THE CLINCH are a Melbourne street punk five piece who have been hammering away since late 2017. They have gone from strength to strength playing relentlessly with the likes of Cockney Rejects, Exploited, X Stiff Little Fingers and Uproar, and releasing their debut album Our Path is One to local and international praise. Influenced by 80s East London Oi!, punk, Australian rock and traditional union songs, with muted guitars and gritty verses running into anthemic refrains. Common themes of hard work, self-reflection, loss, hope and inclusion. Their second full length “Basecamp” introduces a stronger classic Aussie rock element and more developed guitar leads while maintaining the harder street punk riffs, anthemic gang vocals and uplifting feel of the previous album, and we’re thrilled to give you its first full listen below!
For fans of Bishops Green, Bonecrusher, The Business, Discharger, Cocksparrer, Cockney Rejects, Troopers, The Angels and Rose Tattoo. The Clinch are: Steve Bunce (Vocals), Luke Mathews (Guitar), Andy Lynch (Guitar), Brendan McRae (Bass), Sam Barker (Drums).
Basecamp was recorded by Jason Fuller at Goatsound (previous work includes No Class, Private Function, Witchskull, King Parrot, Mindsnare, and Blood Duster). Original album artwork was created by Sacha Bryning, and the record will be available on all streaming services on March 23rd, and for free download at Bandcamp. The album is released on vinyl in Europe (shipping worldwide) through German stalwarts Sunny Bastards Records and CD in Australia through OSU! Records.
The album launch is on 18 April 2020 at Bendigo Hotel, Collingwood, with massive support from NZ/Melb heavyweights No Class, Brisbane originals Plan of Attack, local legends Bulldog Spirit, melodic Oi! from The Opposition, and up and coming powerhouse The Stripp.
Asked about their new anthemic oi! punk offering, the band replied:
For our first album (Our Path Is One) we were aiming for an anthemic oi! sound – trying to maintain tougher driving verses and then big gang vocal choruses. In this album we focused on introducing a stronger classic Aussie rock element and more developed guitar leads, while still maintaining the harder street punk riffs, gang vocals and uplifting feel of the previous album. Now we have two guitars (as a 5-piece) and having Andy’s contribution musically has been very beneficial as he brings an extra level of technical understanding and expertise which I think is reflected in the new album.
Lyrically, while the first album focused more on the existential problem which continues in some of the new tracks like Alone and Claymore, the lyrics on the Basecamp album are slightly more diverse – with songs about varied life experiences, or places, or just an experimentation or elaboration on a certain feeling or interest. There is, of course, still some of the same struggle that despite distraction, practical matters, and personal failures, persists. We are also still trying to maintain a universalism in the lyrics rather than get too expressly political or self-indulgent, and hopefully keeping our arms and hearts open to the world.
Many of songs are also hopefully open to levels of interpretation, especially a practical external meaning and an internal meaning. So for example, from our last album, the single Hearts and Diamonds is both about missing one’s childhood home but equally about the loss demanded by death or in moving towards truth.
The recording experience with Jason at Goatsound was great – he has recorded so many rock, metal and punk bands, and played in several great ones, so he can quickly understand the sound a band is trying to get. We came into it with most of the songs written but quite a lot of details unfinished. Things mostly came together fairly painlessly apart from scheduling a gig half way through recording, right after all the gang vocals so starting the show with strained voices.
More about the band:
We are a street punk five piece, based in Melbourne, who have been hammering away since late 2017. During that time we’ve shared the stage with some great bands including Cockney Rejects, The Exploited, X Stiff Little Fingers and Uproar, and heaps of great Aussie bands.
We have fairly broad influences but obviously Oi!, punk, and Aussie rock all feature dominantly. We also listen broadly to metal, hard rock, hardcore etc and at the end of the day we are writing for ourselves and play what we love rather than writing to a very tight genre or image. For example, Sammy on drums has played in more metal bands than punk bands so often instinctively goes to the kick rather than the hi-hat.
We are touring nationally a bit over the next few months and hoping to play some international shows later in the year. Our label is in Germany, so hopefully start there with either UK or Netherlands and Belgium included. There are some great punk festivals in European summer.
We are starting work on new songs but going to spend a bit longer on our next album both in terms of song concepts and refinement. This should allow us to really enjoy the process and also to benefit from spontaneous creativity rather than worrying too much about creative momentum.
Track by Track commentary:
1. The Chariot
This song is written about Danny Spooner, who was a waterman and sung traditional folk and union songs. He was an amazing and kind man, and had an incredible booming voice, and inspired and taught me a lot of great songs especially shanties and working songs. Danny died in 2017. Shane Howard from Goanna said “Danny was a true treasure and a living encyclopaedia of song. He was also a fiercely independent creature who called no man master.” The song is also about the value we can take from history when sailing into the unknown.
Brendan (bass) wrote the lyrics to this track and says: “My wife and I were trying for our second child and she fell pregnant which was incredibly exciting, however along the way the pregnancy failed and we lost the baby. The song is about the feeling of that, how when it’s all going well you feel great, such pride and strength, but then when the soft voice of the hospital staff tell you it’s all over you just don’t know what to do. You just have no idea what the next step is as it’s so unexpected, and you have to process all that”
Another one by Brendan (bass) which we are really enjoying playing live at the moment. He says “the lyrics are a bit abstract, but it is essentially about renewal. It started off with the idea of how older buildings and places in our cities from past eras get brought back to life and reused. But from there it turned more conceptual about if the building or a site had sentience. How would it feel being a tired old giant trying to adjust in a new era that you have woken to after so many years dormant? How do you adapt over time and try and fit in with a world that changes around you?”
4. Redstone Caves
My Dad’s parents moved to Australia after WW2. The war deeply affected my grandparents, and also possibly broke my Grandfather’s acceptance of the entrenched social order in England, so they moved somewhere less ‘encumbered’. On a visit back to my Dad’s hometown I saw my Great Grandfather’s tombstone, which is engraved “Peace after Pain”, so I wrote this song.
5. Common Goal
Also from Brendan (bass): “I just love the idea we as humans share the same planet. Often the focus is on the differences and failings of people, but I prefer the idea we have more in common than not and that if you strip away the money or status or whatever we have so much to share. It’s hard to see sometimes and sounds a bit cliché, but I genuinely believe people can and do work toward common goals rather than just self interest”
This song is firstly me trying to work out whether my constant sense of longing is because I live in the city and I desperately miss nature, or whether it is something internal which is being mirrored by life. I am internalising and exploring this suffering.
7. The Knife
This is just me encouraging myself to keep struggling. The line “the horror at my side” sounds like what Danzig would call a knife – I probably should have said “the shadow at my side”. I like the instrumental link with the mini-drum rolls between each of the verses and choruses.
This song was inspired by standing on Berserkjahraun, in the middle of a deserted lava field, in Iceland. It’s got lots of energy – a driving aggression and certainty about it. There is something here about death – ritualistic death of the weaker parts of a person – and affirmation, speaking dialectically. It’s crossing over a threshold and not looking back, like the stories of Orpheus and Eurydice or Lot’s wife.
This is to do with deconstruction of our beliefs and what we sleep upon. I am trying to let people know that while we can’t fully understand their personal struggle, we are here for them. Also that progress requires a lot of work, and much of it quiet and hidden.
10. We’re Coming Up
This is a fairly simple upbeat track, not too concerned with anything, just affirming free will. Really, it’s a bit naive in some ways. The chorus is unexpectedly threatening for no good reason.
This is a song about ontology and metaphysics more broadly, greater mind, monism, purpose and growth. I sung it higher first, and then did it again with the deeper, growly voice, which made it tougher and less arena-rock. I really like the solo in this song, written by Andy.
Melbourne and Australian punk rock scene:
Melbourne has the strongest punk scene (and broader rock scene) in Australia. I think this is because it is a bit colder and so we lack the beach culture of much of Australia so instead look for indoor activities (which might also account for the higher density of music venues in the north and west away from our own beaches). There are heaps of venues dedicated to rock music and multiple good shows almost every night – it’s a fundamental part of the culture here.
The Oi! scene is a bit smaller but The Clinch fits into a lot of genres and we also play crossover gigs with other styles of punk, hardcore, thrash etc. A few times each year we have a big Oi! gig but it becomes harder each year to tell whether punters are shaving their heads for the style or to hide their increasingly receding hairlines.
There has been a resurgence in Aussie pub punk, with classic bands like Cosmic Psychos back touring regularly, and new upstarts Amyl and the Sniffers, The Chats (not from Melbourne), and Private Function gaining international success. So it’s a rising tide, and the water is good. And by water we mean beer.
Other bands and artists worth a check
Some great bands to have recently joined the local (Melbourne) scene:
Thatchers Snatch – Featuring members of No Class and Reaper. UK82 style punk, aggressive, no-nonsense.
The Stripp – Proper heavy rock’n’roll and definitely highway music.
Blowhole – First EP coming soon – great catchy songs but still tough.
Smooch – Modern glam rock.