An Interview with Clean Cut Kid
Ahead of their sold out show at Liverpool’s Arts Club, we caught up with indie-pop ones to watch Clean Cut Kid. Here’s my chat with the band’s rhythm section, Saul and Ross, who themselves confess to being ‘the two monkeys’ of the Liverpool quartet. We’re sitting on the steps inside the venue itself, it’s a bit chilly, and Saul is admiring my Harry Potter tote bag.
Cecily for Ellipsis: So how’s the tour been so far?
Ross CCK: It’s been amazing
Saul CCK: Sold out every night
Ross CCK: Yeah really fun
C: Are you excited for tonight?
R: Can’t wait
S: He’s nervous
R: Yep I’m nervous, as soon as I arrived at the venue I was like ‘Argh I’m nervous.’ The whole morning I was dead excited, well, I’m still dead excited but now I’m nervous and dead excited. It’ll be really fun.
C: You recently released the video for your new single ‘Make Believe’. Where did the idea for that video come from?
S: Mike had the idea and it’s based on the lyrics really. It was originally going to be him and Evelyn lying in bed together but they’re not mad keen to act because we’re musicians not actors so they gave us the option of a few people, like ‘Who do you like the look of to be lying in the bed?’ Yeah, that’s where the idea came from.
R: I think he wanted that Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind kind of vibe where it’s just kind of a mad, dreamy sequence. That’s the inspiration I think.
C: Yeah I love it
R: He’s really into that idea as well so it sort of helps.
C: So where do you get your inspiration from in a more general sense?
R: Kind of everything because there’s lots of different aspects. Obviously, Mike’s a songwriter and Clean Cut Kid is his vision. For song writing, inspiration comes from Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and people like that. But then there’s also the production side of it, so like the new Bon Iver record is an amazing example of ‘wow’. So, we’ll take inspiration from that for sounds, for example, and then Prince, we’ll take in something from that. All sorts really.
S: And then lyrically it’s mostly based on break ups.
R: Yeah Mike likes writing lyrics that can be translated with everyone, so they’re, like, universally adaptable. He loves those kinds of songwriters. And the sounds – big fuzzy guitars and harsh raw textures – they’re juxtaposed with those lyrics. What’s lyrically a sad song can then become really uplifting musically.
R: Like listening to the music like ‘wow this is amazing’ but simultaneously having that thought of ‘whoa it’s actually quite sad.’
C: Tonight’s somewhat of a home show for you, but are there any Liverpool venues you haven’t played but would really like to?
S: There’s loads of really good new venues around the Baltic Triangle. I haven’t been to all of them, but I think we must have played all the main ones in Liverpool.
S: We’re going to the Echo Arena soon so that’s one we haven’t played yet and we’re all dead excited about that. We’ve just found out it’s sold out.
C: Wow, is it?
S: Yeah! How many tickets did they say is that?
R: Eleven thousand
S: Eleven thousand, yeah.
C: You can get quite a few in there! How would you describe Clean Cut Kid’s sound to someone who’s never heard any of your music before?
R: It’s so hard to sum it up. I’d say, folk-pop writing with I don’t know. What would you say?
S: Well I wouldn’t. If I had to describe it to somebody, I just wouldn’t. They’d have to make me.
R: If you were going to be dropped into a cauldron of fire though?
S: Ask me the question again; I feel like there must be a loophole I can get out of it with.
C: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard your music?
S: I’d just say ‘it’s decent, you know.’
C: Yeah, like ‘Listen to it’ basically?
S: Yeah! Easy enough if you just internet these days.
C: And if you could swap with another member of the band for a day, who would you swap with and why?
S: Ross because I could hear what my snoring’s like at night
R: And Saul so I could get a good night’s sleep!
S: Yeah because we share a room on tour.
R: Saul’s snoring has started to vibrate my bed and wake me up through vibrations so I’d swap with him.
C: So what does the rest of 2016 have in store for Clean Cut Kid?
R: Well we’re going on tour with the Courteeners, and then we’ll be finishing up the album. Just little bits need doing, and then getting that ticked off.
S: We’re going to Oxford, and then we’re going to London for a week to do some recording. And Ross and I have got two or three days off. Mike’s got one day off, when we’re going to do some radio stuff. And then we’re on tour for 11 days with the Courteeners.
R: And then we’re back in the studio
S: Yeah we’re back in the studio in London until the 21st December.
C: You’re pretty busy then!
R: Yeah pretty busy!
C: What’s your favourite thing about Liverpool’s music scene?
R: The people
S: Yeah, yeah everyone knows each other and everyone’s on a good vibe to help each other .
R: Everyone’s positive and accepting, and we always spur each other on.
C: Sounds super supportive?
R: Yeah yeah it’s nice
C: And finally, if you were a type of pudding, what would you be and why?
R: You’d be a spotted dick wouldn’t you?
S: HA, and why?
R: No no, I don’t know
S: I’d be a summer pudding because it’s fruity and vegan
R: I think I’d be New York cheesecake because… I like New York…and it’s got a crusty base
S: What would you be?
C: I’d be a chocolate gateau because sometimes you put maltesers in them, and I really like maltesers
S: Oooh yeah that’s a good one! Can you do that thing where you blow them with the straw?
C: I’ve never actually tried!
S: Go get me a bag of maltesers and I’ll try.