Interview: Clinic

Interview with Clinic



Clinic first came to prominence in 1997, when their debut EP appeared in John Peel’s Festive 50; 15 years on, they’re still impressing listeners and critics alike, and have a Grammy nomination to prove it. We spoke to front man Ade Blackburn about their seventh studio effort, Free Reign.

Questions and answers

Hi Ade, where are you today?

I’m at home in Liverpool, listening to The Cramps.

So you’re now seven albums into your career: how have your motivations for making music changed since you started out?

When we first started, the main thing was the music but I was also interested in seeing inside the music business. You soon realise it’s pretty corrupt, so it always goes back to the music.

You’re in a pretty unique position in that you’ve never been aligned with a specific scene. Are there any artists who you particularly identify with?

We always steered clear of scenes. I like things that follow their own path, like The Fall and Super Furry Animals.

Which artists have been most influential on your sound?

The Residents and The 13th Floor Elevators. The Residents for their style of melodies and The Elevators for the reverb.

From a listener’s perspective, your last two albums have seemed a lot lighter in tone...

I’d agree - since we started we've covered quite a few styles now including things like folk and soul and as you say that includes a more mellow side to the band.

Can you tell us about some of your musical reference points for Free Reign please?

The reference points would be Funkadelic, Hawkwind, Swell Maps and Silver Apples.

How did the writing and recording process on Free Reign compare to that of Bubblegum?

It was a lot more jammed and looser. So the songs are less structured and allow time for things to unfold.

How was it working with Daniel Lopatin, and what do you think he brought to your sound?

Daniel was really easy to work with; he added an edge to songs like ‘Miss You’ by adding effects which we normally might fill with guitars.

What’s your current favourite track on the album?

Sun And The Moon’ is my favourite as I think it’d be the hardest to categorise, and the instrumentation is pretty unique.

So why did you change the title of ‘Boney M’ to ‘Seamless Boogie Woogie BBC2 10pm (rpt)’? And what are your thoughts on ‘Later… with Jools’?

‘Boney M’ was our working title for that song and it somehow sneaked onto the promo copies. I think Jools Holland’s show is just a bit on the conservative side. I think they should take more risks, being the main music programme on TV.

Clinic have a pretty impressive CV; what’s been your personal highlight?

Recording a live gig at Maida Vale for the John Peel show. John Peel was the main thing I listened to growing up so that felt like our biggest achievement.

Longevity is pretty rare in the music industry nowadays. Why do you think you’ve succeeded where others have failed?

Through a mixture of determination and stupidity!

Do you have any regrets at all? And if you could go back to the beginning of your career, knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

With each album you always have regrets because it’s impossible to perfect something, but my main advice would be to not take it too seriously. It is, after all, just pop music.

What would you still like to achieve?

A string of number one hits but no OBEs.

Will you be touring Free Reign?

Yeah, we’ll be touring in spring of next year with a few European festival dates this year.

And finally, what’s been the best album you’ve heard in 2012?

Thee Oh SeesPutrifiers II, because they still make really intense music.