It almost sounds like a joke, “An English singer fronts an Irish band” … but no joke — the lads in The Clockworks have it all figured out and are the perfect blend of humor and talent.
Vocalist/guitarist James McGregor and band mates guitarist/backing vocalist Seán Connelly, drummer Damian Greaney and bassist Diarmuid Prendergast are a solid, cohesive unit that present a modern look at life’s everyday problems through song.
The Galway, Ireland-based band have storytelling down to an art, painting visual pictures with the perfect choice of words.
“Girls Like You” is a cautionary tale of a night out and a wander home with a girl met at a club … with an interesting conclusion. It shifts tempo throughout as James’ vocals wind through the tune. Prepare to chuckle at the end.
“Mazda” has a great tick-tocky guitar and drum line as it puts you alongside the couple in the car, watching a relationship dissolve.
The Clockworks is a band I’ve been wanting to chat with for some time now, so it was great to finally have that opportunity the other day. All four band members were sharing two phones between them, although James and Seán texted me the answers to my long list of questions.
Here is the conversation we had as they sat in a pub having a meal the other night:
So tell me about The Clockworks … When and how did you get started?
James: Seán and I started with playing a few Damien Rice covers a couple of years ago, next thing there’s four of us with electric guitars and a drum kit bashing out our own Indie songs.
And they are really cool, cerebral songs! Is songwriting a group deal?
Seán: The way it usually works is James will write the lyrics and general layout of the song, and ideally we’ll all get into a rehearsal room and work out the music together. Otherwise, we just bang it out in one of our bedrooms … No euphemism intended!
I really love James’ first person observations lyrically … Where do you find inspiration when writing?
James: Fanks, Rebecca, appreciate that. The songs are usually just from personal experience or at least from friends or people I see around the place. I think that’s the best way to do things anyway.
Do any friends ever recognize themselves in your songs?
Seán: One or two have, but a lot of our songs are about unsavoury characters … Not the kinds we’d knock about with.
You do a good job of capturing color in the tunes … Reminds me a bit of Squeeze and The Smiths … Are they influences? And who are you influences by?
James: Yeah, definitely. Both of them are massive influences. In terms of lyrics it’s those two, John Cooper Clarke, The Streets, Libertines and Alex Turner … they’re all great lyricists.
Seán: We all share the same influences, for the most part; Obviously Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines, The Smiths … Not as obviously — Kendrick Lamar, Girl Band, SLAVES, Radiohead …
So, with an English singer in an Irish band, where do you call home mostly, and where is your biggest audience… Or is it evenly divided?
Seán: Very good question … It’s a weird one.
Thanks! Explain …
Seán: Home is Galway in Ireland. Heart is London. Audience wise, the scales are fairly even. If not slightly tipping towards London these days … which is class!
Did you play many festivals this summer?
Seán: We did alright, considering we released our first song “Girls Like You” in June this year … right at the start of festival season! We played a couple in Galway, Dublin and Cork. We’re looking forward to playing even more next summer, hopefully a few in the UK as well.
Absolutely — 2017 could be a big year for you. You’ve got two singles, “Girls” and now the fun “Mazda,” are you planning an album or EP at some point?
James: We’re not gonna think about doing an album for a while anyway. albums are your big stamp on the world and I think people are way too quick to put them out these days. We’ll definitely have a lot more songs coming over the next few months though.
Seán: By the way, I feel like we should mention, we are all inputting to these messages, but because we’re in the UK at the moment we’ve only got one working phone between us … and one half-working phone.
Oh no! No worries, I’ll be sure the story reflects that … So you are around London at the moment? What are you doing between shows?
Seán: We are! We are currently sitting in a pub in Colindale, London, eating burgers and drinking pints. Actually, we are going to see an Irish band play in town tonight. Other than that we just try to be as productive as possible while we are here … flogging CDs and meeting as many important people as we can!
Update: officially down to one phone!
That’s exactly how you do it! Oh no … one phone! It calls for tag-teaming!
Seán: We’re very good at that.
I’ve listened to the various demo tunes you have up — “Those Drunken Nights and Pointless Fights,” “Mr Tight T Shirts,” “What He Wants” … Those all get played regularly? What does your set look like?
Seán: Ah yes. Ye olde classics. We play all of those tunes live, and a bunch of new ones too. Our sets are short and sweet. It keeps people engaged!
Do you get the fans involved? Fans seem a bit more reserved over there than they are here in the US … How do you keep them entertained?
James: We hire fire-breathing salsa dancers for every gig. It’s a hefty but necessary cost …
Seán: But seriously, people are quite reserved yeah, but we’ve never been a show band. We try to entertain people with the songs and the lyrics, not with gimmicks.
Good musicianship always is a bit to see. I’ll take quality over theatrics any day!
Seán: That’s what we’re about!
James: That’s what we’re all about.
Seán: All about that quality.
Will we be seeing a video for “Mazda”?
Seán: Nothing has been made but it’s definitely on the cards!
I’d love to see it played out, of course, in the backseat of a Mazda …
James: That could be arranged … Keep your eye on the YouTube channel.
Yes!!! So, what did I miss? Anything else your like to talk about?
Seán: If you like the sound of our music, check us up on Spotify. We will have more tunes soon! If you simply like the look of us, there’s plenty more pics where that came from on our Facebook …
James: That’s our marketing strategy, haha!
You can find more about The Clockworks at their website, http://theclockworksband.com/, on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/theclockworksband, on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgVFJwj-hZwPT-V0PXO61jw on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theclockdoesntwork/, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/theclockworksband/ and on Twitter at @daclockworks.