Interview: Meet The Clockworks – The Irish Rockers Giving Punk An Alternative Edge

Words/Interview by – Tracey Moyle {Music Maven}

Meet Irish rockers The Clockworks, a band creating a dynamic new punk sound embracing influences and inspirations drawn from a love of all music. They exude a raw energy embedding a post-punk/alternative feel into their musical DNA. The way they have embraced their sound has given this brilliant foursome the edge you tend to get excited about the second you hear it.

Moving from Galway to the UK the band were heading in a direction that most young musicians only dreaming about. Signing to record label Creation 23 by Alan McGee when guitarist Sean Connelly send McGee a message on Instagram introducing him to their music. Within weeks, McGee had met with the band and a deal was signed. This intuitive move by the band speaks volumes about their drive and initiative. However, this was before the music industry was almost crippled by a world pandemic. But even this didn’t deter them.

The hidden opportunity of the past 12 months wasn’t wasted on the band. They welcomed the newly acquired spare time, as they were forced into a UK lockdown. Rather than feeling powerless, they flipped the tables on the pandemic making the most of their newly developed creative space and set their minds to releasing new music. Four new songs from The Clockworks hit the streaming airwaves in 2020 with their more recent single Enough Is Never Enough, hitting the ground running. The song has racked up over 85,000 hits since November on Spotify alone, quickly catching up to their past releases streaming numbers.

So who are The Clockworks? Good Call Live are all over that question, with our super chatty Music Maven Tracey Moyle sitting down and delving into the psyche of the band, and finding out the secret formula behind their unique sound. Joining her via Zoom were James McGregor (Vocals/Guitar), Connelly (Guitar), Damian Greaney (Drums) and Tom Freeman (bass) ready to introduce the world to The Clockworks and how they tick.

It’s great to chat, kind of, in person. And it’s great to have everyone here. Can you tell me, how did you come together as a band?

Sean: “Myself and James were at school together. Damian who was a year older, was at the same school and we had the same friends and just kind of gravitated towards each other. We started playing together after school, James and I , and he showed me some songs he’d written. So really organically we just sort of gravitated towards each other. It’s slowly snowball from there. I racked in Damian, he started learning drums. We all started to learn together at the same time. Then once we moved to Galway after school we bumped into Tom on the scene.

So The Clockworks is a pretty unusual name. Where did it come from?

Damian: We were in our band room one day trying to come up with names, we already had one but we didn’t really like it. Also I think it was taken by like, seven other bands, so we thought we’d better pick a different one. We were dishing out names and James was looking at the clock on the wall and noticed it was ticking and goes ‘oh, the clock works’. Me and Sean thought that was a suggestion, and it stuck. 
James:It was a Grandfather Clock that I thought had been broken for years. It just suddenly started ticking.” 

So you were trying to work out a name, and then all of a sudden the clock starts ticking out of nowhere, and you came up with The Clockworks? Maybe there were otherworldly powers about helping you find a band name.

Sean:It might be. It was an old house.” 
Damian: “Or maybe James was wrong all along the clock was always ticking.” *laughs* 

You’ve previously been described as punk/alternative inspired indie rock. I feel like there’s much more to it than that comparison. Does this come from a little piece of all of your influences being brought forward into the band, or is there more a deliberate path? 

James: “Good question.”
Tom: I mentioned to Damian just the other night, that I get a kick out of finding something that I think is a bit interesting, then purposefully not show it to the boys. So, if we’re working on something, and I’m pulling on a certain inspiration, they don’t know where I’ve taken it from. Therefore, they pull from other inspirations and that way you get an aspect of one thing mixed with something that you can’t gel with because you don’t know what it is.” 

So basically, they’re putting their own spin on something you’ve brought to them because they have no preconceived idea on what the original inspiration was drawn from.”

James:I guess we’re all listening to different things at the same time. And usually, when we create a song, whatever intuitively comes to you, is what you put on. We’re all pulling from our own things to create something that feels good to us. There’s always convergences because you don’t suddenly stop liking the bands we’ve grew up loving, that’s why the sound does come together as something cohesive. 

I guess that’s exactly what you’re aiming for. Having that unique sound that no one has really tapped into before is usually what kicks a band off. It grabs the attention of music listeners. Think of all the bands that have become bigger than anyone else, it’s because their sound was unique.

Sean:I think most bands, well certainly with us, don’t find what their unique sound is straight away.  We did sound like other bands when we first started. Eventually you work your way through it and you come out the other end with more of a unique sound, if you find your own lane along the way. Not to discourage new bands, but if you ever get a bad review that says you sound too much like ‘x’, I think it’s just about the time you spend trying to make your own lane. You’ll eventually end up there.” 

I know you’ve been compared to a lot of other bands, but I think your sound is quite different. I couldn’t pinpoint one particular sound. 

Sean: “That’s actually a big compliment thank you.
Tom: I think that comes with authenticity sometimes.” 

I like what you said before ‘it’s about what you’re inspired to do not what you feel like you have to do’. 

Tom: “It’d be quite unbelievable, but, if another band had all the inspiration and experience that the four of us have had exactly, they might sound similar to us. But we are individuals who have had our own experiences that put us in a position to receive songs and make these decisions. I think that’s where authentic sounds really come from. As the boys have said, it’s something that maybe you don’t realise or get comfortable doing until you’re a couple of years in.” 

It’s about letting your own creativity flow and not force it. 

James:Getting out of your own way”

Absolutely.  2020 was a hard year for everyone but you managed to get together and get things done. You’ve released four singles in the last 12 months. How did you find getting music out over the lockdown?

Damian:It was great because it allowed us to keep focus, to keep having something to look forward to and something to work at because, you know, a huge thing for us is gigging.
People say it’s our strength but it’s just one of the things that we love doing as well, even just preparing for weeks and actually getting in there and doing them. Then talking to people after gigs is just a huge part of the experience, but as well as that we do love writing and recording songs. So it was nice to have something to stay going at. It was good because it let us focus more on our newest songs instead of just practicing our old songs over and over getting ready for gigs. We were just given a bit of time to work on some new stuff and get that ready.

So do you have new music coming out for 2021? Are you going to keep that momentum rolling from last year? 

James: “We do. We’re going to keep singles coming for now. No definite plans for an album yet.
Tom: “If people want to get a good feel for us our friend Oscar Ryan directed a documentary for us. There’s a song in the middle that’s not a single. It’s the only place you can hear it.

With the way music streaming works these days, a lot of bands tend to not release albums and just stick with singles. 

James:That’s the thing, singles are the way music is consumed anyway. So, it’s not like we’re at a loss for putting out singles. We grew up loving albums, buying albums, so I think an album is definitely something we want to do as a passion, just like any music is, but it’s not necessarily something we need to do.

I think last year for the first time in goodness knows how long, if ever, vinyls actually outsold CDs. I love collectors edition vinyl.

Damian:I think there’s something important about holding a physical vinyl in your hands and it’s just nice opening the plastic cup and pulling it out putting the needle down it’s more of an event than a CD.
James:  “I think people feel vinyl is almost like the cinema and downloading is like Netflix.”
Tom: “It’s tactile isn’t it it’s the physical groove of it being played.
James:And the physical artwork.” 

So how do you guys go about creating music? Does one person write the lyrics and then the rest build the structure of the song around it? Or does everyone having a go at song writing?

Damien:  Exactly how you describe the first one. James has a little black book on him that he’s always penning lyrics into. We’re not allowed to see them until he’s finished one. It just makes me want to sneak into his room one day and have a look. He’ll usually have a bit of a melody or chord structure along with it. Then we’ll just get in the room and bash it out, add our bits. We usually get it to a stage where we think it’s finished and then we decide we’re going to record it and realise we’ve got to work on it a bit more and then we actually finish it.
James:We work really well with no pressure for a little while and then just a little bit of pressure at the very end.”
Sean: “We can have a song for two years and then we set a recording date and we do more work than you can ever imagine in two days.
James:  “The producer we’re working with at the moment Michael Rendall, doesn’t listen to the songs until we’re in the studio. He is really just a big fan of intuitive and expressive feeling. He’ll listen to a song and say ‘have you tried doing this?’. Really on the spot intuitive things. He’s really keen on capturing a live feeling. Doing a couple of takes on the song to allow those perfect imperfections as much as you can.

That’s how I do album reviews, I take all my notes from the very first listen and build on it from there. I think that’s how you feel that initial connection with music from the first listen.

Tom:I think we were like that when we use to play gigs, pre-covid. We were sensitive to the fact that we know the songs inside and out, every detail, but someone’s hearing it for the first time and they’re not going to remember anything close to what we think we remember about the song. We know from going and attending gigs ourselves, you leave with a feeling of a song. Like ‘I love that lasts song’ and you don’t even remember how it went, but how it made you feel as a listener is quite important to us.
James: “I think the intellectual aspect of music is always secondary to that intuitive aspect, and I think any great artist seems to… at least in pop and rock ,say like the bigger artist like David Bowie, The Beatles, Nirvana, Radiohead, these massive huge, huge ground-breaking acts, its about the feeling first and the really interesting chord sequence or melody line afterward.
I think it’s really interesting, that you review albums in that way, it allows how you would actually respond to an album to come across in your review. It’s like an authentic response to an album rather than the intellectual response.

Do you have any desired or plans to come to Australia when you can start touring again. 

Damien: “We want to go everywhere. Especially after this year.”

So do we have to wait long for the new music you have coming up?

Sean: No, we have something coming very soon.” 

Stayed tuned for what is coming up next for the band. With such an intuituve connection to their music it won’t be long before The Clockworks is on everyones playlist.

You can listen to The Clockworks include lastest single Enough Is Never Enough on all streaming platforms.
And don’t forget to support the music you love, get your band merch Here

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With thanks to Moonman Music

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