Clean Cut Kid seem to have arrived almost perfectly formed.
The band are blessed with all manner of infectious, ear-worm melodies, allied to a poetic lyrical sense that dwells upon the autobiographical and flirts with the melancholic.
New track 'Jean' is a soaring, quietly moving return, while a recent headline slot at London's Community Festival was received rapturously by fans.
Clash tracked down Clean Cut Kid, and invited them to talk Influences.
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There are very few artists who simultaneously fuse bold and challenging arrangements, with a totally peerless sense of melody and harmony. Add to that the fact that she is without doubt one of most original guitarists of the past 30 years; and you wind up with something completely unique. The way she takes the most raucous guitar tones, sounds that would be almost unusable to most guitarists; and tames them into something expressive and beautiful. That alone has inspired the way Mike approaches guitars in Clean Cut Kid.
St. Vincent shouldn't make sense on first listen, but you'll be hooked by the third! That's how we want people to receive Clean Cut Kid: oh, and she looks cool as fuck, too!
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The way we see it, there's not much a new artist can do in studio that wasn't already done by Peter Gabriel in 80's and 90's. If you think your drums are gated and glitchy, if you thing you're guitar sound is offensive, if you think your vocal is epic... think again! When we record, the 'space' that the sounds sit in is our biggest consideration. Getting the balance right of wet and dry, room and slap, spring and plate: that's our biggest battle.
Peter Gabriel smashed this out of the park. You have epic soaring guitars, snappy gated-reverb drums and bone dry double tracked vocal: all in the same track! We'd say if you were going to make your first foray into Peter Gabriel start with 'SO', work your way through to 'New Blood': and then go back to the beginning and listen from '77 to '86.
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It's almost a crime to squeeze Bowie into 100 words. He made fully credible records of pop, soul, rock n roll, funk and electro: but when you hear a bar of any song its instantly 'Bowie'. People work art into their music to win the fashion crowd, or as an excuse to sell you some kind of extra dimension of mystique. With Bowie it was different. It was like he had to create Ziggy Stardust purely as a way to keep the powerful art he was oozing away from his normal life.
'Young Americans' is one of the most inspiring records of all time. The way he syncopates the lyrics over the music in that record feels like an turning point for pop music. Everyone from HAIM to Madonna to Prince to Michael Jackson took ideas from that record... probably without even knowing it.
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What we love about Talking Heads is their 'use' of limitations. With David Byrne you have a singer who hardly sustains notes, and as a result has a really unique way of shaping out melodies. I think his voice and his delivery informs the whole writing of the songs. The other element that jumps out of Talking heads for us is the bass. Tina Weymouth has that thing that Sting has with bass, where it always seems to sit right on the front end of the beat.
This is something we're OBSESSED with in Clean Cut Kid: and also luckily something which Saul (our bassist) seems to just have naturally engrained. The further ahead you can sit the bass, the lazier you can make the drums and guitar feel.
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'The Suburbs' literally changed the way Mike approaches song writing. It takes the concept album to new levels. Somehow they took the subject of growing apart from your friends culturally, and picked apart each individual detail in the most descriptive and emotive way imaginable. You see tiny weeny subjects like waiting for a pen pal's letter, or taking a bike ride to an old haunt: and they're exploded into the most amazingly vivid and almost filmic imagery.
If you heard that record, and didn't instantly feel like it was written about some aspect of your own personal childhood, then you missed the point altogether!
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