The Clear are the hugely talented songwriting collective of Sheffield-based trio Chris Damms, Bryan Day and Jules Buffey. Their music is is a sound of California in the late 60s/early 70s with a contemporary UK twist.
Their debut album, ‘Patchwork’, is out now and leading tastemaker bloggers and Radio Djs are picking up on the current single ‘Maria Browne’.
Eventim Spotlights caught up with the band ahead of their performance at London’s Discovery 2.
Who is the brainchild behind The Clear and how did the band come about?
I guess the brainchild is Chris, he’s the songwriter of the team, but with many of the songs he chose to write to the chord structures composed by Bryan and Jules, as the concept was based on the theory that if everyone contributed, the songs would be naturally be richer and help mould ‘the clear’ sound.
Sheffield has always had a vibrant music scene, home to the Leadmill, which brought us the likes of Joe Cocker, Heaven 17, Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, Steve Edwards, Pulp and of course most recently the Arctic Monkeys. Have any of you been in other Sheffield bands?
None of us have really been in any bands of noted fame but Bryan is quite an established Sheffield musician and a “go to guy” for people wanting a certain sound. He has recently co written a track with Tanita Tikaram.
Bryan also features on fellow Sheffielder Richard Hawley’s new album and as a small world would have it, Richard Hawleys bassist and drummer Colin Elliot and Dean Beresford also appear on The Clear’s debut album. Colin also helped record some of the drums and bass at his famous Yellow Arch Studios. Apart from that the album was wholly written, recorded and produced by The Clear themselves at home so it’s a very “kitchen sink” affair.
‘Patchwork’ is an album of many layers both musically and lyrically. How long did it take to make? What were the highlights of the recording experience?
We recorded ‘Sunlight’ with Colin Elliot at the production helm, with Andy Cook on drums with Colin on bass – and man those two are good together! They really did a good job. The album is a monster beast of differing styles and themes with us recording some of the drums, bass and a few bits at Yellow Arch, but it soon became obvious that no one could have the passion or the vision or indeed the physical time that we three had and we felt the songs needed, so we started the difficult task of self producing.
Musically and lyrically the songs came easy and fast, with many of the lyrics in the style of inkblot, and are designed for allowing the listener to self interpret. The album was written and recorded in about 5 months but we also wrote a further 40 songs in 12 months. The album is called ‘Patchwork’ mainly because it is a collection of varied themes and styles. For sure ‘America’, ‘Yesterday Morning’ and ‘Sunlight’ are very late 60s West-Coast pop vibe, but there are other songs on the album like ‘Man Mountain’ which features a Chinese zither (violin) and ‘Love Internationale’ which is a cross between ‘The Thunderbirds’ and a dating agency where the dating agents come out in rocket ships to rescue their client’s love lives!
Some of the songs have a nostalgic feel to them. Did you use any vintage amplifiers and synths?
Bryan has a nice collection of 50s and 60s amps and a nice Rhodes piano we used, but conversely, the opening guitar line for ‘America’ was recorded on a nice Watkins 1950s amp but was sent to me by Bry as an iPhone demo recording which we opted to use …you can hear the digital crunch on it, which makes purists wince and us smile
Our publisher, the renowned ‘Lance Freed’ of Rondor International/ Universal music publishing said when he heard our music via our manager Meredith Cork, that it did indeed remind him of some of the artists he signed in that golden period like ‘The Carpenters’ and ‘The Beach Boys’ so, yes, we do lean that way.
With so many outlets for selling music these days what formats have you chosen for release of your music?
We have some nice eco-friendly CDs on band camp and of course we are on all digital platforms. We do intend to release on vinyl too later this year.
You can see a rare live outing of The Clear at Discovery 2 at 229 The Venue, Thursday 28 July.