Review & Interview: The Clause @ Café Totem

Birmingham band The Clause sold out a packed Cafe Totem last Saturday, and their third appearance at this venue was nothing short of a superb evening full of disco tunes and an impressive start to their headline tour. Just before they took to the stage, Exposed managed to grab a few words with the Brummie boys set to take the music industry by storm.

Who are your main influences?
Pearce: We have quite a lot of influences. Bands like The Rolling Stones and that kind of 60s rock’n’roll era takes main stage, but we have so many more influences like 80s music and disco from the 70s. We try to just combine it all together.

What are your favourite tracks to play live?
Liam: It’s different for all of us. Probably ‘Dig This Beat’ for me, a new one we’ve got; it’s quite in your face and gritty, it’s quite fun to play.
Niall: I’d probably say ‘In My Element’ because of the reaction it gets.
Pearce: I’d probably say ‘Don’t Hate The Player’.
Liam: It’s because you haven’t got to play guitar.
Pearce: I can move and shake my hips about.
Jonny: And scare the audience.

As individuals, what is your favourite song you’ve released so far?
Pearce: I’d say ‘Where Are You Now?’ – it probably means a little bit more to me than youse.
Niall: I’d probably say ‘In My Element’ for me.
Liam: I’d say ‘Shut Me Out’ for me because it’s the only one I’ve participated in the songwriting process; it was our first song, man, so it was quite special to us and it’s good looking back now on the progression.
Jonny: I’d say ‘In My Element’ as well – it was like a turning point and a lot of things have come off the back of that. We kind of treated it as a new start after that.

[To Pearce] What does ‘Where Are You Now?’ mean to you?
Pearce: I wrote it about my uncle who passed away, so it resonates with me a little bit more on a personal level.

How would you describe your sound and what genre would you put yourselves in?
Liam: We wouldn’t really; it’s a bit disco, techno, rock’n’roll, like.
Pearce: The new stuff we’ve got coming out has got a lot of influences from disco music.
Liam: We’re trying to bring disco back to popular music but with our own spin on the way it’s done.

So your latest track, ‘In My Element’, has a very intriguing video. What was it like producing it?
Liam: Producing the music video? Weird, man, because it’s in a nightclub we all go to, Snobs. It’s where a lot of people that are into our genre of music tend to go, so to be in there sober but see the same bouncers you always see and watching you while you do it, it was weird, yeah – but really good man. It was really good of them to let us do it and it gets played in there.

Does it tend to get played a lot in there?
Liam: Yeah, pretty much every weekend.
Niall: Which is good for exposure.
Liam: The song’s pretty much based on that, based around Birmingham nightlife, and it’s a place that just fits perfectly.

So, moving on to Birmingham. When you play a show at home, what is it generally like?
Liam: The best way I can describe it is just a brilliant atmosphere, electric.
Pearce: We’ve gone in the space of two years playing to 150 people to, in a few weeks, playing to 600. Obviously, it’s a bit different because that’s where most of our pull is because that’s where we’re from. At the moment it feels bigger than the out of town shows purely because the venue’s bigger but it’s just a good atmosphere.
Liam: When we did our first gig in Brum, it was 90% just our pals and then 10% of people just looking for new music. But now we’ve found with our gigs we have 10% family and friends, so it’s mostly all new people – which is brilliant. We hope we can be bigger every time, which we have done, but you don’t want that momentum to stop at all. We aim to do one a year, one big headliner, but this year we’ve been lucky enough to do two and they’ve both sold out.

What do your family and friends think of your journey so far?
Liam: They’re just happy to come along for the ride with us.
Pearce: They’re waiting for us all just to pay them all back! *Laughter* It’s good news for them now; it’s not good news for us, though, we’re going to be out of pocket.
Liam: They’re all good lads, they all just want to come along to help and we get to travel to new places with our pals.

Are they going to be coming to many of your shows?
Liam: They’re going to come to as many as possible, and it’s good to have them all come along.

Photo: Louis Hicks

What’s the best show that you’ve played?
Pearce: O2 Institute in Birmingham but if you ask us that in about three weeks, we’ll probably have a different answer. At the time it was particularly special for us because we were like the underdogs where we’re from and we never got no help whatsoever with it, we just did it all on our own. To sell that out was massive for us.
Jonny: It was the same with festivals though too.

What’s the best festival you’ve played?
Jonny: I think TRUCK was for me.
Pearce: I think Isle of Wight was for me. We were all at the studio when we got it and we were buzzing; it was three weeks before so we had to book a ferry rapid. We were second on the Thursday and we were literally expecting to play to no one. The tent was packed and the promoter said it was one of the busiest he’d ever seen it on a Thursday, then for the rest of the weekend we just got f**ked, which was a highlight too.

So, what do you guys think of the current music industry? Is their any artist you rate in and out of the charts?
Liam: There are some brilliant new bands coming through, I’m in touch with stuff like that. The Blinders are getting a lot more attention. It’s hard at the moment because when you look back there was always characters in like the 80s and 90s, and there’s not as many of them nowadays.

When you look back to when you first started out, did you think you’d end up doing stuff like this? Your own tour, etc.
Liam: Yeah man. I always had faith.
Pearce: (To Liam) Even before you were in the band. When we were 13/14, we were s**t. You know when you’ve got those 13-year olds up there singing with a high voice and that, like a bird? Even then I used to think we could do it.
Liam: When we played our first gig, we only had one original and the rest was like four songs off The Balcony, four songs off Definitely Maybe and four songs from Whatever People Say I Am… Even from then we knew we had something special; we’ve never had a big bust-up or anything like that, we’ve just cracked on. Up until recently we’ve had to put quite a lot of our own money into it, and you get a lot of artists like “The problems with touring”. Shut up man.
Pearce: If your complaining about it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Why did you pick the name ‘The Clause’. Does it have an underlining meaning?
Pearce: It’s just a cool f**king name, it’s just blunt. The thing about band names though, is that their only cool if you’re big. Bands that aren’t big enough, like when Arctic Monkey were doing small venues like “Oh that’s a shit name”, but now they’re big. It suits our sound as well, like ‘The Clause’ it represents our music, it’s just that.
Liam: It’s blunt, it’s to the point.
Pearce: I tell fibs, me: “It came to me one night in a dream, I saw it on billboards, it had to be ‘The Clause’.” [Laughter] Liam: And then wrote the album that night. [Laughter]

Do you think you’ll make an album?
Liam: Yeah man definitely, when the time is right though. We haven’t even got an EP out yet so by the time an album comes it’s going to be f**king unreal. It’s going to be massive.

Have you got a lot of tracks ready to release?
Liam: Yeah, you’ll hear a lot of them tonight.
Niall: We’ve got two definitely ready to go.
Liam: I think we’re six singles deep now, so when you look at the first one right through to now, at the time you don’t notice but when you listen to them now, you’re like “Oh f**k I can see how that’s developed now” and I think In My Element is the sound we’ve been trying to get for five tunes.

A particular track of yours which I find really interesting is Tokyo. Can you describe what it’s about?
Liam: It’s the anatomy of the human species man. [Lots of laughter] It’s about getting f**ked basically, going out and nightlife.
Pearce: It’s pretty much on the lines of ‘In My Element’. It’s about being vibed and just enjoying life man.
Liam: So then my mum messaged me and asked “What’s this about?” I had to message Pearce and ask him what it was about.
Pearce: I had to lie about what it was about.

Do your families actually know what it’s about then?
Pearce: It could be about anything. Musically, it’s whatever you want from it, if you don’t like the actual song it’s just something to get you hyped up. If you ever want to get yourself gassed, that’s the tune you want to play.

Where do you see the band in five years time?
Liam: Millionaires! Nah I don’t know, man, hopefully with a big album out, a bigger tour and, you know… better craic. [Laughter] Pearce: Not the actual drug! We want to just do it bigger.
Liam: In fact, scratch that, we want to be the best band in the UK in five years!

My last question: Is there anyone you’d like to pay tribute to throughout your journey so far?
Pearce: First and foremost, everyone who’s taken the time to listen or taken investment in what we’re doing because we’ve been quite lucky to have loyal fans who are on there 30th/40th gig.
Liam: Just people in general, you know, when a new tune comes out at midnight and they stay up and they’ll share it with all their pals. They’re the people you need. I think someone said to us recently: “It’s not the people that like you that will get you far, it’s the people that love you”.

And with that amazing insight from Liam, all the boys had to do now was down a couple more Red Stripes and get ready to kick off their tour.

As the boys took to the stage, the psychedelic intro of ‘Tokyo’ was blasted out through the speakers of Cafe Totem. Chords at the ready, the immense guitar riffs which introduced us to this track made the small venue seem like they were headlining somewhere like Leeds Festival. Each note was sung by Pearce with such strength and charisma, making it hard to distinguish whether we were really watching a superb upcoming frontman – as he who performed like someone who had decades of experience.

A real paramount event of the evening was the performance of a track yet to be released, but I am sure after this tour will be widely anticipated, ‘Don’t Hate The Player’. The instrumentals within this track could be compared with those of Sundara Karma: so vivid and exceptional. Liam and Jonny’s different chords entwining with each other to create a sound so remarkable, accompanied by the beat of Niall’s mighty drums and paired with Pearce’s rich vocals. The stage presence of the lads was phenomenal from start to finish, and with each change of tempo you could see Liam’s guitar riffs coursing through his veins. An unexpected treat for the audience completed this astonishing performance, adding in a mashup of one of ABBA’s greatest hit’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’.

The Clause finished on their latest release, and what appears to be their most successful track, In My Element. The ultimate gamechanger for these boys, each member of the crowd sang along to each lyric of this funky disco anthem changing Cafe Totem into their beloved Snobs for four or so minutes. Every single punter came out satisfied after an evening of groovy beats from a band who are ready to go straight to the top, no matter how hard it may be.

They’re ready to do this, watch this space. Good luck, lads!

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