Clean Cut Kid on their rise to fame, rapid songwriting and Liverpool’s music scene

Mic President, Luke Matthews managed to catch up with lively Liverpool 4-piece Clean Cut Kid ahead of their supporting slot on Fickle Friends tour.  In just 20 short minutes, we learn how the thriving music scene in hometown Liverpool significantly helps boost their popularity around the UK, whilst also bagging Live Lounge slots and American festivals along the way.

If you’d like to briefly tell us who you are and a ‘tweet-length’ bio of Clean Cut Kid? Evelyn:  Oooooh, a tweet-length bio! Mike: Erm, they call us … fuzzy pop ballads washed in Mersey water. E:  Yeah, so we’re Evelyn, Mike, Ross and Saul.

So, I understand you two are married. Ross:  Yep, me and Saul haha.

Who wears the trousers in the relationship? Where do you other two fit into the ‘Halls’ family? Annoying kids, respectable brother-in-laws or creepy uncles? M:  Definitely two annoying kids. E:  Yes, definitely! R:  Two well behaved kids! E:  They are quite well behaved actually.

‘Pick Me Up’ has just been released. Tell us a bit about that? M:  Its kinda like ‘Vitamin C’ 2.0 really. ‘Vitamin C’ was written as a note to Evelyn. When we were going in to records 2 years ago, she was having a little bit of a rough patch and that’s why ‘Vitamin C’ came about. Then ‘Pick Me Up’ happened when, what’s happened now is we’re in a band together and everything’s like crazy and Ev’s like the voice of a reason – it’s kind of a B-side to ‘Vitamin C’ really.

How long has the track been in the pipelines? E:  ‘Pick Me Up’? Oh my god, it didn’t even exist like seven weeks ago.

Seriously!? M:  Yeah, it was written and demo’d in like 2 days we had off from touring, then it was recorded and mixed in less than a week before the video was made. It’s all been proper fast.

If you had to snog, marry and avoid ‘Pick Me Up’, ‘Runaway’ and ‘Vitamin C’, what would you choose? E:  Ooooooh. M:  I like these questions! Saul:  I do! M:  Snog ‘Pick Me Up’, marry ‘Vitamin C’ and avoid ‘Runaway’. E:  Yeah, we’d have a long happy marriage with ‘Vitamin C’ actually I think. There was like an extra chorus added onto the end of ‘Runaway’ that we were a bit unsure about, so I think we’d avoid that; well, maybe the recorded version. We love playing it! M: The version that we recorded 2 years ago is a little bit different and that might end up being the version not on the record. It exists in a form that we like, but unfortunately it didn’t go out that way. E: It kind of got a little bit “popped-up” in a way, just for radio and stuff.

Clean Cut Kid’s latest track ‘Pick Me Up’ is available now on all major platforms.

How is a Clean Cut Kid song born? E:  It’s all Mike. M:  I just write them in about 15/20 minutes, and then we (me and Ross) go in and demo them. Saul then puts his bass on top and I just sit off on a demo and build the whole sound of the record. Then we try and faithfully recreate that in the studio. The demos are what everyone falls in love with, but no one’s ever heard them like they do in the public. They’re quite a big deal on the record label. E:  It would be nice to release them in the future. M In actual fact, this week – either later this week or early next week – we’re releasing the B-side to ‘Pick Me Up’ and that’s the first like, “straight up demo” that we’ve put out. Like, I recorded it, mixed it.

That’s cool, what will that track be called? M:  It’s called ‘In Your Eyes’. R:  We made the video in like an hour in a hotel. M:  Yep, we made the video, –

Who films them, is it you guys or do you get someone in? R:  We do it on an iPhone most of the time. E:  For the single releases, they’ve all had like, directors and stuff, but for the B-sides it’s all just like, DIY. “Give us some iPhone’s Apple!”

How important is social media to your lives as a band? The reason I ask is that most bands seem to have automated, agent-written statuses/tweets whereas you guys seem so loose and carefree with having a good time and engaging your fans. M:  We’re like at the stage where we’ve got the luxury of building a fan base. We’ve got the luxury of trying to get to know all of our fans kind of thing; that’s why social media works so well, I’m not going to lie, three quarters of the people who tweet about us or those that we communicate with on social media, we actually know. We’ve like met them, we know what tunes are their favourites, so it’s good that we’ve got those relationships. Obviously, that’s not to say that when you’ve got 10 million fans that’ll be pretty much impossible, but I think we’ll always try and run the public side of everything. E:  We kind of got dragged into being really like, mad on social media because we were just like “you know when you’re a band, do you want to play gigs and make music or be sat behind a computer writing a whole days worth of stuff in 140 characters”, we understand the importance of it now and we’ve all got it logged into our phones. M:  I used to look at Instagram as like a gallery, like an art piece thing, like every single post I put up should have to represent the music we make and it should look like the band and everything had a sort of look about it. But, the sheer rate at which we’ve got to put stuff out now means that that’s kinda gone out the window now a little bit. That’s the only regret though really, but people just want to be up to date. People would like hour by hour updates of what’s going on and we’re happy to do that now at the moment.

We’re actually celebrating a year since our first gig today

What’s been the standout memory of Clean Cut Kid’s career so far and why? M:  Erm, for me, it’s … actually, I’ll let everyone else speak. E:  No, no go on. M:  For me, the things that stand out in my head personally are how much the hype’s exploding in Liverpool. Every time we go home and do a Liverpool gig, or everytime we do our own headline London gig and we just see the electricity going round the crowd and that people know our songs that we haven’t even released and stuff because they’ve seen the band so many times, they’re the bits that stand out. My favourite point in the band’s career so far was this gig we did in Bold Street Café in Liverpool less than 2 weeks ago. It was just rammed to the ceiling and we drink coffee in there every day but we just rammed it out, there were people on the stage with us it was so packed. It was just a moment, my favourite moment so far! E:  It was kind of the moment where we realised that it’d gone beyond our friends and family being the main support in Liverpool – there were people there that we didn’t even know. It was really exciting to think that these people had heard us, bought a ticket, gone to the gig and we hadn’t even seen them before, that was really nice. M:  It’s brilliant in Liverpool at the moment too.

I was about to ask, what’s it like trying to get ahead in Liverpool? E:  It’s great! M:  I think what we did is we went to London, did a couple gigs, signed a deal and then we’ve spent 6 months before we looped back and went “ok, now let’s start doing stuff in our home town”, and everyone’s reacted to it so well. E:  Yeah, it’s cool! I think Live Lounge was a big stand out memory for me as well, just because it felt like it was so early on in our career that we probably shouldn’t have really been on it, but the powers that be at Radio 1 were really into it and pushed for us to go on so that was really nice. Oh, and America as well. When we went to do the festival last October, it was sooo cool. S:  Live Lounge was a good one. We’ve had some like, big gigs that you just wouldn’t have been able to get without all the support and everything that we seem to have had from like ‘important’ people. R:  Going to America definitely, you’ve mentioned that though. E:  We’re actually celebrating a year since our first gig today so when we look back on the year, everything that we’ve done just seems so early – we’re not even on our 60th gig yet so everything’s so stand out. We’re pinching ourselves at how it’s all kicked off so quickly.

That’s cool because you still get to travel to new places then? M:  Yeah, we’ve never played here for example. We’ve played in Nottingham though, it was at erm … R:  Rescue Rooms? Is that a place. E:  Oh yeah, that’s it, Rescue Rooms. M:  I’ve played here before but not with Clean Cut Kid, it was a great gig like. E:  It’s a bit of a legendary place really isn’t it, all the circuits do it.

How did you end up on this tour, are you and Fickle Friends good mates? E:  It just got suggested to us, it’s such a huge tour and we needed to jump on a tour that filled up our time for these couple months. M:  They just signed to our label too. E:  Yeah, they just signed to Polydor as well, I think the label thought it would be a good fit for the two bands, so yeah! They’re really nice, they’re great. We’ve had a really nice time with them on the tour haven’t we. M:  They couldn’t be nicer to be fair.

It seems like a nice complement between the two of you, as if you’ll get fans turn up with similar music tastes, don’t you agree? E:  Yeah, it seems like we’re both at similar levels as well in terms of fan base, but we obviously in recent months have had more exposure from like, Radio 1 and that, so it’s kinda good for us as we only have the pressures of being the support band and don’t have to worry about numbers or anything. It’s kind of best of both for us at the moment.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of the people turning up to gigs on this tour end up tweeting both you and Fickle Friends. M:  Yeah, every time virtually!

What’s been the craziest night of the tour so far? M:  The craziest night of the gig was probably Bristol. The crowd were bouncing from the first song. E:  It’s so weird as well because there’s no like, door from the dressing room to the stage so you’ve pretty much got to fight your way to the front and our tour manager was just shining a little light through the crowd asking people to part. Literally, when you finish the gig, you just walk off the front of the stage into the whole crowd and everyone was high-fiving us like “yeah, yeaaah!” – we felt like such rockstars. S:  Where was it as well, was it The Joiners in Southampton where they had a security guard to lead us through everyone. E:  Yeah! Southampton was amazing. I think those two have been the craziest nights. S:  We haven’t really had any mad nights. Their home town is Brighton so I think that’s where it’s going to probably go off. It’s the last one as well. E:  It’s funny too because you can get burnt out really quickly, I don’t know many bands who go mental every night anymore; the sheet amount of pressure that’s on you. M: These guys are like seasoned tourers too so they kind of like to rest up when they can and stay chilled, which is cool by us because we’re not the most crazy band.

What’s the 5-year dream? M:  Haha, drummers and bassists will come and go. Nah, we’ll definitely be the same lineup. R:  Did you hear that? We’ve got that on record. M:  Ha! It’s hard to say what will happen with the sound. I guess the same … S:  We’d have loved to have had a Snapchat of that really haha. M:  The same ethos will go into the writing, judging it as harshly as I do now, hopefully it will be just as valid, the music I do now. At the moment it’s just to get fans like, it’s like no matter what happens. You know how people go “ah, I wanna play a sold out gig at The O2” and they have these milestones; ours is just that we want a load of lifelong fans when we’ve got a new single or album to put out, we’ll have people that we can actually play it to. That’s it really, just keep on building fans is the plan.

That sounds like a superb plan! You’ve just won £50,000 each, what’s the first thing you’d all do? R:  I think we’d get a tattoo wouldn’t we? E:  Get a couple of coffees in, get some tattoos … I’d book a day as a zookeeper ‘cause that’s like £500 or something – I can just go around and bathe all the animals. R:  I’d give it to my Mum. Everyone:  (Aww) R:  Sorry to be that guy. M:  I’d give it to his Mum. I’d keep the money too, wheeey! R:  I would get a tattoo, probably grow a really posh moustache and see if I can figure out what to do with the rest of this money by stroking it wisely. E:  I’d probably bury it in the garden and pray it stays there. S:  I dunno, probably pay my debts in advance. I’ve got a nice bass and all that. I might buy an amp like Fickle Friends.

Ok, so you’re headlining a one-off special gig. Where would it be and what 3 support acts, past or present, unknown or world famous, dead or alive would you choose and why? M:  On the moon, with the Muppets Babies band, the Phantom of the Opera – E:  What, the whole cast!? M:  Yeah! And I’d have Ravi Shankar, supported with like Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar like. I’m not sure what it’d do for numbers, with it being on the moon like, but if we’ve got like 10 years or something, maybe …

Clean Cut Kid supported Brighton 5-piece Fickle Friends at The Bodega last week.  Read our review here and also check out our interview with Fickle Friends following their exceptional live performance.

By Luke Matthews



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