Interview: Clean Cut Kid

Hailing from Liverpool, Mike & Evelyn Halls, Ross Higginson and Saul Godman together make up Clean Cut Kid, an indie pop band that writes songs that are as upbeat as they are emotional. Recently they’ve been making a name for themselves supporting The Kooks on tour, so Qmunicate writer Isabelle Chénier sat down with drummer Ross before their Glasgow show.

How did you come up with the name Clean Cut Kid?

That was Mike – he’s the main songwriter; he does everything. We were originally an acoustic/folk kind of band and he was making it more electric. He looked at Bob Dylan and on one of his albums there was a track called ‘Clean Cut Kid’, so it kind of made sense.

Your album Felt is just coming out. How excited are you for this first album after two years of hard work? Why Felt?

We are very excited! It’s like a concept album for a breakup. It’s about a couple – they get into a relationship that falls apart and then by the end of the album they both meet someone new. So we wanted a word to sum it all up, to describe the whole album. We thought that ‘Felt’ was quite a good one, and it’s the title track.

Many of your songs talk about heartbreak. What do you find so inspiring about those?

It’s about Mike’s relationships. A lot of the songs are five or seven years old, so they’re from a while back. He dealt with a lot of emotions (laugh).

What are you currently listening to?

Lately it’s been Bon Iver’s album, it’s always playing. Also Tame Impala’s album that came out in 2015 – it’s incredible. And Arcade Fire with The Suburbs. I lost myself to that album a year ago and it was all I listened to on repeat. It’s the kind of album that’s brilliant from start to end.

You played at Glastonbury festival last year. How was it to be a part of such a big event with such influential artists?

It was incredible! It was really surreal. We had a really great slot as well since we were on the Thursday so we were one of the first bands people were coming to watch. It was like 5,000 people pouring out of the tents, just madness! We had a gig each day so it kept us busy. It was awesome.

Any crazy stories that you’re allowed to share with the magazine?

We’re not a crazy kind of a band but Saul is probably the craziest… He had a few drinks at Glastonbury and went a bit mad because he hadn’t been drunk for ten years prior to the festival. He ended up doing a stage invasion for Rat Boy and actually went home the next day because he was too hungover. But that’s about how crazy it got for us.

What is it like to support The Kooks on tour?

It’s been amazing, they are such nice guys and made us feel so welcome. Thank you Kooks! (laugh).

After this tour, you’re headlining your own. What are your expectations?

For people to dance, smile and have a good time. We just want people to come and see our music and hopefully celebrate the album with us. We love gigging, it just feels nice for people come by and watch us play.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to it?

I would say it’s like folk-writing but they’re pop songs… We always label ourselves fuzz-pop but that doesn’t really do it justice; it’s hard to sum up because we’re definitely a rock band live as well… So I guess I could compare it to Fleetwood Mac in that respect.

What do you mean by fuzz-pop?

Mike uses a lot of fuzz on his guitar, it’s a fuzz guitar thing.

Yeah, your music makes me feel fuzzy inside.

There you go, that’s it! We want to make you feel emotional but we also make you wanna dance. Mike uses lyrics that are sad but the music is very bold.

I really enjoyed the video for ‘Make Believe’ where a couple is crawling in the bed while the band is playing in this infinite bed as well. Who came up with that idea?

A lot of the time Mike comes up with the video ideas. Mike and James Slater, the director, put forward the idea of a couple on the verge of a breakup in bed together pretending they are fine for the last five minutes before everything falls apart.

What was it like playing instruments for those scenes?

It was tough because there were people all around the bed with wind machines while we were trying to keep our balance and still somehow look cool as well.

Because you’re touring a lot, what do you watch on Netflix?

‘The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime History’. We’re also currently listening to a serial podcast about a murder. So everything ‘murdery’! And Fargo.

What song are you most excited to play live?                

‘Vitamin C’, everyone goes nuts for that one. ‘Evelyn’ is always a fun one too – it’s not been released on the album, but it’s like a punky upbeat kind of song that’s just fun to play live.

Clean Cut Kid will be back in Glasgow for a gig at King Tuts on May 29th.

[Isabelle Chénier (photo by Caitlin Adams)]


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