Clowns

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Currently spreading the punk rock disease through Europe and the United Kingdom ahead of the May 12 release of their third LP “Lucid Again”, Melbourne’s Clowns have endured a troubled start to their campaign, almost having to abort mission before it began when new bass player Hanny J had her passport destroyed in Cyclone Debbie and didn’t receive her new one until literally the day of the flight.

“Yes, my stress levels nearly went off the radar,” laughed drummer Jake Laderman. “Luckily that whole situation got resolved in time.”

From there, the band successfully negotiated shows in Germany and the Netherlands before being shut down in uncompromising fashion early on in the French leg of the tour.

“It was a pretty small little dingy place,” Laderman confirmed, “and I think the neighbours… I don’t even know how many shows they actually have here but I think the neighbours complained pretty quickly. We were only a few songs into the set (laughs) and we got told to stop playing so we were like, ‘Okay’. Our bass player has some solo stuff so she came on and nailed it without further incident. I think they may have threatened to call the cops but I don’t think they actually did. It would have been great getting arrested during a show in France! (laughs)”

Aside from that – but remembering the tour is only in its first week at this point – things have settled somewhat, with Laderman saying the response has otherwise been fantastic.

“It’s going great,” he enthused. “We’re about four or five shows in and every show has been surprisingly really, really great – a much better reaction than previous tours with bigger crowds and better response in general. It’s just been a great time. We’ve been trying a few beers and different wines and driving across beautiful landscapes which have been nice.”

Although he stops short of predicting a trouble free remainder of the tour.

“I doubt it,” Laderman laughed. “I don’t think anything ever goes that smoothly for us. We always expect the worst.”
With their third album, “Lucid Again”, in the bag and ready for release, Laderman says the band are excited about unleashing their monster on their fans but notes that it isn’t what you would call a typical Clowns album.
“It’s nine songs long,” he offered, “and it’s a bit of a diverse journey through different genres and different guitar effects and stuff like that. It’s a record that sounds completely different to our previous records and it’s one that we’re super, super proud of so I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”

“I think that we knew that we wanted this record to be different,” he continued, “and I honestly think that every record we ever do will be slightly different in some way because I guess we’re all firm believers in not releasing the same record over and over because it just gets boring.”

Opening up with “Lucid Again”, an epic six-minute slow-burning song that starts stripped back and gathers momentum and substance as it progresses, Laderman says the song sets the tone for the newer direction of the album and is meant to be a glimpse into the remaining eight tracks.

“I think our thought process behind putting that song first is probably that it is so different to anything we’ve ever done and it really is a dynamic song. It starts really quiet and I think we’re almost trying to get a mood and a feeling with that song. I think for people who haven’t heard the record yet will probably be surprised with that first track.”

Aside from the title track, album closer “Not Coping” clocks in at nine minutes, far surpassing the length of anything in Clowns back catalogue. Clowns are known for short, catchy tunes, but Laderman notes that this extra length wasn’t something which was planned.

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“I don’t think it was overly intentional,” he affirmed. “I think we knew that we didn’t want to put too many short songs on there but in terms of the other songs being longer I don’ think it was a conscious thing, I think it’s just the way they came out but it’s good. Nine songs on this record in comparison to our previous record with fourteen is a change for us but it’s good.”

Clowns have also recently welcomed two new members into the family, with Hanny joining the fold on bass and Will Robinson becoming the bands’ second guitarist, with Laderman almost gushing in his appraisal of the pair.

“They are the loveliest people in the world,” he proclaimed, “and it’s… I guess we always knew we wanted to be a five-piece. It’s something we’ve talked about for years so we thought with a new record it was a good time to do that. With Hanny joining the band and playing bass, she adds an amazing dynamic in the actual tone. We’ve used a lot of vocal harmonies on this record and that’s something that we’ve never done before. She’s got such a strong, powerful voice and it really compliments Stevie’s voice, in my opinion. That was a big part of adding Hanny to the band for me. I have never been more content with a bunch of people that I play in a band with. We’re all best friends, which is good.”

Having an extra guitarist on stage also adds another dimension to the band’s live performance, which is something Laderman admits has had a huge effect on their sound.

“It makes it very loud!” he laughed. “We have two dual SG’s and they’re loud as fuck. It also makes… I think with all of the records, we’ve written two guitar parts for them so it allows us to play the songs properly, I guess.”

Through relentless touring Clowns have rapidly built their fan base to the point of becoming one of the most sought-after punk bands in the country, but Laderman says that the extra fame and attention hasn’t had a major impact on the members and their attitudes towards music.

“I think that naturally we put pressure on ourselves to be just as good as we can be but I don’t think the fact that more people like our band now makes me feel any more pressure,” he mused. “Touring and playing isn’t any added stress, it’s still as fun as it’s always been, really.”

One thing that comes with recognition is increased attention, and late last year, Clowns the band got unwittingly caught up in the clown craze that swept the world when people dressed up as clowns and terrorized the community.
“Oh, that was really funny,” Laderman laughed almost reluctantly. “It was sort of like a really strange occurrence that happened to tie-in with our band. It was almost like free publicity, which is really stupid. All we had to do was cop literally about one thousand plus Facebook messages from people all over the world saying that we were killer clowns. There was so much abuse, but it was really funny.”

The abuse turned nasty at one stage, with Laderman admitting the band even received death threats.

“Multiple,” he confirmed. “I think there were multiple times where people would message our page saying, ‘I can’t believe you chased my sister’ or something like that and we would reply with: ‘You do realize we’re just a band from Australia!’ It was ridiculous. I think we still get messages pretty much most days (laughs) but I just ignore them. I think the clown craze is still happening, it’s just died down a bit. I guess the whole thing was a big laugh for us.”

Written by Kris Peters

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Written by Carl Neumann

Carl is the owner and the director of HEAVY Magazine. Carl is a music journalist and photographer for HEAVY, Rolling Stone, scenestr, Planet Rock and Kerrang!

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