Local punk upstarts Clowns are preparing to release a new album and hit the road in support of the release. With internationals American Sharks along for the ride, the Cheltenham boys tour nationally this February/March. Killyourstereo.com caught up with Clowns vocalist Stevie Williams to discuss 2015, working with Poison City Records and get the lowdown on upcoming events.
An album about to come out, a tour to follow, how is everything in the Clowns camp at the moment?
Everything in Clowns camp is going at an alarming rate. We’re inundated with things at the moment like booking shows, promoting our tour and getting ready for this album’s release… But we’re totally stoked at the way things have turned out and we can’t wait for it to start!
You mentioned the album tour there, you’re bringing out an international – American Sharks – to support on the run of shows. What are the expectations…and perhaps, nerves like approaching a run of shows where your band is the centrepiece as headliners?
I guess it’s pretty nerve-racking, seeing as we are all fans of their band, we know they are going to play awesome at every show and we also know they love to party hard. I guess our biggest concern is that we don’t want to get upstaged and out partied by them (laughs). We’ll be bringing our A game though, so they better prepared for us to give them a run for their money.
You guys are from bayside way in Cheltenham. Having spent a decent portion of my life around there myself, it’s a lovely suburban area, but probably not as renowned for containing as many punk, metal fans as some other areas of town. It seems the local shows and bands come from the outskirts – places like Werribee or Ringwood etc. What was it like in the early stages being a band from a suburban area like Cheltenham?
Yeah, a lot of people are usually surprised when we tell them where we are from. I guess it was a bit strange because even though we are starting to play some bigger shows these days and making a bit more of a stir around town, people from the areas we grow up in are pretty disconnected to what we are doing and aside from our friends and family, they don’t really appear to care much (with a few exceptions of course).
On the topic of the new album, a press release states, “Clowns have made an album that is truly of Melbourne.” Are you able to elaborate on that assertion?
We really wanted to create a record that was close to home on this one. Obviously, we wrote the whole thing ourselves in our rehearsal space in a factory in Cheltenham, but trying to keep to the theme of having it close to home we recorded it at the Hothouse in St Kilda (just up the road from my place), we had it mastered in Brunswick by Jack the Bear at Deluxe Mastering, we had the artwork done by our mate Steve ‘Mongo’ Cohen of Too Far Gone screen printing in Northcote (with the setting being inspired by an area of Cheltenham just across the road from our rehearsal space), a fair chunk of lyrical content is inspired by places/events/demographics of Melbourne (or Australia in general) and of course it’s being released by Poison City Records who are Melbourne based label and also close mates of ours.
Speaking of Poison City, what’s the working relationship been like so far?
Poison City are so rad to work with! They’ve never tried to make us do anything we didn’t want to or discouraged us from any of the goals we’ve tried to reach. They have offered us heaps of great advice, worked with us to help achieve the things we want to do and most importantly helped us release two full length records, which have been the stepping stones to where we are now and we would have never been able to do it without them. We owe too much to Andy, Aaron and Sarah for all the work they have done for us over at PCR.
Do you feel the current success of local punk, e.g. bands like The Smith Street Band, has made it significantly easier for bands to get a start today in terms of opportunities and growing the fan base?
It’s hard to say whether the success of other local punk bands has made it easier for us to also find more minor amounts of success along the way. I think for the most part, it’s what you, as individuals, put in that is what you get back in the end, and that goes for any band really. Although I think it’s pretty inspiring to see other punk bands (like The Smith St Band) around the country collectively recieving more attention over the last few years and I guess it has made us aspire to work harder and in a few ways has helped us know which steps to take in the future.
Now that things are getting busier with recording and touring, what has it been like balancing outside commitments?
I won’t lie, it gets pretty overwhelming from times. We always have so much stuff going on whether it be writing, recording, touring, managing, booking etc, and pretty much all of us have made sacrfices in our personal lives to go ahead and do the things we are doing now. That being said, I wouldn’t change it for the world. We’re so lucky to be getting the oppurtunities we are now and there’s not much that would be able to stop us from going for it. All we want to do is play sweet shows, release good music and support our friends bands along the way as well to all collectively go off and have the best time.
What have been some of the biggest learning curves from being on the road? This upcoming run is quite extensive, but you had a similar run in late 2013.
You definitely learn a lot when you are on the road as a band whether it be about your music, your fans, your band members or yourself. I guess the main trick that we have learnt is that you have to be pretty easy going and light hearted all the time. I struggle to think of a tour that we have planned that has gone to plan 100% without a bump in the road somewhere. It’s pretty easy to get fed up and irritated with small issues that don’t really matter in the big picture but it’s also pretty easy to take a step back and remember that touring in a band is one of the most fun things in the world to do and we are lucky to able to do it.
What has been the hardest and/or most challenging thing from your time in Clowns so far?
I think the most challenging thing we have ever done has been writing and recording our new album. We are most definitely stoked with its outcome and wouldn’t change a thing, but I’d be lying if I said it was an easy process (laughs). We are all major perfectionists and we knew we wanted to churn out an album no longer than 18 months after our last so we definitely pushed ourselves to the limit to get where we are now.
It’s still early in 2015, what are some albums you’re looking forward to hearing?
There is so much good Aussie local music set to come out this year, I’m kind of glad we are sneaking in first actually because 2015 is looking to be a massive year for albums. I’ve heard rumours of High Tension, Cosmic Psychos, The Meanies, Hightime, Totally Unicorn, Batpiss, Summer Blood, Apart From This, Frenzal Rhomb, Flour and many more bands all working on new material, which looks set for a 2015 release, or at least be well underway during the course of this year. Although, I can’t comment on what all of their plans are because I actually have no idea.
‘Bad Blood’ is out this Friday via Poison City Records. Read our album review.
Catch Clowns on tour this February/March.