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 doesnt 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
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
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
Brian: No, of course not!
AD: Thought not. Anyway back to the music - you toured with Radiohead
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
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 www.cliniconline.org 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 evenings 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 doesnt hear their music. After all, the only people who wouldnt
like them would be people likely to actually KEEP a Pet Eunoch.
Dont miss them.
Interview and transcript by Tone E.