Interview: The Pretty Visitors and The Clockworks

We’re always trying new things on The Diversity of Classic Rock and for the first time, we’re doing a package deal, two for one interview with two bands! The two bands are The Pretty Visitors from Portsmouth and The Clockworks, from Galway, now based in London. Both bands have a punk/alternative inspired indie rock sound, with some hip hop influences and spoken word.

The most recent release from The Pretty Visitors is “Head in the Sand”, which you can listen to below. More music from them will be coming out soon, so be on the lookout! They’ve gotten airplay on a lot of radio stations in their home country and their sound has been compared to Joy Division and Mike Skinner of the Streets.

The band’s lineup are Jack Rudland, Aaron Evans, Sam Bennett, and Connor Reid.

The Clockworks’ latest release is “Enough is Never Enough”, which you can listen to below. They have plans to keep recording new music, so keep your eyes peeled! They found quick success when they took the plunge and moved from Ireland to London after a sellout gig at Rósín Dubh in Galway, impressing Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records, who heard them by chance because one of the band members sent him a DM on Instagram, telling him to check out their music, comparing it to The Streets, but with guitars. He said “The Clockworks are the best band to come out of Ireland since My Bloody Valentine…..thank God I signed them”. You miss every shot you don’t take. So take that chance. You never know what can happen.

The Clockworks are James McGregor, Sean Connelly, Damian Greaney, and Tom Freeman.

If you want to learn more about The Pretty Visitors and The Clockworks, keep on reading!

Interview: The Pretty Visitors

Angie Moon: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Aaron: It depends on sort of what music it is because I like to think we’re quite fluid in our sound, but indie I’d rock say that’s a given. I think our style has definitely progressed and there’s a bit of mashup of everything in there. There’s a bit of rap, there’s a bit of guitar blues.

Jack: I was gonna say blues, especially now with a few of our new songs, one  which is out, “Head in the Sand”, spoken word lyrics starting to come in as well. I think we have quite a variety of sound which hopefully people will hear in releases to come as well.

Connor: And just imagine your favourite modern band, the sound of them and times it by 100, that’s like our sound I’d say.

Angie: How did the band get started?

Sam: So it started off quite a few years ago now. Three of the guys all knew each other at college. Connor, Aaron, and Jack. I coincidentally met up with Jack on a football tour in Amsterdam and we got speaking about music, asked if I wanted to join a band and basically showed up at Connor’s little hut where the guys would practice in, had a couple of sessions with them and then that’s when the band really kicked on. We all got in a room and everything just clicked and the rest is history really.

Aaron: I wouldn’t say it was a hut, I’d say it was more a shed at the end of his garden.

Sam: This is by the way the place he lives so… (laughs

Jack: The echoes of all our band practices are still ringing out.

Angie: Who are your biggest influences?

Jack: I think as a band we have some similar ones, but we also have our own influences to our instruments as well. For me personally, I love old school drumming where it’s one take improvised and I try in certain songs to replicate that in ways, but I think as a band Arctic Monkeys are a big influence. It’s where the name came from as well [it’s the title of a song off the album, Humbug]. Oasis and bands like that really.

Aaron: Like what Jack said, we all have shared sort of influences, but I think there’s very specific ones to what we play like instrument wise. I play guitar so I’m very much into The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, you know, blues stuff, anything guitar based really.

Connor: I think the big five for me really are probably The Beatles, Oasis, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and maybe Joni Mitchell as a fifth.

Sam: We have very specific influences. I think I do compared to you guys, but collectively, everything just works together really.

Angie: What was it like writing and recording your latest release, “Head in the Sand”?

Connor: I think it was really interesting actually as to how it came about because we usually write the music first and then the words come after. But this one sort of started as a poem. I wrote it on a train on Sunday coming from Bristol to Portsmouth and sort of feeling depressed about having work the next day and the first verse was just a massive sprawl of words. I didn’t really think much about it and sort of a year later, Sam came in with this bassline that I really liked and Aaron and Jack started adding stuff and I was like, ‘Hang on, I could use these.’ And I went home and added a second verse and tightened it up a bit and added the chorus and it went from there really. The recording process was really simple. It was probably the easiest time we’ve had in the studio. We went in there and banged it out and it has that kind of punky quality with a bit of spoken word. It was quite organic the way they came about.

Angie: How do you think your music has evolved since your start as a band?

Jack: I think over time, Connor’s lyrics have evolved a lot just through life experiences and I’m sure he’ll tell you, about travelling and stuff like that as well. But also time in the studio has helped a lot and getting to know new recording techniques and ways that we can strengthen our songs. And knowing what works live as well. So that we don’t play the song live and it sounds nothing like we produce in the studio.

Aaron: Yeah, I think we’ve all developed loads in our musicianship and our instruments and general music knowledge. For myself, when we just started the band I could barely play a few chords and then I think now it’s going up and up a step.

Angie: Who would you most like to tour or gig with and why? What do you like about them as a band?

Jack: Again, we’d all have a different say on different bands. I’d probably [say] anyone with a massive following. Obviously some of the big bands out there, a dream tour for me would be someone like The Arctic Monkeys, that would be unbelievable, but a realistic kind of aim, there’s a lot of up and coming bands in the area, like The Clockworks, we’ve been listening to them and have been working with similar people and they sound great.

Angie: What do you like about The Clockworks?

Jack: I think there’s bits of them that I hear in us as well. They’re kind of punky and the lyrics, some of the songs have similar meanings.

Angie: Any plans for a debut album?

Connor: I think we’ve got one more single coming out hopefully in March, next to follow up. I think that’s our best song yet. We would say that genuinely, it is. After that, I think we are planning to do something longer play. We have so many songs backed up we could do an album, it’s just money wise at the moment, we are just focussed on pushing singles out. An EP would be more likely. Something that shows off our musical style and has more of a story and a longer play to it, I think should be in the near future.

Aaron: I also think about how people listen to music now, it’s so short attention span. People are only interested in singles. If we all stop being goldfish, I’m sure we’d have 10 albums by now.

Sam: I think we’re quite excited to release an EP, to be honest, because have that body of work behind us and as Connor said, put that story together. We’re releasing singles because it’s what we need to do and want to do right now, but we definitely want to get music out there as a collective piece, I think.

Angie: Like a concept album of sorts?

Sam: Not so much concept, just because we’ve got quite a lot of tracks behind us in our repertoire that we haven’t even had a chance to play live because we wrote a lot over the last year. We just want to put that together and select a few of our best tracks at this time to put out as a body of work rather than a conceptual style.

Connor: A dream of ours is to do an album one day and I think when we [do], naturally our songs have shared concepts of small town life and not wanting to go to work, feeling trapped, wanting escapism kind of thing. Even without thinking about it, it would be a loose concept throughout an album for us, we just need to get to that stage.

Angie: What have you been listening to lately?

Sam: We’re all a bit mixed on this one. We actually just did a set of playlists on our Spotify to display what we’re all listening to at the moment. For me, I listen to a lot of different music. Quite a lot of electronic music, but also quite a bit of the Chilis, I’ve listened through all of their albums over the last couple of months. I love it. Really collective taste for me.

Aaron: I’ve been listening to a bit of Roy Orbison, a bit of Muddy Waters, and a bit of Rory Gallagher as well.

Connor: That’s pretty amazing Aaron, I love all of that. I’ve been listening to Courtney Barnett quite a lot, I’ve been really digging her still, for months now, I’ve been listening to her. But recently in the last few days I’ve been listening to those late Johnny Cash albums with Rick Rubin, American recordings, I’ve been really digging them recently. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to it, but that’s what I’ve been liking.

Jack: I’ve managed to get a hold of a record player, so I’ve been going through my parents’ old records from back in the day.

Angie: What do you think is special about vinyl?

Aaron: I think we all love it, don’t we?

Sam: I think what’s special about it is it makes music an occasion. It makes you sit down and really pay attention to it and you have to be active with it and you have to get up and switch the vinyl over. I still get a bit of a chill in my spine hearing the needle scratch on the record to be honest, before it starts, it makes it more momentous I think. I’ve got tonnes of vinyl, we all have.

Aaron: Mindful practice, isn’t it? You have to be in the moment and fully appreciative of it. That’s why it never dies for audioheads.

Sam: You don’t listen to anywhere near as much as you would Spotify, for example, but it’s just that one time you do and back to back and you feel great about doing it.

Angie: What kept you motivated in 2020?

Jack: Getting out of it. Live performances coming back when they can and also knowing we’ve got a lot of new music in the bag that one day we will be able to get out to everyone and perform live.

Connor: For me, when it first started, it was like I have nothing else to do now and, I don’t know, I’m just gonna keep writing and even if 10 of them are rubbish, get 20-30 songs and just have them ready for the next year. I think just that glimmer of hope that we might play live again at some point, kept us all moving. We all went into the studio.

Sam: I was just going to say, we went to the studio three different times during the year to record “Head in the Sand”. We also recorded another single which we’re going to wait to put on the EP and the next follow up single as well. So we had a really good year in the studio and I think that propelled and excited us for the future as a band.

Angie: What is special about your live shows?

Sam: As we mentioned already, our style of music, it varies. It doesn’t stay on one theme throughout a set. We vary our set quite a bit and we really enjoy playing live because we give a lot of energy and we love playing our music. I think it’s not the same throughout is probably a simple way to describe it.

Aaron: I think our strongest accolade is that we are all really good friends.

Sam: I think it really shows that our chemistry. It helps in the creative process and it helps when we are thinking of new ideas and generally having a good time and enjoying ourselves, which is quite rare in the current situation.

Angie: What are your thoughts right now on Brexit affecting musicians? Is it going to be a challenge? How will you overcome it?

Aaron: I would first like to say fuck the Tories. (everyone laughs) No, we haven’t really gone on a [European] tour yet. We’ve barely even done one in the UK, but just from reading, I think it’s gonna have a huge impact on musicians because especially in the trade deal they didn’t include anything for a free visa for artists or musicians, which is usually a given in most trade deals with the EU, so I think that’s a bit of a bummer.

Connor: It’s gonna be terrible. We did have a show planned for Paris and hopefully we can reschedule it, but now we have to think about stuff like that so it’s not good news.

Aaron: Hopefully we can get big management and they can sort out that problem for us.

Jack: That’s the thing, it’s the smaller bands that suffer from it, rather than the big bands, isn’t it? Let’s hope that bands who are up and coming can get over and have the chance to play forward as much as they could before Brexit.

Angie: What is your proudest accomplishment so far?

Connor: I think for me it was our headline show at the Wedgewood Rooms, which is a local venue that we’ve all gone to growing up and to see some of our favourite bands and we managed to headline it and it turned out almost selling it out. Walking out to your home crowd and then singing songs back at you that you’ve written in your shed. That is a massive achievement that we’ll never forget. Hopefully we can do that again at some point.

Jack: I’m the same. That was our first gig back. As a band again, that was pretty huge. Hopefully Glastonbury next, on the Pyramid Stage.

Sam: I think it was a little bit unexpected at the time. We’d only just come back. That’s why it felt that little bit extra special as well.

Aaron: That’s the highlight for all of us. Such a crowd and really really memorable moment.

Sam: It’s a moment that really affirmed to us why we got to keep writing and keep pushing ourselves because people dig it.

Aaron: The crowd were top notch that night as well. There were people on shoulders and mosh pitting every song. It was great to see the buzz.

Angie: What are your goals for 2021?

Jack: I’d say everything we hoped to achieve in 2020 and more. We had so many festival applications that we never got to the point of hearing back from. We were quite hopeful with some of that. All of that and then everything new music wise which is gonna make us stronger and hopefully more successful for bigger and better live shows.

Aaron: Yeah, same. I’d like to be a name to sort of be recognised on the indie circuit. It would be quite nice to get some recognition because I think we have some top quality songs coming out and that are out already. Just to build the TPV name.

Sam: Absolutely. With the new music we want to release this year, I think we got a promising year ahead of us.

Angie: What do you wish you know before 2020?

Aaron: A pandemic is coming.

Jack: How to pass time in isolation.

Sam: I think the pandemic thing, honestly, if we had known about that maybe we would have gone about stuff in different ways. We would have prepared a more interactive thing for our listeners. Maybe some livestream gigs for when it first happened because those were all the rage and we had done a couple for other people. Maybe something interactive on our own account that we could have done and maybe people could have watched live. Something like that maybe.

Interview: The Clockworks

Angie: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

The Clockworks: “The Streets with guitars” line got us signed by Alan McGee, so I’ll stick with that for now.

Angie: Who are your biggest influences?

The Clockworks: Our influences definitely vary. From Johnny Marr and the Smiths, to Kendrick Lamar and even some Kanye West for our sins. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ is a masterpiece. We’re influenced by more than music, too. Driving through London at night is inspiring to us.

Angie: What was it like writing and recording your latest release, ‘Enough Is Never Enough’?

The Clockworks: It started with a guitar riff two years ago. I (Sean) sent James the main riff, he wrote the lyrics over a couple of weeks in various cafes in Galway. From there we took it to my little wooden shed in the back garden of my house in Loughrea and stuck down a rough demo. It took a good few months and a few live performances for us to settle on a structure, which was assisted in the end by our producer Michael Rendall. We recorded the song in Willesden with Michael.

Angie: How do you think your music has evolved since your start as a band?

The Clockworks: Three of us have been playing music with each other since we were in school, so i suppose a musical evolution was inevitable. When we started out, we had acoustic guitars and did our best to emulate Damian Rice songs. We made our way through an Alt-J sort of, art-rock phase. We definitely settled into our own sound in the past year. Creatively speaking, we’re the happiest and most confident we’ve ever been.

Angie: I heard you moved from Galway to London. What was that like for you? 

The Clockworks: James spent the first 12 years of his life in London, and a lot of his family are based here. Tom also has a strong family connection to London. This, coupled with the fact that we had been making short, sharp trips over here from Galway for about a year before the move made the transition a lot smoother. I think all of the work and planning we had done in Galway made it more of a step than a jump.

Angie: What do you miss most about Ireland?

The Clockworks: A good pint of Guinness and the fresh Galway air.

Angie: Who would you most like to tour or gig with, and why? What do you like about them as a band?

The Clockworks: It would be amazing to play with somebody like Billie Eilish. To get the opportunity to pick her and Finneas’ brains backstage before a gig. I like their confidence musically and Finneas’ production style.

Angie: Any plans for a debut album?

The Clockworks: We’re working on it. We love albums. Even though we’re living in sort of a single-led world at the moment, we definitely value the album. Very much looking forward to seeing what we can do with our debut.

Angie: What have you been listening to lately?

The Clockworks: Phoebe Bridgers, Bowie, Do Nothing, Radiohead, Vocal Girls Podcast.

Angie: What is something about the band that might surprise readers?

The Clockworks: One of us rode a bike for the first time at age 17.

Angie: What kept you motivated in 2020?

The Clockworks: Making new music, and the hope that things will get better sooner rather than later.

Angie: What are your goals for 2021?

The Clockworks: It would be pointless to set big goals like sell out Ally Pally [Alexandra Palace, a venue in North London]. Times are too uncertain. Just keep going, keep writing, keep the heads down and wait until the world opens back up again. Stay positive and be compassionate.

You can follow The Pretty Visitors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their website. You can follow The Clockworks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

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