Brian of Clinic

Clinical finishing

The remarkably inventive Clinic are releasing a single and album this month, both entitled “Walking With Thee”. If you have read our reviews section this month, you will be very well aware that we at Atomic like it very much indeed! I spoke to founder member Brian about music, life on the road and the trials and tribulations of his beloved Liverpool F.C. Hrmph. At least he doesn’t have to support Leicester!

AD : Your new album comes out on March 4th. How would you describe it?

Brian: Innovative 'schizophrenic, and just a bloody great record really. We first recorded it back in April and thought "Yeah great. We'll put this one to bed then", but then the songs started to change tempos and take different forms. We ended up changing everything. What happens if you're not careful is that, instead of you kicking the record around, IT starts kicking YOU around and never gets finished. Anyway, now it's all in order and it's being released at last. It should have been released in the summer, but with us going away touring, we couldn't promote it properly until now.

AD: You cite Velvet Underground and Suicide as two of your main influences. Will you be visiting Alan Vega's new art show "Collision Drive" in New York, and how likely are Clinic to follow in his footsteps and bring about their own art show?

Brian: We'll be there in March so we'll definitely go and see it. Our drummer and Hartley are both well into Suicide so I'd think that's a certainty. I think what we do as Clinic basically IS an art show. That's the whole thing with Clinic - we always try to make the experience a wee bit different. Most other bands are like "Here's the music" and that's it. You can go and see a band in jeans and t-shirts every night of the week. We prefer to keep some kind of a mystique about us by wearing our full operating theatre gear. I think when we started doing that, people really sat up and took notice. We really caught them by the jaffers, so to speak! It's like a battle dress for us - and there's less washing as well. It can get most unhygienic at times

AD: How surprised were you when, first of all, John Peel put “IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth" at number nine on his festive 50, and then Levi wanted to use "The Second Line" for one of their adverts?

Brian: We're always surprised. Before, we were playing all the toilets like other bands. We were going to London in an old van that we couldn't really afford. In the end we all clubbed together with money we didn't have and did the “IPC Subeditors" ep. We decided to do some proper artwork and take the whole thing more seriously as a last ditch attempt really. It worked, and we started getting the recognition, thanks to John Peel. We had to be careful not to put TOO much pressure on ourselves though, because then things can end up sounding a bit contrived and obviously we didn't want that. So yeah we're always surprised. The Levis ad was completely out of the blue.

AD: Did you feel disappointed that "The Second Line" never achieved a higher chart placing then, given the airtime the single was allocated?

Brian: No. We were a bit relieved really that it didn't draw attention to itself too much. We've always believed that commercialism and good music don't mix. Levis had got their images on the screen and a list of about 20 songs behind it. Ours just happened to be top of the list. If we hadn't done it, you probably would have had to listen to Britney Spears or someone like that over the advert, so you can thank us for that! It's really surreal though, thinking that all these people could be out there watching Coronation Street....and then we come on!

AD: I noticed that "Walking With Thee" was used on Soccer AM at the weekend. Are you big football fans yourselves?

Brian : Well I am. I'm a Liverpool supporter. Don't know what happened there, - we started off looking like we were going to take the Premiership by storm and then it's all been going a bit downhill recently. I'm really not looking forward to the game against the Mancs tomorrow, as I think they might really rub it in that they're top again.

AD: I wouldn't worry if I was you - you always beat them!

Brian. I know, but I really don't fancy it this time. Actually a friend of mine who is quite "in the know" about things has told me that there is a maj. or major signing in the offing over the next week. There are strong rumours, and I can't believe or want to believe it, that it's David Beckham!

AD: I can't see that happening! But would you cheer him if he DID come?

Brian: No, of course not!

AD: Thought not. Anyway back to the music - you toured with Radiohead last year

Brian : Yeah that was an amazing experience. We couldn't have wished for anything better. You read some press about Radiohead saying they're up themselves, but they were actually the nicest guys you could meet. We've played gigs with smaller bands who had egos the size of Wales but Radiohead were really nice. They even made sure we always got at least an hour soundcheck. Even when things were going wrong with their own, they were like "Yeah well, never mind. Let Clinic do their soundcheck now".

AD: Is there a particular message you are trying to get across lyrically in each of your songs, or is the music of foremost importance?

Brian: I'd say the music was most important. But the lyrics ARE important too. We have a kind of a strategy though and you can't always make out our lyrics anyway! People say they know what they're about, and we're thinking "Er no, actually". I think, as cliched as it sounds, it's best to take your own meaning from the music.

AD: I know what you mean, - there's a lad in my band who wrote this fantastic song called "Abstract" and I said "It's about non-conformism and not accepting your role as society's guinea pig isn't it?", to which he replied "No, it's about looking at a painting"!
It's still a great song though nevertheless. Regarding your own music, how do you
manage to get it sounding "not too cornmercial" yet still remarkably appealing?

Brian: I think that's the whole package with us, and I think it's a credit to us that we're not commercial. Basically if you go for that sixties feel it helps, plus some producers try to make things sound too clean. You have too watch that, as you can end up losing the edginess and rawness that way. It's also good to get away from doing songs in 4/4 all the time. Trying out weird chords can be good too. On the last album, we've tried all sorts of different instruments. For instance, on "Come Into Our Room", our drummer has never played a piano in his life, but he tried it for this track. It keeps you second guessing and keeps you on your toes.

AD: Why does the new CD tell you to visit when there's absolutely bugger all about the band on it!!!

Brian: God knows! I haven't a clue. (NB I get the impression that this is a big practical joke on the band's part. Deary me - Scouse humour eh?). You can go to the Domino website though, and we're on there. But if you do a search on Clinic, you'll end up getting loads of VD treatment centres coming up and that's not exactly about us either is it!!! Then again, perhaps it might be!

And so I leave Brian to enjoy the following evening’s impressive win at Old Trafford, courtesy of ANOTHER late Danny Murphy winner. Talking of winners, that is exactly what Clinic are. I sympathise with anyone who doesn’t hear their music. After all, the only people who wouldn’t like them would be people likely to actually KEEP a “Pet Eunoch”. Don’t miss them.

Interview and transcript by Tone E


Domino Website


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