Melbourne Punk Band CLAMM: There are countless problems within our political structure… CLAMM for me is sorta like: Everything is fucked! How can I write music about anything else?”

Original photo by Oscar Oshea. Handmade collage by B.

At the beginning of the year Melbourne “plant-based diet rockers” CLAMM released their debut album Beseech Me – a 10-track banger touching on mental health, materialism, anti-violence and tuned in self-aware social commentary. Gimmie interviewed guitarist-vocalist Jack and drummer Miles.

How did you first discover music?

JACK: My first memories music is listening to Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley in my grandfather’s old Peugeot. I was probably about six or something. I couldn’t get over tracks like ‘Pretty Woman’ when old Roy does that snarl thing… and then like ‘Hound Dog’. I remember being really moved by music like that and it made me want to dance. He had an iPod and I think they had only been out for a few years so I remember just flicking through his iPod in wonderment. That or dancing to Daddy Cool or the Eagles at Dad’s place when I would have been around the same age.

What does music mean to you?

JACK: Ah it’s everything I guess (couldn’t think of a less cliché answer). A world without music and art sounds like a horrible, horrible place. Being able to create is something of main importance to me, I don’t really need much else I reckon! I feel lucky to have it as a cathartic experience and one that provides me with an outlet and an interaction with things that are not of the (sometimes) mundane day-to-day life. Music tends to allow me to guide me through and answer questions about existence.

How did music become the vehicle for you to express yourself?

JACK: I was always really into music but couldn’t really play. When we were around maybe 17 and 18 a group of us used to try and sneak in watch Miles’ brother play in this band called Water Bear. Full psychedelic rock! We loved it, it made us all want to start a band and so we did (Dragoons). Most of us couldn’t play our instruments. Miles and our mate Rudi Saniga luckily held it down on bass and drums but Archie (of Floodlights) and I basically just started learning guitar through Dragoons. You can hear it too if you listen, some of it is shocking stuff but it is simultaneously the best thing ever. We just sort of said ‘Fuck it’ and played shows and learnt together. Something about the ‘fuck it’ of Dragoons and me simultaneously maybe getting into punkier stuff made me realise that I didn’t need to be “good” at guitar to be able to express myself and not long after came CLAMM I guess.

What brought CLAMM together?

JACK: Like I said, Miles and I played together in Dragoons. We then joined Gamjee with Miles’ brother and absolutely loved that. I think I’ve played in four bands and Miles has drummed for three of them. Miles and I are soul bound I reckon. We’ve been through two bass players and met Maisie one night at a gig we’d played with her band (The Belair Lib Bombs), she came up to us and told us she really liked it and when our bass player at the time Scotty shipped off to art school in Poland we asked Maisie if she wanted to join.

All photos by Oscar Oshea.

Can you tell us a little something about everyone in CLAMM?

MILES: Jack is “The Driving Force” like a pilot in a pod of Orcas. Maisie… she is like the training wheels on a bike of an over excited child, keeping us on the right path. And I’m the treasurer of CLAMM Industries.

At the beginning of the year you put out your debut LP Beseech Me what was the starting point for creating the album?

JACK: I was playing in a few bands when I sort of realised I was maybe trying to write heavier music that wasn’t really appropriate for the bands. So I just started writing on the side with the thought of one day possibly pursuing it. I think the first few songs were like ‘Dog’ and maybe ‘Sucker Punch’ and I just did shocking demos on my iPhone and then one day brought them to Miles and we started jamming them and possibly thought about a two piece. We got about ten songs down and were playing them live a fair bit. We had worked with Sonic God Nao Anzai before and thought it was the best move.

Themes on the record include anti-violence, materialism and mental health; what inspired you to tackle each of these important subjects?

JACK: I suppose I always found the music really intense and moving like I was trying to get some anger or something out of me. And so I think I had to be honest about it when I was writing the lyrics and sort of ask: What are you trying to get out? What are you angry about? What’s going on? I don’t know I guess the anger sort of carries across into my day- to-day when I think about our society. I think there are countless problems within our political structure and it seems like we have a government (or system) that either have the inability or lack of care to do anything about it. CLAMM for me is sorta like:  Everything is fucked! How can I write music about anything else?

Beseech Me was recorded by Nao Anzai; what attracted you to working with Nao?

MILES: Another project of ours called Dragoons had recorded with him previously and we loved the Nao experience. His approach to recording appealed to us a lot… record it live and try not to try do too many takes on one song. That formula seems to make a potent energy in the room, and we think Nao captures that energy really well.

On an Insta post you mentioned that bassist Maisie has brought positive and calm energy to CLAMM since she joined; what’s her secret to staying positive and calm, especially in a world which can get a bit chaotic?

JACK: Maisie just seems to be calm with who she is as a person. And she is a great person. For a 20-year-old its scary stuff. Her head seems to be just screwed on TIGHT and there’s nothing anybody is going to do about it. Miles is sort of the same. Maisie refused to detail any of her secrets to me or to the public but let it be known I wish I knew.

What’s the story behind Beseech Me’s art? Darcy Berry from Moth did it, right?

MILES: Correct! Our friend showed us a picture that had something to do with a poem about a walrus and a carpenter and Alice in Wonderland. Not much behind it, think we weren’t sure what to use and that had clams on it and that’s all it took to have some appeal. Darcy played around with it a bit and put his own spin on it, and it came out quite nice.

What influenced your decision to release your LP on cassette tape?

MILES: A mixture of not a lot of money and not a lot of interest from someone else to release it, out of necessity I suppose. Cheap and easy to do.

Can you tell us about your favourite show CLAMM has played to date? What made it so?

JACK: We got asked to play a Bass Drum of Death gig after our second bass player left. ‘Fuck’ Miles and I probably thought. We had a few bass players in mind, and when we went on Bass Drum of Death’s Facebook event we saw that Maisie had pressed interested. She learnt the songs in two sessions and we played the following weekend and it was sorta like, ‘fuck we are back and Maisie is sick!!!!!!!’ hard to go past that one I reckon. Our tape launch at The Tote was pretty special too I don’t think I’ll forget that one.

What’s next for CLAMM?

MILES: Tough to say at the minute with all that is going on of course, but we have recorded and are now in the midst of mixing a new album. Other than that, CLAMM spends there days sitting at home and pondering what could have been… we had some very cool gigs lined up that have been postponed, so hopefully they happen sometime in the future. CLAMM will look after each other and see everyone on the other side at the many gigs to come, sooner rather than later we hope!

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