Clove are a Melbourne based alt rock/punk band that are on the up. I fell in love with their music when I saw them supporting Stuck Out at the You Won’t Come Home EP launch show. I spent the next few weeks listening to them flat out, as I got even more excited about this band and what they could achieve. I caught them again when they opened the night at the launch show for Better Half‘s EP Maybe I Was Wrong and was thoroughly impressed yet again. As they quickly became one of my favourite recently discovered bands, I was glad to get the chance to interview Luke (Guitar/Backup vocals) and Jared (Bass), and ask them about the bands history, and get to know them a bit.
We started it off very basic; discussing the band’s origins. Jared didn’t join the band until December of last year, where he stepped in to play bass for them, and that was as far as he went in regards to that question. Luke went on to discuss it in more detail.
Luke: “We started at the very start of 2016. I had met Mark and Alex (previous bassist) online, through Melband. We got started through that. Mark knew Ben our guitarist through hockey, and we just started jamming, writing out a few songs, and we had our original drummer who I was mates with and I went to high school with. That was pretty much the start of it from Feb or March 2016 through to the end of that year. We recorded a couple of songs with him but he moved on to other things. He didn’t really have the time for it. We went through a couple of drummers and then landed on Chris, who is our current drummer.”
2016 was supposedly a slow year for the group, as they were just finding their feet in a way. They wrote some songs and put out a two track EP, and didn’t actually play their first show until December that year.
Jared: “Funny story, I was at the first show. I was there. The show was good. Mark wore a Santa Hat.”
Luke: “Oh yeah, it was a Christmas special.”
Jared: “And the reason I was there was ’cause my friend knew Mark, and she was like ‘You guys would get along’, and I showed up because of that. That’s where I met these guys, long before I was in the band.”
Josh: “So what did you think of them hearing them for the first time?”
Jared: “It was positive, I had a really good night. I am not from Melbourne, I grew up in Wollongong. I had been living in Melbourne for only a couple of years, and it solidified for me that I had been playing in bands. Watching those guys play made me want to get back into it and be like ‘Stop talking about it’.”
That’s always what you want to hear, and it’s very wholesome hearing that Jared got back into it because of them, and then he ended up being in the band.
Band evolution is a crucial thing that bands need to go through to survive it seems, and Clove are no different. I asked about the evolution of the band, and Luke thinks they have totally changed. They have matured as people. Their music tastes have widened and changed, and they’ve definitely become better musicians.
Luke: “The stuff we’re recording and writing at the moment is a step up from what we’ve done previous. It feels like more of a cohesive band effort now, more than it has previously for sure.”
Jared: “Luke might be more suited to comment on that, but I feel like there’s a cohesion there, the right people are definitely in the right places.”
Luke says it has taken a little while for it to all properly gel for them, and now they are in that sweet spot it seems like it is all going great. They mention that it’s funny because quite possibly the most integral member in the writing process is the drummer Chris.
Jared: “We all come into the songs at different points in time, and Chris is usually the one that starts with the idea. Which I am still amazed at because he plays a guitar like he’s never seen a guitar before. He plays it left handed and upside down and comes up with all these strange chords.
Luke: “Yeah he’s left handed, and plays guitar strung for a right hander and just flips it upside down and plays all these weird chords and progressions and stuff.
So it’s unorthodox, but it obviously does the job. I had already intended to ask about their writing process and what is involved in that, but handily enough Jared jumped straight into it here before I could even ask.
Jared: “Luke and Chris usually work on things at the inception of a song, and will bring stuff to the rest of it. With these new songs I’ve tried to approach them in more of an arrangement perspective, so rather than coming in and trying to come up with crazy new parts I’ll look at like ‘Section one, does this work? Does this chorus need to go here?’ and then Mark and Ben, will add to it throughout that process. Mark will usually wait until we’ve got mostly the final song before he’ll take it away and add to it lyrics-wise and add melodies and whatnot. We all contribute at various points.”
They then revealed that they are currently working on an EP. A few dates were thrown around but nothing solid was mentioned. Oh boy, am I excited for that! I then mentioned how I’d run into them for the first time at the Stuck Out show and we discussed our affections for them as a band. We got slightly distracted then and had a great chat about Unify Gathering. Jared actually met the Clove guys properly at Unify ’17, as they were all hanging out there in a big group of mates. We reminisced about the statue guy, and the people jumping through tables. What a fun safety-filled weekend that was.
Luke: “It was one of our mates that brought the wheelie bins into the pit in the middle of letlive’s set.”
Jared: “I don’t wanna take you down the rabbit hole of inside jokes but it’s safe to say that that was a really good time for all of us. A lot of us really met properly, and had like a really sick time together.”
Unify is now even bringing band members together, good lord that event is unreal.
I mentioned the Better Half show, and asked them how that was for them. They mentioned how they had a great time. It was sold out and everyone was so great, and got around them. The crowd was dancing and the lighting was awesome. They had a lot of fun playing it. It was visible that this was the case from the audience too. I certainly noticed that with this show the vibes were great from the very start, and every support band got a lot of love from the audience.
A great thing about watching Clove live is how they all appear to be having such a great time on stage. They all have big grins on the whole time and are just happy to be playing music.
Luke: “I remember one of the dudes in Better Half said ‘Shit, if that was your light show ours is gonna be fucking wild.'”
EP launch shows always seem to be very love-filled experiences for everyone involved, and they’re actually becoming some of my personal favourites to attend this year.
Talking more about the writing process it seems Clove have a very healthy approach to it, where everyones’ ideas get heard and acknowledged. Everyone gets a say, and its very collaborative. If they like an idea they’ll just jam it out for a bit and see how they go. They clearly all respect each others opinions, and think that it’s important that every member feels like they can have a voice and share their ideas, but also that they respect each other enough to voice their thoughts if they feel an idea isn’t going where someone may have originally wanted it to go.
Luke says that it’s very helpful to have everyone on the same page, and it’s good to have everyone be able to fit their creative juices into the one song at times. And from an outsider perspective it seems like that kind of mutual respect is needed in a band so that the success can come. If there’s bickering and arguing and egos being thrown around, then that shows in the music, and in this case it’s very promising and relieving to know that everyone in this group truly belongs there. They can all trust each other to put their own pieces into a song, and that it’s going to be good no matter what.
“‘I need to find the right two chords and the right beat that you can just listen to and be like, mmm,’ and then he does one of those dad nods with his eyes closed and his lips pursed.“
Jared: “I’m always keen to see whatever crazy upside down riffs Chris has come up with. There was a time where he was searching for the perfect two chords… It’s hard for me to represent this over the phone, but he’s kinda like ‘I need to find the right two chords and the right beat that you can just listen to and be like, mmm,’ and then he does one of those dad nods with his eyes closed and his lips pursed.”
Jared than mentioned jokingly that when it all comes down to it they are essentially a jazz band. I proceeded to suggest that at their next show they all wear the sunnies inside and the weird hats and all play saxophones instead of their normal instruments.
Jared: “What’s actually happening is in every song of this EP, I’ve just ripped off the “Longview” bass line.”
Josh: “Fuck that’d actually be that good though. I grew up with Green Day.”
Luke: “Funnily enough you say that. I know the three of us, me Jared and Mark all froth Green Day, but Mark really wants to get into rehearsal rooms and just jam out Green Day covers for like 3 hours.”
We then just got lost into a discussion about Green Day. We all mentioned our favourite Green Day albums. Jared’s were Nimrod and Warning, Luke’s was Dookie, and mine was American Idiot. We also mentioned the rot that was the trilogy albums, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré!. Jared is convinced that the whole thing was a joke just to put Tre on the cover of ¡Tré!.
I asked about genre, and whether with their music they were conscious of fitting into a genre or just writing whatever they were keen on. Luke made clear that their tastes overlapped at bands like Basement, Title Fight, and Endless Heights, all those kind of bands that were a little bit of punk and a little bit of post-hardcore, and that’s kind of what they came together on and what they base their music around; getting their own version of that kind of sound. But despite that everyone in Clove has their own music tastes. Mark is very much a pop punk kid, but loves all music as well. Luke likes more older stuff, like grunge or punk rock. Ben used to play in hardcore bands, and loves heavy music. Chris is also into hardcore, and Jared likes “weird stuff”, in his words.
Jared: “The pattern you can get stuck into is if you’re in a band where everyone is on the same page, is where rather than get inspired by your heroes you emulate your heroes, and you end up in some kind of C grade cover band version of the things you like. But if you have people with different tastes you can make your own stew of all the bits and pieces that inspire you, that makes something more representative of everyone involved.”
Mark then poked his head in and got grilled about what music he likes. Luke yelled at him and said “just say pop punk,” before Mark dismissed that jokingly and answered with melodic punk. All these different acts and bands that they mentioned you can pick up tiny influences of in Clove’s music, and its great that they’ve found that common ground in their tastes. I bring the conversation onto their live performances, and we talk about that for a bit.
Luke: “I remember at our first show it just happened. The energy was there from the start. I guess for me I feel that a live stage is the best representation of us as a band, and we haven’t necessarily caught that perfectly in the studio. But live’s really fun, and that’s what music is really about for me.”
Jared: “I think live is really important, and making stuff sound as good as you can live is really important. And that’s so many elements, like musicianship and the tightness between the band members, and having that music chemistry is one thing, but its also understanding how your element in the band fits into the mix. Being at the point where nobody in the band has no overarching ego, we all know we are a piece of the overall, and you shape the way that you play to fit that, to fit the song, to fit the energy.”
Josh: “And you can tell from watching you guys that you’re all genuinely happy to be there and having a good time.”
Luke: “That’s what being in a band and playing music is about. Just having fun with your mates.”
Luke went on to talk about their Grey EP launch show, and his descriptions of it made me really wish I had known about them at that point and had been able to be there. Jared pointed out that while he was not in the band at that point you can see him in the photos snagging mic grabs. It was mentioned as one of their best shows, along with one they played in Canberra.
A future EP launch show for their next release was mentioned, and I raised the idea of CD pre-orders. Jared than asked me my opinion on CD’s, and whether they were dying or not. I think they are dying, but I think we need to do what we can to keep them going. Everyone go buy a CD right now, keep the industry going and keep pumping money into it.
Jared: “What if instead of CD pre-orders, we sell blank discs and then a link to the download for the EP, and everyone can make their own sick mixtapes with it. You can fit 90 minutes of music on a CD right? And you don’t wanna waste all that space. Somebody can make an EP with our new songs and then add whatever bangers they want. They can make the best Clove album to them. This is enabling the audience, we’re doing people a favour.”
Josh: “That’s very true.”
Jared and Luke both loved this comment, “endorsed by Depth Mag”. They discussed the merch they’d love to do, whether that be vinyl or just put the album on USB’s or mini discs. Jared suggested putting it on one of those musical tooth brushes, and I loved that idea. I heavily endorsed the idea of making Clove branded dice, and they also love the idea of bottle openers. They just need to fill a gap in the market really, I suggested perhaps investing in Clove moustache combs, which is admittedly a very niche market but would no doubt sell very well. Even a Clove scarf or a home-job Clove tattoo that one of them just does at the merch stand at a gig would be a treat. I eagerly await the Clove summer catalogue involving all these really obscure items.
I asked about their previous shows and filled a few gaps in my own head in regards to previous tours and shows they’ve done. After they released the EP they played with Introvert at the Workers Club. They played with Waax, and they know them well so they loved that. Endless Heights, who they are huge fans of. They mentioned a gig with 50 Lions as one of the stranger ones they have done.
Jared: “I was hoping that people were gonna circle pit to us, but everyone conveniently stopped for us and then immediately started again for the next band.”
Those were the main ones they thought of straight away, and there is likely more they couldn’t think of. Sadly they don’t really have any shows coming up. Jared said they are keeping the schedule light because they are aware the set has been the same for a while and they don’t want Grey to get stale, and they also don’t want to play the unreleased songs so much that everyone knows them before they come out. They kind of want to wait until they have more to play before they tour more and play lots of more shows again.
I mention the themes of their previous songs and they didn’t want to discuss the new songs too much, but the old ones are quite consistent: They’re all in a way about trying to find connection, and about feeling comfortable with where you are, and how to navigate relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic, or family. The new songs are obviously coming from a different place, and I’m very excited to hear them.
We ended it there, and it was lovely talking to the two guys from Clove. I’m so excited to see where they go with their music next. Check them out as soon as you can, and get behind these guys before they catch fire.
[Image of Clove courtesy of Nat Parham]