Clockenflap Extra: The Cribs Interview
They may have lost legendary guitarist, Johnny Marr, this year but The Cribs are very much still alive, recording a new album and playing huge gigs. Ahead of their Clockenflap slot, vocalist, guitarist and identical twin, Ryan Jarman, tells Matt Fleming it’s a great time to be in the all-brother indie-rock trio
Obviously you’re here to play Clockenflap. Have you played Hong Kong before?
Nah. We’re excited to do it because I think that, you know, we’re always excited to play at places we’ve never played at before. Even though it’s just one show and it’s quite a long way to go for us that’s never kind of stopped us from doing it. The band at the minute, because we’re back to being just us three brothers, it’s just nice for us to just come out and do this show. It seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun for us, really. So, yeah, we’re really looking forward to being there for the first time.
What are we to expect at Clockenflap? The usual, raucous The Cribs show?
Well, I think it’s a bit cliché to say we’re like that. But I think that we’ve literally just finished recording our new record. We’ve just recorded 20 tracks with (top audio engineer) Steve Albini and (top record producer) Dave Fridmann. Hopefully, we’re going to try and fly out there early and we’ll try and find a practice room and rehearse a bunch of new songs. You know, obviously we’re not going to go out there and say this is our new album and just play brand new stuff but hopefully we’ll try and put a couple of brand new songs in. But we tend not to think about it until we get there. My whole attitude has always been not to preconceive anything. Not to pre-plan anything because you just do whatever you feel like on the day and play however you feel on the day. I haven’t really thought about it but hopefully if we can find a practice room in Hong Kong we’ll play some new things.
So, do you have a lot of Hong Kong fans?
We always hear people saying so. Through the internet these days you can always hear where your fans are from. There has always seemed to be interest from Hong Kong. It’s strange because we’ve actually had quite a few people trying to book us for festivals in Hong Kong before and we’ve always been, like, yeah, let’s do it, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. I’m a little unsure of what to expect but that, again, is the appeal. When people get in touch with us online from that part of the world it’s always been very positive. I kind of hope that is the case but you can’t take anything for granted really, can you?
No. On that point, of fans, I’ve got a story for you. When you played Glastonbury last year I was access-all-areas and I walked on to the stage because I wanted to watch you from the side. I walked on a few minutes before your set and I got this massive cheer. It was an accident. I really didn’t mean to walk out on to the stage. But, I tell you what, it was a brilliant moment for me. I experienced what it must be like for you guys to walk out.
You’ll have to do it again at Clockenflap.
Mate, I’d love that.
I reckon I could hook that up.
Ha, awesome. So, what’s life been like for the band since Johnny Marr’s departure?
It’s actually been incredibly positive. When you lose a member everyone thinks you’re going to break into some kind of turmoil but, in a lot of ways, I think that our minds snapped back into being a three-piece immediately. We’ve found it so liberating with us all being brothers. It’s kind of almost like you don’t consider each other, you know what I mean, whereas when we had a fourth member you had someone else to consider. Even just that minute aspect of subconscious change really can have quite an effect on how liberated you feel so we went back to being kind of ultra-liberated. We hadn’t planned to make a record but, before we knew where we were, we were just writing all the time and we’ve been very, very consumed by it, you know. We’ve spent so much time doing it. We’ve written and recorded 20 songs. We’ve always wanted to work with Steve (Albini) so that’s the realisation of some kind of aspiration. Yesterday we were literally just finishing the record. Feelings are really, really good in the band at the minute and we just can’t wait to get the record out there.
When are you looking at getting it out and about?
I’m kind of thinking it’ll be around May time. We’re going to go out and finish mixing it in January.
Great. So we’ll be getting sneak previews at Clockenflap!
Yeah. I would definitely have thought so. As I said, provided we get there in time to get ourselves in a rehearsal room, but I’m sure we’ll make time to do that. We want to play the new songs, really. That’s what we’re excited about.
Us too. Okay, so what’s your favourite festival?
My favourite festival has always been Reading (England). I always went there since I was 16 years old. I went there every single year – and I still have been every year because we’ve played it that many times. I think there’s only been one year that I’ve missed which may have been 2007 or something like that. Reading for me is always number one. It always takes on some kind of special significance playing it. I know what it’s like to be in the crowd and stuff. That for me has always been the main one.
What’s your band’s quintessential festival song?
It’s always Hey Scenesters for us. That’s really the one we’ll always play at a festival. Or Another Number. Even though that’s one of our oldest songs – you know, one of the first songs we ever wrote – whenever we play that at festivals the whole crowd sings the guitarist’s part and being the guitar player in the band that, to me, I always find that really quite a new thing and amazing at the same time.
What are you most looking forward to at Clockenflap?
I guess, for me, playing the show will be the highlight, but I always try to get out and see the city when I go to new places. When I get a moment I’ll try to get out, on my own, and try and see what’s going on and meet people and just try and get a flavour of what is actually going on there. When we had Johnny around we had a bigger crew as well. Now we feel so much more independent. We’ve got rid of a lot of those trappings of the band on the road, so we’ll just try and get out and see what’s going on. I don’t want to be in a posh hotel, just sitting around all day on the internet. That is the furthest thing from my mind, you know.
Too right. Get out and see Hong Kong! Okay, finally, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Clockenflap?
It’s like a pocket watch on a chain – or something you would wear around your neck, like what Flava Flav used to wear. Something like that. Or maybe, like, you know like a chicken, you know a chicken has got what you call them wattles, that hang down from underneath his beak, that red kind of dangly thing. It reminds me of something like that, but with a clock hanging down, in between the red dangly things. That’s well weird.
The Cribs play Clockenflap on Sunday December 11, 7pm, Harbour Flap Stage, www.clockenflap.com.