“SONG FOR EWE”
with ADE BLACKBURN of CLINIC
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today, it’s the singer, guitarist and spiritual leader of a band that like The Fall or Thee Oh Sees might be the only band you need given their all-encompassing scope and ability to change but forever be unrecognisably the same. From Liverpool and enthralled with Roky Erickson, Can, the Shangri-La’s and Crime, the San Franciscan punk band who dressed as cops, or obvs The Residents who wore eyes for heads – Clinic also have a penchant for dressing up (mostly as surgeons, sometimes as Hawaiians) to keep their mysterious anonymity. I first met the band through my old flat mate whose brother Carl was the drummer, when they were originally called Pure Morning.
Peel had played them and I had just watched them support The Fall “Cerebral Caustic” era with Brix back in the band, when I interviewed Pure Morning for the original Velvet Sheep fanzine. The shadowy men from a shadowy planet who as Clinic have released a couple of Hutchings/VS record collection classics – “Visitations” and “Internal Wrangler” and the unforgettable “IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth”, none come more unassuming, clever, musically literate or shadowy than the la called Ade Blackburn! Welcome back to Velvet Sheep!
Rather than spout on about how great Clinic are (you know that most likely), I thought it would be pertinent, ahead of revealing Ade’s “song for ewe”, to re-print as a curio the original Velvet Sheep circa 96 issue 20 interview with Pure Morning, including the cringe inducing early 20 something ravings of my intro. Here we go:
“I’d just been out shopping when I returned laden to the house after braving the bitter, balls off a brass monkey weather, my nose about to snap off and an icicle for a penis, went into my lounge and found this band sitting there watching Napoli vs Juventus on the tele, a posse who had taken over the futon and chain smoked their fingers to the bone. It was Pure Morning, the Liverpool four piece on their way to do an acoustic set on RTM Independent Radio Station, who had popped round for a cuppa, the odd tinny, the United-City gam, a packet of Skips and a listen to the new Elevate LP. Then they put on the Panasonic LP in my flatmate’s room whereby they all gazed agog, and the man they call Ade (enigmatic and dimunitive singer-songwriter) had to leave to go to the loo, whilst for all the others it was too late. Serious frequency overdrive – BBC test signal blowout.
Pure Morning first put out records through their mate’s homegrown, fertiliser in the backyard Amulet Records, and it was through the majestically macabre “Sick Profit” 7″ that carries the foreboding weight of the Swans together with tupperware precision drumming and a vocal style somewhere between Pavement’s Steve Malkmus and The Grifters and a guitar intonation along the lines of Thingking Fellers union 282 – maybe a dose of Built To Spill if they suddenly became the children of Beelzebub. After a personal Peelie phonecall and two sessions on said wireless guru’s show, Pure Morning got signed up to Radar, the label that had originally housed Elvis Costello’s where they’ve erupted 2 great singles “All The Guests Smile So Sweetly” which is a real standout but suffered from an inadequate production (recorded much earlier in the DIY budget days_ which got them the lo-fi tag they’re so desperate to shake, and “Scum” which breaks in with a feedback yelp Sonic Youth would be proud of belching. After recent support slots with The Fall, Pure Morning – the la’s done good – Ade (vox/gtr), Brian (bs), Hartley (gtr) and Carl (drms) spoke to me with their debut LP “2” Buddha” imminent…
Brian: Shall we turn this down (the TV)?
Nick: Yeh better had or else i’ll be writing down the commentary to Napoli vs Juventus…In the NME On section you did, everyone’s looking towards Carl in the picture and he’s got a full pint and it looks like he’s done all the talking and actually there’s nothing written about what Carl said…did you actually say anything Carl?
Carl: No I didn’t.
Nick: So what was going on with the drink?
Car: It was just a staged photograph?
Nick: How was the tour with The Fall?
Ade: Yeah it was a good – shame it was only 3 gigs. It was the best gig we’ve ever done at the Astoria. Mark E Smith didn’t actually say anything to us until the Astoria where he let us drink his beer, said he liked us…
Nick: You know “All The Guests” – were you happy on the production on that, because live it comes over really powerfully and on the single it was lower?
Ade: That was produced before we got onto Radar and we used that recording which was done on a tight budget, but since then we’ve redone it with a 24 track. That was the obvious single and if we released it now in its new version it’d probably do better.
Nick: That was on the Camden Crawl CD – is that the same version as the single?
Ade: Yeh, I mean it was a crap sound but it was still one of the best tracks on the album?
Nick: How was the Camden Crawl gig? Who’d you play with?
Carl: We played with Long Fin Killie and Spare Snare. We went down alright.
Nick: Do you think that was the lo-fi line-up?
Carl: We’re trying to get away from that lo-fi. Long Fin Killie weren’t that lo-fi but Spare Snare were just like Pavement.
Nick: Do you think you’ve been influenced by Pavement at all?
Ade: No. I think a couple of years ago when we first started and we were first into them, but often we find people like to lump us in with their sound as lazy journalism. I don’t really like the new stuff – i just listen to “Slanted & Enchanted” and “Westing”, harder stuff with a bit more edge.
Nick: It’s a bit more country-fied now…
Ade: It’s a bit more simple..
Nick: But then they got accused of ripping off The Fall anyway..
Ade: Yeah and of course they’re English so it’s all one big mish-mash.
Nick: Is that right you got signed to Radar on John Peel’s recommendation?
Ade: They said to us they signed us because they’d bought a copy of the “Sick Profit” single because they liked the cover and they’d heard the sessions we’d done on Peel, but they preferred the stuff we’d done on the b-sides.
Nick: How did the session come about?
Ade: Well to start with we sent Peel some stuff – we got the address off Elevate – John Peel’s address and he played it and we got a written request. The second time he phoned up around the time of our second single – basically Peelie phoned up and said “Any chance of a session?” cause I’d sent him a tape and a nice letter saying we’d got some more songs if he’d like to hear them.
Nick: Have you ever met him?
Ade: Met him once in Manchester. He was DJing at the Hacienda.
Nick: The In The City thing – did you got to that at all?
Carl: We went, we didn’t play – just informally like – to “socialise” with music people.
Nick: What was that like?
Nick: Do you hate that side of things?
Carl: Yeh, it always goes pretty badly – it’s all loads of A&R people – we ended up going down the pub and getting really pissed anyway and went back to see the band at the end.
Nick: Do you think these showcase things are contrived?
Ade: Yeah ‘specially the In The City one…
Brian: I s’pose it was good when we actually did it, cos we were excited and it was just everything around us…
Ade: It’s just like an Indie New Faces.
Nick: You know the cover to “Sick Profit” – you’ve carried on that style with each of the sleeves – is that a Pure Morning motif?
Ade: It was Carl and Harltey’s…
Carl: We’re not getting into that pattern of collage cover things, next one’s gonna be a photo, so we are trying to get away from that – we don’t wanna get labelled as an arty cover band. It shouldn’t be our badge, our motif.
Nick: Is that right – the picture inside of “Scum” is you Carl and Brian in a college band?
Carl: In school – we were like school friends and we had this band and we did this one gig – and when we finished we split up. Mind you, we did do “The Comeback Gig”.
Nick: How’d you link up with Ade and Hartley?
Brian: When we left school, he went to one college and I went to another one. I met these two, they’d just formed a band and they had a showcase gig and asked me to play bass guitar and then the drummer got kicked out, so he said, so we got stuck for a drummer..
Carl: Must have been really stuck..
Nick: In the NME On piece again, it said Carl’s drumming was cardboard or Tupperware drumming..
(Brian laughs his head off. We pick it up again and continue)..was that you Brian dropped him in it?
Brian: That was in the heat of boozing.
Nick: What do you think of the London venues in comparison to those in Liverpool?
Ade: I think it’s all the big time in Liverpool. It’s a lot cooler in London – people are more laid back.
Carl: There are more people who’d come and see punk gigs on the off-chance. We seemed to have gone down better here, people will come along and actually listen…
Brian: There’s not the snobbery that’s made out down here..
Ade: We’ve actually gone down pretty well generally..
Nick: Have you ever had anything chucked at you?
Ade: Abuse…Knickers (laughs ironically).
Nick: How was the Laurel Tree gig, cos I’m told that you Carl felt really flu-infested afterwards.
Carl: Yeah, cause there’s no ventilation in there so it was really hot and there were hardly any people there so it was a bit of a downer, cos we’d just done the NME On piece so we came straight from the pub so we were really pissed.
Nick: Richard and Judy are moving from Liverpool down to London, are you glad to see the back of em? (a unanimous yeah) Was that a bad advert for Liverpool?
Ade: They’re based in the Albert Dock – that’s completely separate from all the shops, no one ever goes to the Albert Dock from Liverpool – it’s only really for tourists.
Nick: Have you ever been tempted to stand there at the window and wave at Richard & Judy so you get on TV?
Brian: I’d stand there and do this (makes the wanker sign).”
Without further ado (thanks for bearing with me), it’s over to Ade, circa 2016…
“My pick is It’s all Meat ‘Sunday Love’. It’s a perfect song for a summer morning and makes you forget how shit things are. It’s that good.”