1 Sep 2016


How many festivals did you go to this summer? Two, three at the most? Surely nowhere near as many as Liverpool bright sparks Clean Cut Kid, who when they haven’t been blitzing it in the studio, have played at almost 30 weekenders this season. Impressive, right? We joined Mike, Evelyn, Ross and Saul for a quick pre-show natter in the tour van at Leefest, somewhere between Latitude and Reading on their seemingly endless gig schedule.

“It’s fucking exhausting. We’ve done four or five days recording, travelled to one festival in the van, then another on the Saturday, then another on the Sunday”, explains bearded crooner/frontman Mike Halls. “And if you’re doing a week of ten or twelve hour recording sessions, you should really be taking a couple of days off, because it’s so intense. But we haven’t for like a month. It gets heavy”. Focus and dedication play a big part in this group’s mind-set, which reflects in their routine out of the studio as well as in. “We’ve seen a couple of good bands whilst we’ve been out, like Beck and Tame Impala at Glastonbury, but when your mind’s on the performance it’s really hard to just be a punter at a festival. We’ve had fairly good, late slots at a lot of them and you have to be so focussed on the gig, which is the whole reason you’re there”, he adds. “But maybe that will get easier as we tour more, because this has been our first full festival season, really”.

It’s easy to forget that Clean Cut Kid are a band with just four singles under their collective belts, but four fantastic singles at that. Consistency is their strong point, which, coupled with sheer hard work looks to be the recipe for their upcoming album. “It’s weird, because when we spoke to you last time, we were completing a body of work thinking we’d nearly completed the record. But since then, we completed that and got through a whole new set of material with a different producer.” Repetition aside, there’s an almost tangible buzz in the way they talk about the record, especially keyboardist Evelyn Halls; “Yesterday was the first time anybody at our label gave us an official idea of a date when we could deliver the album. It’ll be early next year, which we’ve all been saying for ages, but it’s the first time anyone official has admitted that.”

But in the meantime, their new EP is the main focus. Consisting of three original tracks and a deliciously proggy re-work of Jamie xx’s ‘Loud Places’, ‘We Used To Be In Love’ is their most self indulgent and substantial work to date. It’s what the fans already on the bandwagon have been waiting for, and a perfect introduction to Clean Cut Kid for those just joining. And compared to the radio friendly glitz of tracks like ‘Pick Me Up’, it's an alternative step to what some might have expected. “When you want your music to get on Radio 1 and all that stuff, there’s a lot to think about in terms of length, getting to the chorus by a certain time and so on. The EP tracks are more personal, probably more in line with the B-sides so far”, says Evelyn. It’s not a matter of the freedom to do what they want, so much as an effort to develop their sound whilst building up an audience. As Mike puts it, “We don’t look like the ideal pop band, but we write pop music. So when it comes to singles like ‘We Used To Be In Love’, you don’t want to alienate anybody. We spent nine months basically A&R’ing that one song, so that the rest of the EP could go even further towards the progressive side, in as much as we could do whatever we wanted with the instrumentation and the vocal arrangements. It doesn’t have to be verse, chorus, verse.”

Soon it will be time to unleash their new songs onto the audiences of Britain. As well as a run of dates with Courteeners lined up for November, a headline tour is just around the corner. “We can’t wait”, Mike says, visibly excited. “We’ve done a headline before but it was only like three dates. Now we’ve got fans, we’ve got an audience, it feels like the real deal.” Who will be joining them is yet to be announced, but you can expect someone good. “We’ve had a massive number of people asking to support, which we’re flattered by. We’ll try to get as many as we can fit in. But it’s tough, because do you choose people you want to do a favour for? Do you choose people who are nice mates, or people who fit well with our band? Fundamentally, we try to write music that we’d listen to, so we want someone supporting us who we’d listen to as well”.

The future looks bright for Clean Cut Kid, a remarkably switched-on foursome with their sights set high. We wonder what new ventures they hope to explore once the album's finally ready. “Ideally, in a year’s time we’d have a big enough audience to spend our time outside the country more. We have loads of markets we want to get into, but we’re all very attached to America.” Evelyn notes that, “it seems like somewhere we’ve got a little foot in the door already. There’s a few independent radio stations who play us over there, and we’ve got the backing of a great label. It’s all set to go and I know that they’re just waiting until we say ‘okay, push the button’”. “I’m getting chills just thinking about it!” says drummer Ross.

Catch Clean Cut Kid on tour this Autumn before they hit it worldwide, and buy the new ‘We Used To Be In Love’ EP for a heavenly injection of alt-pop goodness. Check out their Facebook for more.

Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester (08/10)
Newcastle, Cluny 2 (19/10)
Nice n' Sleazy, Glasgow (20/10)
Headrow House, Leeds (21/10)
Kasbah, Coventry (22/10)
The Louisiana, Bristol (24/10)
The Prince Albert, Brighton (25/10)
Dingwalls, London (26/10)
The Bodega, Nottingham (28/10)
East Village Theatre, Liverpool (29/10)
Jericho Tavern, Oxford (30/10)

November (All dates w/ Courteeners)
Victoria Hall, Stoke on Trent (10/11)
Guildhall, Southampton (11/11)
Brixton Academy, London (12/11)
O2 Academy, Bristol (14/11)
Nick Rayns LCR, Norwich (15/11)
O2 Academy, Birmingham (17/11)
Echo Arena, Liverpool (18/11)
SSE Hydro, Glasgow (19/11)
O2 Academy, Newcastle (21/11)
Rock City, Nottingham (22/11)
Sands Centre, Carlisle (24/11)
First Direct Arena, Leeds (25/11)

Words: Alex Cabré