In Conversation with… Clean Cut Kid
As Clean Cut Kid embark on their first ever headline tour, The Mic’s Ceryn Morris caught up with Evelyn Halls ahead of their sold out Bodega show.
The past year has been pretty exhilarating for the band from getting signed after their second ever gig last spring, to playing 32 festivals this summer and now their first ever headline sold out tour. They continue to throw all of their energy and spirit in to their performances whilst teasing their fans with new singles ahead of the release of their debut album in the New Year.
The Liverpool based quartet formed 2 – 2 ½ years ago and are made up of Mike and Evelyn Halls, Saul Godman and Ross Higginson. Despite all attending the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts their paths didn’t cross until much later following a mutual friend setting up Mike and Evelyn on their first date. The now married couple began playing music together the following day and soon Saul and Ross joined resulting in the formation of the band. It is true their chemistry is captivating from their smooth harmonies, the little glances back and forth, and Mike dedicating songs to her, such as the track ‘Evelyn’, which he jokingly informed the crowd was written following a complaint made by Evelyn that all of his songs were written about break-ups with other women. In relation to how the relationship might effect the band’s dynamic Evelyn simply answers, ‘we’ve always had [music] in our lives, we’ve always been musicians who make music together whilst also being a couple, it’s our normal life dynamic. And when we’re on tour it’s the exact same cause we always do band stuff. The boys are our best mates, and we feel extremely lucky that we can do this all together.’
Despite their infectious indie pop rock sound Mike’s inspirations lie in folk and with classic singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. According to Evelyn he likes the simplicity of their lyrics as ‘he doesn’t like it when you have to dismantle a song’ and wishes to make the meanings of his songs clear but without having to ‘sell his soul’. He begins his song writing on the guitar then experiments further with the arranging resulting in upbeat infectious songs such as ‘Make Believe’ and ‘Vitamin C’. Evelyn reiterated this by describing how the single ‘We Used to Be in Love’ went from being relatively unknown by the festival crowds at the beginning of the summer following it’s release to 2000 people echoing the lyrics back to them by the end of the season. Song-writing supposedly comes naturally to Mike and has written a mighty sum of 180 songs, making the task of choosing which to go on the album and which to be released as singles almost impossible for the band. However, it also means they have a potential list for the second album already in their heads.
In relation to their upcoming support tour with the Courteeners, I asked whether the prospect of these numerous arena dates was daunting for them, to which Evelyn responded; ‘We’ve done small venues and doing them is a lot of fun, but I think I actually find them more nerve wracking than the bigger shows. You don’t have the mental space to deal with how many people are in the crowd with the big shows so you just sort of go ‘oh there’s a lot of people here, let’s just have a laugh on stage.’ Whereas the smaller venues like [the Bodega] you can see everyone’s reactions.’ However the band looked fearless as the crowd beamed back at them whilst Saul entertained the crowd with his encouraging mouthing of lyrics; continuous jumping up and down; and high fives with the members of the front row, and Mike’s musing’s and anecdotes between songs; jokes with a woman wearing a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt; and slight reddening (under his mighty beard) as the crowd shouted requests across the room.
Following this I posed the question of what would be the band’s dream gig; a ‘mad all day festival thing at Wembley where Bruce Springsteen headlined, then like Arcade Fire and then us, and some mad like super group formed of all our favourite bands and we just get to run on the stage and play with the band. We’d also love to headline the Pyramid stage at Glasto because that’s just the ultimate. But every gig we do is exciting, even if it’s a small one, ‘cause it’s just so surreal that we get to do this.’ This answer perfectly reflects the band’s modesty and their ambitions of achieving these dreams. This unassuming four piece, named after a Bob Dylan song (sadly not to some fans belief as an ironic nod to the beards and tattoos) are definitely capable of achieving this and are certainly a band to keep an eye out for in the years to come.
Catch Clean Cut Kid support the Courteeners at Rock City on the 22nd of November, and the debut album in the New Year.