It has been five years since CLOCK OPERA released an album, and in the world of music, five years is an eternity. So much can and has changed; streaming has expanded beyond expectations, independent blogs have overtaken longstanding stalwarts of the press and NME is free. In an already fast paced and fickle industry, returning after such a long time is often met with but a passing glance, but what has made the transition less of an obstacle for the London four-piece is how feverently their fanbase has awaited their comeback. Following in the wake of Ways To Forget, their new album Venn builds on their eclectic blend of indie rock and electronica. Songwriter and vocalist Guy Connelly discusses writing Venn, returning to the live circuit (they play Are You Listening? Festival on Saturday 22nd April) and the time in between. Scroll down to take a listen to the album…
You’ve just released your new album Venn! Congratulations – how good does it feel to have it out in the world?
Thanks. An immense pleasure and relief. The end of one era and the immediate beginning of another.
It’s been five years between the release of Venn and your debut album Ways To Forget. What led to such a long gap between the two?
A variety of factors. A lot of life; in short, miscarriage, depression, childbirth, slow writing, indecision, legal delays and the time it takes to re-emerge into the public sphere after all of the above.
As an album Venn has a bold and eclectic electronic sound. Do you feel that in some ways the gap between albums allowed you to develop what you wanted your next direction to be?
There was a lot of exploration, for sure. We wrote a huge amount that didn’t end up on the album. Plenty of discussion too. But when the best stuff came along, we were most often in agreement pretty quickly.
Was there anything in particular that was inspiring your writing process?
My partner and I suffered a miscarriage soon after we stopped touring our debut album. That, the fallout and recovery from it are the emotional building blocks of the album, and had a profound effect on me throughout the whole period and continue to do so.
How do you feel that you have grown as a band in between albums? Was it a testing period?
Without doubt. None of us wanted it to be so long between albums, and the writing was often painfully slow. So the fact Venn exists at all is testament to Andy & Che’s enormous patience and our collective stubbornness to give in to a difficult process.
‘Whippoorwill’, the lead single from the album, is entrancing and emotive and is a standout moment. How did the track come to life?
I was writing alone in an empty house for a few days and ‘Whippoorwill’ broke the mood by emerging almost fully-formed as a song, like it needed to come out. On the rare occasions that happens, it’s simultaneously joyous and frustrating when you realise an album could be written in a week if that was a regular occurrence. Andy and Che responded immediately to the basic song and together we honed and fine-tuned it to the final version, along with Kris Harris, our co-producer.
You’ve just begun a UK and European tour. How does it feel to be back on the road after so long?
Before and after our debut album release we played live a lot, it was a big part of our lives and I always felt we were a great live band. Then there were very few shows for three years. I really missed it. Turns out some other people did too. It’s been incredible to meet people who have been waiting a long time for us to come back. We weren’t sure if they’d still be there, but they are.
You’ve been announced for Are You Listening? Festival this April, which is in conjunction with charity Reading Mencap! Are you excited? What made you want to take part?
The line-up is great – didn’t take much persuading!
Who else are you excited to see at Are You Listening?
Most especially Flamingods, I’ve not caught them yet and am excited to.
How does playing festivals compare to your own gigs? Do you prefer one to the other?
Festivals offer less or no preparation or soundcheck, so you have to throw yourself in without being too precious and be able to deal with the consequences. I quite enjoy that. Also crowds are most often really up for discovering things and, depending when you catch them, in a mood to lose themselves. Some of our best shows have been festivals where we had no idea whether anyone would come, and a lot did.
You’re very experienced performers, so what can audiences expect from a Clock Opera show?
A shudder and a jerk here and there. Maybe some crooning. My legs tend to shake when I sing.
What else is in store for Clock Opera in 2017?
Our European tour begin as the end of March, then a few more festivals, but top of our list is getting the next record underway. We’re all very keen to begin and to ensure that it comes out before 2022.
Clock Opera’s new album Venn is out now. They play Are You Listening? Festival on 22nd April.