In late 2016, Melbourne wild, thrashy punk rockers CLOWNS were still in a process of putting together their third record “Lucid Again”, working their way through the demanding, yet fun process once again. Since they wrapped it up, they’ve traded their Aussie soil for some wild touring in Europe, including another performance at Belgium’s Groezrock fest and have found themselves releasing the new effort and prepping for their current Australian run with garage punk’n’rollers NIGHT BIRDS. “Lucid Again” has seen the band’s sound delve into some scuzzy-psychedelia, so we figured it would be cool to discuss it thoroughly through a proper interview and learn more about their take on touring Europe and Australia. See the full interview below.
CLOWNS have become an undeniable and unstoppable force within the Australian music community. With two critically acclaimed albums under their belt, namely I’m Not Right (2013) and 2015’s follow up Bad Blood, Clowns have garnered a reputation for their explosive and frenetic live performances – selling out headline shows across Australia, North America, Asia and Europe.
Bursting with psychedelic swirling guitars, electrifying riffs and explosive vocals, ‘LucidAgain’ is the third LP from Melbourne’s unstoppable CLOWNS. The nine new tracks seamlessly combines a powerful punch of pop, punk, garage and hardcore. From the exhilarating guitar-work on album opener and title-track ‘Lucid Again’, to the catchy melody lines on the first single ‘Dropped My Brain’ and commanding chorus on 9-minute epic ‘Not Coping’, these songs are exploding with the band’s signature distortion-drenched sound and rambunctious energy, however the record is distinctly different from their previous releases and is especially evident from the scuzzy-psychadelia infused throughout.
“Lucid Again” is out now digitally and on vinyl via Poison City Records.
Hey guys! How did the tour go? How was Groezrock this year?
Groezrock was very cool. Definitely my favourite European festival that we’ve been apart of, we’re really stoked to have played it twice now. What really felt great about playing for the second year in a row is that we were put on a bigger stage, which was pretty much at full capacity before we’d even strummed a chord. Plus there was no barrier to the stage, so people went pretty wild on the stage dives haha. Super fun.
What’s so exceptional and special about the festival?
To me it’s really unique to other festivals of it’s size. It somehow manages to maintain the intricacy of an in-venue punk show with big tent/open air stages. I’d say the lack of a barrier and bodies flying everywhere certainly helps.. Also, I haven’t stumbled across a single dickhead over the two years we played. How many festivals does that happen at!? It’s just an incredible vibe! If festivals are your thing, I’d highly recommend checking out Groezrock.
Apart from Groezrock, what are some of your other favorite festivals you’ve been to worldwide?
Camp A Low Hum in Wainuiomata, New Zealand was a really different one that I really loved. It was based on a school camp site, had roughly 2-3 thousand people and about seven very different stages scattered throughout the site. They also never used to announce the line up, you just had to attend to find out what kinda completely whack, diverse and just incredibly GOOD acts were playing. Unfortunately it’s no longer a thing, RIP Camp A Low Hum.
Riot Fest in the states also rules, we were lucky enough to be apart of the Chicago one a couple of years back. They just seem to always nail it on the line up year in, year out. They somehow “motivate” (cha-ching $$) bands like Misfits and JAWBREAKER to reform haha. I’ve seen so many of my favourite bands at that festival.
As they say though, there’s no place like home. The Meredith Music Festival has got to be my favourite festival of all time. We’ve never played it, but it’s certainly a huge dream of mine and sits at number one on my musical bucket list. If you can find a more serene and friendly environment with dynamic and diverse acts/performances all in the same place, I would love to hear about it.
Any cool bands you’ve met while being on this tour?
We met so many cool bands on this tour. We did all of our UK shows with a rad hardcore band called THROWING STUFF, who were absolute sweethearts – some life long friends there. Also in the UK there was HUMAN LEATHER, NATTERERS and ROTTEN FOXES – all great bands. We were also lucky enough to do three shows with THE EXPLOITED and THE CASUALTIES in Spain. For a bunch of dudes who may look like they’re rough as guts, they were all so down to earth and welcoming to us. Total legends.
Based on your European treks so far, what are your favorite Euro touring destinations?
Personally, I very much enjoy Germany and France, both for similar reasons. Not only are the shows generally quite good and the promoters rather accommodating, they also both have such beautiful countrysides, incredibly dated architecture and very friendly people. Some of my favourite touring spots in Germany would have to be Cologne, Berlin and Aachen – we have now had countless good times and I’m always embracing the idea of returning to these places! This tour was the first time we’ve actually played in France, but some standout spots for me were L’isle Bouzon, Bordeaux and Orleans.
Photo by Jonas Demeulemeester
What is the most rewarding thing about touring to distant lands and being on the road in general?
Aside from playing music with my best friends in the world day in, day out, my favourite thing about touring is the many lovely, weird and wonderful people that you meet every single day. Lot’s of like minded souls, varied cultures and personality types.. It’s so great and sometimes rather entertaining haha. Honestly, I feel like I’ve made many close friends all throughout Europe, that I will probably always hit up every time I’m ever passing through. Many good times and stories.
What have you learned about yourself while touring?
To take more mental notes to prepare for questions like this one.
Given that you were on the verge of releasing your new album, how did that fact affect your touring? Apart from giving your best at live shows, how do you engage in the pre-release process?
We were all just so psyched. Psyched about the album and psyched about playing really rad shows. Just a very happy time for us all. Now that the album is out, I wouldn’t even think that has changed. Plus, we have another European run throughout July to get ready for – it’s all fun and games from here.
Personally, what does this new chapter mean for you guys? What is Lucid Again?
Lucid Again is a record we’re really proud of, it is a new chapter, but probably a temporary one. We’ve already began writing and throwing ideas around for the next record. We want to keep productive and not linger on it. Keep your eyes and ears open.
When writing and recording for the record, what areas of the process most surprised or challenged you?
I was really surprised just how many hot chips can be consumed by one band in 10 days of studio time.
Are you stoked for your upcoming trek with NIGHT BIRDS in Australia? How did you hook them up?
We are very stoked to have NIGHT BIRDS coming out on this run. We did a couple of shows with them last year in Europe and just kinda hit it off. There may have been drunken slurs of “you should come and tour Australia with us…” that eventually turned into sober slurs, which eventually turned into countless emails back and forth. It’s gonna be very rad and everyone in Australia should be really psyched – they are truly an amazing band, who definitely at a point played a part in influencing our band on a musical level.
Plus I really can’t wait to see the look on their faces while they hold Koalas.
Friday 2 June – The Billabong, Kuranda **NEW VENUE w/ Meat Bikini & Swamp Donkey
Saturday 3 June – Railway Hotel, Darwin w/ Acid City
Sunday 4 June – The Boston, Perth w/ Night Birds, Axe Girl & Two For Flinching
Thursday 8 June – Miami Shark Bar, Gold Coast w/ Night Birds, The Wrath & The Lost Cause
Friday 9 June – The Zoo, Brisbane w/ Night Birds, Shutup! Shutup! Shutup! & The Cutaways
Saturday 10 June – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle w/ Night Birds, Rort Menace & Wavevom
Sunday 11 June – Imperial Hotel, Sydney w/ Night Birds, Nunchukka Superfly & Neptune Power Federation
Thursday 15 June – Enigma, Adelaide w/ Night Birds, Stabbitha and the Knifey Wifeys & The Lizards
Friday 16 June – The Brisbane Hotel, Hobart w/ Night Birds, Cashman & more TBA
Saturday 17 June – The Corner, Melbourne w/ Night Birds, Amyl and The Sniffers & TV Haze
Haha, sure! Send us some pics once they grab one.
Ok, so compared to Europe, how are Australian shows, both bigger gigs and small club / basement shows?
I wouldn’t say that they’re drastically different from each other, I feel people get wild just the same. There are perhaps a few little things that play a part in differentiating the continents.
Beer/alcohol prices in Europe are significantly cheaper over there, which I feel makes patrons more inclined to head to a show on a school night, it’s a lot easier to not piss away your money over there. There are so many touring bands in Europe, especially through the Spring and Summer time almost daily, the lower cost would probably even allow patrons to head to multiple shows in a week affordably.
Accents and languages are a big difference. On every Euro tour we’ve done, people have proven time and time again that they’re incredibly patience with the language barrier, given we are foreign devils that speak very little native tongue.. I personally love constantly learning and picking up new words over discussions at the merch table, as well as the foreign heckles that get yelled out at us when we’re on stage haha.
Speaking of smaller shows, are you still attracted to the DIY punk scene? Are you tiny gigs goers?
We are goers of all gigs, big and small. Our band was raised in smaller venues and honestly it’s probably where we perform our best, even to this day. I’m “attracted” to the DIY punk scene as much as I probably ever have been – I just love live music.
Lastly, please recommend some local acts, labels, zines or independent art stuff that we might be interested in.
Favourite local act: BATPISS (Melbourne)
Favourite local label: Cool Death (Melbourne)
Favourite local zine: Unbelievably Bad (Sydney)