The Clause are back – in a big, big way. The Birmingham four-piece are that rare delight, a band who blast away the cobwebs bringing something totally new yet refreshingly familiar. DMCWORLD check in with the band on the day the mighty Skream delivers his remix of ‘In My Element’…
With influences as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Abba, Pulp, T-Rex and The Doors popping up through their dazzling new body of work, recorded during lockdown in the year that never was, their sound represents a giant leap forward for contemporary British music. It’s commercial in that it’s destined for radio airplay and festival singalongs, yet it’s also underground and edgy. It’s loud and boisterous and rollicking, yet it’s deft and subtle. It has huge poppy hooks and soaring choruses, yet it takes chances with timing, style, genre and form. It is music that defies categorisation other than three simple words – it’s fucking brilliant.Pearce Macca (frontman), Niall Fennell (drummer) Jonny Fyffe (bassist) and Liam Deakin (guitarist) are a devastatingly potent live outfit, with powerhouse tunes and unique delivery and look. This band are the complete package. They are The Clause…and mayhem is the effect.
Here Pearce and Liam talk about writing an album on Zoom and What’sApp, the impact Lockdown had on the band, why they want fans to remember the road crew stranded far from the concrete seas, the Skream remix, Perry Farrell being a fan, plans for the year of The Clause in 2021 and the surprises they are lining up as we speak...
So you were finally signed up and on the way to rock stardom…then Covid happened. Were you devastated or did you take it in stride knowing it WILL happen when the world starts turning again?
Pearce: Initially I think the same as every other band in our position we felt a little flat, 2020 was on track to be a massive year for us gig wise. We certainly didn’t dwell on it though, we used it as an opportunity focus on writing our best material yet and we have come out of this crisis with an album written and recorded. As a band we have definitely benefited from it.
How did you react as a band – what was the attitude and the strategy?
Liam: We didn’t let it get to us, we could have sat there and sulked but it wouldn’t have got us anywhere. We adapted and took it in our stride. We have worked so hard to get to where we are so we certainly weren’t going to let a virus get the better of us. Our strategy was to properly sit down and get an album finished, something we never had time to do when we were on the road. And we have done just that.
How big an impact mentally has Covid had on you – are you scared or fairly relaxed – and how has the isolation etc affected you mentally?
Pearce: I think everyone would be lying if they said the events of the last year or so haven’t impacted them mentally, there have been days where it seemed like the end of the world and days where it didn’t faze us. From the beginning we made a big effort to look out for each other, making sure we spoke every day and checked in.
Have you been personally impacted by Covid?
Liam: Yes definitely. You don’t realise how good life is until it’s taken away from you. Even now, the things we’d do to be back in our battered van with our best mates ready to play a show is crazy. It really is the little things you miss. I think it’s made us all more grateful for what we have and taught us not to take things for granted.
Are you concerned about the future of music and the touring industry? Do you think the industry as we know it is genuinely at risk?
Pearce: Yes, I think everyone in the industry is a bit apprehensive at the moment about the state the music scene will be in after the pandemic. Saying that, we think once everything is back to normal the industry is going to explode again with some great music coming from new and already established bands. People can’t wait to get out properly again so even though it seems it is on its knees at the moment, just wait for the revival once this is all over.
Is it important to remember those behind the scenes too, crew etc who are without work?
Liam: Most definitely yeah, we’d be lost without our crew. It’s been great to see the number of bands who have publicly acknowledged the work their crews do behind the scenes. I think when you’re at a show watching an artist you forget all the people behind the curtain that are making that gig so enjoyable. It’s easy to only think of the artists who are without work at this time but the livelihoods of those behind the scenes are also at risk as well.
A lot of musicians have locked themselves away and are struggling with mental health – you went a different way and used the time to write a new album. Was this a deliberate decision?
Pearce: I wouldn’t say it was a decision we had to make, it was always something we had been trying to do, lockdown just gave us the time to do it. In such a negative period we could have written a lot of negative music, pointing fingers and letting it all out but that’s just not our thing. We haven’t found the feel and message in these songs elsewhere. Nobody wants to hear negative music, we’ve been through enough negativity lately and when this is over people don’t need to hear more of that. We’ve always believed music should be an escape from the bad in life and should always be uplifting.
Do you think it’s helped you all cope by giving you a focus?
Liam: Yeah, it definitely gave us a focus, our routines and lifestyles were completely ruined so having the prospect of writing new music and working towards a new album definitely gave us something positive to focus on and work towards.
Do you think the situation influenced the music and lyrics?
Pearce: Yeah for sure, but in a positive way. When people finally get to hear these new songs, they’ll be able to hear that.
How easily did the new songs come together?
Liam: It varied, some came really fast and some took a while. Some of them came from riffs and ideas composed years ago but we had never finalised, others such as Forever Young were written and demoed within an hour. Sometimes certain songs just click without needing to try that hard.
How did you write and record – did the restrictions have an impact or was it relatively normal?
Pearce: We all are lucky enough to have equipment at home to demo, so our band group chat was always full of ideas and lyrics we could bounce off each other. I suppose the only difference was we didn’t get to meet up to practice the songs once they were written. We never thought we’d have written our debut album over WhatsApp and Zoom but that’s 2020 for you, full of surprises.
How happy are you with the results?
Liam: We’re insanely proud of them. We think it’s our finest work to date and can’t wait to unleash them.
Are you continuing to channel your time into more music and writing as much as possible?
Pearce: Definitely, it’s what we do anyway, we’re constantly writing and developing ideas. Of course we’re grateful for the extra down time to really focus on them, it’s given us the chance to properly sit down, write and record our best material we have composed to date.
Would you like to be in the position of having far too many songs and arguing over which ones make the record?
Liam: We’re already in that position funnily enough, it’s a tad frustrating deciding which ones will make the cut but we all laugh saying it’s not a bad position to be in! We’re on fire at the moment and are certainly taking advantage of this creative spell we’ve found ourselves in.
Do you feel good mentally given you’ve used the time so well – has it helped you all stay positive? How ARE you feeling about the future?
Pearce: Yeah for sure, listening back to the songs we have something to reflect on how productive we were. The future is vibrant, it’s only going to go up from here.
What’s the plan in terms of releasing?
Pearce: Initially we were going to wait until the COVID situation calmed down but that was when we were naïve enough to think it would only be a matter of months. All we know is next year we’re coming at you all thick and fast, everyone’s patience with us will be rewarded.
The Skream remix is up next – how did that come about – did he stumble across your music and like it?
Liam: He tweeted out asking if any bands wanted a remix, Pearce in particular is a big fan, so he jumped at the opportunity. We messaged him on twitter with a link to our tunes and he was digging them and said we had a good Manchester-sounding vibe about us, proper good guy.
It’s a very different world colliding with yours – how happy are you with the mix and is this the sort of thing you’d like to explore further, bringing together different sounds and crowds?
Pearce: The mix is incredible, we always said In My Element is one of those tunes that’s appealing to anyone no matter what music they’re into, so it’s class to hear someone else’s take on it. Ollie smashed it. He got the feel of the tune straight away and put his spin on it. We’d be happy to work with anyone, it’s inspiring to see how others go about making music cause its different every time. We collectively have a very broad music taste so there’s no limit on where we could take our songwriting creativity to.
Does collaborating in terms of co-writes etc appeal?
Liam: Yeah for sure, getting two minds on one project always opens doors when writing, it’s always something new and more challenging than just working on your own.
I believe Perry Farrell is a fan – how does that feel?
Pearce: It’s crazy to be honest, people thought we were lying when we told them. Was an honour to have a chat with him let alone hearing he loves the tunes. He’s a great guy.
Would working with him be a dream – is it possible?
Pearce: It’d be crazy, if you’d have told us that was even a possibility back when we started out, we would have asked you what you were smoking. That being said we reckon we’d make a great record together, watch this space.
Has staying connected with fans on socials etc helped too, knowing they’re still out there and still care passionately about the band?
Liam: Yeah, it’s truly amazing to see, we’ve got some great fans. We haven’t released music in a while and they’ve still stuck by us! They’ll be more than rewarded next year, it’ll be worth the wait.
What would be the ideal situation for you now – single or two then sign with a major?
Liam: We’ve got some big plans for next year, whether COVID plays ball with us or not we’ll be unstoppable. That is the plan, we’re just focusing on getting these tunes out into the world we can’t wait!
You must be desperate to get out playing live again – how much have you missed it?
Pearce: We’ve really missed it. We’ve been lucky enough to have done some virtual shows for lollapalooza and Scotts Menswear. As great as it was, you can’t beat a full house and a sea of people singing back to you. The thing keeping us going is the thought of how excited people will be when live gigs come back, we’ll be more than ready for it.
You just did your first lockdown shows – how were they?
Liam: We really didn’t know how they were going to go down to be honest, it was our first time doing a seated gig and a first for the audience. We played a set of predominantly new music so we were so excited to let people hear it. Once we took to the stage it was like nothing had changed. Music brings people together in a way nothing else can, you can’t deny it.
Does the idea of hitting the road and touring – playing proper shows to full houses – seem like a dream? How good will it feel when that happens?
Pearce: It does seem a million miles away at times but it’s important to keep the mentality that it will happen and imagine how good it will feel when it does. Bring it on.
Any plans for a stream gig?
Liam: Yeah for sure, watch this space. It’ll be big.
What is your goal – how far can The Clause go?
Pearce: The Clause are going to go it all the way, we want to take it to the top. To the Glastonbury headline slot, to the platinum record gold disc, to the sellout arena world tour. We will get there, we’re sure of it.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about or say to fans?
Liam: Thank you for sticking with us more than anything, we’ll make it up to you next year. 2021, the year of The Clause.