienced. Very wise, down to earth and I guess I feel pretty blessed to have that sort of friendship, appreciating our music and just nice dudes.”
Night Birds are coming out to tour with you guys in a few weeks, how did that come about and tell us a bit about them, I believe they were an influence on Clowns sound?
“They really are. Night Birds played a big part in influencing our album, Bad Blood. I don’t want to say ‘surfy’ but a kind of jangly guitar sound for us. Last year we ended up at Groezrock Festival with them and played two shows with them as well and we just hit it off. Nice guys and it’s just clear how much they love music and punk. I’m very excited. They are a super tight band and everyone coming to these shows are in for treat seeing these guys.”
CLOWNS – LUCID AGAIN AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Friday 2 June – The Grand Hotel, Cairns
w/ Meat Bikini & Swamp Donkey
Saturday 3 June – Railway Hotel, Darwin
w/ Acid City
Sunday 4 June – The Boston, Perth
w/ Night Birds, Axe Girl & Two For Flinching
Thursday 8 June – Miami Shark Bar, Gold Coast
w/ Night Birds, The Wrath & The Lost Cause
Friday 9 June – The Zoo, Brisbane
w/ Night Birds, Shutup! Shutup! Shutup! & The Cutaways
Saturday 10 June – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle
w/ Night Birds, Rort Menace & Wavevom
Sunday 11 June – Imperial Hotel, Sydney
w/ Night Birds, Nunchukka Superfly & Neptune Power Federation
Thursday 15 June – Enigma, Adelaide
w/ Night Birds, Stabbitha and the Knifey Wifeys & The Lizards
Friday 16 June – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
w/ Night Birds, Cashman & more TBA
Saturday 17 June – The Corner, Melbourne
w/ Night Birds, Amyl and The Sniffers & TV Haze
Tickets are on sale now via clownsband.com